Amsterdam was one of the first solo trips I ever did, and to be honest, I booked it on a whim. I looked up the safest places for females to travel alone, and then compared those to flight deals, and voila—to Amsterdam I went.
I spent about 10 days in Amsterdam and surrounding areas, which is basically unheard of. Most people pass through Amsterdam for a day or two, and jet off to their next European destination, but I wanted to really, really see the city (plus I was too cheap to go anywhere else)!
The city is absolutely magical, and straight out of a fairytale. I loved roaming around and getting lost along the canals, but here were some of my highlights and must-do things.
Anne Frank House
This doesn’t sound like the ideal place to go on a vacation, due to its dark and sad history, but it’s definitely a must-do. The Anne Frank House left me absolutely speechless—it’s one thing to read about all the things that happened in history, but it’s another thing to be placed right inside a part of it.
If you plan on visiting, buy your tickets online in advance, and you won’t have to wait in the line that wraps around the building. I walked straight in with ease! Also, I suggest visiting towards the end of your day. I was quite depressed after my visit, and needed some time to regroup afterwards. So if you have the option, leave yourself some extra time.
Walk along the canals
What I loved about Amsterdam was the canals, and how easy the canals made the city for directionally challenged people like me. Just walking along the canals, finding a bench, and enjoying everything that’s going on around you, is definitely a must-do while you’re visiting this city. The canals are a focal point, and one that deserves to not just be passed by—stop and smell the roses.
Munch on fries and poffertjes
Other than the raw herring that was served up from shacks along the canal that I wasn’t brave enough to try, there weren’t too many “must-try” things on my Amsterdam food bucket list. But there were a couple of things I discovered that definitely made the best munchies (and no, not because I spent too much time in the “coffee shops”).
Amsterdam is known for their fries (or chips) and they can be found almost anywhere, served up in a paper cone, with your choice of sauce (but I recommend eating it with mayonnaise like the locals). Another must-try is poffertjes, a traditional Dutch batter treat that resemble small, bite-size pancakes.
Hangout in the Vondel Park
Vondel Park is the largest park in Amsterdam, and one of the most famous in the whole country. The park is the perfect place to bring a picnic lunch, lounge and read a book, people watch, or just enjoy the outdoors. There are a few sculptures within the park, and a open air theatre which is home to entertainment in the summer months (June-August), but otherwise, the park is just a nice place to walk around, and enjoy the outdoors.
See Amsterdam from the water
A city can look completely different when you view it from a different angle, so hop on one of the many boat tours they have available along the canals in Amsterdam, and see the city from the water. Amsterdam’s canals have a UNESCO World Heritage status, and the boat cruises will take around 60-75 minutes, departing on a regular basis.
Visit the hidden gem of Begijnhof
Begijnhof is one of the oldest courts in the city, dating back to the 14th century. This hidden little area is lined with gorgeous houses, and well groomed gardens. House number 34, dates back to 1465 and is the oldest wooden house in the country. This area is hidden off the busy streets of Amsterdam, and was originally built as a community for women of the catholic church. This little oasis is a peaceful escape and when you enter it, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re in the middle of Amsterdam!
See the Red Light District
The Red Light District is one of the main things that most people associate with Amsterdam, and even if you’re not in Amsterdam to take part in everything that happens in this area, it’s still worth it to take a walk there at night to just see what it’s all about. Lined with sex shops, girls dancing in windows, and everything in between, it’s definitely an interesting place to explore.
Take a day trip and leave the city
Since I was in Amsterdam for around 10 days, I took the opportunity to also leave the city and see other parts of the country. One of my favourite tours I did was to Zaanse Schans windmills, Delft and The Hague. On the tour we visited the fishing villages of Marken and Volendam, and visited a local clog maker. There are several tour offices that line the streets in Amsterdam, offering multiple day trips like this one, so don’t worry about booking in advance!
Did I miss one of your fav things to do in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments!