Now that Eurostar promoting a Go With No Lateral Flow campaign (basically, we can now travel without Covid test to Amsterdam again), I thought I quickly write up our recent trip to Amsterdam. this was a couple’s trip, we didn’t take the kids. Looking back, it was a good decision.
There’s not much for little kids in Amsterdam. We have even learnt (on the canal boat sightseeing trip) that 15% of Amsterdam’s population has children, half of it is single anyway and mostly under 34 years of age. Haven’t seen a single playground and indeed no kids at all in the city. As a couple trip it was perfect.
Amsterdam really has everything for a weekend getaway. Good hotels, fantastic restaurants, lots of interesting museums, galleries and sights. We decided in the end not to queue for the big museums and just explore the city, get a feel of the vibe – as this was my first time in Amsterdam. And Amsterdam didn’t disappoint.
Getting to Amsterdam by Eurostar
Train! Woohoo! One of the best things about living in London – paradoxically – that we can hop on the Eurostar and in 2 hours we’re in Europe! We’ve already taken it a number of times to Paris, Brussels, even to Marseilles a few years ago, but not to Amsterdam. Train leaves at 6.05pm on Friday night and in 4.5 hours you’re in Amsterdam. In style. Also: much more eco-friendlier than flying.
We stayed at the Park Centraal Amsterdam hotel. Great hotel, close to everything, impeccable breakfast and room, not only a minibar but a COCKTAIL Bar. Not joking. In a standard room.
What I really liked about it:
- great decor. Reminded me the arty Le Meridiens.I love.
- fantastic breakfast – a la cart. 5 options, all freshly made. They also had oat milk, no problem.
- very central location – walking distance to everything (well, Amsterdam is not as big as I imagined) right on a canal (like everything), nearest things are the Casino, Hard Rock Cafe, Van Gogh Museum, Diamond Museum (located in the Museums Quarter)
- we got a top floor room – awesome views and as I mentioned a full minibar and mini wet bar (I was so impressed by this. I hate hotels that have empty minibars yet they call themselves 4-5*)
One little fault is that the hotel bar has no nibbles (looks very impressive though) so on a Saturday afternoon we went to the MoMo restaurant in the hotel (which is the same as the breakfast room) and all of a sudden a young and unimpressed hostess told us off that we can’t sit by any of the tables but at the corner of the bar. Other people were sitting there and maybe some of them had reservation, but there were 60% of the tables not taken during the half an hour we had a cocktail and some tempura.
You’ll notice there are hardly any cars on the roads in Amsterdam. Firstly, there are hardly any roads. Just little streets and canals. No wonder getting around on a bicycle got so popular – it’s often the only way anyway. But then the whole culture of bicycles is just amazing. People use them to go to clubs! In high heels. Transporting stuff.
There’s also a great tramway system and subway too. And of course boats.
We were lucky because it was sunny, but quite cold – which is normal in winter in Amsterdam. So wrap up well if you visit during the winter months. We walked a lot around so I was glad that I had extra layers. Be prepared to walk a LOT! But it’s worth it, the architecture is amazing!
Our 2 days in Amsterdam – My Tips
Since it was the first time for me, we mainly walked around, sat down for coffees and drinks, and generally took lots of lovely photos and got a vibe of the city.
Amsterdam has some fantastic museums: Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, Rijskmuseum just to mention a few. Now this ones are always very busy, there are queues even if you have pre-booked ticket. We only wanted to see the Anne Frank House Museum, but of course we failed to book online and on the day it wasn’t possible.
Tip: book museum tickets online, in advance!
And some small, fun, niche museums that can be done within 30 minutes and the entry fee is very cheap (5 EUR or free) This I know because we didn’t get to go to the Anne Frank House so we just wondered around and found the Tulip Museum and the Cheese Museum. The latter is basically a cheese shop but has a free exhibition in the basement. Nevertheless worth a visit. So as the Tulip Museum and they are located next to each other. Also check if the museum is open at all. We wanted to visit Electric Ladyland – but it was closed at the time.
Souvenir Tip: The Tulip Museum sells various flower bulbs in small brown paper bags – perfect little gift from Amsterdam – not the average tat!
Then we also went on a River Sightseeing Tour which I highly recommend. It was 20 EUR per person, on a heated boat where we could tale drinks and snacks (a small bottle of wine, stylishly!) and in 75 minutes we travelled along what it seemed all the canals of Amsterdam, learnt about its history, art and geography. Perfect. The trip also took us to the newly built are on the edge of the suburbs where we could see the modern era’s architect: breathtaking concept buildings seemingly floating on the water.
Tip: Book the “twilight hour” tour. The one you start in daylight and finish after sunset, this way you can also see the city beautifully lit up. don’t miss out on the canal tour especially if you visit in winter. Most cruise companies are charging about the same money and there’s a few of them.
We have booked or lunch place and dinner in advance but went to two other cafes/bars as well. The Cafe De Jarenis a lovely place with great views and inside it’s really big old fashioned European cafe house with modern decor that seems very popular on Saturday mornings with the locals. This was excellent spot and the apple tart was gorgeous!
We had lunch at Cafe Geroge – another excellent pick, everything was great, lots of vegan and vegetarian options as well. For dinner we went to Hikage, a Japanese restaurant, very authentic, recommended by a local friend. It seems like we have been lucky with eating out in Amsterdam – but another superb restaurant. Small place, but oh my world, fantastic food! They have ended up one of their chefs having to leave to attend a family emergency but the remaining chef and the 2 waitresses (one was the owner I think) pulled through and delivered all the meals we ordered in impeccable pace and quality. Highly recommend this place. Try the Japanese gin cocktails!
Tip: book restaurants and cafes in advance. Weekends are super busy with people eating out. Seems like the whole population of Amsterdam is spending their weekends brunching and dining.