24 Hours in Amsterdam was enough to convince me that I will definitely be returning asap and spending a much longer amount of time here next visit. This city had it all! But on a chilled out, magical kind of level. Our time spent wondering the red and pink flower lined canals with sideways houses and millions of adorable bikes, with mini cycleways and mini single person cars is a dream I yearn to return to. There's so much that captivates the mind and leaves you lusting for more! Here's how we spent 24 hours in Amsterdam and how you can smash out a magical adventure of your own...
Things To Do In Amsterdam, The Netherlands
First Activity to do in your 24 Hours in Amsterdam: Go on a City Cycle Tour
I think the coolest fact about Amsterdam is that there are more bikes than people here. Instead of car parks, they have multilayer bike-parking buildings. It's the most bewildering thing at first site and quickly the question 'How do they know which one is theirs?' is exclaimed.
Bike is the most popular form of transport, with it even being the law that bikes have right of way on the streets. It just simply makes sense. In a cramped, major hustling, bustling city, a bike is much more efficient than bulky cars and trucks. Therefore you cannot go to Amsterdam without going on a city cycle tour! We went with Mike's Bike Tours and it was the best morning activity i've participated in, in a while! You quickly learn to 'just go!' and convince yourself that you clearly look like a tourist so people will hopefully be a bit forgiving of you going a bit slow.
Going hand in hand with the bicycle fact is the popularity of teeny tiny single person 'cars' and 'trucks'. Some are so tiny that they use the cycle ways. It is honestly the most entertaining thing i've seen in a long time! Such an ordinary day to day object is transformed beyond belief. It was almost like the further we went in Europe, the smaller the cars got! From adorable Fiats in Paris, to these mini single person electric put puts of an 'automobile' resembling a Tike's Cosy Coupe.
Added to my bucket list: Next trip to Amsterdam, I HAVE to have a drive of one of these!
Don't Forget To Look Up!
Amsterdam is full of canals, with the next most popular form of transport being boat. But as pretty as these canals and picturesque romantic kodak moments may be, don't forget to look up! The buildings of the city are built on marshy foundations, meaning overtime they have shifted, sunk and slid in abnormal ways. Check out the unusual bumpy landscape they have formed as you wander the streets. But wait, what are all those hooks for? Buildings were traditionally built narrow but deep. Meaning many things that were needed inside a normal home/apartment would not fit in the front doors. So to be able to fill these homes, people had to instal hooks and winches to lift furniture etc. into and through upper level windows. This is also why many buildings 'lean forward'. Making it easier to winch up large items without damaging the buildings on the way up. This is still a method used today and you may be lucky enough to see a hook in use! It's another funky quirk that I love about this city!
Check out a Clog & Cheese Factory!
We visited Rembrandt Hoeve just outside central Amsterdam. It was an awesome mini experience of the traditional culture! It's a great way to support the local community, with the farm being family run since day one. See the traditional methods of making both clogs and cheese! With a jam-packed gift shop you won't be able to leave empty-handed!
Dam Square is a great central point in the city. You have the National Monument, Royal Palace, The New Church and 2 McDonalds within eye view! The streets surrounding the square have everything you'll need as a homesick tourist! Hostels, shopping, fast food and souvenir shops galore. It's not too far before you head on over to the red light district for your night out.
Red Light District
You will never wonder again, why areas get this name, after visiting Amsterdam. Another iconic feature of this city, we headed out for a night amongst the lights, open windows and all sorts of interesting paraphernalia. A live 'show' was the 'highlight' of the night, with all that was expected, candidly presented. Have fun and be open-minded! The ladies (and men) you see in the windows take pride in their work, with the country viewing the business of selling your body as a well-respected entrepreneurial career. Many services are in place to support the businesses, ensuring the safety of the individuals. Many laws are in place to protect the workers and the trade as a whole.
Coffee House Vs. Cafe
Well, I have to admit, i'm probably the only one on the planet that didn't know about the difference with these 2 seemingly ordinary joints. To be blunt, one sells coffee, one does not. The sales, distribution and use of 'weed' is not legal in The Netherlands, though they've realised that it is not something that needs to be considered criminal. Rather taking a giant smart, common sense leap over the rest of the world. Accepting that it's not dangerous, therefore it is not worth wasting millions of dollars of resources on condemning it. Instead this money is used to educate people to buy quality product from reputable, registered growers/sellers and have a good, chilled time, in a safe environment. Strict license and premises laws are in place to keep standards high. I love every aspect of this approach and just love how simply smart it is. Blowing smoke on all other nations.
When visiting Amsterdam as a tourist, do still keep in mind that you are in a foreign country, can still be arrested for interacting with illicit substances and the repercussions of your decisions when entering back into your home country. Be smart kids. Do your research and educate yourself before heading over.
Bloemenmarkt - Flower Market
This is a must, especially when only limited to 24 Hours in Amsterdam. Grab a plate of Dutch Pancakes and take a stroll through the rainbows of tulips and cacti. I haven't seen such a quality and diverse range of Succulents and Cacti in a single place! I was a kid in a candy store! We spent way more time wondering these markets than Curtis probably thought necessary. It was wonderful! Bathe in the Bulbs, Parade around the Pansies and Dance among the Daisies!
We stayed at Hans Brinker Hotel, which was tucked down a quiet street lined with small artisan shops and a few coffeeshops. It was a great stay!
Maybe it's the mystical smoke in the city, but there's something other-wordly about this city. The wonky buildings, flowers all around and tiny transport on tiny lanes, with tiny delicious pancakes for adventure fuel. I loved it all!
Have you ever visited a city that has totally captured your heart? Let me know in the comments below!
For more comprehensive guides for European destinations check out my full list.