Guest blogger Anita Dykstra is a travel writer from New Zealand. You can read her great blog on her website.
Amsterdam—it’s one of the most exciting, fun and entertaining cities in the world. Naturally, it’s a top destination because of how unique it is compared to any other place you’ve visited. The people are helpful, the culture is alive and it’s not a destination that should be overlooked because of its reputation as the ‘party central’. It’s much, much more than that.
Keep an open mind and it will be the greatest 24 hours you’ve ever had!
First things first: you need to hire a bike. The best way to get amongst the locals, and to see a lot of Amsterdam in a short space of time, is to hire one of these beauties. There are a lot of companies where you can hire them, but the most recommended are Mac Bikes (€9.75 for 24 hours) and Rent a Bike (€9.40 for 24 hours). It’s a great deal for all your transport costs and you won’t have to hit the gym for the next few days—bonus!
To start the day with a full belly, make your way to Gartine, Taksteeg 7. Their ingredients are grown in their own garden (you can’t get much fresher than that), and it’s reasonably priced for good-quality food. It’s busy but with good reason—the food is so delicious.
Afterwards, have a quick look around Dam Square, the most popular place for tourists in the heart of Amsterdam. The beautiful historic buildings make for some great pictures, especially the Royal Palace. Built in the 13th century, it became a hub for the city, and in the 1960s it became popular with the hippies. Nowadays it’s packed full of people because its architecture is exquisite.
Jump on your bike and head west to the Jordaan neighbourhood. It’s a less touristy part of Amsterdam, but is by far my favourite part because it’s a lot quieter and full of trendy cafes and shops. It first started as the district for the underprivileged but is now a favourite with artists, students and young professionals. There are tonnes of great independent shops here, including a great farmers market on Saturdays. Here you can taste a delicious range of fresh produce, cheeses and unmissable Dutch apple pie.
After you have totally made use of all the free samples at the market go to the Woonboot Museum (€4.50), Prinsengracht 296K, and see what life is like on a houseboat; it’s fascinating to see.
Pop to the Foodcrib food truck for a late lunch. With good hotdogs, burgers and lunch to go, it’s right next door to the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign on Hobbemastraat so go have your snap taken there—essential for your Facebook profile.
A quick bike ride and you’ll be at Vondelpark. A bit tired? Bring a good book and have an afternoon nap before the dancing begins later tonight. This is the largest city park in Amsterdam and probably the most famous, too. In the summer, there are concerts at the open-air theatre. It’s popular with the locals, which make it a great place to hang out and people watch.
It’s museum time! You’ll probably want to visit the Rijksmuseum (€12.50), Museumstraat 1, to see Rembrandt’s luminous ‘The Night Watch’; if classical art isn’t your thing, we recommend the Van Gogh Museum (€17), just down the road at Museumplein 6. Make sure you head here late in the day when the crowds subside, though. Both of these museums stay open until 5pm so I would suggest getting there around 3.30pm.
Now it’s time to hop on your bike again for a journey to Foodhallen, Bellamyplein 51, to pick out what you would like for dinner. Here you can expect live music and a great atmosphere with a HUGE range of cuisine. There are 21 food stalls so you have plenty to choose from and it might be a hard decision. Grab yourself a beer and enjoy the making of a great night ahead.
If you want to know of a great place to chill with the locals head to Prix d’ami in the Haringpakkerssteeg near the Central Station. They have a level with comfy couches and good music, so it’s a good place to start the night. However, they don’t serve alcoholic drinks as Prix d’ami is what is known as a ‘coffee shop’ in Amsterdam, rather than a ‘café’. Regardless of whether you smoke or not, this is a great spot to hang out if you want to experience nightlife other than pubs. Not only that but it has a great vibe with pool tables and a pretty good hot chocolate.
Into the wee hours
As the night wears on, make your way towards Leidseplein. There are limitless pubs and bars around this area and big clubs such as Paradiso and Sugar Factory are a must-visit. This is the perfect neighbourhood for visiting several clubs in a night and dancing all night long.
Air, Amstelstraat 16, is home to some pretty great house DJs and is a perfect place to get a glimpse of the house music scene. Make sure you check to see who is playing that night. Even if you don’t know who’s DJing, it’s a great experience!
After a night of dancing you’re bound to have worked up an appetite, so head for the nearest Febo. It’s basically a wall of food where you choose what you would like from a giant vending machine. It’s tastier than it sounds—go for the croquette (a Dutch speciality) or the Viaamse frites (chips with mayonnaise). Yum!
There are a lot of great hostels with dorms and private rooms right in the city centre such as Ecomama, Shelter Jordan and St Christopher’s at the Winston, putting you just a step away from all the sights!