An Insider’s Guide to Amsterdam
– During my stay in Amsterdam, I was lucky enough to be a guest of The Wittenberg, but all opinions presented are mine and mine alone. –
Hello from Amsterdam! While the tulips are no longer in bloom, the city still has plenty to offer during the other months of the year! It was the next stop on my trip after Brussels, but not my first time! I wanted to spend more time in Amsterdam so we stayed for almost a week! Unlike the last time I was in Amsterdam, I stayed closer to the city, but still slightly outside, so I had easy access, without the noise of staying near Centraal station. Heritage, art, and history are around every corner in Amsterdam, supported by the beating heart of the city that just wants to live life to the fullest. I was lucky to stay in Amsterdam and the vibrancy of the city really makes me want to return.
Where to Stay:
The Wittenberg – I stayed at The Wittenberg throughout the entire duration of my trip and this aparthotel is beautiful. One of SACO’s properties around Europe, The Wittenberg is nestled in the Plantage District, just across from Einstein’s old laboratory and the Artis Zoo. The aparthotel is full of certain charms that blend the history of the building with a few modern touches. The aparthotel ranges from studio apartments to three-bedroom apartments, which means that you can find a space that serves all of your needs. Whether you’re in Amsterdam for work or pleasure, the aparthotel has everything you need to have a great time in the city. There’s a gym, a workspace, spacious beds, fast wifi, and so much more, so you will not be hard-pressed to complete tasks or look up sites to visit on your travels.
One of my favourite things about The Wittenberg is the history. You’ll be able to read a more comprehensive spread on this when the post about the aparthotel goes live, but until then, I’ll give you a little precursor! The Wittenberg was created in 1772 and was refurbished by SACO in order to bring it to its glory today, expanding the space and using every aspect to its maximum. Matching light wood floors with custom orange couches, The Wittenberg is full of charms that will make you go “OOOO” when you arrive. The aparthotel is close to a couple metro/tram stations, but everything is within walking distance. I loved exploring it in order to count the swans or sitting in the garden while writing blog posts. I loved the space and still feel very lucky to have called it home for a few days.
What to See:
I want to preface this with a small disclaimer. Amsterdam is an interesting city, but I wanted to give you family friendly, touristy, and adults-only options in order for you to get the most out of your city experience!
— Family Friendly – Artis Zoo: The Artis Zoo is right next to The Wittenberg and who doesn’t love the zoo? It’s the oldest one in the Netherlands and as the royal museum, it’s full of animals and things to see. If you buy your tickets online you’ll save 2€, and tickets start at 21€ for the Artis Zoo and 27.50€ for the Zoo and Micropia (the only microbe museum in the world), so it’s definitely a great place to stop. I’m a massive nerd, so this kind of activity was right up my street, but it’s also a great stop for the kids.
— Touristy – Paddle Boats: I know, childish, but so fun! We took one of the city-approved paddle boat tours throughout the city, starting at the Rijksmuseum and going in a circle around the city. It was a great way to get active while exploring the Dutch canals that we know so well. I really enjoyed the tour and it took around an hour to complete. I recommend doing it with a friend and as long as you look at the rules and follow them, you’ll be fine.
— Adults Only – Red Light District: Okay, this is definitely an adults-only activity, but if you’re old enough, I say go! On a weekend, it lights up at night and has lots of things to see. While I will not give tips on specific places, maybe take a stroll through here and you never know what you may see.
Where to Shop:
— Kilo Shop: Okay, so apparently these stores are everywhere, but I didn’t know that! A Kilo store is where you have mostly vintage items with different labels. Each label coincides with a price per kilo, so you pay a specific price depending on how much each item weighs. I’ve made it one of my missions to stop using fast fashion brands and start buying vintage items. There are a couple of these stores around Amsterdam, along with other vintage stores, but the prices are pretty great! I got two dresses and a wallet for under 40€ if I remember correctly!
— Near Dam Square, Kalverstraat: The street runs all the way from Dam Square to the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). The street is littered with shops that offer various cheeses, standard high street clothes, and so much more, so if you’re up for a little walk, you’ll be able to find anything you want without having to stray far from the main street!
How to Get Around:
While in Amsterdam, there are a few ways to get around, but I recommend: walking, public transport, or biking. Walking truly is one of the easiest ways to get around Amsterdam & while you do have to worry about bikes, Amsterdam is a walkable city. If you don’t mind spending a few euros, take public transport. It is a pretty comprehensive system and works really well. A weekly pass would do you good if you think you’ll use it a lot, this GVB pass will cost you 7.50€ for 1 day to 34.50€ for 7 days.
You can buy these passes early, but if you get an iAmsterdam pass, the pass will cover the cost of your metro transport and entrance into many different museums. Now….if you’re a biking expert and extremely brave, you can bike through the city. There’s probably more bikes in Amsterdam than cars, so it is built for bikers. I wouldn’t recommend this option for beginners as the will run you down or off the road with little hesitation. There are bike rentals on every street corner, so you’ll have no issue finding one to use during your stay.
How to Get There:
Amsterdam is a fairly accessible city, especially for those in Europe. You can take the Eurostar from London/Paris starting around $50/$35 one way, respectively. In addition, there are other train companies that can help you get to the city, such as Thalys or SNCF that will provide service. There is an airport that is readily accessible as well to the city centre, linked by the train system.
What to Pack:
Essentials that I found are sneakers and backpacks. Sneakers are helpful for all the walking or biking that you may do, but also, backpacks are great as well. While you may have problems with a backpack in museums for security reasons, they’re great in case you want to explore the city and not carry everything on your arms. Backpacks are a great tool so you can leave with everything you need at once and an absolute essential.
What Not To Do:
There are a couple things I recommend not to do in Amsterdam. First of all, don’t walk into the street off the light. You will get hit by a bike. Period. Be careful and look where you’re going. The lights don’t take too long to change , so you’ll be fine waiting the extra 30 seconds. The second thing I recommend is not to be paranoid about weed. Yes, marijuana. Amsterdam has legalised it, so you will smell it everywhere. It’s not to the point where you will pop up on a drug screen. You can partake if you like or not. If it’s not your scene, there are plenty of other options for you to enjoy in A’Dam.
Well, thank you for checking out this look into Amsterdam! There’s plenty of things off this list and I sure hope it was helpful and enjoyable! If so, do leave a comment down below and let me know if you have other suggestions for the list!