A city home to a maze of stunning canals, the infamous Red Light District, and an almost unavoidable coffee-shop culture, Amsterdam is another of Europe’s gems that is certainly worth a visit.
Amsterdam is well used to the constant invasion of tourists, and is conveniently filled with plenty of things to do while you’re there. While taking a purely curious wander through the Red Light District, you can visit a sex museum (€7), which may initially be an incredibly bizarre experience but one which I assure you, once you embrace it, is also truly hilarious. After all, who doesn’t want a photo taken with a huge golden phallus?
Time it right and see if your visit will coincide with events at Dam Square; during the weekend of our visit the square was stunning and vibrantly lit up at night with carnival rides and a big ferris wheel, surrounded by delicious smells from food vendors. Take it from me; it would be criminal not to sample one of the hot, chocolate-smothered, Belgian waffles.
Chances are you’ll notice that Amsterdam is home to one popular beer in particular, so another must-visit is The Heineken Experience. I’d recommend that after a cultural trip to the Van Gough Museum, that you take your typical tourist photo on the IAMSTERDAM sign by the Rijksmuseum, and head promptly over to this slightly different museum experience (you get to drink free beer).
I had gone to support friends who were running the Amsterdam Marathon, and we were following their progress when we decided to try out the public transport. Ordinarily, the trams are an easy way to navigate your way around the city, but let me warn you, there is a big difference between a tram, and a train. When at the platform, I would not always listen to the advice of the wonderfully friendly locals, as we ended up on a train instead. To Utrecht, in fact. A completely different city, where there was definitely no marathon.
Instead put your tourist map-reading skills to the test, and join everyone else in renting bikes and taking to the roads. It’s the perfect way to see the city, though beware the locals; there are more bikes on the roads than cars, and they have no problem shoving you out of their way if you are taking your time with directions at a cross-roads. If you’re with a group of friends, many bike hire places even offer discounts to group bookings!
You could of course also take a boat tour, but there’s just something about tackling the fast-paced roads that really adds an element of adventure to your visit..
Emma Brisdion, Online Lifestyle Editor
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