We visited Amsterdam towards the end of January for a well deserved trip, just the two of us. We haven’t been away as a couple since October 2016, so a long weekend away was well overdue. We chose Amsterdam as our destination because it’s somewhere we have always wanted to go, it’s full of culture, and we both love holidays where we can walk for hours on end and find the most beautiful little cafes.
We decided to stay just South of the city of Amsterdam (roughly 20 minutes on the tram) for a few reasons.
1) It was much quieter, 2) It was much cheaper, 3) It was right next to a supermarket (a girls got to eat junk food all dayyyyyy).
I am SUPER fussy when travelling. I have a real issue about needing my own space, and Cityden Up was perfect for this. The rooms were self-contained studio flats with a little kitchenette, a beautiful en-suite with a rainfall shower, a dining table, a little lounge area, a double bed and TV. I love having the choice of just being about to sit in and cook some crappy pasta or have some peanut butter on toast for breakfast when I’m on holiday because I do massively resent spending SO much money on eating out every night. So CitydenUp was perfect for us. Not to mention it also had a rooftop bar (dreamy…)
The rooms were about £55-£60 a night, which is SO affordable compared to the apartments right in the city centre and we didn’t have any faults at all with our stay. The hotel has a restaurant, gym, bar, rooftop terrace/bar and you can even hire bikes directly from the hotel!
My best advice for travelling in Amsterdam is to get a travel card and get on the trams – they go absolutely everywhere you can possibly need to go and it’s only 25 euros for 5 days of travel which is AMAZING. The train from the airport to Centraal station is 5 euros each way and they run every 10 – 20 minutes. Public transport in Amsterdam is super easy to navigate and it isn’t overly packed with people!
You can obviously hire bikes if you fancy, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you were really quite confident on them because the cyclists are ruthless… I almost got run over about 70 times because they come out of nowhere (also I probably wasn’t paying attention at all…)
Amsterdam is the perfect place to get Instagram worthy food shots. Every single café or restaurant we went into had the most amazing plating, it’s almost as if they want you to take hundreds of photos of their food… like it’s really bloody good advertising or something…
Before we set off, I had trolled the web to find places that I had to visit based on other people’s Instagram photos and we trapesed across the whole of Amsterdam to find the places we ended up visiting.
We visited so many more cafes and restaurants than the ones I’ve listed below but these were the ones I managed to snap cute photos of!
Corner Bakery Amsterdam
The Café is located about a 5 – 10 minute walk from the museum district and the menu is basically full of Instagram worthy shots. From outrageously beautiful hearty breakfasts to the most unreal donut topped freak shakes (which you need a side plate to eat) this café has it all. You know that it’s necessary to visit somewhere when it’s completely full and you have to wait for a table. It is so busy, so if you’re thinking about going at the usual prime times of breakfast and lunch make sure you do give yourself plenty of time!
When we finally sat down, we were not disappointed. I mean, the freak shakes come with a donut, marshmallows, lucky charms, pick and mix sweeties and are made with ice cream (every humans dream).
Blushing Healthy Food Coffee
I was obsessed with the décor in Blushing Healthy Food Coffee… hence why I have posted photos of it all over my Instagram and keep doing so… I was surprised by how quiet this café was when we visited, it felt like we’d found a hidden gem. Located directly across the road from the Van Gogh museum it’s perfect for a pre or post museum caffeine stop. We had our usual hot drinks order, a soya latte for me and a soya hot choc for Steve with some beautiful vegan bakes they had in (Yes, it has vegan and gluten free options) and then we were off back off to adventure around the museums again!
We stopped off in Het Warenhuis when we were dandering around the West side of the city. It was nice and quiet, so we thought it would be perfect for a coffee stop and a break from walking (we’d been on our feet all day). It had a very chilled out vibe and served the best cakes and sandwiches. I loved the décor too, I want my dining room to have the same decor for sure.
Van Gogh Museum
I’m still a bit taken aback by the fact that I actually got to see ‘Sunflowers’ in real life. It was breath-taking. I don’t think there’s a child in the UK who didn’t have to draw sunflowers as part of an art project at secondary school at some point in their life. To see it in real life was kind of amazing and a bit nostalgic. Of course the museum is full of the vast majority of Van Gogh’s paintings, but his self-portraits, his bedroom, and sunflowers were all paintings I couldn’t wait to see.
Anne Frank Huis
I have wanted to visit Anne Frank’s House since I first read Anne Frank’s diary in my teen years for a World War II project at school. It’s really quite a harrowing and thought provoking experience. It’s amazing that the families were able to hide in the annexe for so long. As you go behind the bookcase that hid the entrance to their hideaway the atmosphere immediately changes, everyone goes silent as they listen to their guides and walk from room to room reading the plaques on the walls of the secret home.
At the end of the tour there is a video which talks about the concentration camps and the fear of racial genocide happening again, it’s quite scary how many people do truly feel that this is possible again. John Green, the author of ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ reads a quote from his book about the lists of names of those that were killed in the camps in WWII and reminds you that whilst we know about Anne Frank, because of her diary, there are millions of others that we can’t name and we don’t talk about. We wrote a little note in the guestbook which had thousands of entries for the week we had visited and it was lovely to read everyone else’s comments and to see where in the world people had travelled from to visit the museum.
The tickets are really affordable at roughly 11 euros, and you MUST book in advance. We booked on the day and the only slot available was 19:45 on that day (and it was the only slot available for the rest of our trip there!). I would definitely recommend going to see the house if you can whilst you’re in Amsterdam!
The Sex Museum is on the main high street in Amsterdam across the road from Centraal station. If I’m being completely honest, it was a bit anti-climactic (pun 100% intended). It is definitely worth going to, purely because you don’t get to see this kind of museum at home, but it’s worth no more than the 5 euros you pay for entry
It’s full of statues, toys, videos and photos but nothing was particularly attention grabbing (except the flasher as you walk in…) we were in and out in about 10 minutes. It’s good for a quick stop off as part of a day of events and backs onto my favourite shopping street!
Red Light District
For me, the Red Light District was one of those things I just had to see. It’s hard to believe that prostitution is legal in some parts of the world because it’s such an underground industry in the UK (obviously, because it’s illegal). The Red Light District isn’t only women in windows and sex shows though, it’s where we found most of our favourite cafés and restaurants such as Grizzly’s (nom nom nom) and there are a number of museums located in the surrounding streets too. (It’s also where the majority of traditional Amsterdam Coffee Shops are too.)
It’s surrounded by beautiful canals, bicycles and shops and it for sure something you have to see once.
(Please be aware that although prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, there is still a huge problem with human trafficking. If you see something suspicious please do report it.)
I LOVE shopping in Europe.
Pull & Bear, Bershka, Monki and every other high street shop you could possibly imagine (even Primark) exist in the streets of Amsterdam. Directly opposite Centraal station, just down the main street in the city you’ll find a 6 story Primark, which backs on to another series of streets filled with all the European shopping highlights. Steve was particularly happy because basketball is much bigger in Europe so there were loads of NBA shops too.
We spent far too much money on clothes for our already full suitcases but KLM let you take two bags of hand luggage on the plane… so winner winner quorn chicken dinner.
If you get the chance to go to Amsterdam, definitely grasp it with both hands… we had the bestest time. It’s a beautiful place for a city break.