Amsterdam is one of the most famous cities in the world – and rightfully so. Its laidback atmosphere lends itself to any and all visitors. When someone tells you they’re interested in going, you might instantly think of some sex shop, weed-filled Eurotrip-esque adventure, but there’s more to the city. Much more. I look forward to my chance to go back and explore the Dutch country, but these are my recommendations if you have just a brief stint in Amsterdam:
1. Take a canal tour
Nicknamed Venice of the North, the city boasts over 100km of canals and 1,500 bridges. Because of this, I believe the absolute best way to get a grasp of the city is to see it by boat. Ranging from €10-35, the nearly hour and a half trip will lead you around the outer city accompanied by a guide that will explain the purposes of creating half-circle canals, how the residents got furniture in their skinny houses, and tidbits about the Dutch Resistance.
2. unwind at a coffeeshop
Depending on what time of day you arrive and how stressful your flight was, you may want to stop by a coffeeshop (different than a coffee shop) and pick up a little treat. You’ll notice the distinct smell as you walk by and you can stop in for cannabis or spacecake. My understanding is that drugs aren’t as legal as they are just decriminalized and tolerated – an idea that would save plenty of lives in the USA if we adopted a similar mindset.
3. Visit the Anne frank house
Currently closed until Spring 2021 due to COVID-19, the museum shares the story of the young girl who hid from Nazi occupiers between 1942 and 1944. Tickets are €14 and it is a quick walk from Central Station (where you’ll likely end up after a train ride from the airport.)
4. Ride a bike around the city
In the Netherlands, there are more bikes (23 million) than people (17 million), meaning traveling by bike is the most authentic way to experience a Dutch city. With over 500km of bike lanes in the city, you’ll find yourself either leisurely coasting down an empty street or in the middle of rush hour with a hundred other bikes in each direction going at high speeds. Obey traffic signals, use your hands to signal turning, and use the bike lanes, but enjoy the self-driven tour of Amsterdam.
5. embrace some culture in an art museum
Home to some reknowned museums, you have myriad choices depending on your interests. The Rijksmuseum offers classic art tours and things to do for everyone. The Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt House show off collections of the titular artist’s work. The Moco Museum sends you through stunning visual exhibits with a more contemporary flair.
6. Hang out in vondelpark
The largest, and most famous, park in the city, you can stroll through Vondelpark and see people jogging, walking their dogs, or lazing about. Take your time and relax until the next leg of your flight.
7. take a picture with the “IAMsterdam” sign
Located in the Schiphol Airport, these letters offer a great selfie to make your friends jealous on the ‘gram. An original, larger set were once sitting infront of the Rijksmuseum since 2004, but were removed in late 2018 because the city council thought it delivered the wrong message (they wanted it to celebrate the diversity of the city rather than be a mass-tourism hot spot.)