Amsterdam was truly an amazing city to visit. With more bikes than cars on the roads, the traffic in Amsterdam just moves. From the quaint buildings to the canal filled streets, every inch of the place was buzzing with life. Contrast seeing single occupancy motor vehicles in Toronto to a family of three on one bicycle in Amsterdam – it’s hard to grasp. The multiculturalism was comparable to that of Toronto (but not as abundant) and there was plenty of variety in cuisine (though not as good as Toronto). Here are some quick tips and recommendations based on my 4 days in Amsterdam and the activities I did.
Where We Stayed
Our group ended up staying at Hotel Not Hotel. The concept of the hotel is small, minimalistic but interesting rooms with a beautiful common area and shared amenities. The design of the hotel is very unique and well kept. Bare in mind, if you book the smallest sized rooms (without a bathroom), you’re literally in a room that has a wall-to-wall bed and nothing else. The washroom area is communal but the showers and toilets are in individual rooms within the shared space, which wasn’t a problem for us personally. My recommendation would be to book a room with a bathroom to give yourself a little more space in the bedroom or if you don’t feel like leaving your bedroom to go pee. It’s located outside of the city centre but trams are very convenient and we personally liked the quieter area. Good for those seeking a slightly different experience than your typical hotel.
Value ✮✮✮ 1/2
Sleep Quality ✮✮✮ 1/2
Rooms ✮✮✮ 1/2
- Canal Cruises (Lovers Canal Cruise). This one took me by surprise. My original thought on these cruises were “look at those tourists.. they look trapped inside that boat”. It seemed like the most touristy thing to do and frankly, kind of lame. However, a local convinced us to do it, and so we did. We bought the Candlelight cruise and made sure to the pick the latest departure possible so we could see the canals at night. Our ticket came with cheese, snacks, wine and drinks. This ended up being one of our favourites in Amsterdam! The view from the boat at night going through the canals was beautiful. It was about $50 CAD/person and definitely worth it.
- Find local street markets. Usually only available on weekends
- Heineken Museum. I’m generally not the type to be interested in museums or beer so it makes sense that this wasn’t really worth it for me. We went on a rainy day since we were limited on outdoor activities. Overall, there was nothing extraordinary about this museum but if you’re interested in beer, this could be for you. You get 2 free beers with the purchase of your entrance ticket so not a bad deal.
- If you aren’t very comfortable biking, it’s best not to. As advised by a local, tourists often get hurt because they aren’t familiar with the streets and the pace. In Toronto, pedestrians usually yield right of way. But in Amsterdam, make sure you triple check before crossing any streets and make sure you’re not walking on a bike path! You will be run over, be warned.
- Utilize the tram! You can get pretty much anywhere and it’s very convenient. Don’t forget to tap in and tap out once you have your ticket/card, which can be purchased on the tram (in the middle). They don’t take bills larger than 20€.
- Be prepared for jacket weather and rain if you’re going in May. It was still pretty chilly when we went (end of May) and was gloomy or raining most of the time.