Amsterdam just happened without annnnyyy planning whatsoever. I realised that is actually the European way to travel, since everything is practically next door! A quick 3 something hour train ride at the crack of dawn from Paris, my friends and I just made it a day trip. So read-on for the Amsterdam travel-guide for first-timers. I have included details in the map towards the end. So check out the map, save a copy for yourself and use it to plan your own trip to Amsterdam!
Packing for Amsterdam:
September in Amsterdam is slightly cool so light layers are a good idea. As are super comfy shoes. There is just loads of walking involved because the place is basically a paved-city-version of Dutch pancakes! i.e. sweet and gives you that warm fuzzy feeling of cosiness. Be prepared to get lost a couple of times and walk a lot because many roads seem to just go in circles. And also because in some areas it would be almost impossible to get an Uber to come. For a day-trip, I chose to carry the basics as advised on my blog post here under out and about; and wear something super comfy and just warm enough.
Accommodation in Amsterdam:
I would stay in the centre close to the Amsterdam Centraal train station because that is well-connected. I already have plans to rent a houseboat for the night when I visit next with sceptical co-traveller*. Booking.com also has some houseboat rentals. I would read the reviews thoroughly before booking because plumbing issues and cleanliness appear to be common with houseboats. Otherwise the usual airbnb/hotel situation is always reliable.
Commute in Amsterdam:
Since we only did the day-trip, we thought getting a day-pass with all the possible ways to travel in the city was a good idea. It wasn’t. We didn’t realise that we would end up taking the tram just a couple of times in the whole day! So get the cheapest option and then figure out because walking happens a lot more. You could also hire a bike and experience the place like the locals do!*
You will have at least one near-death experience because you WILL miss watching out for a bike that came out of nowhere! In our case, the giggly and lost-in-our-own-world girls that we were being, the biker just changed paths and disaster was averted. We saw him shake his head as he passed us though.
Take the Thalys train to Amsterdam and Brussels. The same train that goes to Amsterdam in 3-3.5 hours, stops at Brussels mid-way. So, you could do both Amsterdam and Brussels as day-trips while you are in Paris
Food in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam continued to please us with their readily available and delightful fresh juices at every café. I also indulged in the baked and savoury vegetarian delights at the café. People are super nice and helpful to advise on the food too, so do try a few different things safely in Amsterdam! Curiously many small food shops and cafes seem to have extra thick and fluffy slices of pizza in their windows and they look like they are straight out of a retro cartoon!
Amsterdam also happens to be popular for their novelty baked goods like waffles with sprinkles and the fries that you get in a cone, the apple pies. Oh and also the noodles. Noodle places like Wok to walk have great vegetarian and vegan options too! Noodle places were recommended to us as a great option to try and I am glad to say we were not disappointed.
Attractions and Sights in Amsterdam:
There are many small places that you could find on a list if you google places to visit and I highly recommend just walking around the city and the residential places all day like the area where Anne Frank’s house is. This holds the signature colourful-fun-houses-in-a-row aesthetic that we see on postcards for Amsterdam, along with the canals. Popular museums, the floating flower markets are all great attractions to visit. The vibe of the place is everything. EVERYTHING.
*Clearly biking wasn’t an option for me on the day because of what I chose to wear, sigh. But I did find the perfect balance between not layering and yet staying just warm enough in the weather!
*because the first instinct my better-half has, is always having a doubt that it would be a scam or a kidnapping case, or both.
Where’s the hygge?
Amsterdam has the vibe of being designed by a super-imaginative and dope young person. It has art-meets-nature feel down to the last detail and it is every bit as dreamy as the hype makes it sound. I felt like the air has the dope that the place is famous for. I think I have never felt this relaxed and high just being in a place! The way this place made me feel is pretty much the word “hygge” come to life.