Amsterdam is known for numerous things: it’s where some of the greatest artists hail from, where raw herring is a common tasty snack, where art and culture flourish, and where some of the finest beers can be enjoyed to the fullest. Flock to this city for many diverse experiences in one!
On your first day in Amsterdam, wear your classiest outfit to do some art appreciating! Museum Square is the place to be for lots to see with the country’s two most famous museums adjacent to each other. The first of the two is the Rijksmuseum. Here you will discover a representative view of Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages and beyond, with some European and Asian art pieces and styles making appearances as well. Some famous masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt line the walls, so the bragging rights will be all yours.
When you’re done strolling the halls, visit the close-by Van Gogh Museum! This building holds the largest collection of Van Gogh pieces in the world, allowing you to truly get a feel for how his art transformed over time and throughout his life. How could you miss an opportunity to see this revolutionary artist’s work?
Continue the museum marveling as you make your way over to your next point of interest: Anne Frank’s House. This historical building was supposed to be one of many to be demolished after WWII, but after people rallied for its conservation, it was spared and turned into the significant museum that it is today. You can wander through the rooms and up the stairs to reach the secret annex, where Anne Frank hid from Nazi soldiers during the Holocaust. Her original writings from her diary are on display, as well as presentations and short films to further educate visitors.
At this point in your adventure, you’re most likely yearning to taste some local eats. One treat you must try while in this city is raw herring. The family-run Stubbe’s Haring is the best place to stop for the famous snack, although other food stands on the streets serve it up as well. The fish can be served in a bun with additional toppings, much like a hotdog but, you know, better. After including your favorite toppings, cruise to Vondelpark to eat with a view. This local favorite includes a playground, multiple ponds, an open air theatre and several towering sculptures including “The Fish” by Pablo Picasso! Basically, it’s the Central Park of Amsterdam.
One last museum is required before you start planning your nighttime affairs. Kattenkabinet, or “Cat Cabinet” in English, is a museum full of artworks of cats; if you’re a cat lover, this is definitely a must-see. Drawings and paintings by artists such as Picasso and Rembrandt are on the walls depicting the fancy felines. Real life cats are also prowling about all through the halls and rooms to really bring the art to life.
Now comes the part you’ve probably been waiting for: dinner! Foodies will be delighted in all of the city, but especially at restaurant Blauw. Indonesian food is popular in Amsterdam; it’s probably the only other place you can get great Indonesian other than Indonesia, so take advantage! If you’re unfamiliar with this type of food, your best bet would be to order a rijsttafel (rice table). It’s basically a serving of a dozen or so different dishes that servers will present to you after asking which meat you’d prefer, if any. Dishes include a wide range of ingredients and combinations covering toasted coconut, chicken satay, lamb curry and so on.
After your belly is full, you can add some liquid mayhem. Your first day has been a day full of art critiques and observations, and now you’ll want to monkey around…That’s when you should head to I’nt Aepjen, which literally translates to “in the monkeys.” One of the city’s oldest bars, it has been around since 1519, providing ales and food for crowds over decades. The bar gets its name due to its acceptance of monkeys as a form of payment during the 17th century; sailors would return home from far away colonies without much money to their names, and so, they offered their monkey pets as payment. Don’t worry, today there are no more monkeys swinging around the bar, however, there are tons of different ales to quench your thirst, so drinks up!
All of that walking, eating, and drinking has got to have you ready to hit the hay. Do so confidently at Hotel Twenty Seven, a two-time winner of Hotelier of the Year Award by Eric Toren. Their restaurant, Bougainville, is a sensory, luxurious experience handled by Executive Chef Tim Golsteijn, and their bar’s pride lies in their exclusively selected and created beverages, and extravagant gold-toned décor. When you’re done exploring the magnificent hallways and features, retire to the best suite, just as you deserve after a tiresome day. One of their Signature Suites, the Penthouse Suite, includes two bedroom Jacuzzis with an intimate window, special art pieces from Cobra Art, fully stocked luxury minibar and temperature controlled wine cooler, advanced ambience lighting and climate controlled systems, and much more for your pleasure.
