To say this weekend was phenomenal would be an understatement; a return trip is absolutely on the cards at some point in the future. I’m not too sure why, but I always thought of Amsterdam as a seedy, creepy city with not much to see or do aside from getting really really stoned, going to the Red Light District, or chilling at Anne Franks place. I really couldn’t have been more wrong. We took an evening flight to Amsterdam on Friday and came home Monday night – although everything here is fairly doable between Friday and Sunday.
The Heineken Experience was located pretty close to where our apartment was, and I like Heineken, so it was a no brainer to pay a visit there. It takes about 2 hours to do, and is a really interactive tour of how the beer is brewed and the history surrounding it – you even get a couple of pints along the way – and we all thought it was one of the highlights of the trip. Trust me, its well worth a look. We bought our tickets for it in advance at one of the tourist offices which you can find dotted all around the city centre; these tickets were part of a package to go to the Ice Bar Amsterdam too, and cost us €27, which is cheaper than buying tickets separately. If you’ve never been to an ice bar before, I would say do it, but I think most people that have been to one before will agree with me when I say the novelty wears off very, very quick. It’s basically a cold room. With ice. And big annoying jackets. Looks great in photos and videos, isn’t so great in person. Having said that, considering €27 got us the Heineken Experience, The Ice Bar, 2 pints of Heineken and 3 strong vodka’s, I would still say its money well spent.
A canal cruise is definitely something that has to be done – we did an afternoon cruise but nighttime cruises are available too and I think that would be cool to do. You see the city from a totally different perspective on the canals and there’s some great photos to be taken. Get one of the cruises that depart outside Dam Central Station. They last about 60-90 minutes and cost €13.
The Sex Museum. Willies, boobs, penis, vagina, lol, enough said. It’ll take about 10-15 minutes, and there’s no reason not to give it a look even if some (read: people more mature than me) believe its too rude and offensive. It’s only €4. Come on.
As regards coffee shops, we went to The Bulldog “The First” coffee shop in the red light district. The Bulldog was the first coffee shop in Amsterdam in the 70’s and has since expanded into a chain of very popular, very busy coffee shops each with its own distinct vibe and music. While we got lucky on arrival with a big table by the window, be ready to wait up to an hour for a table to become available. We ended up staying there for hours. That coffee was pretty good.
Amsterdam is a great city to just explore. Areas like Jordaan, the Waterlooplein flea market, Rembrandt and obviously Dam Square are just plain cool to walk around.
Also, Anne Frank House. Didn’t go there. One of the only major things I associated with Amsterdam, and I didn’t even go there. However! The queues are ridiculous. I mean waiting around for a couple of hours when you could be doing something better kind of ridiculous. There is an online facility to book in advance and skip the insane queues, but be advised that you’ll need to book about 7 days beforehand to be in with a chance of getting a ticket. €14 per ticket, and I’ve heard good things from those I know who have been there. So yeah, no Anne Frank for me this time, but there’s always next time.
Speaking of things to do next time; the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum are definitely two things I wanted to see but we just didn’t end up fitting in – hangovers got the better of us. If you’d like to find out more about Van Gogh’s works, be sure to check out Artsy’s Van Gogh page here for everything you’ll ever need to know. The Room of Riddles and/or Sherlocked are definitely on the to do list for return trip too. Both involve you and your group being locked into a room, with 60 minutes to solve clues in order to be let out. Imagine trying that after a coffee shop visit. Room of Riddles costs between €20-€35 per person depending on the number of people, while Sherlocked charges €120-€130 per group of up to 6 people.
As regards nightlife; ESCAPE in Rembrandt Square was right up our street. EDM and house music, with international guest DJ’s regularly visiting. Open until 5am, €16 cover charge. All clubbing scenes from the video were shot there, including those two lovely dancers. Word of advice; don’t dress like utter shit when going to a club, and don’t try to enter in large groups. Unlike most Irish nightclubs, dress code seems to have some importance in Amsterdam. Another decent club more slanted towards EDM is Studio 80, also in Rembrandt Square.
For more information on anything you’ve read here, and to find a lot more to see and do in Amsterdam, I would strongly recommend checking out the official tourism site: I Amsterdam.