Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Amsterdam Travel Guide

We recently spent three days in Amsterdam, and although the weather was gloomy and I was recovering from a terrible stomach virus that I caught on our last night in Paris, we had the most amazing time and are already dreaming about when we will be able to return. For those of you who haven't been or are planning a trip {I'm envious!} I've pulled together some of my recommendations for where to stay, what to see, and of course - what to eat!

STAY. There are a plethora of amazing hotels in Amsterdam, all of a very good value. If it's your first trip I recommend staying inside of the Center Canal Ring as you will be walking distance from virtually everything.

The Hoxton. We stayed in this hip concept hotel made up of five 17th century row houses. Fun details include an old school photo booth, a rotating art exhibiton, and breakfast bags delivered to rooms every morning. Request a roomy canal view room, you won't want to leave and the room is a steal for the size and view!

The Waldorf Astoria. This was the other hotel we had looked into staying at but decided to stay at the Hoxton instead due to the fact that our trip was spontaneous and we were trying to stick to a budget. The decor is feminine and chic - just what you would expect from a Waldorf property. In hindsight, I almost wish we had stayed here because I ended up being stuck in the room the entire first day sick and it would have been so lovely to have a bathtub and fireplace!

SEE: Billed as the Venice of Northern Europe, my favorite thing to do in the beautiful city of Amsterdam is simply get lost exploring the canals. Each cobblestone street seems to be more beautiful than the last, and I especially loved walking around at night and being able to peek into the row houses and admire the seriously enviable Dutch architecture.

De 9 Straatjes. Made up of nine picturesque little streets in Amsterdam's central canal belt, this adorable neighborhood is full of quirky shops, restaurants, and bars. Our hotel was in the heart of De 9 Straatjes and honestly we could have spent the entire trip just exploring this sweet neighborhood - we loved it that much.

Jordaan. Started as a district for the poor, today the Jordaan neighborhood is a favorite place for students, artists and young professionals. Filled with funky galleries, boutiques, and shops, this neighborhood is perfect place to spend an afternoon strolling around with your camera.

Museum Quarter. The glorious Museum Quarter is home to Amsterdam's show-stopping museums, beautiful homes, and the lovely Vondelpark. We rented bikes for the day and explored this area and had the best time! Be sure to stop at the Seafood Bar to give your museum legs a break - yum!

Rijksmuseum. This beautiful museum is worth a visit for the architecture alone, but the immense art collection is absolutely spectacular. The most memorable moment for me was without a doubt visiting the Research Library. Photos truly don't do it justice - it is that amazing.

Van Gough Museum. Unfortunately we didn't have time to visit this museum due to my illness cutting our trip short, but I've heard nothing but good things. If you're an impressionist lover (like I am) this museum is a must!

EAT + DRINK. Amsterdam's creative community is flourishing, which is especially evident with its food scene. We had to cancel a few dinner reservations due to my being sick the first couple of days, but the meals we did have were absolutely spectacular!

Local specialties. Don't leave Amsterdam without trying some of their famed local specialties including Dutch pancakes, stroopwafel, fries served with several different dipping sauces, and deep dish Dutch apple pie.

De Kas. Set in a historic greenhouse, this was the restaurant I was the most excited about visiting, as I had heard nothing but great things from friends, reviews, and our hotel. However sadly we had to cancel our reservation because I was too sick, but it will be at the very top of our list next time we go back!

Gartine. An adorable little nook that's perfect for breakfast or lunch. I've also heard great things about the high tea here.

Restaurant Blaw. Recommended by Ryan's cousin who spent several years living in Amsterdam, this restaurant is known to have the best Indonesian food in the city. Reservations highly recommended.

The Conservatorium. This restaurant was recommended to us by our hotel for a chic lunch spot post-museum. We weren't able to visit, but the gorgeous glass-walled courtyard looks like the perfect place to spend an afternoon sipping champagne cocktails. 

Vinkeles. Unfortunately most of the Michelin-starred restaurants were closed for the post holiday season during our stay in Amsterdam, so we were not able to dine at Vinkeles. However it came highly recommended by several friends as well as our hotel, and we will make it a top priority to dine here on our next trip.

De Silveren Spiegel. For traditional Dutch cuisine in a romantic, upscale ambiance, this restaurant located along a quiet alleyway near the canal is perfect.

Brown Cafes. Whether you like beer or not, stopping into at least one of Amsterdam's historic brown cafes is a must. We loved Cafe Hoppe, a traditional Dutch pub that has been open since 1670.

Bluespoon. Since I was sick drinking alcohol wasn't high on our list of priorities, however this chic bar came highly recommended by our hotel as the perfect spot for a romantic nightcap post dinner.

The Dylan. Another bar highly recommended by our hotel was the bar and lounge at The Dylan Hotel. They recommended we stop by after a long day of exploring to have a relaxing cocktail by the fire.

Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman. Ryan visited this quirky bar located in a former distillery on our first day in Amsterdam when I was stuck in the room sick. He loved the huge beer selection {they stock over 250 different bottle and tap beers from across Europe} and the inviting ambiance. 

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