If you follow me on Instagram, you know that between the end of April and the beginning of May I have been in Europe – more precisely in Paris and Amsterdam. Many of you know that my sister lives in Paris and I went to spend a few days with her. Taking advantage of the fact that we were already on the European continent, we included a new city on our route and we choose Amsterdam. I am still going to share some tips from the French capital, but today I will tell you what we did in Amsterdam. I begin this post saying that Amsterdam has never been on my travel wish list – but the city has something to do with one of my dreams: see the tulip fields in Holland. So the push that we had to get to know Amsterdam had to do with that dream since when I went to research on it, I discovered that it would be the tulip season there. Sorry to disappoint you if you thought you could see the tulips year-round, lol. I’ll share the post on some topics, okay?
- After some research, we go to Amsterdam departing from Paris by train, using Thalys trains. We had already used the train service in Europe – on the London-Paris route, but I must say that this route was easier! I explain: since London is outside the Schengen area, you need to consider extra time to get to the train station, go through Passport control, etc. In the case of Amsterdam, it’s like taking a domestic trip. It was literally arriving at Gare du Nord, from where the trains leave, look for your carriage, show the voucher to the attendant, find your seat and you’re done! The trip was super comfortable and the train stops three times before arriving at Amsterdam Central station. The trip lasts, in total, 3 hours and 30 minutes. The train is comfortable, has a bathroom and space for suitcases – my voucher said two suitcases per person, plus a handbag. Just to situate you: we left Paris on Monday at 11.15 am and arrived in Amsterdam at 2:45 pm.
- Upon arriving at the station, we got the Tram to get to our hotel. Remember that to leave the station you use the QR code from your Thalys ticket. To use Tram, we bought a pass on one of the self-service machines (with English option). Can not remember accurately the price, but they were about € 3 for a pass that lasted an hour (you buy per amount of time). All of this we decided simply by opening Google Maps and simulating the route to see what it would suggest. We followed the app by the stops and went got off near our hotel.
- The rest of the days, we walked a lot on foot. The city is a delight to walk around and, a 20-25 minute walk did not intimidate us. Also, it’s super easy to locate and follow Google Map.
- We used the subway just once day because it was raining – and again, it was very easy, we just followed the Google Map instructions.
- On the last day, to go again until the station, we ordered a Uber and everything ran smoothly!
- I didn’t hear this from only one person: accommodation in Amsterdam is expensive! After a search, Thiago booked us the AMS Suites, which is not really a hotel, but rather a complex of rooms. There is no reception – one week before your reservation, you receive a code and use this code to enter the property and also to access your room (there are no keys). The location is great, the room is giant, there is cleanliness every day – and there was TV, coffee maker, electric pot, hair dryer, clean towels, etc. One detail worth remembering is that there is no lift and the stairs are quite steep.
Things to do
I researched some activities in Amsterdam – for those who like museums (it’s not my case), the city has several. I confess that at one point I was feeling FOMO. But then I met a friend who lives there and she told me that Amsterdam is a very chill city for tourism – it’s not a place full of attractions. The idea is to walk, enjoy, sit and drink something, you know?
- So, my first would be this: walk a lot, so you’ll see the city. Especially by the canals area, a postcard of the city. Amsterdam is so beautiful, so charming, that in the first moments I saw its architecture I felt like I was in a movie. It’s all very cute!
- Van Gogh Museum is a classic of the city. Yes, I’m not the biggest fan of museums, but Thiago likes it and I got to check it out. I confess that I thought it would be small, seeing from the outside, but the collection is insane. There’s a lot to see. The tip I give to people who do not like museums as much as I am: get an audio guide. This helps me stay focused and not lose interest so fast. Set aside at least three hours for the museum and buy the ticket early on the internet, as it runs out at various times.
- This museum is in an area where there are other museums – such as the Rijksmuseum, one of the most important in the city and the Moco, of modern art.
- Totally without planning, when we leave the Van Gogh Museum, we discover Albert Heijn, a supermarket chain, (there is a unit very close to the museums). It was raining and we went in to make time and, also, why not say, such as supermarket tourism. We bought many things, like Stroopwafels, chocolates, pastries, and spices.
- Another super beautiful place is Begijnhof. They are historic buildings, now private residences. Think of it as a private courtyard. It has two churches, the Catholic Houten Huys, and the English Reformed Church.
- Something that we loved to do was a canal cruise. There are several companies, various types of cruises, at various times. We did at sunset and it was amazing. It is very interesting to see the city of canals. In addition, we learned a lot about the history of Amsterdam. I believe that most offer audio guides, and there are several language options.
- We also visited the Museum of Prostitution. For those who do not know, prostitution is a legalized activity in the country and this museum has little behind the scenes and stories. We found the museum small and the ticket a bit expensive for what it is.
