It’s ironic that a city as lovely as Amsterdam is known around the world for it’s Red Light District and legalization of marijuana. Amsterdam has so many charms that get overlooked.
It’s home to tulips, stroopwafels, designer shopping, canal houses, museums, boat rides and Gouda (fun fact: “Gouda” is capitalized because it’s cheese from Gouda!). I spent 3 days soaking in all of the above… minus the tulips though because I went later in summer.
Historic houses, boutiques and quaint canals are all around the city center and the Negen Straatjes area. I simply loved exploring Amsterdam for the weekend.
Eats and Drinks
There’s no shortage of instagramable coffee spots like Ivy & Bros, Coffee & Coconuts and PLUK. I confess, I quite enjoyed the Coffee Company too… akin to a Starbucks of the Netherlands. In one of those frantic moments where you think you just might lose it if you don’t get some caffeine in your veins, I thankfully happened to pass the Coffee Company. I made a mad dash in and didn’t regret it.
Find the fashionable Lotti’s restaurant and bar on the ground floor of the Hoxton hotel. I wanted a cocktail featuring a local spirit so I tried the Genever Ending Story, moonlighting Bols Old Genever. Definitely drop by Lotti’s if only to drool over the interior.
De Laatste Kruimel has the cutest balcony perched right above a canal. Sitting outside on a warm day people watching and seeing the boats float by below was perfection. They serve an array of quiche, salads and baked goods. I opted for the tomato and cheese polenta square of goodness.
Puccini Bomboni for a memorable chocolate experience.
For a relatively small downtown area, the city center has tons of things to see and do. From the Anne Frank House to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam isn’t lacking in historical attractions worthy of a visit. I’ve been a long time fan of Van Gogh so I choose to take a look at the world’s largest collection of his work at the Van Gogh Museum. The line was killer for this one. Buy tickets in advance and be one of the people I was jealous of as they trotted straight in.
If I was traveling with a group, I would have absolutely rented a boat and packed a boozey picnic with snacks from Stach. I did roughly the same thing (just sans the boat) and longingly watched the boats from a restaurants instead. Going solo on a touristy booze cruises might be a tad awkward and renting a dingy for one might be dangerous. Clearly, I need to return on a non-solo trip.
Begijnbof is a lovely courtyard area that started as a religious community of women around 1200. Although the last beguine sister died in the 1970s, still only women are allowed to reside in the homes. Be sure to visit here for a little history on the Protestant and Catholic struggle in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is also home to some serious shopping. I had no idea the city was filled with so many designer stores and small boutiques. Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat is the Rodeo Drive of Amsterdam. If you’re looking to pick up some special forever pieces or just window shop, I’d take a little detour on your way to the Rijksmuseum.
For a smaller budget, find the Albert Cuypmarkt street market in the Oude Pijp district. Outdoor stalls are filled with flowers, vintage clothes and local food.
I stayed at the Hotel Vossius Vondelpark and the room was perfect for my solo trip.
The Hoxton for a trendy hotel worth the splurge.
Back to the sex and drugs part of Amsterdam… I spent about 10 minutes over in the Red Light District one night and that was enough for me. I perched up on the side of the canal and watched as girls danced, doors opened and curtains closed. A full rotation lasts about 15 minutes and costs 50 Euros (reportedly).
Whatever you’re into, Amsterdam has something for everyone…
Amsterdam, I can’t wait until we meet again.