outfit details: West and Wind Like a Boss T-Shirt, Aldo Crossbody, Vero Moda Jacket, Hue Jeggings,
Amsterdam is a lively city full of history, and unique sights that you don’t want to miss. After spending a few weeks traveling the countryside of France, and our brief stay in the quaint town of Tellaro in Italy, we were excited to finish our European travels off in a bustling, vibrant, and energetic city.
I had always heard amazing things about Amsterdam, but since this was my first time there I really didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t take me long to discover just what people so loved about this beautiful city. It is a busy city that is always alive, the people are incredibly friendly, the architecture encourages you to stop and stare, and the canals that thread through the city are enchanting.
So, you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam? Well, let’s get down to packing – and how to travel smart while you’re there:
The Smart Traveler Checklist:
- Buy a Tram Ticket for Your ENTIRE Stay.
- Purchasing a Tram Ticket for the entire duration of your stay is much cheaper than purchasing a ticket with each ride. Plus, you then have the freedom to use the Tram as much as you like, and you can see more in a single day.
- Wear Smart Shoes
- This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people we met who were struggling on the cobblestone in sky high heels. The fact is that Amsterdam’s streets are made up entirely of cobble stone and that is NOT high heel friendly. To ensure you’re comfortable while exploring, wear a pair of comfortable flats or sneakers.
- Pack a Coat
- If you plan on staying out all day, then you’re going to want to pack a coat. Of course this is dependent on the time of year you’re visiting Amsterdam, but if you visit during the spring like we did than you’re going to want to pack a light coat for the evenings. Also, because there is typically quite a bit of wind (being next to the Atlantic), the weather can change very suddenly throughout the day.
- Pack Sunscreen
- While we were away, the only place that I got a little sunburn was in Amsterdam. I was surprised by how hot the days were, and on our first day I forgot to pack sunscreen in my bag. While I didn’t get sunstroke or a terrible burn, I still wished I had been savvy enough to have packed along my sunscreen. Don’t make this mistake – pack it along! You won’t regret it.
- Pack a Charged Camera
- There’s a lot to see and photograph in this gorgeous city, so be prepared! Pack a fully charged camera and make sure your phone is charged 100% as well. If you can, bring your charger (and plug converter) along with you so you can charge on the go.
- Pack Multiple Plug Converters
- Wherever you’re travelling in Europe, you’re going to need to pack along a plug converter. We only packed one, which admittedly was a bit of a mistake as we couldn’t charge our phones or cameras simultaneously. If you’re going with a spouse or friends, invest in a few of these as they are infinitely useful – and 100% essential.
Things to Do in Amsterdam:
See the City with a Canal Tour
The absolute best part of our stay in Amsterdam was seeing the city by canal. We had read online that there was a alternative boat tour that offered a bit more of a fun + friendly experience to exploring the canals. Rather than just sitting in a boat, wearing headphones, and listening to a robotic voice drone on, we wanted to get a more intimate and friendly experience.
Those Dam Boat Guys run a boat tour that is both fun and historical. Since there are only about 10 people on the boat at a time, you get to know the guide as well as the group in a relaxed setting. In addition, since the tour wasn’t just a recording, we were able to ask questions and hear more quirky facts about Amsterdam.
Take a Photo in Front of I A M S T E R D A M
One fun touristy thing you have to do while you’re in Amsterdam is stand in front (or in one of the letters) of the I A M S T E R D A M sign. There’s nothing more foolish than not doing something because it’s “touristy” (like why is that always viewed as a bad thing?) – so make a point of doing this! One day you’ll look back on photos and love that you went and stood in the I A M S T E R D A M letters.
Make like a Local and Rent a Bike
If you want to get around the city fast, and don’t want to take the tram, then rent a bike! Biking is the most popular way to get around Amsterdam for the locals, and it’s definitely the most bike-friendly city I’ve ever been to. Plus, it’s much faster than trying to get anywhere on-foot.
Try Local Cuisine
One thing you should do every place you go is try a restaurant or meal that is recommended by the locals. We went to the Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs, and frankly – we were blown away. We loved it so much that we returned there for breakfast every day we had in Amsterdam. They were by far the best pancakes I’ve ever had, and likely the best that I’ll ever have in my lifetime. I mean, unless we go back.
This quaint little restaurant was recommended to us over and over, and as we met people and told them about it they instantly knew of the delicious little Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs. If you’re looking for some incredible pancakes/crepes than go here – we HIGHLY recommend it.
Whenever you travel, making a point to see some of that country’s history is essential to really getting to know the country you’re in. Amsterdam has a rich history and there are interesting stories around every corner of this city. One of the most well known sites in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank Haus , and it is a site to put on your must-see list when you’re in Amsterdam.
Eat Some Frites
One thing you’ll want to indulge in once or twice during your stay is a cone of frites. Sold on nearly every corner, fries with mayo is a staple for those long days walking around the city. They are totally delicious and are super cheap (which means they won’t break your budget)
See the Red Light District (DON’T take photos!)
The red light district is known worldwide, and it’s a place you’ll want to go and see for yourself. But, be sure to be respectful and leave the cameras at home.
If you’re going to smoke….
Everyone knows that Amsterdam is famous for their lenient laws on marijuana. The truth is, I don’t smoke and I wasn’t tempted to while we were there – but we did learn a few things from the locals about smoking weed. One thing they shared with us was that the large chain “coffee shops” should be avoided, and that smaller places would offer a more authentic experience and a better product. We also learned that most locals actually do not partake, perhaps because of the leniency in their laws and that the marijuana scene is mostly made up of tourists. So, if you’re going to try it – go somewhere authentic, avoid the big flashy signs, steer clear of the chains, and don’t overdo it.