FREE TO TRAVEL: Amsterdam Edition

I’ve been wanting to share our experiences from our trip to Europe, because we saw and learned so much. Enjoy my first ever FREE TO TRAVEL post!

Chris and I decided on Amsterdam for a variety reasons. From everything we read, the city was charming and easy to navigate. We were also interested in a lot of the tourist attractions – the food, castles (Chris’ request), museums, etc. Finally, my husband has traveled a lot, but Amsterdam/Holland were one of the places he’d never been, so it would be new to both of us. I’ve included some of the highlights of our trip, and some of the tips we have if you’re considering a visit to this gorgeous city.

Must Do’s

New Europe Walking Tour

In addition to having a great tram system and being a fairly small city, Amsterdam is actually fairly easy to walk –  just watch out for bikers. On our second day in Amsterdam, we took a walking tour from New Europe Walking Tours. We learned so much from our tour guide, who actually went to school in Austin (small world!). For example, did you know weed isn’t actually legal in Amsterdam? Cannabis (without THC) is, but weed is just tolerated… which is as good as being legal, technically. The government actually created a different tax bracket called “goods and other services” for “coffee shops” to use for paying taxes on the weed that they sell. I also liked the ease at which we could ask questions and interact with our guide during the walking tour.

Our tour guide hanging out with Edgar Allen Poe.

The smallest house in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Museum

A popular attraction in Amesterdam is their many (and boy, do I mean, many) museums. My favorite was the Van Gogh. Growing up, both my mom and teachers educated me on impressionist painters, but I had not seen Van Gogh’s most famous works. It was truly a treat and worth the time. I also appreciated how the museum respectfully discussed his mental illness and the way that affected his works.

At the I Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum, after visiting the Van Gogh.


Highly recommend this little cafe over by the Van Gogh. It was delicious!

Flowers… flowers everywhere!

The climate in Holland is lush and perfect for lots of flowers. I think the photos speak for themselves. They were everywhere and this nature-loving girl was in heaven!

Also, thought it was funny that they were selling cacti at the flower market.

Anne Frank Huis

If you go to Amsterdam, this is an absolute must. It’s incredible to see the place where the Frank and van Pels families spent their days. Of course, it’s also terrifying to imagine the fear they must have felt, and the courage they had to muster to survive as long as they did. It’s a sobering experience, but an excellent reminder that we must never allow hate to penetrate our society in such a way.

Muiderslot Castle

I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy a castle? This is more of an attraction for kids (there were birthday parties going on when we went). Still, learning how a real live castle worked, felt a little bit like Game of Thrones. We definitely don’t have anything like that here! Another highlight of going a little out of our way to get to the castle was walking through the town to get there. It was a scenic walk, and gave us a better picture of true Dutch life, away from the high-tourism areas of Amsterdam.

The castle.

Seen on our walk from bus stop to said castle.

The harbor outside the town where Muiderslot is located.

Tips

Airbnb

We stayed in a lovely Airbnb, and I highly recommend doing the same if you’re headed to Amsterdam. The Dutch are pretty friendly as a people, and our host was no exception.


I Amsterdam City Card

Might seem like a steep price to pay for something that doesn’t get you into the Rijksmuseum (one of the most popular museums), but all of the other perks were absolutely worth it. We were able to skip several lines, including at the Van Gogh, thanks to this handy pass. It also paid for our tram fare.


The line we skipped at the Van Gogh (plus the snogging couple, apparently).

Dutch Food

It’s hard to find, but make sure you get it while you’re there – it’s worth a good scouring of Yelp. Amsterdam is diverse, meaning there is a large selection of cuisine to choose from. I recommend trying the bitterballen and stroopwafels, too. Yummy!

Cheese Tasting

Holland is known for its cheese and it makes a great souvenir for family/friends. You certainly won’t regret trying all the cheese if you are anything like me.


The best schnitzel I’ve ever had… probably because I haven’t been to Germany, yet. 😉

More photos…

Boat houses!

The view outside a cafe (bikes for days).

One of the magnificent old churches. Because the Nazi’s didn’t ever bomb Amsterdam, a lot of the old buildings are still in tact.

A lost and found at one of the parks we visited. Note the cigarettes, haha.

Have any of y’all visited Amsterdam? What did you think?