72 HOURS IN AMSTERDAM
It was supposed to be longer than that. But somehow we’ve been out of the count for the whole day after visiting one of the infamous coffee shops, and lost precious hours of sightseeing.
While Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination all year round. We went there on warm days of a late summer. And here is what we managed to do and to see in the remaining 72 hours of our trip
EXPLORED THE CITY CENTRE
Strolling or cycling along picturesque canals tightly built up with colourful Dutch Renaissance houses is one of the most enjoyable experiences in Amsterdam. And whenever you are tired, you can stop, sit right at the edge of the canal and try to spot one of tens of thousands bicycles that are resting in the depths of city waters.
Join one of free walking tours, use a ready made Amsterdam walking/cycling maps or routes or just go impromptu like we did during our 72 hours. By the way, canal walks are especially charming at the sunset.
Did you know that Amsterdam has one of the highest concentration of art galleries and creative spaces in Europe? Simply wandering around the city you will most likely come across a few contemporary masterpieces. You never know if it is next Dali or Warhol you are looking at through the shopping window. If your interest in art is far bigger than that, you can always see what’s on in Amsterdam art centres and choose anything that appeals to you.
TOOK A SELFIE WITH I AM STARDAM
We were lucky to catch the last shiny days of the iconic installation. As you probably know, the red-and-white letters were removed from Museumplein in December 2018. There are even footages of dismounting on Youtube. In this way Amsterdam authorities are fighting with overtourism, which the little capital cannot cope with in the recent years. They brought the letters back for a short period of time during a political campaign in April 2019 but that was it. Museumplein is empty and lonely since then.
It is promised that the legendary installation will pop up in different districts of the city at different times. Unfortunately as of now there is no reliable resource on the internet where you can check if the letters are on display and where. We are keeping eye on the situation and will update this post as soon as we have any better news. For now, preparing for an Amsterdam trip one can check the following thread on Tripadvisor, or the local websites
Despite I am sterdam letters missing from Museumplein, it still remains one of the top places to visit in the capital. Does not matter if you come here to take a few pictures with the dramatic Rijksmuseum at the background or to see with your own eyes some of the world famous masterpieces.
As for our trip – we could not miss Van Gogh museum. And we also checked Moco, which is a decent treat for all those interested in modern and contemporary art (as museum’s name suggests). Both museums did stand to our expectations, we had great couple of hours there.
Even though fans of Banksy will probably find a trip to Bristol much more enjoyable than visiting Amsterdam’s Moco. In Bristol, where the artist is from, you can literally have self-organised street quizz there hunting for his most famous works. But that is a totally different travel story. Meanwhile, let’s get back to our 42 hours in Amsterdam. After a thorough exploration of Museumplein it is time to restore energy levels and also learn something new about Dutch cuisine
APPRECIATED DUTCH AND INTERNATIONAL CUISINE
If you are a seafood lover then Amsterdam is the right place to be. Sea is a stone throw from and stylish seafood restaurants are in their prime here. We had that huge colourful plate of seafood for lunch and it was sooo good! Not everyday you find your lunch platter worth an Instagram photo!
There are several awesome food courts in Amsterdam. Right next to Museumplein there is a food stand called FoodCrib. A bit more expensive than other food courts with smaller selection, it still presents a good option for those feeling peckish after all the arts on display.
During our 72 hours in Amsterdam we instead visited bigger and more populated Foodhallen that is rather close to the city centre. It sits inside of a cool industrial building and hosts vendors of different tastes and preferences. Another place bit further from the centre loved by locals and tourists is Market 33
As for more traditional treats – of course we should mention waffles, Matjes herring bites and famous orange cocktail – Koningsdag
SHOPPED IN A COFFEE SHOP
Yeah, coffee shops considerably outnumber the seafood restaurants here. When in the city centre, you will have no difficulty locating one of them. There are quite a few that has permanently positive reviews and will be most likely full with tourists on Friday and Saturday nights. And there are places populated by locals and situated bit further from tourist paths. Such cafes are far from fancy. They just have a few simple tables and chairs and limited offer of drinks/ snacks. During our trip we visited one of those tucked away establishments. No, not the famous, oldest standing BullDog in the picture here (but you cannot leave without a picture of BullDog, you know). Overall was quite relaxing and student-party feel experience.
