We have many friends and family who live in London and for many years it served as a jumping-off point for our Europe travels. We were able to fly cheap budget airlines out of London to France, Spain and Italy. Amsterdam seemed so close that we always eschewed it for a more exotic destination. But we finally took the plunge in 2017, and as soon as we got there we fell in love. Why hadn't we gone sooner? Amsterdam is amazing!
Here are 5 things we recommend for any first-time visitor:
1. Take a canal cruise
A canal view at the golden hour
The canal ring of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and should not be missed. A tour gave us a brief history of the city and pointed out significant buildings from the water. We were also able to enjoy views only accessible from the canal.
2. Go up the A'DAM Lookout
A view of the city from the A'DAM Lookout
There is a beautiful lounge located at the top of the A'DAM Hotel that gives you unparalleled views of the city. You can even swing off the top of the 20-story building!
3. Visit the world-class museums
Dutch masters abound at Rijkmuseum
At the top of that list should be Anne Frank House, but the other museums are pretty incedible too. We saw everything from the Dutch masters to Banksy, and we loved it.
4. Enjoy Indonesian food
Delicious Indonesian fare at Sari Citra
Indonesia is the largest former Dutch colony, and because the two are intrinsically tied, there is a large Indonesian presence in Amsterdam. Which means you can find authentic Indonesian food here. If you are new to the cuisine, try the Rijstaffel, which serves as an Indonesian food “sampler”.
5. Sample local delicacies
Chocolate-covered Stroopwafel is a slice of heaven
The Dutch love their bread and cheese, which is enough to endear them to us. But there are a number of Dutch specialties that we also sampled, and dare I say, fell in love with. At the top of our list is Stroopwafel, made up of two thin waffles with a special sweet and sticky syrup (the ‘stroop’) sandwiched in between. Also not to be missed: poffertjes and bitterballen.
We had a magical time in Amsterdam and can't wait to go back. We're hoping to make it our home base to explore more of the Netherlands next time. Don't wait!