23 September 2019

My Guide To Amsterdam



Okay, so this blog post is way overdue but I've finally found time to sit down and tell you all about our incredible trip to Amsterdam. I'm just going to start by saying that it is potentially one of my favourite cities I have ever visited.

If you read my 2019 Resolutions, you'll know that Amsterdam has been at the top of my Travel Bucket List for a while now and this year I was determined to get there. It's a place I've wanted to visit for as long as I can remember, especially since reading Anne Frank's diary when I was eleven.

In early June, my friend Mercydes and I booked a last minute trip to the Dam via LoveHolidays, who I would highly recommend booking with if you're looking for the best deal on the market. To put our trip into context, we visited at the end of July for 3 nights (4 days).

If you're thinking of visiting this absolutely stunning place, hopefully some of these recommendations will help you out!

Flights


Our flights to Amsterdam cost £101 return which is on the pricer side for a flight to the city, I know you can get flights a lot cheaper which is why I would definitely recommend booking in advance. We flew from Liverpool John Lennon Airport with Easy Jet and it was a super short flight, just over an hour each way, which is perfect if you're a nervous flyer or just looking for something quick. 

Getting Around


Amsterdam Schipol can be incredibly daunting for even the most experienced travellers but getting to and from the airport couldn't have been easier! If you're staying in the centre there's a regular tram service that takes you straight to Amsterdam Central but if that's not your thing, then the majority of hotels offer a free shuttle service to and from the airport so it's definitely worth doing your research.


In terms of the actual city itself, Amsterdam is relatively easy to navigate. The majority of the main attractions are a good walk away from one another so take a comfy pair of shoes and a portable charger because Google Maps will be your best friend. It's also worth taking advantage of the underground tram system (which we wish we would've discovered sooner), book on a river cruise, or take the more traditional option and rent a bicycle but be careful because they're absolutely everywhere. Have you even been to Amsterdam if you've not nearly been killed by a bike?

Where To Stay 


We stayed in one of the urban rooms at the Corendon Village Hotel, just ten minutes from Amsterdam Schipol. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport as well as a bus to and from the city centre for €7 return. 

Our room was absolutely stunning; not only was it spotless but we had two of the comfiest beds, a spacious bathroom and a gigantic window meaning we were blessed with a breathtaking view of the sunset every night. The hotel itself had a rooftop bar, various restaurants and its own little shop which was open 24 hours. The staff were incredibly friendly, they couldn't have done enough to make us feel at home. 

Three nights in the hotel, including a continental breakfast each morning, cost £133 each which was absolutely perfect for what we needed. 


Where To Eat

If I'm being honest, we didn't try as much of the cuisine as we would have liked. I'm blaming this on the fact that we filled up on bacon and eggs in the hotel each morning. Having breakfast in our hotel package was definitely worth it, it saved us so much money as eating was probably the most expensive part of our visit to Amsterdam. 

It was around €3 for a bottle of water and €1 to use the toilet in most places. A little tip is to stock up on food and drink from the little supermarkets dotted around the city and have a toilet stop when you visit the museums, it'll save you a few euros! 

Plus, because Amsterdam is a city you can always rely on McDonalds and Starbucks to be of service. We had to eat in McDonalds on our first night because everywhere was full! 

The Pancake Bakery

Prinsengracht 191


The Pancake Bakery was the one place that everyone said we had to visit. It's self explanatory really; a little restaurant at the side of the canal that does, quite literally, the best pancakes in Amsterdam. We visited in the late afternoon when it was quieter and I was a little overwhelmed by the huge selection of pancakes to choose from. I'd have ordered about three if I could stomach it! 

It's around €13.40 for a basic pancake which is very reasonable - I opted for the banana and Nutella which was to die for! It was the perfect place for a little afternoon snack and the staff were so friendly. I can understand why so many people recommend it now! 

Polaberry

Prinsengracht 232H


Oh Polaberry, I'm still dreaming about you!
Are you ready for the most instagrammable chocolate covered fruit in the world? Because I really don't think you are. For around €9 you can get a little box these delicious chocolate covered strawberries, and trust me when I say they taste as good as they look. Even if strawberries aren't your thing, just do it for the gram!

Pizza & Wine Canal Cruise 


As a special treat on the last night of our trip, Mercydes and I booked a Pizza and Wine Canal Cruise. Not only was this a meal sorted but it meant that we got to see the beauty of Amsterdam in the best way - with wine, pizza and on a pretty little boat. 

We pre-booked the cruise via Get Your Guide and for €42 we got a 90 minute guided canal cruise, a pizza of our choice, a Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and unlimited wine/beer. Lets be honest, who doesn't love unlimited wine!? 

It was absolutely beautiful and an experience I'll remember for the rest of my life. We were able to see the stunning sights of the city whilst getting a little bit tipsy with the best company. It was the perfect way to spend a sunny evening in Amsterdam and believe me when I say, my wine glass was never empty! 

Get Your Guide offer a variety of different canal cruises including a burger cruise, an ice cream cruise and a beer cruise! I'd definitely check them out if you're looking to do something a bit different. 

What To Do

Rent a Pedal Boat


First up, I want to tell you about my favourite Amsterdam memory. I think Cyde will agree when I say that this was both the best and worst decision we have ever made in our entire lives.

