It was my second time back, and found myself loving it even more this time. You’ll see in this comprehensive Amsterdam travel guide just how much there is to enjoy in this city. Maybe it’s the lighthearted humor, the cozy spaces, or sense of order, either way we cancelled our flights so we could stay a few more days.
Amsterdam is a city that’s quite hard to capture in words. There’s an elegance to it — picturesque canals with overhanging trees and reflections from the brick homes. There’s a “human-size” feeling to the city — you can walk or bike everywhere. It’s the kind of city where locals and travelers blend seamlessly, typically over a canal bridge, a buzzing cafe, or a trendy boutique.
Either way, whether you come to emerge in the arts or the endless canals, there’s never been a better time to visit Amsterdam. Take a peak at this comprehensive Amsterdam travel guide for my top suggestions for a well-rounded trip.
The Comprehensive Amsterdam Travel Guide
Getting to Amsterdam + Transportation On Ground
With one of the best international airports around, Amsterdam has never been more accessible. When you land, the two easiest options to getting into Amsterdam center is either by taxi ($$$) or via the direct train ($). The train goes often into Centraal Station and is the cheapest option.
Once in Amsterdam center, everything is really walkable or you can take the local trams. You’ll see the mode of transportation most often used is bikes — which is one of the best ways to explore. Be mindful when crossing the road as these dedicated bike lanes are everywhere.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
The Conservatorium Hotel: It’s one of those hotels you’ll go home talking about. Spending two nights in this restored and renovated historic building was magical. We worked with Kiwi Collection which gave us a complimentary upgrade upon arrival (one of the perks of booking with Kiwi Collection!) and checked into the stunning Van Baerle Suite. The tall windows, spacious room, incredible tub, and beautiful views was memorable.
The Conservatorium Hotel is located in the Museum Quarter of Amsterdam and is footsteps from everything you’ll want to see and do in the city. The former bank and music conservatory has been beautifully restored to a perfect blend of modern design and historic touches. You’ll see Milan-based designer and architect Piero Lissoni’s touches throughout the entire hotel — clean lines, an ode to the past, and his signature pop of color throughout. Designed to never have to leave, The Conservatorium Hotel boasts it’s own high-end gallery of shops, a beautiful Brasserie, Taiko Restaurant, and the Tunes bar. Oh, and don’t forget the world-class spa.
What to Do in Amsterdam
- A boutique canal tour with Pure Boats: One of our highlights during the time in Amsterdam was a luxury small group canal with Pure Boats. Onboard their boat “Geertje”, there was local bites and drinks (craft beers + great wine!) to accompany while we explored through the main canals out to some of the lesser seen areas. We learned from our captain about the history along the way while enjoying the scenery. The opportunity to be in a small group and in this private boat felt intimate and allowed for such a fun experience. Pure Boats also have private tours a well!
- Explore the charming neighborhood of Jordaan: Filled with endless shops, cafes, and bars, you can easily spend a couple of hours wandering through.
- A night at the Van Gogh Musuem: We decided to go at night as we wanted to optimize our time for being outside during daylight. It worked out perfectly to have two hours to see the museum and definitely recommend getting the audio tour. Being my second time, it was as memorable as I remembered.
- See the classics at the Rijksmuseum: if you’re looking for Dutch classics like Rembrandt, head here. I’d buy your tickets online and head there in the morning to beat the crowds.
- Rent a bike and explore: One way to see the city is by bike. We took some from our hotel and went for a couple of hour bike ride around Amsterdam central.
- Cheese tasting at Reypenaer Tasting Room: Dutch cheese may be one of my favorites and what better way to get a knowledge and understanding of it then through a cheese tasting. Reypenaer offers these introduction classes where you can learn about the aging process and more. *Book in advance.
- Get outdoors in Vondelpark: The main park area of Amsterdam, it’s a great spot to get a break from the city.
- More Amsterdam posts found here.
Where to Eat in Amsterdam
- Tujuh Maret: With an Indonesian community at the core of Holland, eating Indonesian food is a must while in Amsterdam. The classic expereince is rijsttafel or rice table where you can sample a ton of small dishes — it’s so yummy here we went twice!
- Small World Catering: One of the best sandwiches of my life this deli meets cafe is SO yummy for lunch. Order the turkey melt!
- Raïnaraï: We came in here once for the mint tea + baklava and then came back in to eat lunch. The food is North African/Moroccan and it’s so flavorful!
- The Pantry: If you’re looking for traditional Dutch food, this one is really good. We had lunch here one day and enjoyed a few classic dishes + local beer.
- Cafe George: We had dinner at one of their locations, really good for brasserie style food.
- Guts & Glory: A restaurant that does seasonal menus called “chapters.” Recommend for a more upscale dinner.
- Bar Fisk: We came to this bar for lunch and loved the Tel Aviv-inspired menu. The drinks are also awesome.
- Café Caron: A good cafe for dinner featuring seafood and meat dishes.
- Brasserie Van Dam: We ate here one night for dinner and loved the ambiance — the portions are perfect for sharing a few plates.
- Pluk: Always a must when in Amsterdam, this cute cafe is perfect for cake + coffee or breakfast.
- Van Stapele Koekmakerij: This is the famed cookie shop and well worth the wait for the cookies.
- Polaberry: We picked up some chocolate strawberries from here and they were really good!
- Coffee at: Toki, Bocca Coffee, Coffee Sometime, and Lot Sixty One.