A town most commonly known for its red light district and legal cannabis, a visit to Amsterdam’s beautiful streets and winding canals will show you that it has so much more to offer.
Flying with British Airways our trip was off to a great start. Scoring ourselves emergency exit seats, we were happy travelers with that much desired extra leg room.
Breezing through the airport upon landing, we caught a train to Amsterdam Centraal station. A quick 20 minutes later, we made our way out of the station and were immediately hit with a unique blend of rich history and a modern vibe. Very few cities are able to accomplish this like Amsterdam and I think that’s why it’s so appealing to so many people.
When Luca and I travel, whether it’s for two days, two weeks, a month, we always like to take the relaxed approach and let the city decide what our plans are. We find it’s the best way to get to know a place without all the pressure that comes with being somewhere new for the first time. We always have one or two points of interest to visit and then afterwards we just walk and explore. Amsterdam was no different. On our list of places to visit we had the iconic IAMSTERDAM sign and Kukenhof Tulip Gardens.
IAMSTERDAM We arrived at the iconic sign around midday and it was total chaos! I’ve never seen so many people in one spot getting their photo taken. People climbing and jumping all over the sign for that perfect Instagram picture. No wonder there were medics stationed so close to the sign. I’d advise getting here early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Kukenhof Tulip Gardens The largest tulip festival in the world. This had been on my bucket list for years and I was so excited to be finally ticking it off! We landed at Schiphol Airport around ten in the morning and from the airport caught a bus straight to the gardens. There was a slight queue for the bus at this time of the morning, however nothing compared to when the bus dropped us back at the airport around midday. The queue we saw was insane! Estimated waiting time was around three hours, so if this place is on your bucket list too, then my advice is to get there as early as possible. The gardens were beautiful, so many different colours of tulips everywhere you turned. We stayed a total of two hours and that was enough time in our opinion. Some people stay all day, but after a while, all the flowers started to look the same to us.
After checking those two off our list it was time to explore! Watching cyclists tactfully navigate their way through the main streets , avoiding crowds of pedestrians, we opted to walk and take a more scenic route.
Whilst exploring we found ourselves in an area called De Pijp which is the complete opposite to the canal district but just as beautiful. As we walked the streets, we noticed that quite a few houses had park style benches out the front of them. After chatting to a local, we discovered that the idea behind this is to turn the streets into one large outdoor sitting room. A place for people to get to know their neighbours, have outdoor tea parties, music sessions, etc. I thought it was a great idea. We even saw the cutest old lady sitting on her bench, pencil and notebook in hand, sketching images of the tree lined streets that surrounded her.
As we walked through the area of Jordan, we were surrounded by such vibrancy. Filled with a multitude of cafés, restaurants and bars with live street music playing on every corner, I can understand why it’s the most popular area in the Netherlands.
Vondelpark is one of my favourite places in Amsterdam and I’m so glad we stumbled upon it. We decided to set up a mini picnic here by the water, having some snacks in our bag already. As we soaked up the sun and watched the ducks swim by, it was perfect end to a busy day.