Hello everyone, I’m finally back! I know it’s been a while but I hope you’re still there ready to find out all about my time in the Netherlands. This time round, I went for a short city break with Gavin in Amsterdam at the end of July this year.
Being the capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a city full of culture and canals (165 to be precise!) and can be known as the “Venice of the North”, although not many (if any) people I spoke to gave it that name. There’s a lot of things you can do in the city and this post will direct you to just a few of them. Continue reading to find out what I got up to!
First things first: Travel
We took a flight from Norwich Airport, both easy and convenient, with it being a small airport in the scheme of airports in the UK and abroad! However, you do have to pay the Airport Development Fee before you fly, but this is just to support the development of the site, infrastructure and maintain the current network. This is simple to pay as you just use the machine before you go through security and it costs £10 for an adult. For this short break, we flew with KLM, the Dutch airline.
Flying soon? Don’t forget to check in online before you depart for the airport, so you don’t have to pay to do so at the airport! A lot of airlines, especially cheaper ones, will make you pay if you haven’t done it before you arrive, so avoid this where you can. Also, the majority of airlines have apps you can use to check in and show your boarding passes, so if you don’t want to carry lots of paper or like to use your phone, this may be the best option.
In addition, if you search around before you book, you can find cheap flights from larger airports through apps like Google Flights and Skyscanner. Also sometimes it’s cheaper to book the holiday altogether (flights and hotel) on sites like Expedia.
We searched around for different hotels but in the end, we came to the decision to book a room at The Student Hotel in Amsterdam City for our stay, and the pictures looked too good to be true. However, when we arrived it looked exactly like the photos and this was when we knew we’d made the right choice for our short break.
With only a 15 minute walk or a short metro journey means only one thing, it’s the perfect location being close to the city centre. It has a truly modern feel and is a one of a kind hotel, located in the neighbourhood of Oost. The metro station Wibaustraat is right outside for whenever you want to have a venture.
Myself and Gavin outside the hotel. (FYI it was extremely sunny)
On one of the nights, we had a drink at the Student Hotel’s resident bar, The Commons, which serve all sorts of alcoholic and non-alcholic beverages perfect for any situation as well as a selection of hot and cold food.
At the hotel they also have a gym, so you can maintain your daily fitness routine, if that’s you’re kind of thing. Or if you’re studying in the city, there’s a library and multiple spaces to to get some work done.
In most European countries like Holland, this is the Euro, but it is always best to check before you travel just to be 100% sure! If you take cash, be sure to store it in multiple places, as then at least that way you’ve got a backup if you lose it or it gets stolen.
I got my travel money with Sainsbury’s and here’s a tip, if you’re a Nectar card holder, often you can get a better rate than if you just went up to the bureau as a regular customer.
Of course though, you should look at multiple places to see the rate of currency as you may be able to get more for your money somewhere else.
Fourth: Getting around
A city known for its cycle lanes, it’s easy to get around quickly by hiring a bike. After all, there are bikes everywhere in Amsterdam, so it’s fairly likely you won’t be too far away from somewhere you can rent a bicycle for a couple of hours or even a full day!
Luckily, where we stayed, there was the ability to hire out bikes, designer ones in fact. Therefore, we decided to rent one for twenty-four hours with insurance in case anything happened at the small cost of €12. We cycled a lot and made the best use of our time. Most hotels have maps of which routes are best to see the city.
During our stay, we took a modern twist on the traditional canal boat rides by hiring a pedal boat and I’ll be honest it was a lot of fun. Just beside the mooring was a huge pair of clogs and as per usual, we had to take some silly photographs of us wearing them.
By the mooring, close to Rjyksmuseum.
As well as going on a traditional or modern boat ride, you can walk the canals and as there are so many you’re unlikely to run out! Plus the views are superb, so who wouldn’t want to walk alongside them?
The rest of the time we either walked around or used our Amsterdam Travel Tickets which we bought from Amsterdam Schipol Airport, although there are other stations you can buy them from.
The Amsterdam Travel Tickets can be bought for use on a single day or for multiple days in the city. We got the 3-day ticket for €26, which gave us unlimited travel in Amsterdam. This is cheaper than buying lots of single tickets. A one day pass is €16 and a two-day pass is only €21, so it’s great value if you ask me! Saving a few pennies on transport means you’ve got more for museums, food, souvenirs and everything else.
There are also similar travel tickets you can by to explore further, such as Amsterdam + region and a Holland wide one.
During one of the days, we used the national train ticket to explore a couple of places in Holland. This included briefly visiting Den Haag, Utrecht, Leiden, and Rotterdam. I’d definitely recommend doing this if you have the time to and when I return, I’ll do this again to explore somewhere new such as Maastricht.
There are multiple things you can do in the city for free and in whatever weather you experience during your stay there. A common one is visiting the I. Amsterdam sign outside the front of the Rijksmuseum.
Can you spot me sitting on this sign? You’ll definitely need to look rather closely.
We also cycled through the Rijksmuseum, which is stunning both during the daytime and in the evening. Often there are buskers in this tunnel, which play the most beautiful music, so it’s definitely worth the walk through.
Before we went on holiday, we researched a couple of things to do, one of which was an inside glow in the dark mini golf course. The pictures were promising and I’ll be honest we were a little disappointed when we arrived. However, the company was exceptional and made the time we had there a laugh, as it was after our busy day exploring other cities in the Netherlands, so we were both beginning to get a little tired.
Finally, along with culture, an attraction you’re unlikely to miss is the Red Light District. Often you can walk towards it without realising on your way to somewhere else in the city. It’s known for prostitution and whilst down the streets photos are prohibited. It’s common to see stag parties in this part.
Moving on, when I visit Holland again I hope to visit Keukenhof, which is the largest flower garden in Europe. All the pictures of different varieties of flowers look lovely and pretty and I think it’s somewhere my grandma would have loved. Unfortunately, they weren’t open when I visited in July.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam or the Netherlands? What were your favourite parts? Leave me a comment as I’d love to know 😊
Until next time,