I LOVED THIS CITY!
Seriously though, probably one of the coolest cities I've visited so far. The upsides: Everyone spoke English (for the most part), the canals were BEAUTIFUL, and the city was fairly walk-able! There are a few things we did on this trip a little off the beaten path, and I would definitely recommend!
1. Walk the Canals
One of the most beautiful aspects of the center of Amsterdam was by far the canals surrounded by cobblestone streets and tall houses full of windows. You'll find local shops, houseboats, flower markets, local cuisine, museums, and of course- coffeeshops that don't serve coffee ;) You can spend an afternoon just exploring the city and stopping wherever you want along the way! The Bitteballen is delicious, and of course you have to eat a late night waffle covered in chocolate and strawberries.
Seriously, this place was so amazing we went twice during our trip! I don't know about you, but when I'm on vacation I love to have a day where you can completely unwind... Whether it's at a spa getting a massage or just laying out by the pool. After visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland on the first day and realizing how amazing of a cure for jet lag it was, when it came time to plan the Amsterdam trip, a spa was definitely on the itinerary!
After a little research I settled on Spa Zuiver. We didn't stay at the hotel there, just paid for a package and entry to the pools. The spa consisted of about 8 different pools ranging in temperatures, saunas, steam rooms, and tons of relaxation areas. Now, as Americans, it's pretty standard in most of our spa facilities that men and women are separate and everyone's fully clothed... well it was a bit of a surprise that this was not the case here! Granted, I did read on their website that they have certain swimwear days so it did cross my mind that people may be naked, no biggie... I didn't realize they wouldn't allow you to wear swimwear if you chose to do so! So, there we were, naked in front of about 60 random people.
If you've never experienced a nude European spa, you're missing out. At first I thought it was going to be super weird, but after about 15 minutes, you get over the fact that you're completely naked in front of strangers because everyone else is! Nobody's looking at each other, it's totally casual- but that is what I think made it even more relaxing. As weird as it sounds, not much beats being naked in a hot tub full of strangers in Amsterdam looking up at the stars.
You're not allowed to take your cell phone inside (obviously).. So photocreds go to the Zuiver website.
This city had a museum for everything. The top three I'd say are the Rijiksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House! Things go a lot smoother if you purchase your tickets online ahead of time (you actually can't get into the Anne Frank House without a pre-bought ticket, so make sure to do that beforehand.)
You'll see tons of other great museums though, and some funky ones so I'm sure there is something for everyone. Don't forget to grab a photo in front of the iamsterdam sign!
4. Red Light District & Coffeeshops
Visiting the Red Light District at night is just something you have to do. Even if you just walk through the streets. You might see some things you didn't want to, but you did it in Amsterdam. We actually saw one of the live sex shows that they show on the strip and it was.... an experience. We didn't stay long, probably were in there for less than 30 minutes, and while it wasn't the greatest show- it was the experience.
Coffeeshops are literally everywhere around this area so if that's one of the reasons you're visiting Amsterdam, you'll be sure to find what you're looking for here. If the local herb isn't your style, there's tons of bars around as well.
5. Dinner at Ctaste (off the beaten path)
Ctaste is a restaurant where you're served your meal completely in the dark! While looking for unique restaurants to try in Amsterdam we stumbled upon this gem. You're served a 5 course meal completely in pitch black. You don't even know what you're eating until the end. Everything was delicious, and it really was a fun experience. You get a beer pairing with each course, so if you opted for the alcohol, be prepared to be feeling pretty good when you leave.
If you've got two hours to kill for dinner and want to try something new, definitely check it out!
These are just a few of my favorite highlights from our trip. Have you been to Amsterdam? What are your favorites? Drop a comment!
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