Amsterdam has lots to explore, but on my visit, I had about forty-eight hours to take in the city. I had a general idea of the things I wanted to see. knew I wanted to visit a museum, explore a local park, try the local cuisine, and get a true feel of the city’s tone. Unfortunately, forty-eight-hours isn’t nearly enough time to spend in Amsterdam, but that’s okay, I’ll be back. As for my first Amsterdam adventure, here were my favorite to-dos.
Go For A Canal Ride
One of the most striking and memorable attributes of Amsterdam is its canal system. It’s breathtaking to look out at the flowing streams as you stroll down the cobblestone streets. If you really want to explore the canal line and see this port city, via the water, I suggest taking a canal ride. You can go on a group tour like the Blue Boat Company. The tour lasts about 90 minutes and takes you on an extensive trip around the city. Or you can rent a private boat to go on your own adventure. Both options are affordable (even by a Ramen Holiday budget) and spending the time to get to know the waterway is well worth every euro spent. Plus, if you’re visiting the city with your lover, it’s a great romantic outing. Maybe try a sunset cruise; although, be prepared to wait until 10:30 PM for the sun to set.
Try Dutch Pancakes
Before I visited Amsterdam, multiple people said, “you gotta try the pancakes.” I didn’t even know Dutch Pancakes were a thing. But if someone tells me there’s a food I need to try, I’m not going to question it. When I arrived in Amsterdam and saw all the restaurants promoting their pancakes, I knew I needed to see what all the talk was about. I get it! While Dutch pancakes are basically what we know as crepes, you can load them with endless toppings. It’s up to you, do you go: savory or sweet. We got an order of both from De Vier Pilaren. Most “things” are a “thing” for a reason, Dutch Pancakes are definitely a “thing.”
Visit the Rijksmuseum
Amsterdam is a city with lots of history. The history of Amsterdam is best explored through its collection of museums. Since I had very limited time in the city, I could only visit one. I knew all of them including the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank Huis would be well worth my time, but I decided to visit the Rijksmuseum knowing it would offer a variety of local art and historical artifacts. As I walked around the museum, I continued to lose myself in the settings of the paintings. I was enamored by the beauty of the work. My favorite were the paintings from the local artists that depicted the beautiful city I’d come to know just outside those walls. Naturally, the Rembrandt gallery was the most memorable. To see the magnificence of his work up close reminds you that art is one of the greatest gifts a person can offer the world.
Allow yourself a couple of hours to explore Vondelpark. I try to visit a local park in each city I go to. You can tell a lot about a city by its parks. Vondelpark represents the best of Amsterdam through its natural eloquence. You’ll find yourself breathless at the sight of the ponds, greenery, flowers, wildlife, and statues that make-up the park. I would recommend grabbing a coffee and taking a morning stroll through Vondelpark. In fact, I can’t imagine a better way to start an Amsterdam day.
Taste the Local Brews
In every city, I visit I like to try the local cuisine as well as explore the regional brews. I’m not typically a Heineken fan, but to make sure I was doing Amsterdam properly, I tried a draft Heineken in its hometown, and I was wildly impressed. There was so much flavor that I’d never tasted in a Heineken before. I also tried many of the local craft brews. Some of my favorites included: Brouwerij de Eeuwige Jeugd & the Schelde Strandgaper
Take An Afternoon Trip To Leiden
About thirty minutes outside of Amsterdam there’s a lovely little college town called Leiden. We took an afternoon to explore the hometown of Rembrandt and it was one of the best decisions we made the entire trip. Leiden is just as beautiful as its larger, more popular sibling save the party attitude. Stroll through the streets, and make your way over the historic bridges, stand beneath the windmills, and find a picturesque setting waiting around every corner.
Try Julia’s Pasta
On your way back from Leiden stop at Julia’s Pasta, a restaurant stand in the Leiden Central Train Station. Since my return, I’ve caught myself multiple times romantically reminiscing about this on-the-go pasta stand. The layout is simple: pick your pasta then pick your sauce. All the ingredients are fresh and your pasta is prepared right in front of you within a matter of moments. I really hope one day I walk down the street in New York and see a sign for Julia’s Pasta. I would be the most loyal of customers. On my visit to Julia’s Pasta, I had the pesto and chicken ravioli. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I was licking the sauce out of the container.
Take A Long Walk
Whether it’s morning, noon, or night make sure you take some time to walk the streets and take in the beauty of Amsterdam. Appreciate the canals from street view. Notice the architecture and how each building is similar but different. Enjoy the flowers and trees decorating the streets. Get a close-up look at all the statues scattered about the city. Admire the cleanliness of the streets. Taking in the natural beauty of Amsterdam costs nothing, but is worth everything.
See my full Amsterdam Adventure here.