There’s a saying that goes, “God created the earth, but the Dutch created the Netherlands.” This is due to the fact that a large portion of the Netherlands is below sea level. The water was drained from the marshes and an intricate system of canals was constructed. The city of Amerstdam grew around a dam in the Amstel river, which is where the city gets its name. Amsterdam is famous for its canals and beautiful homes.
We arrived in Amsterdam from Bruges. The average travel time is about 3 hours via train.
ClinkNOORD Hostel Amsterdam
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency of the Netherlands. The exchange rate at the time of this post is 1.00 USD = 0.84 EUR.
The official language of the Netherlands is Dutch, but the majority of people speak English. Most people speak another one or two languages on top of that. Impressive.
As I was getting oriented to Amsterdam I noticed a funny thing about the homes. They were all tilted forward. When I asked my guide about this, she told me they were intentionally built this way because the staircases inside are very steep and narrow. There is no way to get furniture or larger goods to the higher floors, so they constructed a pulley system to bring goods through the windows. If you look closely, each house has a hook near the roof and the houses are leaning forward to prevent goods from colliding with the building facade and breaking windows on the way up.
Since the soil was so swampy, houses were built on wooden stilts. As a result, they continue to sink into the mud and become twisted and tilted giving them the appearance of dancing.
Houseboats along the canals of Amsterdam have become one of the cities most iconic features. There are about 2,500 along the canals, and visitors can even rent one during their stay.
I was shocked by the number of bikes in Amsterdam. You really need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, and if you hear a bell run. One of the most interesting sites was the parking garage, not filled with cars, but with bikes! There’s an average of 2 bikes/household in Amsterdam and about 58% of people bike daily.
There are so many souvenirs to choose from in Amsterdam. Some of my favorites included these little wooden shoes and magnets.
What to see & do
Anne Frank House
You can visit the house where Anne Frank went into hiding and wrote her world-famous journal. Her father was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, and he published her journal after her death in the concentration camp (which was likely a result of typhus).
Entrance fee: 10 EUR. You need to buy tickets online in advance! They are released two months in advance to the day.
Hours: Vary depending on the season. From April to October open daily from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM. From November to March open daily from 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM and from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM on Saturday. Closed on Yom Kippur.
- The visit usually takes about an hour.
The Anne Frank house is the building in the middle with the white flagpole.
World Press Photo Museum
Every year the World Press Photo foundation receives thousands of submissions from around the world to showcase the most striking images and stories from the previous year. The stories are showcased in 45 countries around the world in 100 different cities. Some of the pictures were very graphic, so I only included a few images below. In Amsterdam, the exhibit takes place in an old church.
Entrance fee: 11 EUR
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Flower Market/ Bloemenmarkt
The world’s only floating flower market can be found in Amsterdam. Established in 1862, you can find a wide range of tulips, narcissus, geraniums and several other types of flowers. This market is so colorful and overwhelming to the senses!
Hours: Open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM, and Sunday from 11:30 AM – 5:30 PM.
Location: Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein.
The Rijksmuseum is the Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history. It includes masterpieces from artists such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. I didn’t have time to go inside with only one free day in the city, but it’s definitely on my list for next time! You can also find the famous “I amsterdam” sign behind the museum for a fun photo opportunity.
Entrance fee: 17.50 EUR
Hours: Open daily from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM.
I did a food tour with the company Eating Amsterdam and loved it. I got to try apple pie, pancakes, herring, cheese, and so much more. With the limited amount of time I had in the city, I chose this tour because it included both a walking portion and canal cruise. It’s pricey, but they give you so much food that you really don’t want to eat for the rest of the day. Plus, I always enjoy hearing history and random facts about a city from a local guide.
Fee: 106 EUR for the Jordaan food and canal tour: 4 hours
Herring the Amsterdam way, with pickles and raw onions.
The Fishmonger. He asked me to take this picture of him and show it around when I got home 🙂 So here it is.
I hope you enjoyed this post on Amsterdam. Next up, Berlin!