A is for Amsterdam – Part One

Before I visited Amsterdam, I must admit I was a bit apprehensive!  The idea of travelling solo in a city famous for it’s red light district, ‘coffee shops’ and popular with stag do’s did scare me – I didn’t know what to expect.

To my surprise, I found Amsterdam to be one of the most culturally interesting and architecturally beautiful cities (I’m talking about you Central Station, Rijksmuseum and every house that lines the canals) that I have ever visited.  And also one of the cleanest!

I have put together an example itinerary if you are visiting for three days.

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DAY ONE – WALK WALK WALK!  

There are canals EVERYWHERE, and I can only recommend that you walk as much as possible to explore the true Amsterdam.  Luckily, Holland in general is renowned for being flat, so there’s no nasty hills!  Also, Central Amsterdam is laid out like a grid which can be easy to get your head round.

The architecture in the city is fascinating and unique, with no two buildings the same.   I would suggest that once you’ve located and checked in to your accommodation, go for a walk to get your bearings for when you return.  Amsterdam is also good for shopping – always a winner!

When you arrive in Amsterdam, you will notice that EVERYONE is on a bike (which makes you feel remarkably unhealthy!) and the pavements are split into bike lanes and pedestrian lanes.   Cyclists have the right of way over everything (that includes cars and pedestrians).   Do not walk in the bike lanes as the cyclists will not stop, so be careful!  Of course you could hire a bike for the day and enjoy Amsterdam like a local.

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Rijksmuseum

DAY TWO – CULTURE

Amsterdam has over 50 museums which cater for every interest.  Many museums are located in the centre so not a lot of travelling is involved.

Prior to my trip, I knew that I wanted to visit the Anne Frank House as I felt that it was something ‘I had to do’.  It won’t appeal to everyone but I found it really interesting and sobering at the same time.  I’d recommend booking your ticket online before your trip for a specific time, that way you can turn up for your time slot and avoid the nasty que out the front that often snakes around the building.

There are also the more unique museums including the Sex Museum (worth a visit IMO), Museum of ProstitutionMuseum of Cheese and even a Cat museum!

Art and photography contribute to Amsterdam’s uniqueness and quirky side, it’s no surprise that there are A LOT of galleries.  I have discovered various ones whilst randomly wandering the canals.  If Photography is of interest, one of the most popular galleries is FOAM located on Keizersgracht.

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Smallest house in Amsterdam

DAY THREE – THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT & LEIDSEPLEIN 

The red light district may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it’s something you have to experience when in Amsterdam.  It is located a short walk from Centraal Station and is a maze of alleyways with brothels, coffee shops, bars, strip clubs and the infamous prostitute windows.  It is an interesting area to walk around – I have explored it both during the day and at night, which will give you two very different experiences!  An interesting fact to keep in mind whilst wandering is that the prostitutes pay tax and have pensions 🙂

*Although it is fascinating, photography of the ‘ladies in the windows’ is forbidden so don’t be tempted!  

Adjacent to the Red Light District is Chinatown located on Zeedijk.  It’s only small but interesting all the same!

Leidseplein is a popular tourist spot in Amsterdam with many bars and restaurants offering various cuisines.  Many of them have outdoor seating and I always enjoy grabbing a Heineken and watching the world go by.

* I will be discussing Leidseplein in more detail in a later post!

And so that ends three days in Amsterdam.  Feel free to comment with any other tips!

Thanks for reading,

E x

 

 

 

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