So I made a decision that from my 23rd Birthday (no idea why I chose then) that every year I would spend my Birthday away from home, let’s call it a Birthday treat to myself!
One place I had top of my list that I had always wanted to go was Amsterdam so I booked it up with my best friend ready for the best Birthday weekend.
We arrived Friday morning and stayed until Monday evening and to be honest this was the perfect amount of time to explore the city and see everything we wanted to do.
Luckily, our hotel was right near the train station so very cheaply and easily we were able to hop on the train from the airport into Amsterdam Central. As it was my birthday we splurged a little and stayed at the Hilton DoubleTree although this looks expensive we actually got a very good deal and it’s a lot more reasonable than you would think.
Our first day we decided to get our bearings, note to self: Amsterdam is like a huge maze and it is so easy to get lost! However, that is half the fun of it, every twist and turn finding a new little cafe or a cute boutique it’s what makes Amsterdam so interesting. To help with finding our bearings we did a free walking tour which actually lasted a few hours. This was really informative and not only provided lots of history about the city but our guide also gave recommendations on places to eat and drink etc so it was really handy.
Our next few days were spent riding bikes, visiting Vondel Park, getting lost some more, walking through the red light district, canal boat rides, shopping in the markets, playing 3D glow in the dark golf and visiting the Anne Frank Museum.
On the subject of the Anne Frank Museum I would highly recommend that you go see this, even if there is a queue it is so worth it. Another thing I really recommend is at some point during your trip you travel Amsterdam by canal boat, you see Amsterdam from a completely different perspective and it’s especially pretty at night. We actually ended up getting a hop-on hop-off canal boat pass which was really great. It enabled you to take in some beautiful scenery while listening to an audio that told you a bit of information and history about the area as well as dropping you off where you wanted to go – perfect!
Now one of the most popular reasons people go the Amsterdam is because of the legal use of Cannabis and if you’re going to ever try or do it anywhere then Amsterdam is the place. Amsterdam is full of coffee shops where you can smoke (or eat!) cannabis and you’ll be able to tell straight away from the smell. If you’re a bit of a novice but want to give it a try then the owners are really helpful and will advise you on your best options. Can’t roll? Don’t worry as most coffee shops sell pre-rolled joints. Space cakes are also available but be careful with these you might be enjoying it and not feeling any effect but in an hour or so you sure will and it’ll be pretty strong.
Nonetheless, I hope people know that there is a lot more to Amsterdam than just cannabis like – Pancakes! Amsterdam have a real soft spot for the sweet stuff and it won’t take you long to come across some pancakes or waffles – make sure you have some because they really are delicious.
Another thing Amsterdam has plenty of are museums, from Van Gough to the sex museum it really has it all. One of the most famous ones is the Van Gough. However, art really isn’t my thing so we decided to give this a pass but if it is of interest to you I’ve heard it’s really worth a visit. We did however visit the sex museum, if you want something cheap and cheerful that will give you a few giggles then definitely have a look.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city, take a map, be careful for trams and bikes when crossing roads and go explore. There are so many hidden gems that everyone’s experience will be different but amazing.
Here are some of my personal highlights while visiting Amsterdam..
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Amsterdam
During our trip we stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel and it was flawless. The location was only a 3 minute walk from Central Station with a riverside view that was only a short walk into the centre.
Our breakfast was also included in our stay and provided everything we could possibly need and was a great way to fuel us ready for the day. The staff were lovely and the bedrooms were a decent size with all the essentials taken care of.
One of the biggest highlights of this hotel is the award-winning Sky Lounge roof-top bar where you can witness stunning views of Amsterdam city. Although pricey, the cocktails are divine and if you’re celebrating a special occasion like a birthday then it is the perfect place. Not staying at the hotel? Don’t worry as anyone can go so enjoy.
You can find out more about the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel here.
Anne Frank House
For me, the Anne Frank House was the number one thing I wanted to see and despite having to queue for an hour in the rain I would do it again. Regardless what time you go you’re probably going to have to queue but I promise you it is so worth it.
The Anne Frank House is a writer’s house and biographical museum that provides an insight into what the Frank family, Van Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer had to endure during WWII.
It is an extremely powerful and moving experience which you really do need to see for yourself.
You can book tickets for the Anne Frank House but these are very limited. I tried two months before my trip and was unsuccessful. To avoid longer queuing times I would advise going very early morning or late in the evening.
You can find out more and book tickets for the Anne Frank House here.
Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam and by far the most popular in the Netherlands. It is much loved by both tourists and Amsterdam residents and it’s no surprise as it’s stunning!
When we visited it was April so there wasn’t too much going on but I can imagine in the summer this place is really buzzing with open-air theatres, concerts and of course plenty of picnics.
Whether you bike or walk around Vondelpark it is really something you need to do while in Amsterdam. You’ll see some stunning scenery so definitely make sure you have a camera to hand.
You can find out more about Vondelpark here.
Glow Golf Amsterdam
Trying to find this place was a struggle at first but it was well worth it as we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This hidden gem is located in the basement of Noah Arq’s bar opposite the NEMO Science Centre and is an absolute barrel of laughs.
You’ll enjoy 15 holes of crazy golf that’s not only 3D but also glow in the dark. It’s really great fun and especially good if you need a few hours to kill or the weather isn’t looking to dandy.
You can find out more about Glow Golf Amsterdam here.
These are just a few of my favourite highlights during my time in Amsterdam. There is SO much to do there so if you only have a few days make sure your prioritise the things you want to do the most. BUT most importantly just enjoy yourself.