On your second day there will be lots to see, so you’ll want to get up early to accomplish it all! The first destination is A’Dam Lookout, a tower in the heart of the city with multiple features to partake in. It includes a 360° sky deck, a panorama restaurant and rooftop bar, an interactive exhibition, a 100-meter elevator, and a chance at Europe’s highest swing, offering the best views of Amsterdam! The swing is undoubtedly the star attraction; it allows any dare devil to soak in incredible views from high up above. Luckily for you, the fun will continue! A’Dam Lookout offers package deals, and the best one is the Heineken Experience Tour.
Heineken has been around since 1864, born right in wonderful Amsterdam! Learn about the history and how the notable beer came to be with the VIP Tour. This tour grants you access to a special behind-the-scenes tour, A Heineken Connoisseur as a guide, exclusive access to a hidden bar, five premium beers paired with Dutch cheese, a personalized Heineken bottle, and a free city map with the best hidden gems!
With your newly found buzz and a head full of Heineken facts, it’s time to see something beautiful. A visit to the Royal Palace is necessary! The Royal Palace is the only palace in the country that is in active use while also being open to the public. The only time the Royal Palace is closed to visitors is when the Dutch Royal Family is in town, which is equally as exciting! The great palace was built in 1648, taking inspiration from Roman designs, and the similarity is evident. Take a tour and wander inside to gaze at ceiling paintings by Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck, pupils of Rembrandt, as well as the City Treasurer’s Room that has a marble fireplace, and more!
Ah, yes, now it is time to plan the nighttime festivities. Your first stop? A shopping trip! Kalverstraat is a busy street, perfect for shopping of all kinds. On both sides of the popular street are many boutiques, galleries, perfumeries, cafes and restaurants. All of the lights and action make this a nighttime visit, so make it worthwhile and grab some great finds! Some describe the amount of people as daunting, but being South Floridian and experiencing crowds on Ocean Drive has surely prepared you. You’ll be fine!
For dinner, you will finally be treated to Dutch cuisine! Greetje has creations that are rooted in “traditional Dutch cookbooks” and their passion for their authenticity is what has made this place a must-visit again and again. They make it easy for you to choose what to eat with their Deluxe Tasting Menu. You’ll savor multiple starters to begin with, and then it’s up to you to pick a main course which could be redfish, veal, chicken, chicory & pear, or “Zoor Vleîs,” which is listed as a “favorite.” To end the sweet night, dig in to the “Grand Finale” that includes a tasting of their Dutch sweet desserts.
The night is getting darker and the adrenaline is rising; it’s time to head to a nightclub for a good time! Club AIR is a haven for techno and house lovers. An impressive VOID sound system, a wall full of neon LED lights, and interior design by Marcel Wanders makes this club one for the books. Lockers are available so you can dance the night away freely, and you can put money on “Air Cards” so that paying is quick and easy. The club has hosted big acts such as Skrillex, Tiësto, and the Martinez Brothers. Dance the night away under the bright lights, and embrace the true Amsterdam spirit by letting loose!
On your last day, set aside some time to wander a little bit outside of the main city. Book the Zaanse Schans Windmills, Marken and Volendam Tour for a special treat. This tour will lead you on a scenic drive through the Dutch countryside, with visions of colorful tulips and miles of grassy terrain abound. You’ll pass by Zaanse Schans Windmills for breathtaking sights and photo opportunities, as well as to peek in some of the small shops. Bakeries with homemade sweets and a cheese farm that will serve up cheesy goodness are some of the places you’ll visit. Next, keep trekking along to come to a shoemaker where you’ll see how old fashioned wooden clog shoes came to be. The last part of the tour will lead you to neighboring fishing villages Marken and Volendam, where you can converse with locals and learn about their relaxed lifestyles.
This city is one that will have you dreaming about your next return, because there’s something new to see every time. In the meantime, you can enjoy all that you did see. Whether it was checking out some feline art, having a beer in one of the oldest bars in the city, or taking a swing for an impeccable view, you’ve made memories that will last a lifetime! Make sure to tell friends and family back home that you had an AmsterDAM good time!
By Aaliyah Pasols