In January, we took advantage of cheap flight prices to check out some cities in Europe. Here’s our roundup of places to check out when in Amsterdam.
We did a 48 hour hop on/hop off tour, which included both bus and boat. This was a good way to get around, but note that traffic can get BAD, so you may be sitting on the bus for awhile. The boat seems like a more efficient way to get around, and the canals are fun to tour. Bikes are obviously huge in Amsterdam and you can rent them, but we opted not to. Be careful when you’re walking, bike lines are not always clearly marked, and they don’t stop!
Stops on the HOHO tour:
Brouwerij’T Ij: This is a brewery located in Amsterdam’s biggest windmill. This is a really cool place to visit, as it combines cool history and architecture with really great beers! From here, you can take a quick walk to Dapper Markt, which is a fun outdoor market with food an clothing. Don’t miss the pancakes! Another fun stop is the Vondelpark, where the famous Amsterdam sign is. Did you even really go to Amsterdam if you don’t ‘gram yourself in front of this sign?
One of the stops on the tour was Gassan Diamonds. Here is a free tour of the diamond factory that the tour guides push hard. We were about to get off the tour and check it out, but luckily we talked to some people who did the tour. It’s apparently a BIG sales pitch, and not worth your time, unless you’re in the market for diamonds. Don’t bother.
Another stop is the Anne Frank House. A big tip, if you want to tour the house, get your tickets as soon as you book your trip. We tried to get our tickets a few weeks before and it was already sold out. We got to see the outside, but plan ahead if you want to go in.
Here’s a rundown of our favorite cocktail bars. We were lucky to meet a friendly bartender at the first stop who gave us a great recommendation list.
The Tailor: This is a fairly new hotel bar. The bartenders were great and the drinks were good. Not as inventive as some of the places further down the list, but we never would have found those places without the help of the bartender here.
House Bar: This is another hotel bar, but it doesn’t feel like it. The drinks here are crazy inventive. Each page is themed on Amsterdam history and how the cocktails are inspired by it. One of the drinks we had here came topped with an “oyster” with a white chocolate pearl filled with lychee syrup, which complimented the drink. Very unique!
Porem: Another interesting cocktail bar. It’s hard to find from the outside. The drink list was smaller but the staff was so nice and friendly. The host was excited to talk about Boston once he found out that was where we were from. He was asking us about Drink, even though he’s never been.
Tales and Spirits: GO EARLY. This place fills up fast and has some of the most innovative cocktails I’ve seen. One of our drinks was chocolate inspired and came in a chocolate box. Another was a flaming cocktail that was so fun and delicious. Don’t miss this place.
Flying Dutchmen: When we were there, this place had only been open a few weeks. Another place where the staff was SO nice and friendly. We were the first ones in, so we had a great conversation with the owner and bartender who made us feel at home. They let us behind the bar for a picture when we left, and made a call to get us into Tales and Spirits. Their cocktails are also story related, and well made.
We did eat occasionally, and here are our favorites:
Cannibale Royale: This was our favorite dinner. Don’t let the name scare you! This place is known for its steaks and burgers. It gets crowded too, so try to make a reservation. We were lucky to get seats at the bar.
Greenwoods: This is a tiny café (they have an ample outdoor patio, but it wasn’t opened in January when we were there) with a line. It was worth the wait. They specialize in English breakfasts and it was delicious. Good coffee and tea options to start a day of sightseeing.
Restaurant Lucius: This was a nice seafood restaurant. They have a 2 or 3 course dinner option, or you can order a la carte. The food was fresh and well prepared.
All in all, Amsterdam was a great city to visit. It was beautiful, and the people there are so kind. One of the best parts of the trip was just talking to people. They loved to tell us about their city, but also seemed equally interested in us and our travels.