Amsterdam is an easy city to fall in love with. There is so much to do as a tourist and even if the museums don’t interest you, the endless options of trendy bars and restaurants will. Getting around is a breeze with the great tram, bus and train system, and the people are very friendly and all speak English. I planned a quick mid-week, solo getaway as I had itchy feet and needed a few days abroad to stay sane. 2017 was such a great year for me in terms of travelling and although I don’t think 2018 will live up to it, I do want to fit in several mini-breaks every now and then. I currently work as a marketing freelancer meaning I have the ability to work from anywhere. Freelance isn’t my long-term plan so I want to make the most of it while it lasts and take advantage of cheap mid-week flights!
Little did I know, I had chosen the worst possible week to travel. The ‘Beast from The East’ snowstorm combined with Storm Emma had Ireland shut down! My quick two days stay turned into five days (and counting, I am still here as I write this post!). Luckily, I didn’t have a major need to get home and enjoyed the extra time. During the trip, I stayed in two very cool hotels, ate A LOT, did some shopping and walked my legs off exploring the city.
Read on for all my Amsterdam recommendations!
I decided to stay in the Conscious- The Tire Station, purely based on the interiors. Fortunately, the location was great, just a ten-minute tram to almost anywhere and the price was very reasonable too! They kindly upgraded me to a bigger room which I was delighted about. From images online, it seems they are all designed the same with the only differences being the sizes. The bed was ridiculously comfy, one of the best I’ve slept in and there was a huge tv on the wall if you’ve time for that. I did, I was home early both nights due to the -14 temperatures!!
When I realised I had to stay an extra two nights I decided to change hotels just to spice things up. I had seen The Student Hotel online when I was initially planning my trip but it was booked out for my original dates. Luck would have it, it was available for my two unplanned nights, at a pretty decent price for a large studio room. My room literally had a mini kitchen in it. The facilities in this hotel are great with a gym, two restaurants, games areas and lots of areas to hang out and work from. It seemed most people staying in the hotel were there for business as there were many other solo people and people on their laptops at all times of the day and night.
The interiors are probably the best I’ve seen in a hotel, oh and did I mention there was a TedX room? Literally, a cinema room where you can go and watch TEDx talks. If you need to come to Amsterdam for business stay in this hotel, if you come to Amsterdam for fun, stay in this hotel! It’s the best and they have many different types of bedrooms to suit all sorts of stays. Including ‘The Play Room’, a six-person apartment with a bar and disco ball.
What I Saw:
Because I booked my hotel through Bookings.com I was given a QR code that gave me discounts at multiple attractions and Museums. It was such a handy way to save a few euros. I almost deleted the email so make sure to look out for it if you book through their website. There are so many famous museums in Amsterdam including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh art museum, but this was very much a ‘chill’ type stay so I didn’t try fit everything in and felt happy with my three choices below.
Canal Boat Tour– I went with the Blue Boat Company which was a 70 minutes long tour. Really relaxing and gives you an overview of the city. Audio tours in every language, earphones are provided if you need them. It’s enclosed and heated in the winter.
Banksy/ Lichtenstein Exhibition– Small, fun museum showcasing the great art by Banksy and Roy Lichtenstein and the history of both their lives and the meaning behind the famous art creations.
Anne Frank Museum– This is a must when visiting Amsterdam. It’s a great little history museum, the only Museum I think I have read all of the information in. It takes approx one hour to complete and although you will leave feeling sad, you will be happy you got to see the incredible hiding place of the Frank family. Tickets can only be bought in advance online, they sell out fast but check back the night before the next day as they may release more at the last minute which happened in my case. You can take non-flash photos in the museum but very few people choose to out of respect.
Where I Shopped:
The Nine Streets– Very cute boutiques for interesting and unique finds.
The Dam Square Area– All your high street faves.
Jordaan– More boutiques and just a very cool area in general.
Where I Ate:
The Avocado Show– Unfortunately I didn’t get to eat here as the wait was 2 hours. Hopefully, you’ll have better luck than me as it looks amazing!
I bought a three-day travel pass in the airport when I arrived in the AKO store in terminal 4, where the trains depart from into the city centre. The train took about 20 minutes to Amsterdam Central Station and from there I took a tram to my hotel. The tram system is so handy and will get you anywhere in the centre in 20 minutes or less! I have missed the New York subway so much living in Dublin so it was great to have something similar again for a few days!
You can buy tickets on the tram, you enter either at the top by the driver or in the middle where there is a person selling tickets. You need to exit the trams from any of the other doors and make sure to tap your travel card as you get on and off. These are a few rules I wish I had known in advance haha.
Download the GVB app to plan your routes and work out what tram you need to take.
Although I had been to Amsterdam twice before, once with my parents as a child and a second time on a trip with college friends, it was only now that I feel I really got to know the city. I guess you could say there are multiple layers and you can have several different types of holidays here but for me exploring the different areas and visiting the trendiest food places was what made me fall in love with Amsterdam. The beautiful canals and incredible architecture draped in history didn’t hurt either!
My last piece of advice is to watch out for the bikes! There are as many bikes as there are people and they are often coming from every direction. Between the bikes, trams, oh and some cars, you really need to look left and right x2!
I hope you found this helpful if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam. Feel free to ask me any questions.