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
Helpful Hints: BUY AHEAD OF TIME!! USE THE ONLINE TICKET WEBSITE HERE
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- The people are irrationally 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).
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- no pedestrians allowed- and many cyclists will gladly sacrifice their bikes if it means that they get to knock some idiot tourist hogging the bike lane into a canal. Watch your step!
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.
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 historical 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. The 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-Coffee Shops are for drugs. Not coffee. Not all of them, obviously, but if you’re in the Red Light District you should double check yourself.
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.