Amsterdam, you flirt!
I hopped over to Amsterdam from Italy for two nights to meet my dear friend Katsuno. We spent 48 hours biking around the city and ticking off as many boutiques, restaurants, and museums that we could from our lists. We got a lot done and covered a ton of ground while still enjoying all the little moments! Exploring new cities with old friends is something special that’s for sure. This last minute weekend trip was one for the books.
Vincent Van Gogh Museum – I debated whether or not to spend an afternoon here. I invested many hours and many euros in museums around Italy already and this one was a little pricy. 100% worth it though! I am so glad that I decided to visit the Van Gogh museum. It is beautifully designed, very well organized, informative, clean, and sophisticated. I would have never believed you if you told me that staring at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, The Bedroom, or his numerous self portraits would bring me such an emotional response. I was completely enchanted with his work, even made my eyes water a little (a very rare occurrence for me). An incredibly special collection of artwork, it was a lovely surprise to also discover the Spanish Dancer by Toulouse-Lautrec at the museum. Highly recommend.
Hortus Botanicus – The hidden gem of my weekend. One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, a place I would buy a season pass to if I lived in Amsterdam. The historical greenhouses are an architectural dream (pictured below). This secret sanctuary started as a medical herb garden in 1638 and now provides 3 acres of forest bathing in lush greenery right in the heart of the city.
Anne Frank House – Since this was such a last minute trip all the tickets were sold out! It was also under construction so many areas were closed off for the month of August. Very busy and touristy but a piece of history that I will most definitely make a priority for my next visit.
Moco Museum – The Modern Contemporary Museum had a Banksy exhibition going on while we were in Amsterdam. This is something I would have really liked to see but time was limited so we didn’t make it this trip. Definitely worth taking a look before visiting Amsterdam, they have also had exhibitions featuring Salvadore Dali, Andy Warhol, and more.
Heineken Brewery – This wasn’t at the top of my list (or even on my list at all to be honest) but had great reviews and came recommended by several of you. Any of you beer fans might find some interest here.
Coffee & Coconuts – Barefoot vibes in a historical theatre turned health food restaurant. The glowiest smoothie bowls, fresh juices, and vibrant menu options with branding on point! Dare I say one of the best smoothie bowls I’ve ever had? The flavour was unreal (blended with fresh passion fruit and avocado) and the homemade sprouted granola on top was absolute perfection. The vaulted open ceilings, original stained glass windows, and super groovy minimal decor made my experience even better. Yeah, I was pretty obsessed with this place.
Sticky Fingers Eco Patisserie – All organic, all homemade, all delicious! Very instagramable.
The Avocado Show – This was Katsuno’s top pick and I could not be happier that she brought us here. Everything on the menu is made with fresh avocados. The food art is next level, every single meal that came out of the kitchen was magazine photoshoot ready. Not only that, the food was delicious! Expect a wait, this place is guaranteed to have a line.
Van Wonderen Stroopwafels – Have you tried stroopwafels? Because I assure you they are life changing. You cannot visit Holland without enjoying this traditional dessert. For a really decadent and authentic treat, head to van Wonderen. We tried the gingerbread cookie and chocolate hazelnut flavours, oh my word. After that you can head to the grocery store for the cheaper stroopwafels and fill your entire suitcase with them to bring home. I wish I bought more!
Rainbowls – Hello smoothie bowl heaven. I love the name of this place, so clever.
Foodhallen – Food halls are becoming more common in European cities, Food Hallen was great in terms of quality and vibe. Lots of options, funky communal seating, live music in the evening. There is absolutely something for everyone here, a nice option for groups who can’t decide on one restaurant fits all.
Sotto Pizza – Only for those of you who won’t be making it over to Italy.
Rocycle – 12€ drop in rates for spin classes, taught in english. Spin shoes, towel, water, change rooms fully stocked with organic products, everything included. They also have a cold pressed juicery located in the buildings, love it! Great option for travellers.
PLTS Studio – This was top on my fitness list but the cost was too high. €25 for a drop in (plus you have to purchase pilates socks for an additional €15). Yikes, but they use top of the line pilates machines that look incredible. If you’re visiting Amsterdam for longer than a couple days you can purchase a discount pack of classes and make it worth it!
Koan Float – A deep relaxation sensory deprivation experience. They call it “meditation without leg pain” and I dig it. A great grounding practice for a busy traveller.
The City Street Spa – Manicures, pedicures, facials, hydrating IV infusions… this spa has it all and more.
De 9 Straatjes – This translates to “The Nine Streets” and houses the best boutiques in Amsterdam. Park your bike and stroll down the cute canals, stopping in each door to revel over the fashion, interior decor, and beautiful work of local artisans.
Bolia – The dreamiest Scandinavian interior design boutique.
Skins – Gorgeous skincare and cosmetics shop with great brands.
The Red Light District – From brothels to sex shops to museums, this district has it all and yes, it’s what you expected. Not much going on during the day but the night life is worth at least a walk through for the experience.
Canal Tour – Katsuno and I jumped on an open boat canal tour. It was a nice way to rest our legs from running around the city while soaking up the characteristic architecture that lines the canals. We found a really good deal for the boat, I wouldn’t recommend spending a bunch of money on this. It’s more of a novelty than a super special experience but we had fun taking photos and being tourists.
Bike Rentals – There are several bike rental options. We had bikes included with our hotel stay so we didn’t need to rent. I highly recommend doing at least one day with bikes, we had so much fun riding along the canals and feeling like we were part of the city. There are just as many bikes (if not more) than cars in Amsterdam, it’s the most efficient mode of transportation to zip around the city. Don’t forget to lock it up though!
Amsterdam was so charming and impressed me much more than I imagined. The design, branding, merchandising, packaging, and boutique decor were so so good. There are some seriously talented people living and working in this city, I’m already looking forward to return for creative inspiration.
If you’re heading to Amsterdam check out my custom google map with all the locations listed above featured as pins. It makes walking and biking around the city a total breeze.