Ahhh Amsterdam, where do I begin? For Craig’s first visit to Europe I wanted to go somewhere neither of us had been, so I chose Amsterdam. I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect and didn’t really plan much in advance. Since we only had two full days before we headed to London (which was NOT long enough) we arrived without a set plan in the hopes of exploring the city at our own pace. I booked an airbnb in the Jordaan neighborhood. I read in a few different places that it was a very non-touristy, local neighborhood, my research paid off. Jordaan was beautiful, full of stunning canals, quaint side streets, unique shops and incredible food. I fell in love with Amsterdam much more so than I ever anticipated. It’s a city that in our short visit gave me the feeling no matter who you are or where you come from, you belong. Because we had so little time, we focused mostly on our neighborhood and surrounding areas. When we go back (and yes we are already planning a return) we will definitely stay in Jordaan again. Scroll through and you’ll see why I fell in love with this city. I’ve also shared some thoughts/tidbits on a few restaurants, coffee shops (the Amsterdam kind), and sights to visit.
Where to Stay:
As I mentioned we stayed in Jordaan. A very quiet and local neighborhood. The homes are beautiful, the streets are quaint and quiet and I’m pretty sure we were the only tourists around the entire time. Our airbnb was right on one of the canals, I was surprised by how many there are in Amsterdam. I can’t even imagine it in the spring or summer when it’s warm. December is definitely cold, our airbnb host told us we were lucky to have dry weather so I guess it’s typically pretty rainy and gray in the winter months. We had two beautiful days but it was definitely chilly (and that’s coming from two New Englanders). Another hotel very close to our airbnb is the Pulitzer Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel and one of the only in the area.
Where to Eat:
Since we had such a quick visit we only ate out a few times. The thing I love about airbnb is having a kitchen. So our first day we went to the grocery store and bought everything to make our own breakfast. We did eat at some amazing restaurants including the best Thai food I’ve ever had. I highly recommend:
Kinaree (Thai food) – Cozy little Thai place in Jordaan. Definitely make a reservation.
La Perla (Italian/Pizza) – They cook the food across the street and bring it over to the restaurant.
Kessens – Adorable little cafe. Our airbnb had terrible wifi so we stopped here for an afternoon snack and coffee while we got some work done.
Paradox – Definitely a locals spot. This is an Amsterdam coffee shop. In Amsterdam there’s two types of “coffee shops” the ones that are like Kessens (a cafe) and the ones like Paradox (where you can buy coffee and weed). Marijuana is legal in Amsterdam. You can get it at tons of coffee shops around the city. They typically have a menu that describes the different types and strains with prices for different amounts.
What to See/Do:
Amsterdam is a biking city. We were both shocked not only by how many bikes were all over the city, but the fact that everyone was riding bikes. Bikes are treated like cars in Amsterdam and we learned quickly the difference between bike lanes and the sidewalk. There are bike shops everywhere and renting bikes is really easy. If you have the time I definitely recommend renting bikes to get around. Here’s a few things I suggest for sight-seeing:
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