Hi friends! Sorry I’ve been so MIA from the blog, we’ve been in Europe for the past three weeks and I wanted to use it as a time to recharge and get inspired to create new content. Now I can’t wait to edit all of the photos and put together travel posts for you guys! First up: Amsterdam.
As we were planning this trip, Amsterdam was one of the places I was kind of “meh” about. I didn’t know much about it except that it’s known for marijuana and the Red Light District—neither of which appeal to me. However, it turned out to be one of my favorite places! It was so fun to walk along the canals and cobble stone streets to discover bakeries, cheese stores, museums and cute boutiques. Here are some of the things I think you’ll definitely want to see (and eat!) in Amsterdam:
Eat cookies from Van Stapele Koekmakerij. A friend recommended we go here and OMG I’m glad she did. This bakery only sells one flavor of cookie—chocolate with a soft white chocolate center. Since they specialize in just one menu item you know it’s going to be good! They use Valrhona chocolate and I picked up a couple of bars in Paris, so I’m excited to make a copycat recipe.
Take a cruise on the canals. This is a great way to get acquainted with the city. We used Blue Boat Company and got on by the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a good route because you saw a lot of the canals and the lake, plus you learn about the history of Amsterdam and the significant sites. We also came across this special where you can get tickets a canal boat tour, House of Bols and a cheese tasting for € 37.50 per person. If you want to do all three (and I suggest you do!), it’s a pretty good deal.
Visit the Anne Frank House. Rob and I were both very impressed by this museum! The audio tour leads you through her life and their time in hiding. You see videos, photos, items and the actual place where they lived for those two years before being discovered. It’s just surreal to stand in her room and think about her terrifying experience. Even if you aren’t a museum person, I think you’d really like this one. Be sure to buy tickets online in advance because they sell out quickly!
Rent bikes. The amount of bikes in Amsterdam is insane! It’s the main form of transportation and bike lines parallel almost all of the streets. More than 50% of people use their bikes on a daily basis and there are 4X more bikes than cars in the city. We rented bikes from Discount Bike Rental one afternoon to take a little day trip outside of the main part of the city. We took the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station and biked around the rural, quieter areas north of the city where we stumbled upon Brood for lunch, some cool street art and got to see the pretty parks and trails. You could also rent bikes for multiple days and use those to sightsee, but biking in the city stressed us out. The bike lanes are very fast paced and since we aren’t familiar with where everything is, it was nearly impossible to check Google maps at the same time.
Cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer. Rob and I LOVE good cheese, so we enjoyed all of the cheese stores in Amsterdam. We went to a tasting at Reypenaer, which was a great experience! You get to try six cheeses (and you cut them yourself, so you can have as much or as little as you’d like). They also pair them with three wines (a white, red and port) and they are pretty substantial pours for a tasting. You learn a lot about how cheese is made and take notes about the different characteristics as you sample them. Overall it’s a great value (only 16.50 euros per person) and tasty experience.
Eat apple pie from Winkel’s. A friend from college recommended this spot and as I was mentioning it to Rob a local overheard us and said that’s the best place for apple pie. It most definitely was! The crust is really what made it stand out from any other apple pie I’ve had. It’s thick and kind of sticky/chewy like a blondie. It’s a deep dish pie, so you also get a lot of apple filling. The pile of fresh whipped cream on top didn’t hurt either!
Visit the Tulip Museum. It’s a pretty inexpensive museum and cool to learn about the history of tulips. What I found really interesting was that there was a time called “Tulip Mania” where the price of tulips were INSANE! A bulb could be as much as a townhouse in Amsterdam!
Have a Dutch Pancake! We went to The Pancake Bakery, which was delicious! These crepe-like pancakes are thin, huge and very tasty! Even just the plain pancake topped with powdered sugar and their delicious syrup was amazing. I got apple flavor sprinkled with cinnamon, which paired perfectly with their caramel syrup. It’s a cozy spot right off of a canal and you can go there for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Rob and I got a late night bite there around 9pm after seeing the Anne Frank House.
Have cocktails at the House of Bols. First, take the museum tour. It’s very interactive! You smell and guess the different flavors, learn about Genever (similar to gin) and get a craft cocktail at the end. Additional drinks are only 5 euros, which is a pretty good deal. The bartender made me one with their Lychee and Pomegranate flavors, which was AMAZING. I got the recipe so that I could try making it at home, so maybe I’ll share it with you soon!
Have breakfast at Omelegg. This was our first stop once we got off of the train and it was delicious! I had the Viking Fisherman, which is made with smoked salmon, chives, dill, crème fraîche and citrus zest. It’s a small, cozy spot off of an alley and gets crowded because it’s that good! You also get a lot of food for the price (about 10 euros per omelette).
Share several dishes at Foodhallen. This food hall is a collection of various vendors. You can have pizza, dim sum, sushi, vegan dishes, Mediterranean food, burgers, extravagant hot dogs and much more. It was overwhelming to choose, but Rob and I both got a salad from the Vietnamese stand. You could also buy several smaller dishes to share. It’s a cafeteria-type dining hall, so it was fun to meet locals and other visitors who gave us Amsterdam recommendations.
Have a beer and see a windmill at Brouwerij ‘t IJ. Holland is known for its windmills, but there are only eight in the Amsterdam area. We saw one on our bike ride up north, but you can also see one at this brewery. It’s a great spot to sit outside (when it’s warm) and sip on a beer!
Tour the Amsterdam Museum. I’ve realized that I like museums where you learn stuff, not just look at paintings. This was an interesting museum because you learned a lot about the history of Amsterdam and also its current culture. This museum (like many in Amsterdam) has an audio tour, which is nice.
Souvenir shop at Bloemendmarkt. This floating flower market is fun to visit, but definitely a tourist trap. Rob likes to collect magnets from all of the countries he’s visited and we also get a Christmas ornament from our trips, so we were able to find those here. Surprisingly there weren’t as many fresh flowers as I would have thought, but they also sell bulbs so that you can grown them yourself.
Get fast food from FEBO. This quick, inexpensive eatery is kind of like a big vending machine for fried food. There are a bunch of little windows in the wall and you put in a coin (usually 2 Euro) and then you open the window and take out your item. We tried a few things and the Kaassoufflé (melted cheese inside a thin pastry dough, which has been breaded and then deep-fried), was very tasty.
What are your favorite places in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments!