Amsterdam. This city has it all. When you are on a city vacation in Central Europe, you are not after beaches, right? Because that’s pretty much the only thing you cannot find in the very city center. Well, no mountains either, as most of the Netherlands is below sea level, but that is it. Pretty much everything else is right here, on your fingertips.
I can’t praise the compact size of Amsterdam enough. First off, the airport is only a short train ride away, and the central railway station is in the city center. A lot of the attractions are in the walking distance, and the excellent public transportation system takes you wherever further you are about to go. It’s a good idea to keep the ticket somewhere safe even after you enter a tram and get it stamped, because that will keep you from a lot of trouble. Live and learn, that’s all there is to say about that… The transportation system is excellent, and it is complemented by private water taxis that are practical if you want to avoid tourists. However, canal cruises are an amazing way to get an overview of the city.
I arrived to the city in the morning and after dropping my backpack to the hotel, I took a tour on one of the water buses. There was a couple commenting that it was the most romantic bus ride they had ever taken, and even though I don’t know about their previous experiences, I agree that the ride was a pretty one. The driver was also our guide, so he explained a lot about the history of the city as well as about the accommodation situation in Amsterdam while we navigated those narrow canals and passed houseboats that were anchored along the canals.
Food is one of the reasons why I love Amsterdam so much. Many may not know it, but the city has a ton of Indonesian restaurants, and a lot of them are worth checking out. If you want to eat at the iconic MAX restaurant, making a reservation is a good idea unless you want to wait and see if you’ll get lucky within the next couple of hours. Even that is worth it though, because the restaurant is located on one of the nicest streets in Amsterdam and if you like people watching, the waiting time offers a great opportunity for that. When the food is in front of you, you know why you chose to wait instead of dining at some other restaurant. There are a lot of other good restaurants in the city as well. On my second day in Amsterdam, I decided to have dinner at the Indian restaurant Moti Mahal that is only a couple of blocks away from the central railway station. The food was tasty and the service was friendly, so it was a perfect place for a casual meal with friends. In regards to culinary experiences, I hope the couple I mentioned went on one of the dinner cruises that are also offered as those are a lot more romantic and the food is alright, of course not like in three star Michelin restaurants but it is set up really nicely and tastes good as well.
If you love museums, Amsterdam doesn’t let you down. The city offers an amazing selection of museums. The famous Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum (Dutch art and history), Stedelijk Museum (modern and contemporary art and design), Sex Museum, Jewish Museum, there’s something for everybody. My personal favorite turned out to be Van Gogh Museum. This museum has the largest Van Gogh collection in the world. It is quite pleasant otherwise as well as it has good cafeterias that manage the visitor flows excellently as they never are too crowded even though the museum is ranked among the top 25 museums in the world with 1.6 million visitors each year.
In general, Amsterdam is a perfect destination for a long weekend vacation, but if you are like me, you’ll be longing for more time in there.
The top three picks in Amsterdam:
- Van Gogh Museum
- Canal cruises
- Long walks to explore the city