I have always wanted to see as much of Europe as I possibly can. Amsterdam wasn’t exactly high on my list. It was however, very high on my boyfriends! Last year we decided to take a city break to Amsterdam, which I wasn’t really thinking would be my cup of tea. Today, I can definitely say I was 100% wrong!
I imagine a lot of people might have similar thoughts as myself, of Amsterdam being aimed at tourists and the constant influx of people wanting to get high. After spending a few days in the city I can honestly say, the city itself is one of the most stunning places I have ever been. It is one of the most surprising European cities I have visited.
As it is only a short flight from Manchester and we had private transport from the Airport, we were in our hotel within a few hours of leaving our home in Manchester. Which is perfect for those who aren’t really a lover of travelling side of things.
We stayed at Die Port Van Cleve (the sight of the original Heineken Brewery). The Hotel itself, built around 1864, has kept some of the original charm. The façade of the building it straight out of an old film. It even still has the original bar from when the Brewery was opened.
Although we didn’t really mind the rooms too much, if you are wanting a modern, minimalistic room with all mod cons. This would not be the hotel for you. It’s more of a slightly upmarket Travelodge.
I could write all day about the beautiful things we saw and did, but I’ve picked 5 things which I think are hidden gems within this beautiful city.
5 -Febo: – Food / Takeaway
Ok, bare with me on this one! Febo is a food shop, which has a ‘pay as you eat’ type idea. The cooks are constantly cooking different types of fried snacks, once cooked, they place in small windows which separate the kitchen from the shop. All you have to do is put your money (has to be coins) into the window and the cover pops open, you grab your food and go!
This is not the place you go for Michelin style food, but if you’re hungry and fancy something quick it is actually really tasty! They sell potato croquettes stuffed with veal ragu, cheese, braised beef. (see picture) They also have crispy pancakes style snacks with similar fillings.
This may not be one of those places you would purposefully look for, but they are all over Amsterdam and if you see one, even if it’s just for the novelty, it is definitely worth a try!
4- Heineken Experience: – Brewery
This tourist attraction probably surprised me the most, as you can guess it was my boyfriend’s idea! But this ended up being one of the favourite things we did! The Brewery has a lot of history and the original posters and documents on show, were beautiful to see.
The brewery rooms with large copper tanks for brewing was also surprisingly beautiful! Although the whole place is aimed at a male audience, it didn’t feel as though they wanted it to be that way. There was a 4D ride which showed how their beer is prepared (prepare to get wet and covered in foam) which was surprisingly fun!
My favourite part was the beer bottling section (bare with me). In this section, of the tour you’re able to enter your names or message / dates etc, into a machine, which then bottled a beer with your own personalised label. We currently have our bottle in the living room with fairy lights inside and it always reminds me of the fun we had that day!
3- The Canals – Cruises
Make sure you take the opportunity to get onto a boat while you’re in Amsterdam! There are plenty of river cruises on offer, the best ones leave every hour from the canal in front of the central train station (Centraal Station)
These cruises take you through the canals of Amsterdam and out of the city into larger waters. There are plenty of people who think that it’s really ‘touristy’ to go on these cruises, if I’m honest I agree! But the sights and things you get to see when you see Amsterdam by canal is completely different to bike, tram or walking.
A few tips to anyone on thinking about a doing one of the cruises, make sure you go and book your tickets in the morning. You can choose different times and this will save you any queuing later in the day! Also, some of the tours are actually overpriced for the time you will be out in the boat, so make sure you ask the length of the trips as they don’t really advertise that!
2: The Red Light District – Galleries & Museums
Inevitably we went to the Red Light District. Which was actually a really beautiful place, we ended up going to loads of the Museums and Galleries within the district. If your sensitive to the ‘goings on’ within the district, go during the day, although you will still see the red lights they aren’t as many, nor are they as obvious.
The Museum of Hash Marihuana & Hemp (we had too!) was actually really interesting & coming from England where marijuana is illegal, it was quite freeing to be able to have an open discussion about a ‘taboo’ subject and felt loads more comfortable about trying it for myself.
One of the most surprising was the Erotic Museum. This Museum held lots of different types of erotic art from around the world. Including paintings, drawings, tapestry’s and sculptures. One of the biggest treats was the hand drawn images of Yoko Ono by John Lennon, which hang proudly inside the museum.
1: Oude Kirk – Cathedral Rooftop
Being the oldest building in Amsterdam, this church is a must see for all, but our favourite part was the rooftop terrace!
This isn’t one for the faint hearted, as the steps to the roof aren’t built into the building, it is a modern scaffolding structure, which has been put in place to give people a birdseye view of the Red Light District. The steps are very high & seem a little wobbly, but it is worth the trip!
The architecture of Amsterdam is beautiful and on a sunny day like ours was, these views really do make you fall in love with this place!