Kicking off our 2 week European vacation blog series with our first stop: Amsterdam!
This was our first time visiting Amsterdam (for me, Zack, and my mom who joined us on our vacation), and it was honestly so cool. This blog is gonna be a long one because there’s A LOT to cover (TLDR version here), so let’s just dive right in to how we spent our 3 days in Amsterdam:
We arrived at 7:00AM and were ready to take on the day (thanks to adrenaline and caffeine cuz we sure as heck didn’t get much sleep on the flight!). We took the train from the airport to Central Station, and it was a super quick and easy commute. We grabbed a few storage lockers to stash our luggage until we could check into our airbnb then it was time to explore.
First stop – coffee. And on route to caffeine, we stopped to admire the famous Gingerbread Houses on Damrak Avenue. Literally so cute. I was already in love. We grabbed coffee/tea at a cute little cafe called Koffee Cultuur (NOT coffeeshop..IYKYK) then spent the morning exploring the Old Centre including:
• Dam Square where you’ll find Niewe Kerk (“New Church”) and the Royal Palace.
• Begijnhof – a quiet and secluded group of houses and a small courtyard right in the city center – and one of the oldest hofjes in Amsterdam.
• De Wallen – This is where the Red Light District is located. A lot has been moved outside the city center but even in the morning you’ll still see a few red lights on. There’s also a few notable bridges in and around the De Wallen neighborhood including: Aluminiumbrug and Staalmeesterbrug, as well as Oude Kerk (Amsterdam’s oldest building and literally translates as “old church”).
It was about midday, so we grabbed our bags from the train station and headed to our Airbnb. Our Airbnb was honestly SUCH a great location – it was right in the middle of the Canal Belt, but far enough away from the touristy and loud Old Centre (area near the train station).
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the trendy shops and restaurants of the Nine Streets – plus just checking out the canals and beautiful architecture all around us.
For dinner we walked to the nearby Jordaan neighborhood where we had a reservation at Long Pura for rijsttafel. What’s that? I’m so glad you asked. The word translates to “rice table” and that’s pretty much what it is – a bunch of small dishes (anywhere from 15-50!) served with rice. There’s a lot of history behind it but here’s the gist: The Dutch colonized Indonesia in the 1600s, so you’ll find Indonesian influence in some Dutch cuisine. The rijsttafel is Indonesian, yes, but it’s entirely a Dutch creation. And it was delicious!
And that’s a wrap for Day 1. After almost 36 hours awake (and conquering jet lag!), it was time for some much needed sleep!
Our morning was all about food with out first stop at Back to Black – a little cafe right by our Airbnb – for some coffee and tea.
Next stop: Poffertjes (fluffy, mini pancakes soaked in butter and powdered sugar, a Dutch specialty) at Carousel. It’s set up like a carousel ride, and while it may seem like a tourist trap, it’s apparently one of the best places to try Dutch pancakes (can confirm they were delicious).
Last stop on our morning food tour: Stroopwafel at Rudi’s. Made fresh right in front of you – if you’ve never had a stroopwafel you are missing out. Rudi’s is located in the Albert Cuyp Market and their story is really cool. 10/10 recommend!
We spent the rest of the morning walking around the De Pijp neighborhood and then over to the Bloemenmarkt (the floating flower market). It had started to rain, but that didn’t stop us. It honestly made Amsterdam even more magical.
Time for food again already? It was off to Foodhallen for lunch! We tried a few different things including bitterballen (essentially the Dutch version of a croquette).
We had a reservation for a boat rental to cruise the canals, and although the rain was on and off, we decided to postpone until the next day. Fun to walk around in the rain, but the idea of being soaking wet on a boat – not so much.
We wandered around the Canal Belt (Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht) and stopped for apple pie at Winkel 43. The apple pie ya’ll…wow. After devouring the pie, we decided to head back to the airbnb to take a break – we had been on our feet all day!
After some much needed downtime, we headed out to Moeders for dinner. Word of advice: make a reservation! They had no tables and basically told us our chances that we would get in were VERY small. We decided to take the gamble and put our names on the list. We sat at their outdoor patio and ordered a bottle of wine, and our wait paid off – we got a table! The restaurant had such a cool vibe – the wall was covered with pictures of mothers (hence the name “moeders”), and the food was also really good. My mom ordered the market fish and Zack and I ordered two different types of stamppot (mashed potatoes mixed with veggies) served with sausage, a meatball, and bacon. Meat & potatoes – that’s traditional Dutch food for you.
Looking back – I’m not sure how we ate as much as we did, but what a YUMMY day.
We decided to take a half-day trip to Zaanse Schans to see some of the old windmills. It’s about a 20 minute train ride + 10 minute walk. This little town honestly exceeded my expectations – it was so cute! The buildings, the windmills, the cheese shops, the little kitties running around. Plus you can walk around the grounds for free (you can pay to enter some of the windmills if you want – we just enjoyed wandering around).
We arrived back in Amsterdam at lunch time and headed back to the Nine Streets to try some of the cute cafes. First we grabbed fries (a must) at Fabel Friet then sandwiches at Cora. Zack and I shared a chicken sandwich with habanero mango aioli, arugula, tomato, onion, and chives AND a Dutch goat cheese sandwich with fig jam and rocket (will be recreating this because it was so yum).
In the late afternoon it was time for our boat rental. I 100% recommend taking some sort of canal boat ride when in Amsterdam. There’s tons to choose from but renting a private boat is the way to go, in my opinion! It was actually the same price or cheaper than most of the tours, AND it’s just your group – you can guarantee a great view and enjoy the canals at your own pace. We booked through Canal Motor Boats, and it was a great experience. And it was VERY easy navigating through the canals.
After cruising the canals, we grabbed drinks and appetizers an Spanjer Van Twist. The bitterballen here was DIVINE. Caught the sunset on the way back to our airbnb, then Zack and I grabbed a late night dinner at Lombardo’s (small little burger shop).
We grabbed a quick breakfast at Back to Black. This time I got a fresh-made, still warm-from-the-oven cardamom bun and it was *chefs kiss* incredible. Then we hopped on the train and headed to the airport – it was time to fly to Athens (blog coming soon)!
Amsterdam is a really beautiful city – if you love architecture (me 🙋🏼♀️), you’ll love getting lost in the Canal Belt. Anyway, I thought I’d share a few tips based on my experience:
• Pick a hotel or airbnb away from the train station/Old Centre – the Canal Belt is much quieter, cuter, and less touristy.
• Pack an umbrella, especially if you’re visiting in the fall or winter.
• October was a great time to visit – at least for us. Seemed like peak tourist season was over, and the weather was chilly but definitely not too cold.
• Watch out for bicycles! (Like seriously…there are so many!)
This was just stop one of our 2 week vacation. If you want to see more from our enitre trip, all the blogs and videos are linked below so be sure to check those out!
ATHENS TRAVEL GUIDE
SANTORINI TRAVEL GUIDE – COMING SOON
MILOS TRAVEL GUIDE – COMING SOON