Notorious for its “coffee shops” and the infamous red light district, Amsterdam is one quirky and boisterous city buzzing with architecture, friendly people and plenty to discover.
With easy access from London and low cost flights I have become an advocate for day trips around Europe- what better way to fulfill my need to travel and explore different cities in a short time #Wanderlust– minus the hustle of securing accommodation.
A 7am Easyjet flight from Stansted airport was the worst part however this was the best option to make the most of the day trip. Joined by my friend Pamela we arrived at the ever busy Schiphol International airport in less than an hour. Upon arrival we kicked off the sightseeing adventures right at the airport, heading towards the bus/taxi ranks we spotted the “Iamamsterdam” sign.
Though this simple and charming iconic feature can also be found behind the Rijksmuseum,you have a higher chance of capturing that instaworthy photo with fewer tourists smothering your pictures here. A cheeky photo shoot later we embarked on a train ride into the city (transportation links are top notch).
Arriving at Amsterdam Centraal station, hop on one of the 24/7 free ferries crossing river IJ to North Amsterdam. Once on the other side, we stepped into an industrial area that has been transformed into a edgy, vibrant neighborhood. Though my fear of heights is great, we could not pass on the experience of being over the edge on Europe’s highest swing (A’Dam Lookout). The adrenaline and fear escaping my lungs hanging 100 metres above ground with a panoramic view of the Dutch landscape ignited the thrill seeker within me and probably those nearby. Once off the swing, we spent another 30 minutes taking in the views from the observation deck (and selfies of course).
The best way to discover a city is by bike. Bicycles are – by far – the preferred mode of transportation in this city. Why spend money on a guided trip when you can be spontaneous- was our motto. With our map in hand atop our bikes we ducked and dodged fellow cyclists, pedestrians and sometimes took the wrong turn – all in the name of fun. Thankfully no near death experiences.
1 Canal, 2 Canal, 3 Canal, 4..with over 100 kilometres of canals in Amsterdam, a cruise was not part of the agenda however we certainly wizzed our way through these charming waterways on our two wheel adventure. Our bike path lead us along the museum district- hopping off, we admired the works of Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, laughed at the tourists mounting up the letters of “Iamamsterdam” for the perfect selfie and situated at the far right side past the greenery were the overwhelming crowds waiting to enter the Van Gogh museum. Prepaid entrances and early mornings are certainly recommended to beat the queues.
All this sightseeing left us feeling peckish, with the rental bikes returned (a place right opposite Anne Frank Huis) and Pamela’s passport safe in her bag (used as insurance for bike rental) we were on the hunt for some Dutch food.Despite learning that the Anne Frank Huis was closed for the day we settled for a quick “we were here” photo at the front door. Whilst cycling we couldn’t help but notice the various pancake shops around the city we decided to get our fix in Pancakes Amsterdam. Walking into the restaurant you are welcomed by it’s delft blue décor and the sweet and savoury aromas. The menu features many pancake-centric dishes from flat Dutch pancakes to fluffy, thicker American varieties. As a thank you along with the bill we were gifted with a wooden Dutch clogs keyring. What a novel idea!
Indulge in a sweet treat or two with Polaberry from homemade desserts, chocolate covered fruits to ice cream, with artistic presentation their boxes are the ideal girly gift.
Travel tip: Visiting for the day? Do not get the day travel card unless you opt to explore the city via public transport- what’s the fun in that. We purchased one and ended up only using it once during the whole trip. Looking beyond the main attractions this city has secrets and stories yet to be discovered by each traveller. I will certainly be returning to experience the nightlife and more of its food culture.