- Incidentally, speaking of this, I could not fail to mention the Red Light District, recommended as a point of interest in various blogs and websites I read about Amsterdam. The Red Light District is nothing more than the neighborhood of prostitutes. They rent windows and are available to guests. My verdict? Do not waste your time. Honestly, I did not find interesting, and in a way, I think this further reinforces the stereotype of the woman object in the view of macho men.
- We did not go to the Anne Frank House because the online tickets were sold out (they open new dates every day, months in advance). To get tickets, you had to go to the museum and get a queue, and since our time in the city was short, we chose to leave that aside.
I confess: I travel to eat. I love searching for cafes, restaurants, and bars to get to know during the trips and it was no different in Amsterdam.
- Pancake Bakery: we saw this tip on a Youtube video and we were super curious. The specialty here is savory pancakes and there is a large variety of toppings. We share a bacon, cheese, and pineapple one and seriously: if you go to Amsterdam, try it! We also ordered a sweet one, but honestly, it was ok. The savory is a must and huge! The pancakes are gigantic and cost from € 13 to € 16.
- Cafe Bern: Swiss restaurant specializing in fondue. It was a tip from my friend who lives in the city and, I confess, would never catch my attention if it wasn’t by her. There is no English menu – but the attendants spoke English and were super helpful in explaining the options. We ordered the cheese fondue and the entrecote. You cook the meat in a delicious sauce. Each cost about €19 and we ate a lot! According to my friend, it’s the best fondue in town.
- Bocca Coffee: charming coffee place. Everything we tried was delicious – especially a mashed pumpkin toast with nuts.
- Hasje Claes: for Dutch food! This restaurant is huge and was also my friend’s tip. They have menus in several languages. For the appetizer, we got Salted Herring with onion and pickles € 7. This appetizer comes with potato and cucumber salad. In addition, the bread of the house, courtesy, is so delicious! I swear to you that when we finish the appetizer Thiago said he was already satisfied. He chose a classic dish: Hutspot-Hodgepodge (€ 17), with meatballs, cabbage, sausage.
- Van Stapele Koekmakerij: simply one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten in my life – and I live in New York City with dozens of varieties of cookies. This cookie has a white chocolate filling, seriously, do yourself a favor and eat this cookie!
- De Laatste Kruimel: bakery/cafe with a lot of savory pies, pastries, bread. Ideal for a morning coffee or afternoon snack. Everything we ate there was very tasty.
- Mama Makan Indonesian Kitchen: this restaurant serves Indonesian food. Incidentally, you will see many restaurants like this in the city, blame for the colonization of the Netherlands in Indonesia. It has an incredible view of the city and the ideal here is to order several dishes to share. The food is delicious and well worth it! Each dish we ordered to split cost about € 9 and we also ordered a meat skewer which cost €19.
- The Butcher: gourmet burger with multiple locations in the city. It’s simply delicious! I ordered the truffle one, so good! They have vegetarian / vegan versions and prices range from € 9 to € 12.
- Marijuana is legalized and it is not uncommon for you to smell the streets. In addition, there are several bars and cafes to consume. The famous spacecakes are well-known in the city and one of the places that is making more success is the Boerejongens Coffeeshop, which sells chocolate and red velvet cake – € 9 each.
- The official language in Amsterdam is Dutch – but we had no problem in the city since everyone speaks English.
You remember my dream, from the beginning of the post, right? Yeah. Our itinerary in Amsterdam included a visit to Keukenhof Park, the famous tulip park in Lisse, about 45 minutes drive from Amsterdam. This is an overview and all the tips you need to know. Let’s go to our experience:
- For more flexibility with schedules, we decided to rent a car. We did this on the Enterprise website, we paid about €49. We got the car at around 3:00 p.m. and returned at 8:00 p.m., with a full tank. The process was easy. Rent a car
- To get to Keukenhof, we only put the destination on Google Maps. The trip was quick and easy.
- We bought the Keukenhof ticket online, in advance. The ticket has no date, no timetable – it is valid during the season, which runs from mid-March to mid-May
- The park is large and beautiful, with many, many tulips scattered! Unfortunately, part of my dream was incomplete, since I wanted to visit the tulip fieldt – which you can do by renting a bike at Keukenhof, but by that time all the tulips from the adjacent fields had already been cut.
- We spent two hours in Keukenhof.
I hope you enjoyed my post!
Laura Peruchi is a Brazilian blogger, author, and entrepreneur. She has lived in Manhattan with her husband since 2014. Since then, she has shared on her blog varied content about the Big Apple. From travel tips, including unusual things to do, shopping tips, etiquette, restaurants, and a lot more, her blog has become a reference in Portuguese (also available in English) for anyone planning a trip to New York City.