Amsterdam is a wonderful city. Well-known to many due to it's coffee shops and the legal red-light district but it's so much more than just that. Last year we spent a wonderful weekend in the city. There's so much to do and see there and it's perfect for a short break.
There are many ways you can now travel to Amsterdam. You can fly there from many airports throughout the UK, book a mini cruise from Hull or get the Eurostar from London St Pancras to take you to Amsterdam. This is a city of contrast - steeped in heritage but also very modern. The Architecture is a strong nod to it's heritage but it's also a city that moves with the times.
One thing that surprised us was the red light district. Before we visited we assumed it would be on the outskirts and that you could only find it intentionally but whilst wandering around the city centre we stumbled across it. Mark found it a little bit uncomfortable when we walked past windows and there were half-naked women in the windows but on the whole it's a well behaved area and the windows are unobtrusive. Also be careful where you walk, the city is full of cyclists. You can't walk very far without almost being knocked over by one. Where we have multi-storey car parks full of cars they have multi-storey car parks full of bikes. But the city is perfect for exploring by bike. It is a wonderful city and in this post I'll detail 7 different activities which you must take part in whilst in the city.
Explore some art
Amsterdam has a wide array of galleries for pretty much all artistic tastes. But one must-see museum is the Van Gogh Museum, which like the name suggests has a large collection of the Dutch legend's masterpieces. It's well worth spending an afternoon exploring this amazing museum and getting lost in Van Gogh's artistic works. vangoghmuseum.nl
Rijksmuseum is another great place to explore. It features a lot of pieces by a variety of famous artists including the likes of Rembrandt. It's vast in size, so you'll need to allocate a good chunk of time to really get the most out of your trip. Entry is less than €20 per person but book online to get the best prices and to beat the queues. rijksmuseum.nl/en
Enjoy local food
Amsterdam is well known for its vast amount of restaurants catering to all your culinary needs. You can't walk very far in Amsterdam before you stumble on one of the many restaurants. There's something here for every budget and whether you'd like to try Dutch food, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian or sushi they have it all here.
There is a wide variety of local dishes that you must try during your visit. Stoopwafel is a necessity. It's very sweet and consists of two thin waffles filled with syrup. It's delicious and decadent but is best suited to those with a very sweet tooth.
The next one doesn't sound appetising but if you're brave go for it and that's Herring. Herring is a local street food and it's available all over the city. It is served raw and is often served with onions.
The Dutch love fish so another local speciality is cod. Delicious fried salt cod is available throughout the city and is served with homemade tartar sauce. It's like the British equivalent of fish and chips. Lastly make sure you try Bitterballen, these are croquettes made from ground meat and are usually served with mustard.
Anne Frank's House
We all know the story of Anne Frank, the little girl with the famous diary who tried to evade the Germans with her family during the Second World War. This is the house that Anne and her family hid in to keep out of the grasp of the Nazis. Her story is such a sad one without a happy ending but the house is well worth a visit. You can't help but be moved visiting here. The family hid in this house for 2 years and visiting here may leave you feeling sad but take it in. Anne's bedroom is well preserved with pictures of movie stars adorning the walls. annefrank.org/en/
Take a pedalo trip
Amsterdam sits on the water. We even stayed in a hotel that was situated on a boat. A great way to get on the water is to hire a pedalo. There are a multitude of planned boat trips but we found that hiring a pedalo and exploring the water made for a great trip. Obviously, it's weather permitting but if you're there in the warmer months it's well worth a go.
The Heineken Experience
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Heineken Museum. Learn all about the creation of the company, it's first beers and see the huge equipment that is used to produce it. Even if you're not a beer drinker it's still worth a visit. Heineken has been around since the end of the 19th century and the Heineken Experience is situated in what used to be their brewing plat, they have since moved to the outskirts of Amsterdam so the former site was converted into a museum. heineken.com/heineken-experience
Located in the centre of Amsterdam this is one of Amsterdam's most famous streets. Just by wandering around the City you will likely stumble upon this street. There's lots to do here with a wide selection of restaurants, bars, discos and shops. It's a great place to while away a few hours enjoying some amazing food and indulging in some night-time drinks. You'll also find Amsterdam's most famous coffee shop The Bulldog and when I say coffee shop I mean somewhere you can go to have a joint.
Ton Ton Club West
Last but not least we have Ton Ton Club West. This is a huge arcade but for adults. It's a relatively new concept in the city but has really taken off. Find old games like air hockey here as well as 80's arcade machines and have some fun with friends and a bit of friendly competition. They also sell alcohol filled milkshakes which I've not seen anywhere since my student days. tontonclub.nl
So there you have it. If you're planning a fun-filled weekend in Amsterdam, these 8 places should factor in your itinerary. Amsterdam is a fun city and the Dutch people are lovely and welcoming even in a place that is overwhelmed by tourists. You'll leave the city amazed and astounded at the sheer amount of things to do and see. If you have any suggestions of things to do in Amsterdam please leave them in the comments section.