Recently I had the chance to explore Amsterdam. I had been once before, but as part of a backpacking trip, so time was limited and all exploring was most definitely on a tight budget. The gorgeous city is filled with canals, coffee shops and the most wonderful architecture. We were lucky enough to be blessed with glorious sunshine, however with the vast amount of canals the wind tends to add a chill to the air, particularly in the evenings. We managed to cram a lot of fun and exciting things into our 3 night trip, so let me tell you what some of my Amsterdam highlights are!
Where we stayed: Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy
This lovely hotel features rooms of all star ratings. We had initially booked a double standard room which featured a double bed and an open plan bathroom, however upon arrival we were lucky enough to get upgraded (thank god, an open plan bathroom is not for me!). Our new room featured a seriously comfy double bed, dining table and chairs, TV, armchair and a spacious bathroom. The decor was rather simple with white walls, gold bed side lamps and cream shutter blinds, we didn’t mind this much as we only spent a couple of hours sleeping in the room. The hotel has a restaurant and bar area that was always hosting an array of people and on the Saturday night, we actually had a live classical band play. The perfect way to chill out after a night out at the city centre. Although we didn’t have the chance to eat in the hotel, we frequently had drinks in the bar which were reasonably priced, with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a pint of the local beer around €8. The decor was modern and welcoming.
Location wise this hotel is slightly outside of the city centre, a number 26 tram takes you into Amsterdam Central within 10 minutes. We purchased a 72 hour tram ticket for €17 each, which can be used on any tram line within the city. Trams run from 6am through to 12:30am and come around every 5 minutes, this is a fab and efficient way to get around.
Where we ate: Lunchcafé Blom
We stumbled upon this lovely café whilst strolling down the main strip of shops just off of Dam Square. The café has a gorgeous modern, clean interior with a vast display of lovely sandwich fillings, pastries and of course coffee. We loved it here so much we went twice. The first time I indulged in in a delicious warm baguette, generously filled with ham off the bone topped with a yummy honey mustard dressing, whilst my boyfriend Dane, enjoyed a traditional English Breakfast (of course!). Both of these dishes, with an orange juice and a Diet Coke was roughly around €20, the staff were extremely friendly and welcoming whilst the interior made it feel like you were somewhere a lot more up-market! I would definitely recommend.
The Grasshopper Steakhouse is impossible to miss. A huge historical looking building with bright green lights illuminating the restaurants name, with eye-catching green and white striped canopy’s. The interior is very pub-esque with wooden tables and wooden chairs. I have to say I felt as though the food was not the best and quite overpriced. I opted for the Chicken Escalope with a baked potato, and although it was nice enough it was lacking real flavour and seasoning, Dane had the Ribs and thoroughly enjoyed his meal, so I guess it is all down to what you choose. For those two meals, a pint of Heineken and a Diet Coke came to around €50.
This was by far my favourite place we ate at over our trip. As someone who will 9 times out of 10, always opt for a burger on the restaurant menu, this was an amazing spot to visit. Burger Zaken is located near the Red Light District and claims to be ‘Amsterdam’s Finest Burgers’, I have to say after our visit I would have to agree with that statement. The decor is very much like your local Gourmet Burger Kitchen or Byron Burger. The beauty of this restaurant is that you are able to choose the kind of meat that you want and the size. I opted for the Black Angus Beef in the smaller size and this was plenty. The burger comes in a crunchy toasted, sesame seed burger bun with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and a delicious homemade burger sauce. I opted to go for cheese on my burger, with a side of fries and some onion rings. The burger was cooked to perfection, whilst the onion rings and fries completed it. Dane went for a large Waygu beef burger (which btw he said was amazing!!) with fries, which was exceptionally priced for such a high quality meat, paired with two Heineken pints and this came to a total of approx. €35. I would highly recommend for a delicious burger at great value for money!
Where We Visited: Anne Frank Museum
I had visited the Anne Frank Museum on my previous trip to Amsterdam and I liked it so much we went back again. It gives you such an insight into what Anne, the Frank family, and all the other Jewish people went through during Hitler’s dictatorship, and how one little girl stayed strong by writing her thoughts and feelings down in her diary. It is well worth a visit – I advise that you book your tickets to the museum before your trip, as tickets are only available on the door from 3pm and you’re sure to expect long queues.
I have never been to an Ice Bar before and thought why not give it a whirl whilst I’m in Amsterdam. There is a number of Tours & Tickets shops scattered all around Amsterdam, offering up a wide variety of deals on local attractions, Ice Bar was included in these deals with entry and 3 drinks for €19 each. As we entered the bar we got 3 drink tokens, one to be used in the bar before we entered the ice bar, and the other two to be redeemed once we were inside. There was a great theatrical pirate introduction before we entered the ice bar, telling of the chilly expedition we were about to endure. We were given a coat and gloves to prepare us for the minus 10 degrees temperature we were about to walk into. And I have to say, it was FREEZING! I mean obviously it was always going to be cold but it was cold to the point where my fingers had gone numb. It was such a fun experience though, the entire bar is made of ice, plus you get to redeem your next two drinks in glasses made of ice. It’s a great attraction for something a little different one evening!
Boat Canal Tour
Along the main walk from Amsterdam Central to Dam Square, there is a variety of boat canal tours to choose from. We opted for the cheaper tour which was €10 each, and I have to say it was worth every penny and a highlight of my trip. The open top boat went down a number of different canal routes, explaining the city’s history and sights in a variety of languages, including English. We explored parts of Amsterdam that I never even knew existed, including this wonderful replica of a shipping boat, built by 400 volunteers. Plus the tour guide brought to our attention the ‘Dancing Houses’ of Amsterdam. The ‘Dancing Houses’ of Amsterdam are the wonky houses scattered all around the city due to the city’s soft ground, once you’ve been told this you start to notice just how wonky the beautiful houses are within this lovely city.
I had the most spectacular weekend in this culture filled city. The people of Amsterdam are welcoming and friendly, the streets are filled with wonderful architecture and the most gorgeous sights. If you get the opportunity you must go, it is well worth a trip!
Thanks for reading!