Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Top 10 Things To Do in Amsterdam (Cultural and Weird)


What can I say, oh my goodness, this city has completely blown me away! I just spent 3 nights there with my best friend, and it was a well deserved break and got to travel around a new city.

After walking at least 15 miles in three days and surviving without any blisters, we visited the ultimate place to visit and had a few surprises along the way. 

I have over 200 photos on my phone, so can't show all of them to you, BUT I can compile a list of the places to visit if you have never been before.

1. I Amsterdam Letters

Everyone knows the iconic I Amsterdam letters, even if you haven't been before, all the images when you search for Amsterdam will come up with this landmark. Located at the Museumplein (where our hotel was) it was the perfect time to get that perfect Instagram picture. 

I recommend going in the evening or early morning as you may have to wait a while to get a picture, because there will be personal photoshoots to get the perfect picture -- I was one of those people. 

The landmark that gets photographed over 6,000 times a day, was a marketing ploy to get locals to feel good about themselves and to improve tourism -- this effectively worked! This has to be on your list of things to do in Amsterdam! 

Top Tip: A boomerang looks great here!

2. Take a Canal Tour

Amsterdam is famous for its canals, you can't escape them, there are approximately 32 miles length of canals and over 1000 bridges! 

We took a canal tour from a company called Stromma, we had a discount code thanks to Booking.com but prices are relatively cheap for what I thought it would be. The hour tour took us to see the 100 highlights of Amsterdam and our tour guide was a very funny man!

There is an audio guide in over 10 languages so you can find out more about the history of this beautiful city. Try and get a window seat as you will be in the prime position to get some great photos! The tours also start from just in front of the Centraal Station, it is pretty obvious when you see about 6 tourist canal boats! 

Canal rides should be on the top of the list of things to do in Amsterdam.

3. Amsterdam Dungeon's

What can I say... I can't actually say that much or give it al away because it only works as a surprise. I have visited the London Dungeons but it wasn't like this. A confession, the day we went I was a little bit fragile from the night before and I also HATE scary things, but I decided to go and get involved. 

There are 12 rooms where you go into the history of Amsterdam and actors play out different scenarios and will get the audience involved. 

I put 100% effort into not making a noise or giving anyone eyesight because I was so scared, but a few rooms in, I realised so far the acts weren't that scary and participation was quite tame and usually only a few minutes.. but still I was too scared but felt fine if I was picked. 

This one particular room is called the Witch Hunt and who gets picked to be in court as the witch on trial? Yes... ME. So it was fine, I was found guilty etc... and I thought it was over. Oh no, I had to go into different rooms by myself (a lot of scares and mazes -- never been more shocked in my life) and had to act out a certain situation. My participation lasted 10 minutes (a lot longer than I thought and more participation but I found it ironic and funny). 

So my Witch Act was finished and was happy to let someone else participate, so we went into the bar which is the final room where we all celebrate with a drink. The barman looked straight at me and asked for my name.. I said "Molly" in a laughing/crying way because I've just been picked again, the 20 people we were with were laughing in shock for the coincidence. 

I had to be another character in the act (still kept my beer) and I actually enjoyed it, was I scared? Hell yes. However, it was something I thought I would never do and because of that it was so much fun. 

Definitely visit Amsterdam Dungeons, I had never heard of it before but it should be one of the top ten things to do in Amsterdam. Due to know phones allowed... here is a nice photo. 

4. Rijksmuseum 

I am not a arty person or have a massive interest in history, never have, but I always like to visit a museum whenever I go somewhere new because it's not like anything in the UK. 

I wouldn't necessarily visit a museum in the UK, but I've been to the Sagrada Familia (yes I know not a museum) and the Vatican Museum and absolutely loved it because its not the normal thing for me to do and I got to learn something different. 

We got a discount voucher from our hotel which was called XO Hotel Inner (seriously recommend this one -- the best shower and bed side lighting for a great selfie) and got to go in a bit cheaper. 

I cannot put into words how beautiful and massive this museum was, it was a couple of minutes walk from our hotel and behind the picturesque I Amsterdam letters. 

There are 3 floors to the building showing art from the Middle Ages (first floor) and as you go up you get to visit art through the centuries until you reach modern art. 

I was very impressed with how quick and easy it was to get into the museum and how quiet it was. We went midday and it was so easy to walk about and take your time, the Vatican was very different, lots of queues and was packed like a tin of sardines. It was nice to take our time around. 

You will find that the Rijksmuseum will be on every bloggers list of the top ten things to do in Amsterdam. 

5. Anne Frank House

This was something that I always have wanted to go to. In school, the UK teaches a lot in history, especially about the war and the Holocaust. Within the past few years, I also have taken an interest in documentaries about a variety of subjects including animal captivity, health and past events. 

I like to understand more about the time and the psychology of people during these times, it is a form of self development too. To get into the House it cost 9 Euro which I thought was a great house, you can buy them online and have a certain time slot. Waiting and getting in wasn't a problem.

