Amsterdam: the liberal city of sin (sex and drugs), built on an incredible foundation (history, art and culture). A popular stop for young backpackers, and is usually the first stop on their inter-railing trip (or if you are American: the first stop when “doing Europe”). It’s hard to get bored in Amsterdam, with a museum or gallery or restaurant or a bar on every corner. Here are the main points of attraction:
- Step back in time at Anne Frank’s house:
I know we’ve all seen it in ‘The Fault in our Stars’, but being there is a totally different experience. Emotions and realisation come flooding in. The loft was actually a lot bigger than I expected, but narrow. Make sure you get there before opening as the line builds up quickly.
- Cruise down the canals:
Not a cheap activity for a backpacker (Costing around £20), but what’s Amsterdam without chilling on the famous canals? Boats leave regularly from outside the central station and the tours take a couple of hours – it’s a great way to see the city.
- Take the stereotypical photo at the iAmsterdam sign:
Right in the heart of the museum district, so it’s easy to find. It gets very busy with other tourists climbing on the letters, so get there early to avoid the crowds.
- Get cultured at the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gough museum:
Again, these aren’t free, but worth a visit. The outside of the Rijksmuseum is impressive enough – just imagine the inside!
- Let’s talk about sex baby:
The sex museum (about £3 entry) was the funniest half an hour of my life. I’ll let you find out yourself what makes it so good.
- Try not to stare down the Red Light District:
EVERYONE tries to avoid eye contact in the Red Light District. But I say look! It’s very different from what most people are used to, so see how it is done in Amsterdam – it’s a learning experience. (Warning: you may get asked if you want a prostitute, just politely decline if you don’t want one).
- Experience Heineken:
The Heineken experience is like Cadbury’s World. You go and learn about the history and production of the product, and even get 2.5 beers included in the admission fee (yes, another activity that isn’t free. It costs about £15).
- Rent a bike:
You can rent bikes all over the city pretty cheaply and due to the citywide cycle system, you don’t have to worry about being hit by cars. It’s far cheaper than the trams and buses (yay, something that saves money!) and it keeps you fit.
Things to note:
- Asian food is everywhere – and it’s cheap.
- The parks are beautiful and you should take a picnic to one.
- Get comfortable walking shoes – the city is small and flat enough to walk.