A Whirlwind Tour of Amsterdam: Must-Dos in the City

Posted by on Apr 25, 2016 in Amsterdam | 17 Comments

AM8

During my recent trip to Amsterdam, I spent about the same time on a megabus to and from the city as exploring it…. Despite being a megabus fan, and not wanting to fly that short a distance, I could have probably done with a little more time in Amsterdam itself. 48 hours in Amsterdam is long enough to get a taste for the city, but there’s lots more to explore on my return.

We did manage to cram in quite a lot into those two days, however. It was full with canals, parks and chips and mayo. The sun even made a guest appearance!

Amsterdam isn’t the cheapest city, and we were trying to save euros wherever possible. Lots of these activities/ eats were free or cheap, so I’d definitely recommend checking these out if you’re visiting Amsterdam on a budget.

Here’s my top things to do in Amsterdam if you’re seriously pushed for time and money:

Things to see and do

Walk around Vondelpark

8047450063_05585c622d_z

I love green spaces in cities. Central Park in NYC, Hyde Park in London etc. are all calm oasis’ in bustling metropolises. Amsterdam isn’t quite as busy as these capitals, but Vondelpark is gloriously scenic and well worth taking a time out while exploring the city. You can even rent a bike to ride around, which was highly recommended by some of my friends!

4836031406_e339fb5d63_z

Cost: Free

Check out the IAMSTERDAM sign

AM2

There’s not that many iconic ‘must-sees’ in Amsterdam, and it’s slightly unfair on Europe’s ancient structures to put them on the same level as a marketing campaign. But the IAMSTERDAM sign is pretty cool. It was derived as a campaign for the Amsterdam Area, to promote tourism in the city. It’s now made its way into the vocabulary of locals and visitors alike, who feel the vigour of the city so strongly that they are it.

There are actually three IAMSTERDAM signs. Check them out behind the Rijksmuseum, at the airport and try and catch the third sign, which constantly moves around the city! It’s one to get to out of peak hours, so you can catch the best snaps!

ams1

Cost: Free

Get Lost in the Canals

AM1

Nowhere does canals like Amsterdam – with even Venice having less than the Dutch city, they’re definitely one of the best things to do in Amsterdam. Pick a canal, and wander along it, admiring the boats lining the sides and the fringe of tall narrow buildings around it. It’s really scenic and makes for lots of stunning photo opportunities!

AM7

One thing that we didn’t have time for, but that I would have really liked to do is take a boat trip up one of the canals. They’re not too expensive (just under 10 euros) and look great fun. What better way to see Amsterdam than the water!

AM9

ams2

Cost: Free

Go to FrankHuis

15489832190_40ac4af506_z

If you only have the time or money for one museum on your trip to Amsterdam, please make it FrankHuis.

I think it’s so important that we keep educating ourselves about this unspeakable event that happened in Europe between 1939-45; the genocide of six million Jews and five million non-Jews. We need to go to places like FrankHuis, so we can try to fathom the enormity of what happened, and spread the word to try and ensure that something like this will not happen again.

The museum is small, but powerful; it really provokes emotions and helps you begin to realise the enormity of this tragedy. It normally has a very big queue (we were in line for an hour and 40 minutes), but it is definitely worthwhile. To avoid the queue, you can pre-book a time online (these do sell out, so get there quick), or turn up very early, ideally when doors open at 9am.

Cost: 9 Euros

Places to eat and drink

De Foodhallen

AM3

A foodie lovers’ paradise, this hall has a huge rang of global cuisine, including mezze, Turkish, and my favourite; The Green Brothers. A completely vegetarian stall (with some vegan options too!), they served an absolutely delicious goats cheese, pear and walnut salad that I devoured!

AM5 AM4

Cost – 10 euros for a large salad

Drink in a café

lost in amsterdam

Amsterdam and its cafes are somewhat (in)famous for weed being legal and in cafes, you are allowed to spark up, but they’re really great places to chill if you don’t want to smoke too! Lots of them are really funkily decorated, with delicious drinks menus and a great atmosphere. Amsterdam is a very chilled out place, so taking a time out in one of these cafes is a very normal thing to do here. We loved ‘Lost in Amsterdam’.

