Tagging along on one of my husband’s business trips, my mother, my son and I took full advantage of the super cool city of Amsterdam.
The first thing you absolutely must do when visiting Amsterdam is go on a canal tour. As touristy as it sounds, it is the best way to get a feel for the city, and it is also a relaxing way to enjoy the sights while recovering from a long flight if this is a first stop after crossing the Atlantic.
If you enjoy both art and history museums, the Rijksmuseum is a good bet for you. This beautiful museum has tons of pieces of art and history, but the building itself is enough to impress you even if you don’t care for museums. We also visited the Van Gogh museum, but I didn’t care for it as much as the Picasso museum in Barcelona or the Escher museum in the Hague, about a 30 minute train ride from Amsterdam.
There are lots of museums and other tourist attractions that people rave about, but I am more of a fan of experiencing the city than seeing those sights. This is why I most recommend a stop at Café Hoppe for a drink in one of Amsterdam’s oldest bars. Café Hoppe has been on the Spui since 1670 and still seems to be a popular spot with both locals and tourists, alike.
We are fortunate enough to have a friend who lives in Amsterdam who is always willing to show us around when we are there. This was our 3rd visit to the city, and he once again graciously met us at Café Hoppe and gave a tour of the city. The tour he gave was exciting enough to please my 21yo son, and tame enough for my conservative mother to enjoy.
I’m a sucker for street markets. Seriously, I seek them out in every town I visit. I love the combination of delicious food stand smells mixed with the excitement of possibly finding a great bargain. If you’re a people watcher you’ll also enjoy street markets. Amsterdam has a great street market called the Albert Cuyp Market. This is the largest street market in the Netherlands, with 260 stalls selling everything from meats and fresh produce to clothes, toiletries, bags, electronics accessories and cheap souvenirs.
Amsterdam is a great place to begin a European vacation. Everyone I’ve encountered there speaks English and the Dutch are all such friendly people. If you’re on the fence about going to Europe because of the “fear of the unknown”, start with a few days in Amsterdam to warm up to it. You’ll be glad you did.