Note: UpYourValley does not encourage using drugs. Whatever you are going to do in your 72 hours in Amsterdam is at your own risk and to your sole responsibility
What to expect? Right at the entrance you will be asked for documents and offered to choose from a wide selection of green treat. Not to get lost – study the menu of the shop beforehand, lots of them have either own websites or photos posted by tourists on Tripadvisor and other resources. If you prefer to improvise – do not hesitate to ask the coffee shop assistant for advice, they are definitely used to answer such questions every day. You can buy either ready-rolled cigarette or a ‘DIY package’ :P. Proceed to the thick bittersweet fog of the lounge area and make yourself comfortable. Now, you are all set to draw in.
If you finished cigarette or cookie – does not mean you have to leave. Lots of people stay as long as the effect lasts. Or, until they start to feel extremely hungry and urge to grab some pizza or kebab outside.
What to be aware of? Nowadays it is becoming more and more complex to spot the difference between synthetic equivalent of weed (called Spice) and original, natural product. The former consists of the dried plants as well. The only difference that it is a random hay ‘sprayed’ with chemically obtained narcotic substance rather than containing it by nature. Which difference it makes to you? Let alone the quality of weed-smoking experience, synthetic marijuana has much more risks and side effects on your health. And of course once in Amsterdam – it would be a shame to resign to a synthetic roll. Therefore sniff your cigarette properly before going to the smoke-covered room, and check the texture – real weed should be more crumbly and less gluey.
SIN PATH GOES ON – RED LIGHT DISTRICT
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without coming here, because you just need to see it with your own eyes, right? Capital’s visit card stretches along the couple of otherwise unremarkable streets on the banks of two connecting canals. Not surprisingly, it is located just next to the Central railway station. Surprisingly, there is a beautiful church of a tremendous size just in the middle of the area. Oude kerk – one of the oldest in Amsterdam by the way. Check the last paragraph if you are interested to get to the top of it for city views.
Those famous red lights somehow are not annoying to the eyes but vice versa feel relaxing (maybe just an aftermath of weed of the previous day? :P)
Exploring the area you will see lots of tourists with cameras, a few open windows with the ladies on duty, several adult theatres and sex shops. Deeper investigation of the attractions of the Red District is fortunately or unfortunately out of the scope of this article 😉
To take photos, it is better to come here before sunset. The famous lights are already on but there is still some natural light out there to bring up the structure.
RENTED A BOAT
One of the top memories of our trip is seeing Amsterdam waterways from a different angle. But not only that. Being your own skipper is a great fun and pretty cool alternative to usual tourist canal cruises.
Renting a boat in Amsterdam is a very simple task. You do not need any specific naval license. Short instruction before departure will give you enough confidence to operate the vehicle as well as to navigate canals by the common set of rules. You would need an ID and your credit card though. Financially it is more convenient if you have a company of at least 4-5 people to share experience with. Prices start from 150-ish euro for 2 hours of rental with a smaller providers. Here are just a few of many boat renting options to start with.
It might be possible to team up with another small group if there are only few of you and you like to socialise and meet new people. You would need to ask managers at the boat rental, or just show up and wait for other customers to come over.
VISITED THE MILLS
We would not leave Holland without a few dozen photos of famous Dutch mills. While some lonely four-wing giants can be found close to the centre of Amsterdam, the most impressive Dutch mills heritage remains in Zaanse Schans. This place awesome because it is easily reachable by city train, free (there is only a small fee if you decide to go inside the mill) and irresistibly charming.
Colourful mills, small streets of gingerbread houses, refreshing nature and relaxing landscapes of Dutch countryside – recipe for great memories. And lots of photo opportunities! There are food kiosks here if you get hungry; a decent shop that sells variety of cheeses, honey and other treats produced just around the corner and even a clog craftsmanship in action. If we did not have only 72 hours in Amsterdam, we would spend the whole day here…
GOT A BIRD EYE VIEW
Almost every old city has a lovely church tower where tourists can climb to for a roof top view. Amsterdam is not an exclusion. Its most common response would be the Westerkerk and our old friend Oude kerk.
Both are not an easy catch though – unlike with other church rooftops around the world – you cannot just walk in. There is a very limited number of people (6 actually) that can get upstairs every half an hour. So you need to book your time with the guide and buy a ticket beforehand. This means it is even possible that you won’t have your view on the same day and will need to return the next day. Which is definitely not convenient if you have only 72 hours in Amsterdam 🙁 The best thing you can do is try to arrive to the spot before opening.