When I was in college I studied abroad in London, and I had enough money to take one big trip while I was there. It had to be Amsterdam, a city that has long fascinated me with its beauty and culture. We took a bus that traveled by ferry from Dover to France and then drove through Belgium to Amsterdam. The trip was far too brief, but amazing and eye-opening and has stayed with me ever since – I know that one day I’ll go back. Here are a few of my favorite places and things to do in Amsterdam, and stay tuned as our catalog team and other fp girls who have traveled there share their Amsterdam hot spots throughout the month!
Rent a Bike
There’s a reason we chose Amsterdam for this bike-themed catalog. The city is one of the most bike-friendly in the world and the best way to take in the city’s beauty is by bike. Most streets have bike lines and there are bike racks everywhere. Ride along the canals and check out the amazing houseboats and architecture of the city in a much more efficient way than walking.
Vondelpark is a large, scenic public park in the western part of the city. The park has an open air theater, ponds, bike paths, and restaurants including the Blauwe Theehuis (“Blue Tea House”), a café/bar with outdoor seating among the park trees.
Vondelpark is located in the Museum District, which is also home to several of the city’s amazing museums. If you’re an art history fan, this will be heaven for you. My favorite is the Van Gogh Museum, where I spent an entire afternoon marveling at the largest collection of the painter’s work in the world. The Stedelijk Museum, a modern art museum, is also worth checking out.
Anne Frank House
One of the city’s most famed and moving landmarks is the Anne Frank house, where Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding for two years. The tour takes you through the bookcase blocking the entrance to their “secret annexe” and into their cramped living space, which has been remarkably preserved – photos still hang on the walls of Anne’s room, just where she left them. Being there is a solemn experience but something that will definitely leave a profound impact on you.
Amsterdam is home to some amazing flea markets that provide a great glimpse at the city’s culture. The largest is the Albert-Cuyp Market, an open-air market where you will find everything from fruit and vegetables, flowers and plants, to clothes, jewelry, and of course – bike accessories. The market is open year-round, every day except Sunday. Waterlooplein Flea Market is the city’s largest flea market and a collector’s dream – you’ll find an incredible selection of antiques, vintage clothing, and unique trinkets here. Give yourself plenty of time to explore! This market is open year-round every day except Sunday. Lastly, Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world – where the stalls are on houseboats and have a spectacular array of flowers. Our catalog team spent a lot of time here picking up props!
Speaking of flowers, if you visit Amsterdam in the spring, some of the most breathtaking sights you can see are the tulip fields outside the city. They are planted in perfect rows of vibrant color that are so amazing they don’t even look real. Keukenhof Gardens is one of the most famous places to see them, located less than an hour from downtown Amsterdam.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Let us know about your favorite places or things to do!