An invite to the Amsterdam Light Festival was the perfect excuse to book another citytrip to Amsterdam. It has been a long time since I was there, and my BFF immediately agreed to come along on this girls-only trip.

Hotels in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has hotels in all price categories. We chose to stay in style at the Amstel Hotel.  This hotel is part of the Intercontinental Group and is located in the centre of Amsterdam, on the banks of the Amstel river. 

0 Intercontinental Amstel Amsterdam Exterior

.The hotel is 150 years old, and the roof and façade are being restored at the moment. Any scaffolding around a hotel ensures it temporarily loses a lot of its charm, but they came up with a great solution: An image of the façade was printed on the large sheet around the scaffolding, making the works a lot less noticeable. 

The rooms are classic but very stylish. 

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The hotel boasts a brasserie as well as a Michelin-starred restaurant, La Rive. You can have a real high-tea in the lounge. There is a fantastic view over the river while you enjoy a glass of champagne and/or tea accompanied by the most delicious treats.

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Citytrip Amsterdam (1)

Are you a fan of Japanese cuisine? Book a room at the Okura and enjoy their Ciel Bleu restaurant which received 2 Michelin stars.  Okura is part of The Leading Hotels of the World.

In case you are looking for something less high end there are endless possibilities.  Check Where to Stay in Amsterdam for tips in every price range.

5 things to do in Amsterdam

What is Amsterdam known for?  Canals and the red light district cross my mind first, but there are so many things to do in Amsterdam.  Below I share my 5 favourites.

  • One thing you absolutely have to do is tour the canals. The 17th-century canals were added to the UNESCO World heritage list in 2010. The canals are an important part of the fascinating history of Amsterdam.  Beautiful houses line the canals.

I had never noticed that the top windows of most houses were smaller than the other windows. This was done to make the house appear taller than it was. The guide on our tour pointed it out to us.

You can do this tour during the day, but as the annual Amsterdam Light Festival was on until the 21 January 2018, taking the tour after sunset is really worth the effort. We had a great tour with  Lovers Canal Cruises

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  • The Netherlands is renowned for cycling, and it is also a great way to explore Amsterdam.
  • One of Amsterdam’s highlights is the Rijksmuseum, one of the most famous museums in the world. The museum has 8000 pieces of art on display and tells the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history. The Netherlands have a lot to be proud of. Just think of Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Vincent van Gogh or Piet Mondriaan. One of the most famous paintings is the Night Watch by Rembrandt. My husband was invited to a party in the museum a while ago, and the table was set in the room with the Night Watch. Dining with a view of such a masterpiece is rather special.  In case your boss is looking for a good location for the next staff party, you can give him this suggestion.
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Rijksmuseum (1)

Tip: in order to avoid queueing, you can book your fast-lane tickets here

  •  Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore the coffeeshop culture, but I’ll keep it in mind for next time. 
  • My BFF and me are big fans of designer bags and discovered that there was a fantastic exhibition about Louis Vuitton luggage: ‘Legendary Trunks the Exhibition’, which ran until the 18 February. The Beurs van Berlage was the first in the world to host the exhibition.   Over 300 original Louis Vuitton trunks and bags were displayed in beautiful settings. I never knew that Louis Vuitton ever made a guitar, or that there are cases for your Louis Vuitton boxing gloves. Are you bringing a hunting rifle or fishing rod? Do it in style, as there are special cases for those too. A few of the showpieces were Hemingway’s library trunk and President Franklin Roosevelt’s suitcases. 

Note: if you want to visit this exhibition you have to go to Göteborg in Sweden. (til september 2018)

Look over here for free things to do in Amsterdam?

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Shopping in Amsterdam

  • Amsterdam is a great place for shopping. I am a big fan of the Bijenkorf and the one in Amsterdam is a real gem. You can amuse yourself for hours here on rainy days.  Amsterdam’s old main post office is also transformed into a beautiful shopping centre, Magna Plaza. You have to wander in here, if only for the beautiful architecture.
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  • Als we vroeger monopolie speelden, kocht ik altijd de Kalverstraat.  Het is dan ook de bekendste winkelstraat van Amsterdam.  Hier vind je alle bekende ketens.
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  • Fans of vintage need to visit the 9 Streets in the historic canal district, the Jordaan. The streets are part of the canals, and so part of the UNESCO heritage site. You can also discover plenty of cosy bars and restaurants.
  • If you bring your credit card, you can shop in the P.C. Hooftstraat. Here you will find exclusive brands like Jimmy Choo and Chanel.
  • Visit the Beethovenstraat for beautiful sausage rolls and other treats, there are lots of bakeries here.
  • Artlovers best go the Spiegel quarter where they can browse the countless art- and antiques shops to their heart’s content.

Restaurants in Amsterdam

We booked a table at one of the places-to-be: Mama Kelly   The restaurant is in the old Olympic Stadium (so you need a taxi or a car) and the interior is insane. If too much pink gives you a headache, don’t go here. On the menu are (mostly) lobster and chicken. My mouth is watering just thinking of those delicious lobster croquettes. If you’re in The Hague instead of Amsterdam, you’re in luck as they also have a restaurant there. Booking in advance is a must.

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Restaurant Jansz is named after the 17th century craftsman Volkert Jansz. He loved the good things in life and enjoyed sharing this with others. They keep this tradition alive here. The restaurant is spread over a number of small houses and they serve wonderful food. The Chicken Sandwich and the Caesar Salad were delicious. 

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Best time to travel to Amsterdam

My favourite time to visit Amsterdam is spring and autumn as I don't like visiting a city in summer.  But if you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting Amsterdam in winter.

Do you think about visiting several European destinations in one trip? Check this great Europe Itinerary.

I so enjoyed my renewed acquaintance with Amsterdam that I have promised myself to return here again this year.  I will use the Amsterdam itinerary 3 days.  Are you a fan of Amsterdam? Share your tips and comments below.

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Citytrip Amsterdam Eng
Two Traveling Texans