Amsterdam is a Euro-visit mainstay, and with summer approaching, we know it appears in many a traveler’s plan. Here are a few tips to make the most of your stay in this romantic, historic, artistic, and beautiful city.
Anne Frank House
If you’re planning on visiting the Anne Frank Huis, buy tickets in advance online or try to get to the ticket booth when it opens in the morning. I waited in line for hours in the rain so trust me on this one! It was impactful to see what I had read about in The Diary of Anne Frank as an adolescent when I was about the same age as Anne. Visiting the Secret Annex and seeing how the Franks had to live in order to hide from the Nazis made it all very real. I remember acting out a play version of the diary in middle school, so visiting the house that serves as the setting of the true story was a must-see on my list.
“I want to see the world and do all kinds of exciting things.” Anne Frank
Cycling paths are everywhere in Amsterdam, and bikes are truly a part of the city’s charm. If you want to explore more of the city than being on foot will allow, rent a bike and become part of the Dutch biking culture. Wander off from the main canals to explore lesser visited parts of town. If you’re an early bird or suffering from jet lag, then make sure you go for a morning ride or walk to see the city while it’s still waking up.
Canal Boat Tour
A fabulous way to see more of the city is to take a popular canal boat tour. The offerings from most of the boat tour companies are very similar unless you’re looking for something a little nicer. Canal offers a hop on, hop off tour if you want to combine the boat tour with sightseeing. Also, the city is charming at night!
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum was another must-see sight for me. Highlights included seeing Sunflowers, The Bedroom, and some of Van Gogh’s self portraits. I bought my ticket ahead of time at the hostel I stayed in, but you can also order tickets online . If you’re going to multiple museums and plan to use public transportation, consider getting the I amsterdam City Card. [Note that it does not include admission to the Anne Frank House.]
HAARLEM DAY TRIP
If you have multiple days in Amsterdam and wanted to see a smaller town, Haarlem makes an easy, fun day trip. Trains frequently run between Amsterdam Centraal Station and Haarlem. I enjoyed walking around Haarlem and exploring side streets that took me to residential areas, the main square with the church Grote Kerk, canals, and seeing their windmill.
If you need some media to accompany your trip, check out the Imagine Dragon’s song “Just By the Side of Amsterdam.” Also books worth reading include Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl (of course), The Fault in our Stars (this one made me lose it on the plane to Amsterdam), and The Hiding Place.