This city is one of my favourites. It’s easy to get around in, it’s clean and the people are friendly.
You can explore the city by either walking or hiring a bicycle, however, if you are going to hire a bicycle be aware that it can get a little crazy on the roads and if you’re unsure then walk. Really! Things aren’t that far from each other and if your legs get tired you can pop into a café without having to look around for a spot to park your bike.
Must see and Do:
Canals cruise: Apart from other things (that are illegal in most countries) Amsterdam is well known for its canals. The best way to explore them is on a canal cruise and there are a few to choose from. If you get a standard cruise it lasts for about an hour and is a great way to see the city.
Van Gogh museum: This is one of those must see sites, and gets absolutely jam-packed, and lets be honest why wouldn’t it. It’s only the best display of Van Goghs artwork. To get in you can either join a very long queue or buy your tickets online. I literally bought my ticket 20 minutes before heading in. It was either that or join the queue that would’ve meant I’d be waiting for hours. Now, in my case, I was lucky that my time slot had a few spots left online. But truly, the online tickets are the best way to go.
You will be blown away at the genius of this artist and the experience of actually being within arms distance of his artwork is something you won’t be forgetting.
Rijksmuseum: This is the country’s national museum. If you’re like me and want to see everything you will need a few hours in here so make sure you plan ahead. Amongst many fascinating displays and artefacts the museum houses Rembrandt’s paintings and amongst them his famous “Night Watch” painted in 1642. The best way to see the museum is to download the free app from the app store. The app allows you to choose what tours and the length of time you want to spend looking around.
The Mouse Mansion – Shop and Studio: This place is not just for the kids (I don’t have kids and I was excited to go), although they’ll love it! The shop and studio opened in 2015 and is fascinating to see how these little creatures are made and brought to life. The actual mouse mansion itself is on display at the Public Library of Amsterdam. For more information see the Mouse Mansion website.
The Red Light District: It’s an eye opener! You can’t take photos or film of the women in the windows (out of respect that should be a given) but the area is a great place to walk through and experience – if you’re open minded. The Red Light District is an interesting place and contrary to what you may have heard it is relatively safe to walk through.
Get out of the city and explore the country side….
Tour of the Zaanse Schans Windmills, Volendam and the Clog Factory in Marken: This is a half-day tour and is a good way to see the windmills, cheese factory and clog factory if you haven’t got enough time. The windmills are beautiful and are still functioning; you’ll get a tour of a wood sawing windmill and get to look around the town. Unfortunately because of the limited time the tour is a bit rushed through Volendam where you only have a limited time to grab a bite to eat. The seaside town is pretty and if you like cheese – like I do, it’s worth the visit! The tour ends with a boat ride over to Marken where you will get to see the clogs being made. The tour was booked through Lindbergh Travel, you can find their office close to Amsterdam Central train station.
Whatever you do picturesque Amsterdam is a great place form solo travellers to families.