I had wanted to visit Amsterdam for ages, it always looked like a really cool city with plenty of fun things to do and see. My sister was just as keen to go so, for her Christmas present, I bit the bullet and booked us a long weekend away.
The flight from Belfast is only an hour and ten minutes and because we were on an early flight out and an evening flight home, we ended up with almost 4 full days in the city to explore which I found to be ample time. We stayed in South Amsterdam in the Hotel Olympic which is beside the Olympic stadium. The hotel itself was clean and modern, the rooms were a decent size, comfortable and had an excellent bathroom with a powerful shower. The location of the hotel turned out to be very handy to travel to the city centre as there was a metro station only 5 minutes away. We picked up a 3 day travel pass for the metro for €19 each which got us unlimited metro travel for the duration. The metro to Amsterdam Centraal took around 15 minutes.
So what did we get up to?
After freshening up at the hotel we decided to head straight into the city. We got off the metro at Amsterdam Centraal, which as you’d imagine, right in the centre of the city. We made the short 5 minute walk to the Sex Museum to start us off. It’s only €5 entry and it’s all a bit of fun looking at the exhibits. It doesn’t take a long time, 30-45 minutes is more than enough time to see everything. Worth checking out for the fun.
After that we made our way toward Dam Square and generally wondered around the city’s streets, taking in the typical architecture and getting our bearings.
We soon got hungry and had seen Fat Phil’s Diner on Amsterdam Food Guide before we went so wanted to give it a try as the burgers looked delicious. It didn’t disappoint, the burger patties are made fresh on site, are extremely juicy and cooked to perfection. The bun is really fresh and there’s an abundance of toppings to choose from. I also got a portion of the cheese fries on the side and they were delicious.
Bellies full, we wondered past the flower market by the canal and over the various canals and bridges, calling in anywhere that took our fancy. It was about 7pm by this point so we thought we would explore the Red Light District. If I can recommend one thing to check out in this area asides from the obvious, it’s the Museum of Prostitution which depicts the different facets to sex work. I found it genuinely interesting, engaging and informative and would wholeheartedly recommend checking it out.
After a good nights sleep we were up early and ready to explore again. Firstly we stopped by Pancakes Amsterdam for a delicious breakfast of fluffy pancakes, bacon and maple syrup. The menu was vast and although it’s pricey enough, the food was good enough to overlook that.
We had pre purchased our tickets to the Anne Frank House before leaving (do this to avoid disappointment, it sells out ridiculously quick and far in advance). The museum is dedicated to telling the harrowing story of Anne Frank and her family who went into hiding in the secret annex of the house during the persecution of the Jews. The museum is without a doubt worth visiting, the annex is chilling and you can see Anne’s original diaries and notebooks. An important piece of history that should never be forgotten.
After this, we spent a lot of time wondering around the Jordaan area which has a tonne of really cool independent stores to do some shopping. I picked myself up a little bespoke necklace from Beadies Amsterdam as a keepsake which I just love. Instead of eating lunch, we picked up some sweet treats, some chocolate covered strawberries from m Polaberry and a freshly made Stroopwafel from Van Wonderen Stroopwafels. Both were beyond good!
In the evening we checked out some bars and coffee shops and picked up a simple pizza for dinner before heading back to the hotel pretty exhausted.
We woke early to find that the weather was miserable with rain. Luckily the majority of things we had planned were inside. We originally planned to check out the Van Gogh Museum but it was sold out, so it’s another one to book in advance.
We had picked up the Rock The City ticket from iAmsterdam which got us entrance to the Heineken Experience, a canal tour and entrance to the Adam Tower for €35 each!
The Heineken experience was fun and really interactive. My only gripe is that they let a lot of people in for each session so it felt a bit like a cattle market at times which spoiled it a little. The experience itself is well laid out and you get around 3 drinks in the tour including the chance to pull your own pint in competition with other visitors. We spent just shy of two hours in the brewery then headed to catch our canal boat for the tour which was just outside the front door.
The boat tour is really nice and pretty relaxing, but you don’t get a lot of commentary or see a tonne of sites. I would have liked to have booked one of the main canal tours to compare but we didn’t have time. But that being said it was a nice way to chill out with another drink and enjoy the city from the water.
The boat leaves you off at A’Dam Tower which is located in North Amsterdam and offers an aerial view over the city. The real reason my sister and I were keen to visit was because there’s a swing, on top of the building, that swings you over the edge! We’re adrenaline junkies! For an extra €5, I highly rate it (this also includes the digital copy of the photos which I thought was a great bargain)!
The views from the tower are stunning. I’m partial to an aerial view of any city if I’m honest. There’s a restaurant and bar on top of the tower too if you want to grab something to eat or have a nice cocktail. We had planned a steak night so didn’t eat and I was pretty lit from the Heinekens so…
The swing itself was so much fun! If you’re afraid of heights, skip it. It was very windy when we did it which definitely added to the fear factor. You only get a few minutes on the swing but it’s great for those who love a bit of an adrenaline rush and the views are phenomenal!
Once we had finished at A’Dam, we caught the free ferry across to Amsterdam Centraal. We had planned our big steak dinner at TDQ Steaks and I was ravenous! This restaurant is well worth a visit if you fancy something special. The quality is outstanding an I genuinely thought it was up there with some of the best steak I’ve had in the world (and I take steak seriously)! It cut like butter, was seriously juicy and cooked to perfection. I’d give my arm for another one now…
Once we had finished we took our (very full) selves off to check out some more bars etc. before stumbling back to the hotel to pass out, exhausted and ready to leave the next day 😦
Have you checked out Amsterdam before?
Thanks for reading!