On the hottest day of the trip, Cyde and I were sat relaxing at the side of a canal when she thought it'd be a brilliant idea to rent a peddle boat because 'how hard can it be?'

Let me tell you now, it's bloody hard!! 

There are various stops around the city and for €10 (plus a €20 refundable deposit) you can rent a peddle boat for an hour. They give you a map with an impossible route to follow, an emergency number and assign you a boat. If you don't have it back within the hour, you don't get your deposit back - it's as simple as that.

It was all fun and games at first, peddling along, having a laugh and Cyde doing the steering. Then, our legs started to ache, our feet started to cramp, the sweat started pumping and to top it all off nicely, when it was my turn to steer I crashed us into another passenger boat and we had to be rescued!!

It was the most embarrassingly hilarious experience of my life but I'd highly recommend doing it, just make sure there's four of you in a boat and at least two people who can steer (sorry Cyde!).

The Anne Frank House

Westermarkt 20 


Visiting the Anne Frank house was at the top of my list of things I so desperately wanted to do in Amsterdam. I first heard about Anne Frank in a history lesson when I was eleven and have been fascinated by her family and her story ever since. I suppose you could call it a childhood dream of mine.

First things first, I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance as it gets booked up very quickly and you can't rely on just turning up on the day if, like us, it's something you really want to do.

It's €10.50 for a ticket which includes a free audio tour. It took an hour to get round the house, including looking at all the artefacts and listening to the information plus there's a lot of steep steps so if you're bad on your feet, maybe it's not the thing for you.

The experience itself is incredibly moving, I was close to tears a few times.  It's shocking to see the living conditions of the cramped Annex where the Frank family spent years in hiding, as well as the heart breaking effects of the holocaust. The Annex has been left exactly as it was when the Frank family were captured - nothing, no furniture, just old magazine cut outs which Anne used to decorate her bedroom wall. It's truly an eye opening experience and a must-do if you're visiting Amsterdam.

The Fault In Our Stars Bench

Leidsegracht Canal 


This is the moment my sixteen year old self was absolutely freaking out!

The Fault in Our Stars is one of the most iconic stories of our generation and to be able to visit the bench where Gus and Hazel sat was magical. It's one of my favourite moments from one of my favourite books and a place that you can tell is so special to so many people.

The bench itself is covered in quotes from the book, song lyrics and has love locks attached to the handles. It's the perfect place to sit and relax but it can get busy - we visited in the early evening and although there were crowds, we managed to get photos and have a little sit down next to the canal.

The Red Light District


I'll admit this one isn't for everyone but it's something that Cyde and I were curious about and wanted to go and see. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, in fact it was incredibly eye opening and in a strange way made me proud to be a woman. They're working and they're so in control. It's a completely different culture over there but definitely something that needs to be seen.

Sex Museum

Damrak 18 


If you want a hilariously funny way to fill in a drizzly morning in Amsterdam then the Sex Museum is an absolute must-do. It took us around an hour to walk round but it does get very busy as it's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. For just €5 you can have potentially one of the most eye opening experiences of your entire life and trust me when I say, you will see things that you won't be forgetting in a hurry!

The Ice Bar

Amstel 194 - 196


The Ice Bar is quite literally one of the coolest things I have ever experienced (punny, I know).

We booked via the reception in our hotel and for around €20 we got a drink on arrival, either two pints of Heineken or two straight vodka shots from the actual Ice Bar. It wasn't something that we had planned to do and it was a very last minute booking but I'm so glad we did it. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

We got thick coats and gloves to keep us warm but I literally couldn't feel my legs as we stupidly wore dresses so next time I visit, I'll be going in my jeans. We spent over an hour dancing around the Ice Bar with our new friends Cara and Natalia, shot glasses (made of ice) in hand and giving the hilarious friendly staff a rendition of Starships by Nicki Minaj.

It was one of my favourite things I have ever done and I cannot wait to visit again!



We did so much walking and sight-seeing in Amsterdam, even stumbling across a few little hidden gems along the way. One of my favourite things to do, especially as it was so warm, was sit with my legs dangling over the side of the canal and watch the world go by. We spoke to so many different people including a very lovely couple from America who were absolutely fascinated by our accents.

One thing I absolutely loved about Amsterdam is that everyone was so friendly and would go out of their way to help you. It made my first experience of the city just that little bit more special.


After we met Cara and Natalia at the Ice Bar we spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening with them. It's important to remember that Amsterdam is a city so there's a lot of shopping to do and a huge Primark on the Main Street if that's your kind of thing.

The night life in Amsterdam is amazing, there's so many bars to sit outside, so many restaurants to try and so much culture to experience. On our last night Cara, Natalia, Cyde and I spent the evening drinking wine, making new friends and having such a laugh! It truly was the perfect end to the most incredible holiday.



As you can probably tell, I had the most amazing trip with the best company and I would go back to Amsterdam in a heartbeat.  I knew I was going to enjoy the city but I didn't think I was going to fall in love with it as much as I did. I'd love to go and visit again in the winter as I can imagine it's so magical - that's another one on the bucket list!

I hope my little guide to Amsterdam gave you some fun ideas of things to do and a general idea of how much things cost. I'd love to hear if you have any other recommendations for people so leave them in the comments!

Amsterdam, you truly have a piece of my heart and I cannot wait to visit you again soon.

Lots of love,
Meg x




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