Amsterdam is best experienced by boat or by bike.
- More about your oliver guide: Sara Stith
- Trip type: Adult, Group getaway, City
- Activity level: moderate
- Ideal length of trip: We were only there for 3 days and almost extended our trip-- I would say that 4-5 days would be ideal.
to & from
We took the train from Paris. It was so easy and so much fun! We flew home from Amsterdam, back to San Francisco, on a direct flight.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Hotel Sebastian’s and we loved it! The decor is a little ornate for my taste, but the location is great and the staff was super friendly and helpful. They have a fun bar in the lobby, and a great breakfast. The rooms are a little small, but that is typical of European hotel rooms unless you stay a big hotel chain.
Where to Eat and Drink
Amsterdam is actually known for their Indonesian food, due to the fact that Indonesia was once a Dutch colony. I happen to be a huge fan of Indonesian food, and even if you have never had it, Amsterdam is the place to try it!
Also, apparently Gin and Tonics are huge right now in Amsterdam. A lot of the bars that we went to had menus with whole pages dedicated to different types of Gin and tonics.
And of course Weed is legal and there are “coffee shops” everywhere.
- Restaurant Johannes is great for a high end meal with a view of the canals. It's a bit "stuffy" feeling, but the food is inventive and really good.
- Tempo Doeloe is great for Indonesian food. It's casual and the food is fantastic.
- Restaurant De Kas is a must! It's a little bit out of town, but the restaurant is located in a greenhouse where they grown most of the food that they cook with. It's a very cool place and the food is awesome.
- Foodhallen-- it's a big food hall filled with different stalls and then a bar in the middle. We went for lunch, and I would have gone back had we had more time.
- Red Light District for drinks-- it's definitely something you won't see somewhere else. It can be a little wild and "seedy" around that area, but they do have some bars that do not have women in the windows.
What to Do
Amsterdam is best experienced on foot. The GPS on your phone will come in handy!
- Anne Frank House-- get tickets in advance. This is a very intense experience, but definitely a "must do" when in Amsterdam. I was in tears afterwards, but it is such an important part of history.
- Van Gogh Museum-- get tickets in advance.
- Rijksmuseum-- this museum is huge, so carve out some time for it.
- Reypenaer Cheese Store for wine and cheese tasting. This is so much fun-- they have a little "class" where you learn about cheese and which wines pair best.
- De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) is a great place for shopping in little boutiques.
- Rent a small boat and tour the canals. The best way to see Amsterdam is by boat or bike.
A few tips that might be helpful:
- Coffee Shops serve Pot, not coffee. They have a whole array of different types and it can actually be very confusing and overwhelming.
- Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, and heavily regulated. It can be really off-putting to see women "for sale" in store windows, but these brothels are legal and they do not allow women to work there under the age of 18.