The Netherlands

Amsterdam

The capital of the Netherlands has much more to offer than the legal marijuana that it’s famous for (see the eat section). Sure, a hash brownie…or two, might be on the menu but there are many other things to do and see in Amsterdam to keep you busy during your stay. Float down a canal, admire dutch architecture and taste the local cuisine in this vibrant city.

Amsterdam, Canal, Netherlands, Holland, Europe, Travel, Cycling

Arrivals

Travel by train or bus from Brussels to Amsterdam.

Be careful to research your options when buying tickets because there are high speed trains that cost significantly more than the regular trains. Tickets usually cost around 40 Euro for a 2 hour trip but check for promotions because if you’re lucky you can find special offers for half price. Book here

MegaBus and Oui Bus both offer coach tickets from Brussels to Amsterdam for around 8Euro and the journey is about 3-4hours.

Scroll down to see details on Amsterdam.

Highlights

The city is easy to explore on foot or even better, hire a bike to get around. You will find many intertwining bike tracks that lead to all of the sites. You can even ride your bike through the museums! Many of the hostels will have their own bike hire but otherwise you can ask the front desk where the closest rental shop is. Helmets are not generally worn in Amsterdam.

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Markets in Amsterdam are buzzing outdoor meeting places that are a perfect place to go for a wander on warm days. In the trendy De Pijp district you will find Albert Cuypmarkt which is the biggest market in the Netherlands since 1905. It’s open Monday-Saturday and has over 250 stalls selling everything from market food, fresh produce, leather goods and clothing. One mans trash is another mans treasure at Waterlooplein flea market which is the best place to go for second hand clothes and antiques.

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There are many well kept parks and gardens in Amsterdam. Vondel Park is the most famous in the city and hosts up to 9 million people every year. You could spend hours wandering or bike riding around this park with its ponds, bridges, cafes and open air theatre. Check here for theatre events.

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The Jordaan neighbourhood is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city and draws a young crowd for its boutiques, bars and cafes. Wander the cobbled streets and explore the area.

Nine Streets is where to go for all of your shopping needs. These 9 streets run along some of Amsterdams most famous canals to form a historic area that is home to the best stores in the city.

The Flower Strip is where to see the symbolic brightly coloured tulips that the country is famous for. The floating Bloemenmarkt flower market drifts along the canal like a sea of scented blooms.

Museumplein is for the art lovers. See the famous I am’sterdam sign in the square, buzzing with outdoor exhibitions and performers. This is where you will find the Rijks museum, Van Gough Museum (both charge 17 Euro entry) and the Stedelijk Modern Art museum (15 Euro entry).

Anne Franks House is one of the most popular and busy attractions in Amsterdam. If you haven’t read the best selling book, now is a good time to start. The front of the house where Anne hid during the Nazi war has now been converted into a visitors museum but the house and the book case that she hid behind are still exactly as they were. Visitors are free to explore and reflect. This is an eye opening and thought provoking experience and is worth the 9 Euro entry fee. Wait times can be long as people queue up outside so it’s wise to book online and beat the crowds. Tickets online sell out in advance so plan your visit as early as possible. Book here

Rainy weather taking outdoor activities off your to do list? The National Opera and Ballet theatre has free concerts every Tuesday at 12:30. Get the details here.
Amstel 3, 1011 PN Amsterdam.

The Red Light district or Walletjes area is more than just prostitutes waving from brothel windows and sex shops. Yes there are sex shows for entertainment and women selling everything on the menu… but if you can manage to drag your eyes away from their lingering gaze, there is much else to admire about this historic neighbourhood. Beautiful architecture, cobbled streets and hole in the wall bars and restaurants. Take note: if you are more on the conservative side visit during the day time. If you want to experience RLD in full throttle mode go around 11PM when the streets are overflowing with visitors and red light ladies of the night. If you are approached by dealers of any kind, keep walking. Street deals are illegal here and the area is full of policemen who are there to protect both the travellers and the women working. Do not take photos of any of the women here. This is strictly forbidden.

Stay

Save on your Airbnb booking by using this link.

The Flying Pig hostels are located in two locations ‘uptown’ and ‘downtown’. The uptown area is a great base located close to the nightlife, restaurants and bars, right across the road from Vondel Park and around the corner from all of the main museums. There is a communal bar and smoking room as well as a free buffet breakfast.
However, if you want to be especially close to the Red Light District then the downtown location is for you. Dorm beds range between 30 and 40 Euros a night which is really steep for hostel prices but when booked in advance there are often discounts.
Book Uptown
Book Downtown

Eat

Go to a coffee shop in Amsterdam and you’ll be getting a little more than just a caffeine hit. This city is one of the most unique in the world for it’s distinct difference between coffee shops and cafes. If you’re after coffee and cake, head to a ‘cafe’. If you’re after less coffee and more hash brownie, make your way to the nearest ‘coffee shop’. The coffee shops are not allowed to publicly advertise their products so if you’re a first timer to the scene, ask for a menu and advice from the waiter. They are always happy to help and give tips to tourists. Take note: Although Amsterdam may be the place to release your inhibitions, this is not a free for all. The Netherlands tolerates what they classify as ‘soft drugs’, which refers to cannabis and certain varieties of mushrooms. Everything else is considered as ‘hard drugs’ and are strictly illegal. Remember, you must be over 18 to buy ‘soft drugs’ and if you have more than the maximum 5 grams of cannabis on your persons the police will seize the drugs and you’ll potentially face prosecution. Soft drugs should only be purchased and used within coffee shops or smart shops not from street dealers. If you want to learn more about it visit the Cannabis College.

Herring is a fishy local specialty which is served raw from carts on the street all over the city. If this doesn’t appeal, try a broodje haring which is a sandwich version served in a bread roll topped with onions and pickles.

Stroopwaffles are a street food favourite in Amsterdam if you have a sweet tooth that needs satisfying, this is the perfect treat. Sweet chewy caramel inside a thin crispy waffle.

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Foodware is a healthy takeaway place dishing up hearty meals for wholesome prices. Get a main dish accompanied by two sides for around 12 Euro. Check out the menu here.
Looiersgracht 12, 1016 VS Amsterdam.

‘t Kuyltje is a sandwich joint that will satisfy your lunch time craving. Gourmet sandwiches with house made cured meats and fresh toppings for a very small price around 3 Euro.
Gasthuismolensteeg 9, Amsterdam.

Stadskantine is a casual cafeteria style eatery. There aren’t many options on the menu but they change daily and offer a complete menu for around 8 Euro. Perfect for a quick, no fuss lunch in a trendy area.
Van Woustraat 120, Amsterdam, 1073 LT

La Falote does a 15 Euro set menu of Dutch classics which includes three courses. The menu changes daily so you never know what they will be serving but it is always a soup, main and dessert. Fresh and good quality ingredients assure you a good value bite.
Roelof Hartstraat 26, Amsterdam, 1071 VJ

Cafe ‘t Gasthuys draws in the students with snacks like ham and cheese toasties for 2.50 Euro, cheap burgers, sandwiches and more. They also have a dinner menu. This is a traditional brown cafe not to be missed if you’re after a bite to eat.
Grimburgwal 7, Amsterdam, 1012 GA

Moeders has a very eclectic and quirky vibe making you feel welcome as soon as you arrive. They serve up traditional Dutch food as if its been cooked by a ‘mother’. The walls are lined with framed photographs of peoples mothers and you can even bring one of your own to add to their collection! There is a variety of set menu options available as well as a la carte. Check it out here.
Rozengracht 251 Amsterdam, 1016 SX

HEMA is a chain of department stores around the city that often have a buffet cafeteria upstairs that serves crazy cheap food! Get in for breakfast with the locals for just 1 Euro.
Nieuwendijk 174, Amsterdam.

De Blaffende Vis is a trendy brown cafe with outdoor seating in the Jordaan area. This place has more to offer than Dutch beers though with a very popular and tasty menu for affordable prices.
Westerstraat 118, Amsterdam.

Rotisserie Amsterdam has your cure for the munchies with hot rotisserie chickens and the best burgers in town. Join the groups of people gathering outside and have your lunch.
De Clercqstraat 81, Amsterdam

MKZ is an institution for the vegans of Amsterdam and their skeptical carnivore friends. If the vegan food isn’t enough to entice you, what about a three course meal for 5 Euro on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday? Call ahead to book a table and check out the Facebook page for info.
Eerste Schinkenstraat 16, Amsterdam.

Maoz is a great vegetarian takeaway option that is going to keep you full all day. Don’t let the vegetarian vibe put you off. This place is famous for it’s falafels and lets you pack your own pita pockets full of all the toppings you want including cous cous and salad. This chain has a variety of locations that you can see here.

Nightlife

The best nightlife in Amsterdam can be found in the Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein areas with both chilled out bars and pubs as well as pumping night clubs and live music venues. Here are just a few of the many options that await you…

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Brown Cafe’s are traditional Dutch bars that are centuries old and are dotted all around Amsterdam. Try the local beers or Dutch liquor along with some bar snacks. Keep your eye out for ‘bitterballen’ on the menu. Crispy deep-fried balls stuffed with a meat sauce. Dip it in mustard and you’ll look like an Amsterdam local!

Café de Sluyswacht is a popular one with local students, situated in a little house right on the canal.
Jodenbreestraat 1, 1011, Amsterdam.

Trouw is one of the most highly regarded clubs in the city and maybe even the country. Known for its house, techno and even live music nights you are sure to find a dance floor here.
Head to Canvas across the road for pre drinks and more music.
Wibautstraat 127, 1091 Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam.

Paradiso is another of Amsterdams biggest night clubs that has hosted some big names when it comes to DJs.
Weteringschans 6, 1017 Binnenstad, Amsterdam.

Sugar Factory is a smaller, sweatier venue that goes off even when it’s packed wall to wall with people.
Lijnbaansgracht 238
1017 Binnenstad

Disco Dolly is famous for its dance floor where they play music to cater to everyone including house, hip hop, techno and even country! It is conveniently open every night of the week.
Handboogstraat 11, 1012 XM Amsterdam.

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Departures…

Follow The Gap Map itinerary and you have two options to get to Berlin.

Option 1:
Catch an overnight bus to Berlin in Germany which costs around 22 Euro with Eurolines coaches departing at 11:15 PM arriving at 9:15 AM. Keep in mind that this saves you paying for a nights accommodation but make sure you check the dates on the Gap Map itinerary and calendar because you will have to leave the night before to arrive in Berlin on time. Book your coach here.
If you would rather have another night partying in Amsterdam check out option 2 below.

Option 2:
Catch the train in the morning from Amsterdam to Berlin. Tickets range from 40-60 Euro with Bahn and the trip takes around 6 hours. Book up to a month in advance to get the lower priced tickets and keep your eye out for promotions. Book here.

Kings Day 27 April

Visiting Amsterdam in the Spring? Go to The Gap Map blog page for all the info you need on one of Europes biggest festivals! Read more