Amsterdam is a city that needs no introduction to the world traveler. One of Europe’s most visited cities, it’s well known for its beautiful architecture, its endless canals, its numerous bridges, its rich and expansive history, and, of course, its reputation for tolerance.
See & Do
- Centrum(Old Centre): The historic center of the city of Amsterdam, you will be right in the heart of it as soon as you step outside of Amsterdam Centraal train station. There are give major canals that form concentric circles looping around the train station that encompass the “centrum” or city center of Amsterdam. The majority of hotels and tourist attractions exist, historic architecture, cathedrals, canals and of course the famous red light district. Rating: 4/5
- Red Light District: What’s fascinating about Amsterdam’s red light district is that it’s not tucked away in some corner where only sketchy looking people will be standing about–nope, this is right in the heart of the city, minutes from all other tourist attractions. There will be lots of locals and tourists (families included) walking around at all times of day and night. There are nearly-naked women lined up in windows along the canals, alleys, and other streets in the area tapping to get the attention of passing men. Occasionally you will see a closed curtain or a negotiation taking place; anything beyond that is up to your imagination. Rating: 4/5
- Zeedijk(Chinatown): There are a handful of Chinese related shops and restaurants in this area, and a marked increase in Chinese population. For European standards it’s a somewhat lively Chinatown, but if you are a visitor from any major North American city then it will be relatively tiny and limited in comparison. Note that they generally tend to lump together all sorts of Asian cuisine in this Chinatown, so you will see Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian, etc cuisines. Rating: 4/5
- FOAM: The photography museum has a variety of excellent rotating exhibitions, so you could keep on coming back for an entirely new experience every time. Admission is € 8.75.
- Magere Brug(Skinny Bridge): First off, I’m going to admit that I’m not quite sure I get the significance of this bridge. We either crossed this bridge or were in the area a few times, but nothing really stood out as especially unique. It’s a famous bridge that connects two sides of the Amstel river, but it’s so skinny that only bikes and pedestrians can cross. There is a pretty good view of Amsterdam standing on the bridge. There is a fictional story accompanying the bridge about two elderly sisters who lived on opposite ends of the canal and visited each other often, but were not able to walk to another bridge (of which there are two more about 300m apart). Rating: 4/5
Eat & “Drink”
- The Pancake Bakery: Pancakes in the Netherlands are not quite crepes from France, but they are also not quite the thick, fluffy American pancake either (it’s somewhere in between). This place serves great savory and sweet pancakes, and it makes for a nice meal that won’t stuff you. This restaurant is conveniently located near the Anne Frank House. Around €8 per dish of pancakes. Rating: 5/5
- Maoz Falafel: What? Eating at a chain on vacation? Seems almost shameful, but wait–Maoz actually originated from Amsterdam. The first location ever opened is on Reguliersbreestraat in Centrum. Dutch Maoz restaurants also seem to serve fries in addition to falafel (though, as you will find, fry shops are not exactly rare while wandering around Amsterdam). Around €6 per falafel sandwich. Rating: 4/5
- Barney’s Coffeeshop: This is a pretty famous coffeeshop with a wide variety of selections, including personal vaporizers that can be used at your table. We made the mistake of going in on a Monday afternoon where we were the only people at a shop. It provided for a pretty good experience at the FOAM museum. We spent around €20 for two drinks and one “cup” of coffee. Rating: 4/5
- 420 Cafe: Nice little coffeeshop in the heart of Centrum in an alley off the Nieuwendijk pedestrian street. Has separate smoking and non-smoking areas (which are separated by nothing at all, so what’s the point?). Rating:4/5
- Downtown Flyingpig Hostel: If you enjoy hostels then this is place to be. Low prices for a bed in addition to a nice, cheap bar in the lobby as well as a smoking lounge make for an excellent place to chat and meet fellow travelers. Three of the guys in our room got back in around 4-5am and were still fast asleep by 5pm (did they even wake up? Who knows.). Don’t be those guys, Amsterdam is much more than partying, drinking, and getting stoned. Rating: 2/5