Amsterdam is a popular destination for students because of its affordable prices and relaxed environment. I have visited twice and it’s never failed to amaze me. The best thing about travelling is the memories you are left with: these are the best souvenirs you can take away from a place. My favourite memories of Amsterdam are of walking around the canals at night and once being approached by a male prostitute! Everyone is friendly and if you ask, will give you tips on what to see and where to visit. There’s so much to experience, so whether you go in summer or winter, this city will have something for you.
Where to stay
The best way to avoid blowing your budget but still remain comfortable is to stay in a hostel rather than a hotel. Most hostels provide breakfast and a shared room for around €20 per person. My personal favourites if you’re looking for a cheap but cheerful place to stay are StayOkay and FlyingPig.
Sharing a room is always cheaper and rooms range from four people per room to twenty per room. The more beds, the less you’ll have pay. For those who’d prefer to have some privacy and not be surrounded by strangers, there’s always the option of a double bedroom.
How to get around
Walking: the best (and cheapest) way to explore the city but if you haven’t got much time then renting a bike is a quicker and fun option.
Tram: considered the easiest way to travel around Amsterdam by tourists, it is also my personal favourite. It quickly gets you where you want to go, and you can purchase one hour tickets, 24 hour tickets or 48 hour tickets.
Bikes: the first thing you will notice about Amsterdam is the amount of bikes. If you’re like me and want the mint green, trendy bike (it is, however, the more expensive option), then the city offers a great deal of different stores you can rent from. MacBike has all sorts of bikes, even tandems. It costs around €15 a day and €11 for three hours. If you’re thinking about renting, take a look at this website about cycling safety.
Boating: although it’s not the most viable way of getting around the city it’s great for discovering the canals on a warm afternoon. Prices vary between boat companies so it’s best to enquire at tourist information.
Where to Shop
Amsterdam has loads of great shopping areas for every taste and price range. If you’re searching for high glamour then P.C. Hooftstraat street is the place to head. Here, you will find fashion designers such as Chanel and Dior, and the Van Gogh Museum is just a few minutes away too. The two main shopping streets are in the north-east area of Amsterdam: Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat are Amsterdam’s equivalent of Oxford Street in London. Here you’ll find all the trendy high-street shops we have in England, including H&M and Zara. De Negen Straatjes, also known as The Nine Streets, is located in the heart of the city’s historic canal district. Adding to the beautiful surroundings, this area is full of cool restaurants, cafes, art galleries, boutiques and vintage stores that you can trawl through all day. It’s definitely worth popping into Spiegelkwartier, just north of the Rijksmuseum if antique shops and art galleries are your thing.
You’re likely to stumble across one of Amsterdam’s markets, and you’ll be glad you did. Most of them are located in the heart of the city and open all year round. If you can’t visit them all, choose the one that sounds most interesting to you.
Albert Cuyp Market
This 100-year-old outdoor market sells everything you’ll ever need from fish to cosmetics. You want it, they’ve got it. Open all year: Monday–Saturday, 9am–5pm.
This is a one-of-a-kind market. It’s the only floating flower market in the world. If you’re looking for something different to do then I recommend giving this a visit. Open all year: Monday–Saturday, 9am–5:30pm; Sunday, 11am–5pm.
Waterlooplein Flea Market
This is a huge market filled with vintage jackets, antiques and quirky finds. Open all year: Monday–Saturday, 9am–6pm.
Boerenmarkt on Noodermarkt
Close to the Waterlooplein Flea Market, this is one of the biggest organic farmer’s markets in the city. Find fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and delectable pastries to drool over – perfect if you want to sample Dutch cuisine. Open all year: Saturdays, 9am–5pm.
Spui Art Market
From a rotating group of sixty artists, 25 have the chance to showcase their work. Open March–December: Sundays, 10am–6pm.
What to see
What I found amazing about Amsterdam is its variety of activities, markets and places to visit. You just have to seek out what you like best. This is a list of the top ten things you can do during your stay.
- Walk around The Red Light District. It’s a completely different experience than anything you’ve probably had before – and it’s interesting to see people’s reactions!
- Rijks museum. (Admissions €15/ 7.50 concessions). It has over 8,000 pieces on display, most of them paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. They also have a big collection of Asian art.
- The Van Gogh Museum. (Admission €15, exhibition prices vary). The breath taking collection is dedicated to Van Gogh and his contemporaries.
- Have a picnic in Vondelpark. Beautiful when it’s covered in snow and the place to picnic if the weather is warm. Take a ball and rackets with you for extra fun.
- Explore the canals. This doesn’t cost money, just walk beside them!
- For a true historical day, visit the Anne Frank Museum (€9). The queue is usually long so be sure to get there early.
- Visit Bloemenmarkt. This one-of-a-kind market is a must-see, where you will find all sorts of pretty, colourful flowers.
- Taste traditional Dutch food. This is one of the best things about travelling. The traditional pastries will warm your heart and if you’re brave enough, try the typical Hollandse Nieuwe (raw herring in a mild vinegar).
- Head to the coffee shops. Coffee shops are not allowed to advertise themselves but are easily spotted.
- Walk around Rembrandtplein. You can sit on the grass with a picnic and appreciate everything around you. There is always some kind of live performance that’s worth going to watch.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Tweet us your experience @milkmagazine