After months of meticulous planning, it arrived. Europe.
After scouring pages of Pinterest, Instagram, Thrillist and, let’s face it, just about every Google search imaginable- I was armed with handfuls of notes prepped and ready for this trip. What I hadn’t braced myself for, though, was the horrendous flight there.
Of the three countries we had planned to visit, I went into Amsterdam with the most uncertainty. I’d already missed the window to pre-purchase tickets for the Anne Frank House. That, for me, is almost unforgivable not to go and respect a part of history that so monumentally impacted my family. That, along with the fact I’d have no interest in a vast majority of what other extracurricular activities the city had to offer, might have unfairly set the tone even before our flight and travel troubles.
First of all, make no doubt about it, the city is gorgeous.
Someone told me Amsterdam wasn’t the place to meticulously plan, rather just to walk around and soak it all in. I learned, quickly, that that was exactly how it was going to unfold. Too stubborn to use a map, we haphazardly navigated our first night around the city only to find ourselves hungry, exhausted and perpetually lost. My advice? It is an easy city to walk, but if you have the luxury of staying for a few days, spend your first night getting familiarized with the main streets. If you’re on a mission, like us, map it out beforehand.
While we were there for two days, our first night was primarily spent traveling and getting settled. On our full day there, we started out by having Dutch pancakes at Pancakes. Fitting. We took in the Anne Frank house from the outside before making our way to the I Amsterdam sign and bloemenmarkt (flower market). This is a floating flower market and one of the only of it’s kind in the world. It’s located towards the southern canal belt. There is a Starbucks at the edge of the market, so we refueled and headed on our way.
We then went to the Dam Square, which is the capital of the Netherlands. There, you’ll find the Royal Palace, the National Monument (seen in the video- which honors victims of World War II), and a hub of activity nearby. We stopped at their local supermarket, Albert Heijn and sat eating delicious stroopwafels while soaking it all in. Stroopwafels are an absolute must. Afterwards, we walked through the red light district and along the canals near old town. We then finished our evening at SkyLounge, which overlooks the city and has arguably one of the best views of the Amsterdam skyline.
Did we uncover everything the city has to offer? Absolutely not. I do feel like it was enough to get a sense of the city and what it has to offer in the given time frame. If I did it again, I would make sure to buy Anne Frank tickets far in advance. I would also suggest the canal cruise, especially if the walking part deters you.
Share your favorite things to do in Amsterdam in the comments section below!