Amsterdam is the very first city I ever visited overseas. And alone [see first blog post here]. Since I always felt like my time there wasn’t well spent, it seemed like the best place for me to go back to… alone… again.
It really is a great place for solo travelers, but also first-timers to Europe. Almost everyone speaks English, it’s small, plenty to do, and everyone is so friendly!
So, I spent a day and a half solo in the city until a friend arrived and we spent a day together exploring. Or, more like me showing her around at this point. Which also brings me to the point that it is such an easy city to navigate!
WHERE I STAYED:
I prefer the Museum Quarter because it’s just outside the main canal belts, but also still in the middle of everything, without being in the middle of everything.
The Prinsen Hotel – This little place was perfect just for me. The room was TINY, but how much room do you actually need when it’s just yourself? The one thing I didn’t think about is that a lot of places in Amsterdam do not have air conditioning, which included this hotel. Just a forewarning if you’re there in July… and it’s the hottest few days on record…
Hotel Heye 130 – I decided to pick another hotel for the two of us, and this place was perfect because we had so much space! It’s a little further out, closer to the north side of Vondelpark, but there are two tram stops very close by which made the rest of the city very accessible. And they had a mini fan in the room!
WHAT TO DO:
The Anne Frank House – This was a great activity for a solo traveler. Even though I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the museum by myself… But I always feel like museums are good to do alone. Especially something as somber as this.
Would I say it’s a must-do? No. It was really interesting and I’m glad that I had the experience, but I don’t feel like it’s something you have to do while you’re there.
FreeDam Tours – I did the 3.5 hour walking tour of the city. Also, another great way to see everything, get some information, and meet some interesting people from all over the world.
And the best part? It’s free! Well, you don’t have to pay to do it, but you tip your guide at the end. Also, if you’re not happy with the tour while you’re on it, it’s easy to dip out and do something else.
Moco Museum – I’m really not a big museum person, but I do love some Pop art and graffiti/street art, and that’s exactly what this museum showcases. In the past, they’ve had exhibitions with the art of Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali (heart eyes!).
On my visit, the were showing London-based Banksy’s street art.
Definitely get your tickets from their website before you go. There was a long line when I arrived, but got to completely bypass everyone with my pre-purchased ticket!
Canal Cruise – This was definitely my favorite part of my time in Amsterdam. I love being on the water! And you really get to see it from the best perspective.
I strongly suggest doing this open boat tour because it’s more intimate and I’m certain you get to see more because you’re not on one of those giant boats that can’t navigate through certain canals.
Vondelpark – It’s absolutely beautiful. There are also a few restaurants within the park, and plenty of places to picnic or sit and relax.
WHERE I ATE AND WHERE I DRANK:
From what I learned/heard while I was there, Indonesian is the way to go in this city. Sure, there’s bitterballen and pancakes and other delicious Dutch food, but since they had rule over Indonesia for many years, this brought a lot of immigrants to the Netherlands.
I made the mistake of not really seeking out Indonesian food, so don’t do what I did, but here’s where I went anyway:
Sawaddee Ka – Alright, so Thai food is probably not what you’d think of eating in Holland, but this place was pretty good!
Ted’s – Super cute. Super delicious.
Koffie Academie – Close to Vondelpark. I really liked this place. It’s quaint and feels more local.
In De Wildeman – This pub was a must-do while I was in Amsterdam. Mostly because Anthony Bourdain visited it on his show The Layover [he’s who really inspired me to start writing this blog], but also because it’s a former distillery over 100 years old and has over 250 beers available.
I can honestly say that this was my favorite place in all of Amsterdam. It’s somewhat tucked away, and the outdoor seating is quite nice with a nice cold beer in hand.
MY TIPS FOR THE CITY OF CANALS:
- Walk! Get lost… It’s the best way to see this city, and the easiest.
- Talk to the locals. They’re very friendly, and love to tell you about their city.
- Take your time and take it all in because this city is beautiful. There’s a reason why they have so much outdoor seating! (Besides the fact that every place is very small).