When to go: All year round
I was there in September last year and again in June this year. The weather in Amsterdam is relatively unpredictable. You’ll find locals carrying their umbrellas even on the hottest days in July, just in case of random showers! There are however, events and festivals scheduled throughout the year.
30th April: Queensday, a national celebration for the birthday of the Queen Mother. Expect a lot of people partying in orange along the streets of Amsterdam.
June: Holland festival! A performing arts festival with artists drawn from all over the world.
Festivals aside, 4 to 5 days would be sufficient for a visit to the city.
What to see?
I personally really enjoyed this museum. It feels surreal being in the same house where Anne Frank went into hiding. I’d encourage anyone visiting the city to have this place as part of your itinerary.
This museum houses the largest collection of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in the world. If you are interested in his life story and works, this is the place to go.
Just round the corner from the Van Gogh museum is one of Amsterdam’s most popular parks. It plays host to Queenday’s celebration on the 30th of April. There is also a film museum and an open-air theatre, where music and dance performances are held from June until August.
The name says it all.
The coffee-shop culture is unique to Amsterdam and the selection is endless. (Note: I’m not advocating smoking. Do it at your own risk)
This is a market for everyone. From clothes, normal food to exotic food (really depends on how you define exotic), this market offers a great selection at great prices. Dappermarkt is situated right in the middle of Amsterdam’s multicultural area. Do step away from shopping malls for once and experience a different kind of shopping.
I’d suggest blocking out a day for a trip to the countryside in order to complete the Dutch experience. There is cheese factory (which smells horrid in my opinion but my friends loved it). There is also a wooden shoe workshop that demonstrates how the shoes are made! You’ll also get the chance to marvel at a panoramic view of windmills. Trust me, the day trip is worth it.
(To get there, take the train from Central station. Approximately 20mins.)
Where to party?
You’ll find most of your nightlife in Rembrantplein or Leidseplein. The younger crowds ie. students are usually partying in Leidseplein. There you’ll find major venues such as the Nachttheater Sugar Factory and Paradiso. At Rembrantplein there are other popular clubs such as Studio 80.
(Tip of the day: Approximately 30c or less can get you a can of beer at the supermarket. True story.)
What to eat?
TRY IT. (You can get it from Albert Heijn)
- Manneken Pis Chips
If you walk from Dam Square in the direction of Central Station, you will find this gem. There are chip shops everywhere but this is everyone’s favourite. You’ll find a queue (no queue if you’re lucky) and people hovering around savouring their chips. They come in a cone and with sauces of your choice to go with the chips.
- Dutch Pancakes
Different from american pancakes, they are thin but can go as large as a pizza. Dutch pancake is somewhat like a crepe and have all sorts of toppings to choose from, savoury or sweet, to each their own. You can even customize your own. The Pannenkoeken Huis (Pancake restaurant) is not hard to find. There’s one right across the road from Anne Frank Huas. A perfect pick for brunch before you start your day.
- Kroket burger
This Kroket burger is unique to Netherland’s Macdonald’s. Kroketten (Dutch croquettes) is a Dutch snack (deep fried meat coated with breadcrumbs – available at Febo for your convenience)
I found the tram to be the most convenient form of transportation within the city centre as it gets me to most of the destinations (there are sixteen tram lines) You can get a tram tickets that is valid for 24hours, 48hours or 72hours (unlimited use during that period). For more information, head to the gvb office when you arrive at the Central station.
Amsterdam is extremely bicycle friendly (complete opposites from Singapore). Bike rental shops are available in the city and if you can cycle, do it. I can’t really cycle but I survived on the two-wheel vehicle around the city and I’m certain it doesn’t take a lot to cycle better than me. Just remember, the traffic rules still apply to you on the cyclist lane.
- Canal tours
Do hop on a boat and cruise along the beautiful canals in the city of Amsterdam or even better, stay in a houseboat hotel! Countless canals cut through the city of Amsterdam. You could also rent a canal bike and pedal from one mooring to another for a fun and unique way of sightseeing.