The Hooray Hayley Guide to Amsterdam Part 1
WHAT TO DO
Day trip to Keukenhof (read about this in part 2)
Van Gogh Museum
Anne Frank Museum
WHERE TO EAT
The Avocado Show
General recommendations, try local pattiseries, markets, cheese shops in town
WHERE TO STAY
In Amsterdam stay at Citizen M
At Schipol Airport stay at The Tulip Inn (read more about this in my Keukenhof travel guide)
London to Amsterdam by train?! HELLO EUROSTAR, you really are a star.
Set your alarms because on February 20th tickets go on sale for the first time fulfilling your Amsterdam getaway dreams. From the 4th of April, you can sit your little bottom down in London (sans worries about liquid limits) and a few short hours later you will find yourself in the centre of Amsterdam! My adventures in Amsterdam encapsulated everything I love about traveling. There was food, and I mean, the Dutch know food (founders of the avocado cafe ahem). Museums that leave you speechless, curious, creative and wanting more. There's tall, narrow buildings, flowers everywhere and canals to explore.
My advice for planning a trip to Amsterdam is two-fold. That is, if you are planning to go in spring there is part A, Amsterdam and part B, lesser known but in my opinion, unmissable Keukenhof.
I'll post a follow up to this post with my travel tips for Keukenhof and focus this one on Amsterdam.
In Amsterdam we stayed in a hotel called Citizen M, it's modern and forward styling won me over, but be warned you probably don't want to stay here with your mum or a travel buddy you aren't so close to. The room itself has glass cylindrical pods in the middle, one for the shower and one for the toilet so the privacy levels here are low. The room is all remote controlled by an iPad, including 'movie mode' for the tellie which closes the blinds, dims the lights and brings up a wide selection of movies for your viewing pleasure. But there's really barely anytime for movies in Amsterdam as there is so much to see and do at all hours of the day!
Of course high up on the photo-worthy moments list is the iAmsterdam sign. Situated in the heart of all the museums, the opportunity to take a photo, undisturbed, with the whole sign, was a dream that was quickly shattered. Buskers taking advantage of the sign's popularity meant that crowds were a plenty and getting that perfect picture was pretty tricky. If you manage to get an uninterrupted photo with one letter, you're doing pretty well. Top tip though, there is a sign at the airport, it's not THE sign, but you probably have a better chance at getting the perfect photo without the masses of selfie-taking tourists. Case in point below. The first two photos are taken at the main sign and the third at the airport. It's a little more fake but a whole lot emptier.
Let's talk about Museums for a minute. The museums in Amsterdam are amazing and from the length of the line it is clear that everyone is gallery hopping during their stay. Heed my advice and book ahead! This will save you a few hours queuing for entry. I definitely recommend Anne Franks house and the Van Gogh Museum (which also had a really great exhibition on vintage posters and design while I was there). While I was in Amsterdam Moco Museum were showing a Banksy Exhibition. Moco is great and I really loved it. One of the benefits of Moco is that there was much less of a need to queue for it, yet the art was as wonderful. Win win.
Want a break from Museums? I highly recommend taking a canal cruise tour of the city. Seeing Amsterdam from the comfort of a glass-roofed boat was a highlight of my trip that has stayed with me. We booked this through groupon and it was half the price it would have been if we just turned up on the day and bought the tickets. You can also take your own snacks and coffee on the cruise so find yourself some stroopwaffle (or in my case, a tub of grapes) and set sail! I really wanted to live in a houseboat after this trip!
Holland, well known for the tulip and the shoe, but did you know its also big on cheese? Cheese Louise, I was not expecting to see (or eat) so much cheese. When exploring the main parts of town there are so many little shops that want you to try their cheese, oils and spreads for the cheese. It was amazing and I definitely was not complaining!
This seems like a good segue to talk about arguably the most important part of a holiday, FOOD! I am the kind of person who seeks out local cuisine, does a lot of research on where to eat and makes food a big part of any destination. After all there are 3 meals a day and they need to be delicious and nutritious enough to get me through long days of walking and exploring. If you're like this too and love to travel and eat, then we'll get along just great.
The Avocado Show
The Avocado Show opened not long before we went to Amsterdam. A whole cafe dedicated to the beauty of avocado roses, avocado buns and avocado drinks and desserts, the world went crazy. We queued for about half an hour. I've heard these days it is easier to get a table on a weekday. The menu has had a refresh since I was there and just thinking about this makes my mouth water and my fingers wander over to the Eurostar website to book myself a weekend retreat.
Foodhallen was recommended to us by a friend who lives in Amsterdam. It has hipster warehouse vibes, with lots of food stalls lining the edges, large bars in the centre and DJ's setting the mood. We started with gin and tonics larger than my face and worked our way through this magical sea of food, eating local delicacies such as Bitterballen - a staple on Dutch pub and snack bar menus which are not bitter but are very delicious. We tried a hotdog served in a pretzel bun, topped with popcorn. Trust me, its great!
Rated #17 of 3,468 Restaurants in Amsterdam, Omelegg was a delightful find. The service was quick, menu extensive and ingredients fresh.
Looking for a quick bite which is extremely dietary friendly? Look no further than Mastino Pizza. It has a rotating menu of fresh pizzas of which there are many vegetarian and vegan options to choose from. Pizza's are served in a takeaway box and there is a bit of room to eat in if you like. Decor was cute. I read a magazine in Dutch while I waited.
In general, I recommend the local markets, patisseries (delicious quiche) and cheese shops. Try stroopwafal (which literally translates to syrup waffle), I'll let your mouth water a little thinking about that, but make sure you get it hot and fresh.
Comment below if you're planning a trip or if you've been to Amsterdam recently and can add any recommendations to this list!
Click here to read about Keukenhof, it really is not one to be missed!