Amsterdam — this unique city is the capital of the The Netherlands and a gateway through time. As you meander through the city, you feel as though you have been transported back to the 17th century. However, you are quickly brought back to reality when a car squeezes by you on the impossibly narrow roads — perhaps it's the endless museums or the quaint canals that allows you to be taken back through time. Amsterdam is one of those cities that merges the new and the old in an idilic way.
What was once a fishing village, Amsterdam became one of the most important trading centers in the world. With more than 1,500 bridges, the Dutch learned how to navigate and use the water that seemingly engulfed their city. Amsterdam is home to some of the most unique architecture around. Due to the terrain that surrounds the city which is mostly swamp-like conditions, they realized they must build their houses on wooden stilts. The stilts that were driven into the ground before construction began are now beginning to rot, causing the houses to tilt and sink. In addition to these conditions, the Dutch people were also taxed on the frontage or the width of their home. Being the ever progressive people they are, they built their homes narrow and deep, in turn creating the quaint crooked canal houses we see today.
Upon arriving, you will begin to notice that just about everywhere you look needs to be captured on camera. The architecture alone will have your neck sore, let alone the various canals, and historical sites. While some people might assume that visiting Amsterdam is strictly for the progressive lifestyle (The Red Light District and legalization of marijuana), there is more this city has to offer between the tulips that blossom once a year to the humbling experience of walking through the Anne Frank House. There is a little bit of everything for the different travelers that find themselves in Amsterdam; whether that be culture and history, art, the party scene, fashion, culinary delights, or just the charm of an old European city.
Amsterdam is one of those cities you have to put on your travel list. Be sure to stop by if you make your way to Belgium, Germany, or France. Enjoy the history, the beautiful architecture, and gorgeous canals.
Here's how to spend 72 hours in Amsterdam...
+ Walk Around
Get familiar with the city on foot. Sometimes the best finds happen while aimlessly walking around. Don’t be afraid to get lost! Tip: be sure to have map on hand just in case.
+ Find a Cafe
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to find a local cafe and pretend to be a local. Bring a book or a journal and enjoy. Tip: Remember to look for “cafes” in Amsterdam, not “coffee shops” - they do not serve coffee in coffee shops.
+ Eat Traditional Dutch Food
As the concierge told me, “The fish just jump out of the water and right on your plate.” Be prepared for some delicious fish and potatoes in the heart of Holland.
+ Tour the Anne Frank House
This should be on the top of everyone’s list when headed to Amsterdam. It was one of the most surreal and humbling experiences. Tip: Be sure to buy your tickets online as soon as possible. The slots fill up quickly and the regular admission line wraps around the building well before 9am.
+ Rent a Bike
What better way to explore the city of bicycles than by, you guessed it, bicycle! You will be able to see so much of the city at your own pace.This will undoubtedly be a highlight of the trip.
+ Eat Dutch-Indonesian
When the Dutch colonized Indonesia, they happily welcomed the delicious Indonesian food into their diet. Head to Long Pura for the traditional Rijsttafel, which literally translates to “rice table”. Tip: Be sure to come hungry, as the whole table will be covered with plates.
+ Hop on the Train
Don't be confined to one city — beautiful Rotterdam and nearby Haarlem are just a train ride away. Let spontaneity take over and explore another neighboring Dutch town!
+ Treat yourself: Dutch snacking style
Be sure to treat yourself to more of the Dutch specialties. Herring, fries and mayonnaise, and stroopwafels are just the beginning of the delicious Dutch treats. Get outside of your comfort zone and try a bit of the Dutch cuisine. Tip: There are food stands all over the city, be sure to keep your eyes open!
+ Take a Canal Tour
Explore the Venice-of-the-north by boat — there's no shortage of canal tours, so hop in one and get out your camera - the scenes are unparalleled! Tip: The evening tours can be particularly beautiful with the canals lit up so grab your Dutch treats beforehand, sit back, and take in the scenery.
Meet our guest contributor: Hello, my name is Natasha Pleis and I live in Northern California. My passion for travel began at a young age and has continued to grow ever since. When I'm not taking care of children, you can find me planning my next European adventure!
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+ You'll be seeing more Natasha's work on Bon Traveler, keep your eyes peeled!