I set out for Amsterdam from my study abroad location in Prague on an overnight train. As the train pulled into the station early in the morning, I had a feeling of excitement, one because I was spending the first night of this city by myself and was free to explore whatever I wanted. I also was a bit nervous because I knew marijuana and prostitution is legal here, and I did not know how those would affect my experience with my surroundings or the people in this city. Although this city is very comfortable with sex (it has plenty of museums about sex for you to check out), it only added to the quirkiness of this crazy city. Overall, this city exceeded every one of my expectations with its delicious food, its natural beauty of canals and parks, and the people who would smile as they flew by on their bikes (there are more bikes than people).
Before You Go:
When to Go: April-May (Tulips are Blooming & Great Weather)
Things To Do:
The Red Light District
As we were trying to find this place at night, we stopped and asked someone for directions. They politely pointed us towards the right direction and said, “you will definitely know when you get there.” She was right. This place is one thing in the day time but at night it was like nothing I have ever seen before. The “window girls” try to lure you in as you walk past the many full-length windows and it is interesting to see how this works as a form of prostitution in Amsterdam. However, this district is actually one the safest in the city!
Tip: DO NOT take pictures of the “window girls” unless you want them mad at you and your camera broken (they are people too you know)
Anne Frank House
€ 9.00 for adults
My roommates and I got up early to see the house (which normally has a 2-3 hour wait) and only had to wait about an hour to get in. Waiting in line was definitely worth it, we walked through the history and legacy of the house and of the people who took shelter in it. The house even had the actual bookcase that they hid behind and a guestbook where my roommates and I left a note in remembrance. It’s so crazy how luck played such a prominent role in the Holocaust. Anne Frank died about 3 weeks before her camp was liberated. The only person in the annex who survived was Anne’s father Otto Frank, who later published Anne’s diary.
Amsterdam Sign & The Museums
- Amsterdam Museum is a collection of the history of the city Amsterdam (website)
- Rijksmuseum: The country’s national museum. Collection of arts and history in Amsterdam (website)
- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: collections of modern and contemporary art and design (website)
- Van Gogh Museum: world’s largest collection of the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh (website)
Tip: If you plan on spending time in a lot of museums, there are discount cards that could benefit you. The Museumkaart is €59.90 for adults/€32.45 for children. Pros: valid for a whole year and covers 400 museums all across the Netherlands. The I Amsterdam card (24 hours (€49), 48 hours (€59) and 72 hours (€69) Pros: Entry to the museums, discounts on other attractions, a free canal cruise and unlimited use of public transport (trams, buses and metro).
Come here for a picnic and people watching, as this large park fills up with people on bikes and those enjoying the Amsterdam weather. There are different sections of ponds and statues and some parts even have cafes and restaurants if you are looking for lunch with a view.
Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
The only floating flower market in the world and it is truly an amazing sight to watch as the flower stalls stand on the houseboats. There are varieties of colorful flowers to choose from, including of course the tulips (the Netherlands is the world’s main producer of the plant.) The tulip bulbs for planting in a garden make beautiful authentic souvenirs for your family and friends. However, if you are planning to fly with the bulbs as a souvenir, make sure that it has a customs cleared stamp on the packaging.
Canal Ride and/or Bike Tour
My roommates and I chose the canal tour over a bike tour because we realized that biking is pretty scary in Amsterdam as many bikers are in a hurry and that there are a lot of bikers in the city. We set out on the water for an hour as we paddled and steered past people sitting on benches eating their lunches and talking, just enjoying the beauty of the water.
Of course we had to stop to look at the famous Fault in Our Stars Bench, which was covered in writing and notes from fans of the movie.
Helpful Dutch Phrases:
Hi/Bye: Hoi / Hallo / Daag / Doei
Please: Alstublieft / Alsjeblieft (Ahlst-ew-bleeft / ahl-shuh-bleeft)
Thank you: Dank u wel / Dank je wel (dahnk-ew-vehl / dahnk-yuh-vehl)
I don’t understand: Ik begrijp het [niet.] (ik buh-khraip ut neet)
Have you been to any of these places in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments!
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