Amsterdam has long been on our list of adventures, and after moving to London, we were finally able to make the dream a reality. Ready on to see our top 5 things that you can’t miss out on while in Amsterdam.
From London, St Pancras International, we took the Eurostar to Amsterdam via Brussels. I cannot recommend this option enough, especially with the great news that Eurostar will be launching direct routes to Amsterdam within the next few months (estimated start December). Our train left at 10:58, which gave us ample time to take it easy in the morning and make quick commute to one of London’s most beautiful train stations, St Pancras International. A pleasant change of scenery from the long journey to the airport. Our one-way tickets were £52 per person (booked 3 months in advance of our journey).
It’s a quick trip through security and customs (who were all very friendly) and a short wait in the seating area before jumping on board the Eurostar and leaving promptly on time.
Our train arrived in Amsterdam at 18:25 and off we went (no going through customs or waiting for you luggage). The journey included a short transfer in Brussels, perfect for a quick lunch at the station that has plenty of restaurants to choose from.
On our way back we flew with British Airways into London City Airport (18:20 departure arriving 18:25, winning time zones) at £87 per person (booked 3 months in advance of our journey).
When to go
If flowers (specifically tulips) are your thing then you have to go during mid-March to early May when the tulips are in full bloom. A word of warning, make sure you book Keukenhof in advance to avoid disappointment of missing the flowers.
Looking for leaves and warms colours? Visit Amsterdam from late September – early November to see the city transform and quite down.
Winters can get very cold in Amsterdam, but the city has lots of cosy nooks and restaurants to warm up in and not to mention great Dutch snacks like Bitterballen. As with any destination, this will also mean lower rates in Hotels, Flights, etc.
As this was a special holiday we decided to treat ourselves to a big room, in a central location. Introducing Empiric Boutique Suites, Prinsengracht. We stayed in the Superior King Room for 5 nights and when we left it felt like saying good bye to our home.
This accommodation in Amsterdam was perfect. The location, the décor, the friendly host and extra-large bathroom made our trip really special. The team was very good with responding to any questions we had before hand and during our trip.
The hotel is in Central Amsterdam, but just a outside the main tourist hub, so it’s extremely quiet with access to gorgeous coffee shops and restaurants, nearby in the well-known Utrechtsestraat just around the corner (read more about Utrechtsestraat here). After a long day walking around we loved coming home to our peaceful room and soft bed.
Things to do in (and around) Amsterdam
Needless to say, with a first world city like this, there is no shortage of things to do in Amsterdam. We were lucky enough to spend 5 days in Amsterdam so managed to include a day trip to Keukenhof and Rotterdam. Here is a list of our top 5 things to do in Amsterdam over 5 days:
- Rjiksmuseum, Amsterdam: This museum has a coffee shop that will make any design lover’s heart skip a beat. Make sure to visit before, after or during your visit to this museum. The museum has a large display of artwork so there will be something for everyone to enjoy. We booked through Tiqets and certainly appreciated being able to Skip the Line and work in a second coffee right here:
- Keukenhof: We planned our trip during Spring as we knew that this was the best time to visit Keukenhof (only open late March – mid May), and it did not disappoint. Words really don’t do justice to the beauty that is Keukenhof and the millions of tulips in every single colour that you can imagine. It’s a simply train (and short bus) ride from Amsterdam, but to make the most of this trip we recommend that you set aside a day for your journey. You want to get a moment to sit down and take in all the colours. It’s a must do to book your ticket in advance. I can recommend Tiqets again: The Skip the Line and Public transport ticket is a good deal and will make your trip as easy as possible.
- Rotterdam: Our return journey to Rotterdam via fast train was 35 Euro (we bought the tickets at the train station, so you might be able to get them cheaper when buying in advance). Rotterdam is a unique city as most of the city was destroyed in WWII, so the design of the city is very different to that of Amsterdam. The city has great food, art, and a few roof top spots that will make you feel as though you’ve stepped into New York like, Op Het Dak. It’s fitting as back in the day thousands of emigrants left for North America from Rotterdam. If this part of history interests you then make sure to visit the Hotel New York in Rotterdam for lunch.
- Shopping: If you are even slightly taller than average then Amsterdam is made for you. The men on our trip found themselves very pleasantly surprised and unexpectedly in shopping mode. The modern and simple style of clothes coupled with the great quality is hard to find nowadays. Most of the stores are a treat just for their great design, layout, and not to mention the flowers and plants. Our favourite shopping areas were De 9 Straatjies and in Utrechtsestraat.
- Eating and drinking in Amsterdam: We spent much of our 5 days in Amsterdam eating and enjoying coffee and cocktails. The restaurant we can recommend the most is De Luwte (make sure to book in advance). You can’t leave Amsterdam without enjoying a gin like no other at Kanarie Club , it’s in the Food Hallen ticking another attraction off your list.
Overall this was one of our best holidays yet, and Amsterdam and the Netherlands will certainly see us again. Next time we’ll aim for summer.
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