Updated: Jul 25, 2020
I just left Amsterdam, and I am absolutely blown away by how much I enjoyed this city. I have been sick of cities overall, just for all the traffic, people and public transport. But this city is different. I found Amsterdam to be extremely charming. I loved walking the canals, and the architecture is so cute. The colored buildings with oversized window shutters and tulips are to die for. I spent three days there with my little sister Adela, and I think it was the perfect amount of time.
9 Things to See in Amsterdam
Narrow Houses of Damrak
This strip “Damrak” is a great place to start in Amsterdam. It is iconic Amsterdam, you’ll get to see the narrow houses built right atop the water and you can watch all the tour boats go through the canals. This area is right below the central station in Amsterdam. To see it, head right out the front of Amsterdam Central Station.
This area is trendy and hipster, you’ll find top-notch coffee shops and even kombucha. We found lots of cute boutiques and churches, and the tight streets are lined with restaurants. This was my favorite area of the city by far. You could walk through this area and take pictures for hours, it is super adorable. I love the tiny bridges that lead everywhere and the uneven architecture and streets.
Double Tree Hilton Rooftop
In most of my travels, you’ll see that I write about a rooftop bar. Rooftop bars are my absolute go-to. And I love them because I like to start my trips with a birds-eye view of the city. This is a great one in Amsterdam, it is a five-minute walk from Central Station. If you go at sunset you will get a great view of the city.
The original Heineken brewery is located in central Amsterdam. For about 20 euros you can get a tour, and two beers are included. We went through and learned how the beer was made and saw some really cool original logo artwork and super old beer bottles. The tour ends in a sweet brewery room with some fun games.
The Red Light District
I mean, you have to go to see it. This area is much cleaner than I expected LOL. But as advertised, it is a red light district. I was told this is one of Amsterdam's larger attractions, and the locals do not love the tourism that it brings. However, you have to go to see it. There are naked women standing in lots of red-lit windows, and there are advertisements for live se*x shows. Do not take kids! We went around 4 PM, which was a good time. I would not hang out there too late into the night, especially on a weekend.
Ahhh, YELP never fails me. This was one of my favorite brunch meals on our whole excursion. You have to make a reservation, and there are two locations in Amsterdam. This place had the most awesome atmosphere and was situated in the middle of a park with super green/eco décor. My eggs bene was to die for!
Anne Frank Museum
It is extremely hard to get tickets to this museum day-of or even week-of, so make sure to book tickets weeks in advance of your travel. I believe it was also around 20 euros. If you mess up like we did, you can sometimes get tickets day-of, go to their website 7 AM and wait for the que to open up. Adela and I waited behind 600 people in a virtual line and amazingly got tickets! But I would not risk it. This museum is one of my favorites so far. I loved the design, everyone gets audio players and moves through the museum that is a replica of the Frank house that Anne and her family lived in during the Nazi era. You learn about the family that housed the Frank family and the family that was in hiding with them. You follow Anne on her journey to Auschwitz. It is a silent museum and was very powerful.
This street is filled with houseboats lining the canals. In this area, there were tons of tulips and cozy restaurants. We ate at a yummy place called Hummus Bistro D&A, which I would highly recommend. It is close to the Noordermarket, which is fun to see. It is a short stroll from the Anne Frank museum. Many of the iconic houseboat photos from Amsterdam come from here. It is great to see the Dutch people hanging out on their boat decks drinking wine! I even saw some AirBnBs available in the houseboats, I wasn’t brave enough to do that, but I think that would be memorable!
Van Wonderen Stroopwafel
OMG drool. The beloved stroopwafel. You must get stroopwafel while you are in Amsterdam. I am not that big of a fan of all the sweets and treats all over Europe (I like my eggs) but this thing is dank, not to mention is it beautiful! This shop is highly trafficked, and I would try to hit it during a non-peak hour, but their stroopwafel is to die for. A stroopwafel is two wafer-thin waffles with chocolate and chewy caramel inside, they are often dipped in caramel and covered with candy or nuts. YUM.
The Bulldog Amsterdam
This is the original c*nnabis coffee shop in Amsterdam. If you are into that, this is your stop! If nothing else just stop in, it will be a memorable experience.
Okay, so this is not in Amsterdam, but it is right outside. It is worth the half-day trip outside the city to see it. We were able to make it for opening day March 21st. We absolutely loved exploring the botanical gardens, as well as biking through the tulip fields.
The city was extremely easy to navigate by public transport. I bought a 3 day Amsterdam pass for around 15 euros. And you can use google maps to guide you everywhere. I was particularly fond of taking the trams because they are above ground and give you awesome tours of the city. Their tram system makes it super easy to hop on and hop off if you see something worth exploring.
As far as picking a hotel or hostel, I would highly recommend booking something right next to a bus stop or train station. We stayed at the Meininger Amstel Hostel and it was situated right next to the Amstel station. This was fantastic to and from the airport, not to mention there were convenient stores throughout the station which made it great if you need something small like hairspray, toothbrush, snack, etc.
There are oodles of things to do in Amsterdam. You have to come prepared with your favorites and just attack those. Even with the great transport, my sister and I walked 7+ miles per day. And there are TONS of people, be prepared and bring your vitamin C. Avoid going to popular places in the evening or at night, if you really care about a museum or landmark—try and go super early and buy tickets beforehand! The morning hours are going to be the best for photos and transport.
If you were following along on my Instagram and want to know exactly where I was each day, you can see my full itinerary here. This schedule is action-packed and a ton of walking, but doable. If you are visiting Amsterdam and want suggestions, inbox me, I’d love to help!
Day 1: Amsterdam
Dinner date along- tram 4
Narrow houses of Damrak
Day 2: Amsterdam
Kesssens - cafe
Rijksmuseum pass by
DoubleTree Hilton rooftop bar
Red Light District
Day 3: Amsterdam
Hummus Bistro D&A for dinner
Lost scarf rendezvous
Van Wonderen Stroopwafels
The Bulldog Amsterdam