We got given an audio guide (they have them in different languages) where in the rooms below the attic had different objects from the time and videos explaining the back story to the tragedy. We got to see videos from her father Otto Frank which was so inspiring and extracts from her diary. From such a young age, it is amazing how mature she sounds. 

When we went into the attic, I can't explain how I felt. I didn't expect to feel so uncomfortable, I didn't want to pry or stay too long in the rooms because I felt that it was too intrusive, however I suppose that's the feeling you are meant to get to make all the stories become real. 

Once we got out of the attic we went into rooms with more audio guides of her diaries and also videos of people that knew Anne. Overall it was a beautiful experience and it really makes you appreciate the life you have but also how real it was back then. 

No photography is allowed inside, which I think is really respectable. The Anne Frank House is something I recommend and it is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.

6. Visit the Red Light District

Okay, so the night myself and Mikaela wanted to visit the Red Light District was the first night and we were absolutely knackered from no sleep, so we went down where we thought it was (it was but it was too far up) and we were creeped out by how quiet it was. 

We also went down a small alley and saw girls in the window and it felt too weird to me to go past them, I felt rude almost and I questioned why people say it was so great and even my parents were shocked I didn't like it because it's lively....I didn't think it was lively. 

The next night we actually went to the right place (it is amazing what sleep can do for you - lol). It was everything I thought it would be, it is vibrant, full of tourists and it actually felt safe. 

Everyone knows what the Red Light District is about and it actually didn't seem seedy, there are some great bars around also. 

One thing to remember is to not take photos of the girls in the windows, so be careful if you have your camera out because it could land you in trouble. 

7. Sex Museum

As much as normally I would find this super inappropriate to put in my blog, I couldn't go to Amsterdam and not visit these types of museums to get an understanding of this part of the city. ,

I have been to the one in Barcelona and I really wanted to go here. It was the weirdest experience of my life, from photos to moving sculptures, there was nothing that couldn't surprise me every room was just absolutely crazy. 

I would add a picture so people could see what to expect, but I do feel that it is pushing it a little bit! Entry is 5 euro but you do get a lot of product (don't know what to call it) for the price. It certainly was eye opening to the imagination.

8. Red Light Secrets

I swear, honestly that I did see some cultural things in Amsterdam, but you do not get this culture in England and myself and Mikaela wanted to know more about it because the Red Light District did not seem seedy. 

I actually learned quite a lot from this museum, you realise how strict the rules actually are in Amsterdam. My view on it may not have changed but going to the museum, actually made me feel safe in Amsterdam and understand how it works in this city. 

You get to sit in a chair in a window looking out onto the Red Light District and have a photo taken --- the only place in this district that you can have a photo taken. I couldn't help myself and had to have a few snaps.

It doesn't always glamorise the job, in one room it does show the dangers of Prostitution including murder, especially within this city. It was actually nice to see the memorial and see how much it has changed and how Amsterdam has adapted. 

If you want to be a bit unconventional and do something different, Red Light Secrets tour is something to consider. 

9. Go to a Cheese Shop

I love my cheese and so does Amsterdam, my clothes still smell of the cheese its disgusting. I was such a picky eater when I was a kid, yet I was trying every type of cheese that I could put in my gob. 

There was the most random cheeses I have ever seen including mushroom, a purple cheese and god knows what else I ate! 

I even tried a cheese that matured for over 2 years, surprised myself. When researching what to eat in Amsterdam, other than herring, waffles and chips (none of which I ate - need to go back) there wasn't much to find -- another post coming soon. 

However, there were SO MANY cheese shops we had to go in and taste and it was bloody lovely. 

10. Nightlife

OH.MY.GOD. I thought the Spanish could party, and then I met the Dutch! I do warn you that Amsterdam is an expensive city so be warned, but we had two big nights out there (we are young and we are students we had to enjoy ourselves). 

We went to Caffe Nasty (don't even know where it is in relation to the city), all I know is that it is AMAZING. The bar staff are so friendly (Jamie was the barman working that night) and the DJ Jocht (hope I spelt that right) was such a legend playing any songs we wanted. We met so many people and danced until 4am. 

Myself and Mikaela LOVE latin music, it is all I listen to since moving back from Barcelona. My favourite night out in Bournemouth is Latin Night in Camel Bar. We found Ibiza Latin Club, again very expensive but we were on the beers because we had to fly home tomorrow. It has every single song that I loved and the people we met were so lovely and got us dancing with them -- exactly what I love. 

In the end we were very lucky enough to be treated to drinks by this lovely group of staff and table and we danced our way around the floor until 5am. There are so many more bars there as well, there is something for everyone. 

It was the most incredible 3 days in Amsterdam, if you haven't gone.., PLEASE GO. It is such a cool city, one you get used to the amount of bikes and how huge the city is you will love it.

From the rich culture to the red light district, there is so much to see and do. 

I have got some more posts coming up about Amsterdam including tips on visiting, what I didn't like and how to budget travel in such an expensive city. 

It is only 23 days until Barcelona and I can't wait to be back in the place I once and still do call home. 

Thanks for reading, 

Mol xo


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