13090757_10153453159821976_1211603364_o
Cost – 4 euros 50 cents for a glass of rosé

Eat chips and mayo (from any food vendor)

3234623169_2285a3bd76_z

India has the curry, Mexico has the fajita, China has the dumpling. The Netherlands have the monopoly on… chips and mayo. It sounds a bit underwhelming (and not at all healthy), but they’re actually really great. The mayo is more buttery than normal, and the chips are sensationally cooked. They’re definitely not like what you get in your local chippy! One of my travelling rules is never visit a place without trying the local dish (as long as I can that is, with all my dietary requirements), so I revelled in the chance to eat chips and mayo as a form of obligation.

Cost – 2-3 euros

And so much more…

There’s lots of other museums to check out and activities to do in Amsterdam. With excellent night life and a great food scene too, you could easily spend a lot longer here. 48 hours and a small budget just gave me a sample of Amsterdam, but has certainly inspired me to come back for more. Once again, I visit a city to not have checked anything off my list, but just have expanded it with more things to see or do! That’s the travel bug for you, eh?

Check out this Amsterdam infographic and quick guide for some more information about the city, including some great ideas for affordable luxury hotels, places to dine and some more ideas and tips for things to do!

Have you been to Amsterdam? Would you add anything to this list?

17 Comments

  1. Jess @ Room Service Required
    April 25, 2016

    Beautiful pictures! It looks like such a great trip! I don’t think I’ve ever tried fries with mayo, but I guess when in the Netherlands…
    Jess @ Room Service Required recently posted…Baby & Toddler Beach TipsMy Profile

  2. Annemarie
    April 25, 2016

    This looks so beautiful! I would love to try that delicious goat cheese salad.

  3. Nellwyn
    April 25, 2016

    I love Amsterdam so much I’ve been twice already! I agree that the FrankHuis is a must-see, but the Van Gogh museum is amazing as well.

    Nellwyn | http://www.thecardinalpress.com

  4. Claire
    April 25, 2016

    I really wanted to go to Van Gough but unfortunately ran out of time and money, I definitely will return and go though 🙂

  5. Claire
    April 25, 2016

    It was absolutely lush!

  6. Claire
    April 25, 2016

    It was really great thanks, just wish it could have gone on for longer 🙂 Haha they’re not normally my meal of choice but trust me, these are good!

  7. Andi
    April 25, 2016

    So much to see and do that is free! It’s always good to mix paid and free. I love walking cities like Amsterdam, you can go and go fro miles. I have never seen that food hall mentioned before, I will definitely have to add that to my list for places to visit on my next trip.
    Andi recently posted…Weekly Wanderings #14 – MoabMy Profile

  8. Hung Thai
    April 26, 2016

    Holy cow you did all that in 48 hrs? I’d be so exhausted… but I guess you did what you came to do so good on you 🙂
    Hung Thai recently posted…Austin, Texas, ate my homework and expectations. Just WOW!My Profile

  9. Rosemary
    April 26, 2016

    Love Amsterdam. You captured the very essence of the place. You are right 2 days is not enough. I was there for 4 days and even that was enough 🙂 Can’t wait to go back!!
    Rosemary recently posted…Touring a Goat Farm in a Winery in ArgentinaMy Profile

  10. Claire
    April 26, 2016

    After 15 hours on a megabus too! Haha yeah we wanted to make the most of our time there 🙂

  11. Claire
    April 26, 2016

    Yes me too! I’ll definitely be back soon, maybe in the summer next time.

  12. Claire
    April 26, 2016

    Yeah most things we did were free really! I have a habit of going to cities and just spending all of my money on food… Definitely check the food hall out, it’s awesome and has a great range of stuff.

  13. Anita
    April 26, 2016

    Great tips, beautiful pictures. Hope I will come back to Amsterdam one day.

  14. Claire
    April 26, 2016

    Thanks! 🙂 Me too!

  15. Malibu Mama Loves
    April 29, 2016

    One of my fave cities! Great post, I love your pics! Keep up the awesome sharing travel work! Malibu Mama Loves Xx
    Malibu Mama Loves recently posted…9 Reasons to Visit Yosemite National Park This YearMy Profile

  16. Claire
    April 29, 2016

    It’s a lovely place isn’t it! Thanks 🙂

  17. Nancy
    May 24, 2016

    I haven’t been to Amsterdam but it is on my list! Love all of the suggestions – thanks Claire 🙂

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge