The trip to Amsterdam was my first trip after Covid-19, so you can imagine how excited I was. After a 2-year break from traveling, I wasn’t sure if I could handle getting around alone in a foreign country. In addition, I had to remind myself how to plan a solo trip. So, the trip could have been better organized, but I am so happy I chose Amsterdam for my holiday. Amsterdam is absolutely charming, and perfect for a long weekend in May when the weather is mild, and the city is not so crowded with tourists.
Here are a few of the things that made me fall in love with the Netherlands, and Amsterdam especially. Cycling culture, great food, and beautiful countryside are just a few of the reasons to travel to Amsterdam.
Enjoy A Drink with a Canal View
One of my favorite things to do in Amsterdam was to find a cafe with a canal view for a drink. It was important for me to slow down, do people-watching, and soak up the relaxed Dutch culture. When I was traveling in the past, always planned my next trip, feeling exhausted by the second day. So, this time I wanted to properly explore the city by watching locals, tourists, and city life just happening. It was also a great way to rest from exploring the city by walking. I would find a cute cafe, order some coffee and dessert, and just look at the canal boats, locals on their bikes, and dogs in bicycle carts passing by.
Ride A Bicycle to the Countryside
If you want to explore Amsterdam like a local, then renting a bicycle is the best way to go. I heard Bicycles are a huge part of Dutch culture, but only when I traveled to Amsterdam did I learn exactly how much. From two-floor parking lots to separate lanes on the roads, bicycles are everywhere, and I can positively say that this means of transportation is the modern icon of this fun city. So, on my last day in Amsterdam, I rented a bicycle through my hostel ClinkNoord and cycled to the countryside. The Waterland is a wonderful destination for your bicycle trip, just one hour from Amsterdam. Ransdrop, Durgerdam, and Zunderdrop are three charming villages outside of Amsterdam. On a beautiful day, you can enjoy views of green fields, cows and sheep, and charming little wooden houses.
I had the most unforgettable morning cycling through the scenic roads and stopping to enjoy some berries I picked up at the local supermarket.
Take A Half-Day Trip to Volendam, Zaanse Schans and Edem
The most comfortable way to visit these 3 charming villages in booking a half-day tour from Amsterdam. I booked a great tour to Volendam, Zaanse Schans, and Edem with GetYourGuide. At 9 AM we met at the meeting point This Is Holland, hopped on a bus with a great English-speaking guide, and headed to the cute Edem fishing village, the cheese factory in Volendam, and the famous windmills of Zaanse Schans. While these places are very touristic, I could understand why they attract visitors every day- it is the most beautiful example of the Dutch lifestyle, laid back, cute wooden houses where there is a path to your private boat because apart from bicycle it is the best means of transportation.
Visit The Moco Museum
When I travel to a new destination I try to incorporate a visit to a couple of the best museums on my trip. So, on my first trip to Amsterdam, I chose to visit the Moco Museum and loved it. The Modern Moco Museum is based in the center of Amsterdam, a few steps from the Van Gogh Museum. While the museum is small in size, you can easily spend there a couple of hours, admiring the exhibitions of the most famous and bold street artists. In addition, the colorful art projections floor is striking, and I couldn’t get enough.
If you love contemporary art then you should definitely book a ticket to the Moco in Amsterdam. It is best to book tickets to Moco online and combine your visit together with a visit to the Van Gogh museum for a museum full day. This way you will save time traveling back and forth, and you will save loads on public transportation unless you get an Amsterdam full-day pass.
Visit Anne Frank’s House
Visiting Anne Frank’s house is a must when in Amsterdam. The house is now a museum, but you can still go up the narrow steep stairs to the family’s hiding place, listen to their story, and imagine their life during the war. In addition, you can see Anne’s diaries, and purchase a hard copy in any language you wish.
You should book Anne Frank’s tickets online way in advance because the tickets sell out quickly. If you wish to visit Anne Frank’s house then book tickets online on the 1st of the month, at least 3 months in advance. If you are planning a last-minute trip to Amsterdam, and plan to visit Anne Frank’s house, there might not be any tickets.
Go On A Red Lights District City Tour
The walking tour to the Red Lights district was one of the most fascinating things I’ve done in Amsterdam. The guided tour takes you through the history, to the stories of the famous district in Amsterdam nowadays. While the tour begins at 5 pm, because it is officially forbidden to have tours in the evening, you can still get a glimpse into life after dark, during the afternoon. I highly recommend booking a tour, and not missing it because it is an important part of Amsterdam’s history and life today.
The red lights district walking tour is one of the best activities under $30. Thus, if you are traveling on a budget in Amsterdam, the tour should definitely be on your list.
Treat Yourself to Apples Pie In Winkel 43
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to find concept cafes and restaurants. So, I always research online for unique places for food or drinks. Therefore, I found Winkel 43 cafe to be perfect for this purpose, being a cafe that serves apple strudel only. I am not a huge fan of apple pies or any type of pastry with apples, but the piece of apple pie in Winkel 43 was so delicious I am happy I didn’t skip it.
There is no need to book in advance, but it is necessary to arrive hungry because the pieces are very generous. However, the apple pie piece is sufficient for 2, so if you visit alone, then Winkel 43 is ideal for dessert and can even cover breakfast or dinner.
Go To The Heineken Experience
The Heineken Experience is a visit to the Heineken Museum for an interactive tour of the beer factory. While the factory is no longer active, you can learn about the beer production process, and the family history, and have fun in the bar. Moreover, one of the best things here is that you can design your own bottle of beer, take it home as a souvenir, and enjoy a couple of beers for free.
The Heineken Museum is a nice attraction to experience if you have time in Amsterdam. It is about 2 hours long and is located in the center. I booked the ticket to Heineken Experience on the GetYourGuide website.
Visit Albert Cuype Market
Fresh blueberries, fish and fries, colorful summer dresses, or souvenirs, Albert Cuype is a fantastic outdoor market in Amsterdam. The market has everything you could ever want at the most affordable prices, and not far from the museums. So, you can combine the visit to Albert Cuype market with a visit to the Van Gogh and Moco museums, or dedicate the entire day to exploring the market area and neighborhoods.
I had such a great time, that I went back twice to the market, bought beautiful summer shirts to wear in Greece, tasted fresh berries for 2 euros, and had lunch.
In conclusion, Amsterdam is a stunning city, and I find it one of the most special cities in Europe. I traveled to Amsterdam in May 2022, right after the pandemic restrictions were canceled in Israel, and while I had my fears, the trip was unforgettable. From cycling to the countryside, to delicious cheese, and walking through the lovely canals – Amsterdam has won my heart. I totally recommend traveling to Amsterdam solo, if it is your first or 3rd solo trip. It is easy to travel around, safe, and friendly for all travelers at all hours of the day.