Experiencing Amsterdam: A Guide to Help You Plan Your Dutch Getaway

By Christina Madera


Amsterdam is an amazing quirky little European city. There are bikers, canals, legalized weed and plenty more. In this guide, I’ll share tips to ensure your trip to Amsterdam is everything you dreamed of! 


Packing 101:


I’m a very organized traveler. Before flying anywhere, I have a checklist of all the items I need. Despite my attention to detail, I don’t usually prepare for pickpocketing; which unfortunately is at an all time high in Europe. I recommend investing in an anti-theft bag. The bookbag I ordered had faux zippers in the front and real zippers hidden in the back. It was cute, versatile, and functional. 


I visited Amsterdam in the middle of August. I was expecting a blazing hot summer in Europe experience. I planned on packing booty shorts and bikinis. It wasn’t until I did my research that I learned that summer in Amsterdam isn’t “summer.” The typical weather in August is around 68°F with lows of 54°F. Trust me when I say it feels cooler on a bike. I highly advise packing a scarf. While researching, I also learned that August is the month of showers. There weren’t any tropical storms but it did drizzle nearly every day of my trip. I suggest skipping the umbrella and opting for a poncho or windbreaker instead. It will save you a lot of hassle especially while riding your bike.



No matter when you plan on visiting, do your research on what the weather will be like so that you can plan accordingly. The best months to visit Amsterdam are April and May. You will get to experience tulip season all while avoiding the summertime high tourist season. 


Where to Stay:


When I first arrived to Amsterdam, I stayed in an Airbnb. Regrettably, I booked at the last minute and ended up in a not-so-nice apartment. Note to self: Don’t pick the Airbnb that houses 3 cats. 


For the last half of my trip, I stayed in a hostel. Hostels, are lower priced sociable accommodations where guests can rent a bed (usually a bunk bed) in a dormitory. As in many European cities, hostels are quite common in Amsterdam.  I stayed in The Generator which is located inside of a gorgeous park. There was an eatery, bike rental services, and ATM in the lobby. The rooms were clean and the beds were cozy. What I loved most about The Generator was meeting people from all over the world. It is a community of travelers. I would 10 out of 10 would recommend this hostel.


Getting Around:

It's fairly easy to get around Amsterdam. There are buses, Ubers, and bikes. I got around using all three. Here are my takeaways:


The most important thing to remember is to skip Uber. Unless you’re taking it to the airport it’s not worth it. 


Bikes are the cheapest way to get around. I rented my bike from Black Bike. Being that biking is a huge means of transportation, there are many bike renting options to choose from. The prices range from 15 euro for a single day, 10 euro if you rent for 3 days, and even cheaper if you rent it out for the entire week. Make sure to ask for a bike with hand brakes as most Europeans use pedal brakes. Before leaving the rental shop, verify that your bike comes with a lock and test it out. Bike theft is a fact of life in Amsterdam and if you want to prevent it you should ensure that your lock is sturdy.


If you’re not about the bike life, the next best option is the bus. The city offers a 20 euro bus pass for unlimited rides all day. Similarly to the bike rentals, the price of the bus pass is cheaper when you purchase it for a longer amount of time. You can purchase the pass at select stations (ask a bus driver). Important to note that the pass does not last 24 hours. The pass expires around 1 am the next day so if you’re out clubbing you might have to take an Uber back home. 


Can't Forget, Food! 


Amsterdam has a lot of food options. My favorite restaurants were: 


Bakers and Roasters: The brunch here is incredible and the portions are just right. A plate will cost you around 15-20 euros. 


The Pancake Bakery: These aren’t the fluffy American pancakes I’m used to. This bakery, introduced me to the delicacy that are Dutch pancakes. These pancakes can be savory, topped with meat or vegetables or sweet, topped with fruits or nutella. I would recommend having the Indonesian and the Canadian. See pic above. 


Lokaal Edel: This place is right on the water and there’s outdoor seating; ideal for boat watching on warm days. What I liked most is that it feels like a gourmet cafe without the gourmet price. Their menu has plenty of flavorful options to please even the pickiest eaters. 


Restaurant Daalder: I didn’t get to try this place because it’s closed on

Tuesdays/Wednesdays. Beware: There is no menu and it's a little on the pricier side but it would make for a lovely dinner. How it works: Waiter asks you about allergies, notes the foods you absolutely hate, then brings out multiple courses of deliciousness! 

There are not many foods native to Amsterdam. The few that I discovered were:

Bitterballen: A fried meatball paired with mustard dipping sauce. A must have! 

Stroopwafel: A thin wafer cookie with stroop syrup in between. A little too sweet in my opinion but made for a good dessert. 


Places to Explore:



If you’re into museums here are a few that I loved:


Moco Museum had all the modern art legends (Banksy, Haring, Basquiat, etc).


Stedelijk Museum features contemporary art. I especially enjoyed their game room with life sized pinball machine and giant Connect four.  


Van Gogh Museum gets booked months in advance -- it’s the reason I wasn’t able to get tickets. I suggest you plan accordingly. 


The Coffee Shops: 


You didn’t think I’d skip out on the coffee shops did you? 


Coffee shops are where you can purchase and smoke marijuana legally. It's like a bar, except for weed instead of alcohol. You can also purchase refreshments like coffee or tea and weed-infused pastries like space cakes. These were my favorite coffee shops: 

Abraxas

Newtimes 

Dampkring


Honorable mention: I recommend doing a canal tour. If you walk to the Red Light District you will see tons of boats lined up for tours. I paid 20 euro for an hour tour that included 2 drinks and snacks. 


Overall, Amsterdam was a vibe and such an amazing experience. I had so much fun biking up and around the streets and eating everything in sight. I absolutely loved it. If ever asked to go back, I would say yes in a heartbeat!


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