I was shocked when I first got off the train in Amsterdam! I think it’s so easy to have a strange impression of the city because of the legal weed and prostitution, but there is so much more to it than that. The houses that line the canals are stunning and picturesque: all different shapes, sizes and colors. The cafes (and I’m talking about genuine coffee shops and lunch spots here) are quaint. The boutiques are trendy. And the unique biking culture is unreal- I’ve never seen anything like it.
Where we stayed: We rented an Air Bnb on Reestraat Street, which is a part of the city referred to as “the 9 streets”. It was an awesome area to stay in as it was very lively–lots of little boutiques, restaurants and bars. It was also a short bike ride to the Jordaan area (also stunning– definitely a little more low key than the city center, which I liked) and a very short walk to the Anne Frank House. It wasn’t far from the Red Light District either, which was obviously a must-see. It’s certainly shocking to see the nearly-naked women gesturing from their windows, but it’s such a major part of Amsterdam’s culture of tolerance.
What we did: rented bikes from MacBike because ‘when in Rome?’, right? Anne Frank House. Red Light District (where our favorite bar with free wifi was). “I Amsterdam” sign. Rode our bikes out to Brouwerij ‘t IJ brewery for some good beer! Also checked out some actual coffeeshops, naturally. Try Koko: a trendy hybrid of a coffee shop and boutique where the coffee is fantastic! While it may be controversial to some, I would also recommend checking out some true Amsterdam coffeeshops. It’s so fascinating. I’m not saying you need to go and nom on some space cakes, but you should definitely stop in to a shop to see what it’s all about. Get on line at Grey Area, one of the city’s most popular shops. (Note: this is definitely a tourist activity and it seems that most locals don’t participate.)
Where we ate: Lombardos (burgers- YUM), Singel 404, Koffiehuis De Hoek, La Perla in Jordaan (amazing). We also got croquettes at Van Dobben, which I highly reccomend! Some drinks at: Villa Zeezicht on the canal, Red Light Bar, + Cafe Corso.