Over Thanksgiving, Nick and I traveled to Europe for a whirlwind 11-day trip through five countries, and stayed in Airbnb apartments and amazing hotels. We drove almost 2,500 miles, and experienced so much culture, architecture, food, wine, and historical sights on this trip- and just barely got a taste of each city. Today, I’m going to share what we did, where we stayed, where we shopped, and what we ate in Amsterdam, our first stop.
From the second we arrived in Amsterdam (at 1:00 a.m.), I knew I would love this city. I was wrong, in so much as the city actually blew me away. We had roughly 24 hours on our first stop here, so I knew that we had to fit as much into one day as we possibly could. After parking at the city’s edge, we took the tram to our Airbnb (we stayed here, highly recommend), promptly dropped our bags, and walked around the corner to the canal. Because it was so late, the city was silent, but I knew even in the darkness that it was stunning. We went to bed to get as much sleep as possible before our day sightseeing in the city.
When we woke up, we got dressed and headed out to walk around for a bit. We were staying right on the edge of the Jordaan neighborhood, a lively and hip section of the city, where nothing was a far walk away. We like planning loose itineraries to give ourselves an outline of things to do, but make sure to not expect too much in case things don’t go as planned (an essential on a whirlwind trip like this). I knew that I wanted to see the Anne Frank House, so we walked the 10-minute walk to get there, but sadly the line was around the block. Since we only had one day in Amsterdam, and I didn’t want to spend half of it in line, we skipped it an explored De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) instead. 9 Streets is a section of quintessential Amsterdam streets that surround the canals in the center of the city, and they’re filled with shopping, cafes, and other cosy spots. We popped into a few shops as we walked, knowing that our ultimate destination for lunch was the popular Pluk for lunch.
After shopping for a bit and realizing that we were starving, we put our names in at Pluk and poked around their shop a bit. The restaurant is small, with an open loft upstairs with a few tables, and a beautiful pastry and fruit display downstairs. You can sit for a meal, or grab a coffee and a pastry to go, but whatever you do, make sure to poke around in the little shop they have downstairs! It’s filled with precious glassware, candles, and unique gifts. The food was incredible, and the interior of the restaurant was absolutely stunning.
It rained, hailed, and snowed while we were there, so we spent the rest of the day ducking in and out of shops and walking the streets and canals to take it all in. After lunch, we headed to the main square, Dam Square. It was crowded and filled with tourists, locals going to and from work, live musicians, and street performers.
I was mostly enthralled with the Victorian and Dutch Renaissance homes- I could barely turn a corner before finding one and claiming it as mine, or planning where we’d live if we won the lottery. Each street seemed to be immaculately maintained, and the pitched and leaning roof lines were utterly charming.
We continued walking to Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market in the center of the city. It has stall after stall of beautiful flowers and tulip bulbs that you can take home and plant in your garden. Since it was November and the tulips weren’t in bloom, it was nice to see them at the market.
After walking through the market, we saw a beautiful fountain and heard some lovely live music, so we decided it was the perfect time to stop and have a beer. I don’t remember the name of the pub, or even where it was in the city, but it had a lovely patio (with heaters!) and it seemed like the perfect place to stop. We rested our feet, tried some delicious beers, and listened to the music- and the people watching was fantastic.
It was getting dark, and the Christmas lights were being switched on across the city (a major bonus of traveling during our Thanksgiving break time!), so we decided to continue walking to catch a few more sights before dinner. We walked towards the Rijksmuseum, which itself is a beautiful building in a beautiful setting, but it’s also where the “I Amsterdam” sign is, and I knew we couldn’t leave without seeing it. In the winter, the pond out front is frozen over and you can ice skate on it, and there are restaurants and cafes serving mulled wine to keep you warm. We walked around for a bit to take in the Christmas lights, and watched people climb all over the large letters for the perfect photo op.
By this point, we were starving and new there was only one place in town where we needed to go: Foodhallen. Foodhallen is an old train station that has been converted into a massive food hall, with stall after stall of delicious food and beverages. We walked around to check out every stall to see what they were offering before choosing a few things from different restaurants and having a shared feast. The building is beautiful, the atmosphere is lively, and the food is incredible.
(wherever we are, I head straight for the burrata)
After we stuffed our faces, we walked to the Red Light District (we obviously had to see it in person) before having dessert and a cappuccino nightcap and pastry on the patio of Dam Good Coffee, right on the square. We walked back across the canals and back to our Airbnb, where we promptly fell into bed and set our alarms for an early wake-up call to be on the road the next morning.
Amsterdam was an absolute treat for the senses- I was expecting to like it, but I was not expecting to fall in love in just a day. I cannot wait until I’m back again, this time, for more than 24 hours.
Where to stay:
We stayed in this Airbnb, which I highly recommend. It’s much prettier in person than the pictures convey, and it’s in a great location on a quiet street, just one block from the canals. Since we were only going to be staying there for two very short nights, we knew we weren’t going to spend much time in the apartment itself and this one had everything we needed.
Where to eat:
Reestraat 19, 1016 DM Amsterdam
Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam, Netherlands
Where to shop:
BIJ ONS VINTAGE
Reestraat 13, 1016 DM Amsterdam, Netherlands
THINGS I LIKE THINGS I LOVE
Hartenstraat 27, 1016 CA Amsterdam
Reestraat 1, 1016 DM Amsterdan, Netherlands
Sights to see:
Have you been to Amsterdam before? Leave your recommendations in the comments- I cannot wait to return!
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