Amsterdam is the capitol of the Netherlands and famous for its canals, museums, neighborhoods and exciting nightlife. It is often referred to as, “small city, big heart” and it definitely lived up to its name. Amsterdam was our last stop on our Eastern European vacation. It is a great starting or ending point for European travels due to its large International Airport. Schiphol Airport has many award flights available to and from the US on multiple airlines as well as many inexpensive hopper flights to other European cities. We used 30,000 American Airline miles per person to fly back home to Jacksonville via Philadelphia.
Amsterdam is also home to some amazing top of the line hotels; most all are bookable with award nights. We stayed at the beautiful Andaz Prinsengracht, in the heart of the city using our 2 free Hyatt nights from the Hyatt Visa card. If you’re looking for an area to stay in, look no further than the Jordaan neighborhood and Prinsengracht canal. It is a cute neighborhood within walking distance to anywhere you need to go and home to many great restaurants and the prettiest canal in all of Amsterdam.
Must do Activities Include:
- Boat Tour: the best way to see Amsterdam is by doing a canal boat tour. We had a blast on the KINboat with a wonderful guide who gave us a great tour of the city. Wine and beer onboard is included and you can bring your own food.
- Anne Frank House: one of the most memorable experiences in all of our travels. This museum is in the actual house where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding during the Holocaust. You must purchase tickets in advance or wait in line for hours (tickets go on sale 2 months in advance and sell out very quickly, get them here.
- Bicycle ride: You’ve never seen so many bicycles in your life until you’ve been to Amsterdam. Join in and rent a bike for the day to explore the city. Make sure to ride through Vondelpark and the Jordaan neighborhood.
- Bloemenmarkt: flower market full of shops, restaurants and of course flowers galore. Stop in to some of the cheese shops to try Amsterdam’s delicious cheese.
- Red Light District: Amsterdam’s famous neighborhood full of “coffee shops” and adult entertainment. This is not somewhere you’ll want to spend too much time but worth a walk through.
- Amsterdam sign: make sure to get a picture with the I Amsterdam sign. Its located right by the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museums, which are also great sites to visit.
Our favorite Bars and Restaurants Include:
- The Pancake Bakery: start off your day with an Amsterdam favorite, pancakes! Great stop before or after visiting the Anne Frank House as it’s less than a block away.
- Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx: an Amsterdam institution serving up homemade crispy fries topped with just about any sauce imaginable (try the mayo sauce). Line is usually long but moves quickly.
- De Klos: if you’re in the mood for ribs then this is the place for you. The portions are huge so come ready to eat
- Norling Chinese Restaurant: there is so much diversity in Amsterdam cuisine and I am so glad to have experienced it. This is a great little authentic Chinese restaurant right in the center of town. Make sure to make reservations
- You can’t leave Amsterdam without trying Jenever, which is a juniper flavored national liquor of the Netherlands from which gin evolved. We tried a melon flavor and it was delicious. Stop in any bar to try some!
Keep in mind that Dutch is the spoken language and the currency is Euros.