10 Things You Should Know About Amsterdam

10 Things You Should Know About Amsterdam

1- The Van Gogh Museum is truly amazing.
Address: Museumplein 6,
1071 DJ Amsterdam
Hours: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., open on Friday until 10 p.m.
Cost: Depends on the month- averages about 15-17 Euros per ticket
Website: Van Gogh Museum Website
Best Moments: Almond Blossoms, Sunflowers, Irises, Wheatfields Under Thunderclouds, The Potato Eaters – all permanently on display at the museum. The Audio Tour here is incredible and absolutely worth it- it adds so much to the museum. In addition, there is almost always an additional exhibit on the ground floor to see. If you don’t think you like Van Gogh, this museum  will change your mind (or at least alter your perspective on who this man was and what forces caused him to create the art he did).

2- We found the people here to be incredibly kind. Hands down, far and away, this was the place where people were the nicest to us (and not just people trying to sell us stuff). This was also the place where we found it easiest to meet new people and just chill. 

3-There is an unparalleled love of bikes here. Rent one and ride around the canals or just watch the world bike by- either way, Amsterdam’s bikes are a sight to behold. Friendly word of warning: Bike paths are for bikes only and they are clearly marked. Don’t be that tourist who walks in the bike lane- it’s super rude. Shortly after this trip I started commuting back and forth to work on a bike and realized quickly how even one person in the bike lane can be both very dangerous and incredibly frustrating to commuters.

Bikes Galore!

4- They’re not for everyone, but the canal houses and bridges are my kind of architecture. With over 1200 bridges in the city limits alone, the Dutch have unleashed their stylistic powers of creativity on them, turning some into serpentine-red overpasses and others into brightly lit, romantic drawbridges (check out the Magere Brug when in town). The colorful, gabled canal houses given an often cold and rainy city a feeling of warmth.

Amsterdam City Center
One of Amsterdam’s canals

5-Speaking of warmth: Gezellig– that Dutch word with no true English equivalent- most accurately encompasses the spirit of Amsterdam on a chilly, drenched-to-the-bone day. It’s drinking hot mint tea from a comfy chair in a cafe while talking to your best, strolling through the late-night streets arm in arm with your love, sipping on a steaming mug of soup while laughing at a joke and watching the rain pour… there’s nothing depressing about the weather in Amsterdam when the people around you are so, well… gezellig.

6-The Rijksmuseum is world renowned for a reason.

I don’t care if you hate museums, go here anyway, it will change your mind. I remember thinking that it was just too much to process in one day- that I should’ve tried to divide it up, buy a two-day admission, something to help me absorb more of it because I was on total overload by the end. The audio tour helped so much but even still- after spending hours and hours here we only covered a fraction of what we even wanted to see.  This is a museum where it pays to research some of the pieces ahead of time since the audio tour only covers the highlights of the highlights in the permanent collection- this place is literally that jam-packed full of artistic goodness. Read ahead on the Rembrandts & Vermeers (and other pieces) at this site.
Cost- 17.50 Euro per adult
Hours- 0900-1700 each day
Address- Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam (in the Museum Quarter)
Purchase online here.
Helpful Hint- Definitely purchase online ahead of time

7-Poffertjes are so delicious.

I ate a truly embarrassing number of these puffy little pastries while in The Netherlands. The Dutch pancake is good, but the poffertjes- well, those are out of this world. My husband did not share the sentiment and would watch in amazement as I ate an entire plateful, covered in confectioner’s sugar, blithely gibbering on about how delicious these things are and why exactly haven’t they caught on in the States yet?

8-Lines are long in peak season, and it’s probably going to rain.
Decide what you’re in Amsterdam for, and plan around that. It’s not just Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum that require advance planning- every major attraction seemed to have a line out the door, and the vast majority of places offered online ticketing with expedited lines. There’s generally no reason to stand there in the rain, it’s just that no one plans ahead. Maybe you’re just after some pastries and coffee by the canals, chatting it up with new friends, or maybe you want to immerse yourself in art, or maybe you just want to party all night- whatever it is, a little advance planning will make your days (or nights) much more enjoyable. 

9-Public transportation here is spot-on. They’ve got a trolley system here that is just as efficient as London’s underground – it’s affordable, always runs on time, and is easy to navigate. More on that later.

10- Housing is pricey here.
We stayed at the Hotel de Paris on Marnixstraat 372  and paid around 100 Euros per night which was typical for all the low/mid range hotels in the area. There are many hostels in the area that are very good and range from 15 Euros per day to 150. This is a city where, quite frankly, it’s worth paying more- not only because you get what you pay for, but also because it has a reputation as a party city and lower cost hotels are going to typically be really loud at night.

Personally, I can’t wait to go back to Amsterdam again. There are several European cities I saw that held an appeal because of one or two particular places or sights, but wouldn’t warrant a return visit with a whole world left to explore. Amsterdam is different- it catches you by surprise, and despite being relatively small, pulls you back in for a second visit… Even if it’s simply for the joy of watching the water slip by on the canal, sipping a hot cup of zwarte koffie with a plate full of poffertjes.

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