How to Get There:
On a recent trip to Paris, we decided to make a quick two day trip to Amsterdam. We were debating flying or taking the train - it was almost the same price because we were booking so last minute (if you book 3-4 months in advance the train is WAAYY cheaper), in the end we decided to take the train and I'm happy we did. It was a three hour train ride, you show up to the platform two minutes before departure time and you don't need to go through security, so definitely much less of a hassle then flying. If you are going to be travelling here from any European city within a couple hours of distance I definitely suggest you take the train.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at the Amsterdam Inntel Hotel, it was a really great location about a 10 minute walk from Dam Square and central to lots of shopping and food areas. The rooms were small (as expected in any European city) but clean, comfortable, and reasonably priced for the location. If you are going to be staying in Amsterdam you want to be as close to Dam Square as possible.
Where to Visit:
Every European city has a slightly similar feel to it, but has it's own unique charm at the same time, and Amsterdam is no different. One of the things Amsterdam is most known for is it's elaborate canal system. You will find canals running throughout the city, and you can even take a city cruise through the canals, it is a great way to see the city. Another great way to see the city is by biking it. Biking is an essential feature to Amsterdam's character, the city is lined with many bike paths, and walking through the city you will see many bikes resting against walls or parked outside shops. You can easily rent bikes from anywhere in the city, we found ours at a rental shop right next to the hotel.
I visited the Amsterdam flower market, which is the only floating flower market in the world! You will find rows of flower stalls on houseboats, it is really beautiful to see and not to mention it smells fantastic!
While exploring the streets you will find many Dutch cheese shops, you must go in for some sampling. The Netherlands is most famous for producing Gouda cheese, it is absolutely delicious and so fresh! The Gouda comes in many different flavours: original, red chilli, cumin, pesto, coconut - just to name a few.
One of my favourite experiences in Amsterdam was doing the Heineken Experience at the Heineken brewery. Amsterdam is home to the Heineken brewery, and it is really cool to visit the brewery and have a tour. You get to learn how the beer is brewed and get to do some tasting as well.
Where to Eat:
Amsterdam has many cafes and they are all delicious. They are perfect for stopping by to relax for a bit after a long day of exploring the city and for a quick snack. I visited this cafe called De Dampkring (which you might recognize as the hangout from the Ocean's 12 movie). Here you can find the most delicious strawberry milkshake I have ever had. Even better, if you walk one block over from this shop you will find Vleminckx Sausmeesters, it is considered the best French fry stand in town, you can't miss this little hole in the wall shop because there is usually a large line up at all times. The fries are sliced and fried right in front of you and you can top it with an assortment of sauces, I cannot even put into words how good these are. You don't even have to feel bad about indulging because you will walk it off right away after exploring the city! We topped ours with tartar sauce.
You cannot leave Amsterdam without trying Dutch pancakes! Dutch pancakes come in both sweet or savory flavours and are usually eaten for dinner by the Dutch. We tried The Dutch Pancake House, it had great reviews online and was near the flower market. We ordered both a savory flavour (ham & cheese) and a sweet flavour (apple), both were equally as good.