When I think of spring, I envision fashionistas peddling around the city on bicycles with a basket full of flowers. Why so specific? No idea. However, the thought of bicycles reminds me of the two days I spent in Amsterdam last Fall. Here are my suggestions for the top ten things you should do if you’re in Amsterdam.
- Watch out for Bicyclists!: There is an estimated 18 million bikes in the Netherlands* and nearly 17 million people. So, it’s not surprising that it feels like bikes rule the road in Amsterdam. From the classic two-wheeler, to the motorized variety, bikes are abound! No lie, I saw a motorized bike crash into a bicyclist who, I guess was going too slow in their opinion. The motorized bicyclist yelled at the bicyclists as he sped away and the bicyclists assessed the damage. Which included a broken bike light. One of the most interesting, and obviously necessary things I saw was parking lots just for bicycles.
Prices for one of the many Bike Parking Lots I saw.
*Source: Netherland by Numbers
2. Book your Museum Tickets in Advance: I had my heart set on visiting the Anne Frank Museum. My plan was to book a ticket online because I’d heard that if you wait until you’re in Amsterdam to get your ticket, you’ll be waiting in line for what could be hours. If you buy your ticket in advance (here), you’ll get to walk right in. I tried to purchase my ticket a few weeks before my trip and….they were sold out for the next THREE MONTHS! Needless to say, I didn’t get to visit the Anne Frank Museum that, time. But now I have an excuse to visit again.
3. Check out the Red Light District: Is it odd that TLC’s “Red Light Special” always comes to mind when I think of the Red Light District? If you’re a voyeur this is something you must check off your bucket list. Wander through the narrow streets and alleyways looking up at beautiful, scantily clad women dancing in a window or glass door. Don’t be shocked if you see someone walk through a door, or a window with the curtains closed. That just means money is being made.
If all that looking got you excited, don’t fret, there are sex toys for sale in the bathrooms!
4. Check out a Coffee Shop: There is literally a Coffee Shop on every corner. There were a few that I’d researched and wanted to check out, but they were all out of the way. The Coffee Shop I did get to check out, Coffeeshop Smokey had a full bar and was next to Club Smokey, a nightclub. So it was super convenient to check out both. I thought it was interesting that most of the herb was mixed with tobacco. Pure pre-rolls were available, but there were only two options versus the 6 mixed pre-rolled options. There were also edibles for sale and ample seating for guests to sit and enjoy their purchases.
6. Try the local food: My favorite, the frites (fries) with the spicy garlic sauce. My least favorite…whatever I selected at one of the FEBO hot-food vending machines.
There are lots of places that offer frites. I opted for a quaint spot called Chipsy King.
I didn’t know which item to try which is probably why I didn’t love FEBO. Some of my friends swore by it! This list from Thrillist would’ve been helpful.
7. Check out the Nightlife: The nightlife in Amsterdam is EVERYTHING. In the Leidseplein area, you can’t take two steps without stumbling into a bar or club. I met up with my friend who lives there, so she knew exactly which places to take me. One of the more annoying things was that if I asked in English if there was a cover charge, there usually was. However, if my friend asked in Dutch it was free! The moral of the story, make friends with other girls in line and hope they’re locals.
*Tip: Beware of the drunken tourists. You will see people puking, arguing and maybe even passed out in the street (the emergency response team there works hard!). Amsterdam is a party town and the downtown area is also where the University is located.
I was BEYOND excited to meet up with my boo from Holland!
The streets of Amsterdam, walking from one club to another.
The shots at Chupitos were on FIRE, and super yummy!
I made a new, random friend, as usual!
8. Visit a Historical Site: I didn’t get an opportunity to go inside the Royal Palace Amsterdam, but I was able to get a rare solo picture in front of it. This place is packed with tourists during the day.
9. (Window) Shop: As a fashion stylist and merchandiser, I love a great window display. The PC Hoofdstraat area which is walking distance from the IAMSTERDAM sign is the place to shop notable designers like Gucci and Chanel along with some great European designers like Philipp Plein.
I’m OBSESSED with these distressed jeans with RHINESTONES, thanks Michael Kors!
10. Get Lost: After I visited the IAMSTERDAM sign and did a bit of window shopping, I got lost. Literally. I decided to break away from my little crew and explore a bit on my own. This is when I saw some great street style, beautiful architecture and really started appreciating the free wifi at Starbucks!
I love her Window Pane Trench. Europeans are tres chic!
Seriously, all the cars are this small!
Hop on the train to get you back to Centraal Station. They run frequently are inexpensive and perfect for my favorite pastime, people watching.