When I traveled to Amsterdam, I was only in the city for 4 days/3 nights, but I made the most of my time!
I booked my ticket to Amsterdam in June when my supervisor sent me information about a sale that IcelandAir was having on their site (shout out to my supervisor for supporting my travel addiction). After looking over all the deals, I decided to book a trip for one week in Amsterdam. After booking my trip, my sister moved to Paris to be an au pair for a year. I decided to change things up and book an additional ticket to Paris in the middle of my trip. I spent the first 2 days/2 nights in Amsterdam, flew to Paris for the weekend, then finished my trip with 2 days/1 night in Amsterdam. This break in my trip allowed me to get two different experiences in Amsterdam because I was able to stay in two different neighborhoods.
I flew into Schiphol (Amsterdam’s airport), and arrived early in afternoon on Wednesday. I took the train from the airport to Amsterdam Central Station. From there I took the Metro one stop to Nieuwmarkt, which was right across the street from my hostel. I stayed at the Shelter City hostel, which was right next to the Red Light District. After checking into my hostel, I walked around the neighborhood and explored the Red Light District (during daylight hours so that I knew where I was when I walked around later that night).
After getting the lay of the land, it was time for me to head to the National Monument in Dam Square for my SANDEMANs NEW Amsterdam Free Walking Tour. I did the tour with Kendra, and I thought she was hilarious. The tour was about 2.5 hours total, and included many of the places I already wanted to see, while also teaching me so much about the history of Amsterdam.
After finishing the tour, I decided to do some shopping (I basically only packed summer clothes and it was FREEZING in Amsterdam). There were a ton of stores across the street from Dam Square, and I ended up just buying some jeans and boots from H&M.
After shopping, I heading back to the hostel for a nap (jet-lag was finally hitting me). When I woke up from my nap, I headed out to explore the Red Light District to see what it looked like at night. If I am being honest, when I first starting walking along the streets, it took me a few minutes to adjust to seeing people “window shop” for sex. However, after walking around, I realized that this was not a place full of creepy dudes, drooling over half-naked women. I saw couples, bachelors, and other young people. I even saw a family with their son walking past the street.
I was almost tempted to go see one of the live sex shows (hey, when in Amsterdam), but I decided to instead find an Irish pub (always my favorite spots abroad). There was an Irish pub called the Temple Bar right across the street from my hostel, where I ended my night watching football while drinking Guinness.
I wanted to make the most of my full day in Amsterdam. I woke up early on Thursday and tried to score one of the “day of” tickets for the Anne Frank House. I was told I had to buy tickets at least two months before my trip. You all know I am more of a “go with the flow” kind of girl, and I don’t plan my trips out months in advance (if you are like me, don’t panic!). The museum releases 80% of tickets for any date two months in advance, but the remaining 20% are released on the website each day. Unfortunately, when I first woke up, there was a long wait on the website, and when I finally got to the ticket page, it said the tickets were sold out.
I was a little bummed that I did not buy my tickets in advance, so I left the hostel and began to explore the city. It was such a nice day out, that I figured I could still have fun getting lost in the city.
After walking around all morning, I signed up for an afternoon canal cruise. It was honestly so much fun seeing the city from the water!There are so many different companies to choose from when it comes to canal cruises. It really doesn’t matter who you pick, just make sure you do one! I recommend Boat Amsterdam – they offer a 70-minute tour with drinks included! What better way to see Amsterdam than cruising along the canals, enjoying a Heineken or some wine? They also have smaller boats, so there are less people on each tour.
After my cruise I headed back to my hostel to change into some warmer clothes, then planned to head back out for dinner. When I got to my hostel, I decided to check the Anne Frank Museum website one more time, and I am so glad that I did! I ended up getting a ticket for the 20:30 entry (8:30PM).
The Anne Frank House was an unforgettable experience. It is honestly something you need to see to understand. When you enter the museum, you get a headset that provides you with an audio tour throughout the museum. You can also go at your own pace, so you decide how long you would like to spend in each room. Prior to my trip to Amsterdam, I heard mixed reviews from people on their opinions of the Anne Frank House, but for me, it was definitely worth the visit.
After I finished visiting the Anne Frank House, I knew that I had to be up early for my flight to Paris on Friday, so I decided to head back to the hostel and get to bed early.
I returned back to Amsterdam from my weekend in Paris early in the afternoon on Sunday. This time I took the train from Schiphol Airport to Lelylaan station, then took to Tram 17 to Ten Katestraat. The tram dropped me off one block from the CityHub hostel. This hostel was a little more pricey, but DEFINITELY worth every penny! Honestly it was in the perfect location,and the amenities were great!
When you book your stay at CityHub, you get your own “hub” that includes a full-size bed, bluetooth, AC, bathrobes, towels, and color changing lights. Each hub is $100, but you can sleep two people per hub (whether this is someone you’re traveling with or someone you just met 😉 this hostel is a no judgement zone). They also give you a wristband that gets you into the hostel, into your hub, and can be used to charge food and drinks to your account. The best part? They also provide you with a mobile HotSpot that you can take with you throughout the city! I honestly cannot rave about this place enough. I was talking with one of the CityHosts, and I was super excited to learn that they plan to open more CityHubs in other major cities across the world.
After I was done drooling over my new hostel, I remembered that I still needed to take my obligatory picture with the “I amsterdam” sign, so I headed to the Rijksmuseum.
After playing on the “I amsterdam” sign, I was starting to get hungry. One of my friends recommended that I check out De Foodhallen (which ended up being right next to my hostel!). This was definitely my favorite place from my trip (thanks Craig for the recommendation!). I wish I had gone here sooner, so that I could have tried all of the restaurants.
I started with Taqueria Lima and ordered the Chipotle Braised Beef and Chipotle Chicken tacos. One of the chefs at Tequeria Lima recommended that I try Viet View and said I needed to order the Hanoi Chicken. Unfortunately, they were out of the chicken, so I was told that the next best thing would be The Ugly burger from The Butcher. If you like spicy food, then I definitely recommend you try this burger!
I ended up hanging out at De Foodhallen all night,and met some really cool people from all over the world. Since this was right next door to my hostel, I felt comfortable staying out late and having some drinks with my new friends. Once the restaurants began closing down, I headed back to my hub.
My flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon on Monday, so I still had plenty of time to walk around and explore for my last day in Amsterdam.
The first thing I did was head to Van Wonderen Stroopwafels for some yummy treats.
I wish I could have ordered every flavor. I ordered three of the small stroopwafels to take home, and one medium stroopwafel to eat there. The small stroopwafels are pre-made, so I would say that you should order a medium or large one so that you get to eat it fresh and warm!
After eating my delicious stroopwafel, I took the tram back to my hostel to pack my bags.
I will admit that I did not enjoy my first two days in Amsterdam as much as my last two days after I had returned from Paris. While it was fun being near the Red Light District on the first trip, that is only a small piece of the culture. I really enjoyed the location and feel of my second trip to Amsterdam. My first two days felt like a tourist experience, and I honestly did not really interact with anyone. In contrast, I met so many cool people and had so much fun when I was staying at the CityHub hostel. If you ever make your way to Amsterdam, I highly recommend staying farther out from the city center and exploring the city with locals!