Famed for both its culture and its slightly dodgier side, Amsterdam is one of those places you have to visit. So I did. Last weekend. On Easyjet. Brave, no?
The capital of the Netherlands is chockablock full of things to see and do, making it just about perfect for a city break weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight from Gatwick too, and my does that time fly by (ha ha ha).
Stuff We Did that You Should Do Too
The I Amsterdam Sign
Photo opportunities galore. Prepare to selfie. Instagram everything. No one will judge you here, they are all doing it.
Red Light District
De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt
No one visits Amsterdam without taking a tour of the Red Light District, and a very eye-opening tour it is too. We strolled around the area after dinner to browse the prostitutes prancing about in neon underwear, I don’t know why. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Whilst there you can amuse yourself by playing the well known ‘spot the shifty looking man scuttling out from behind the curtains’ game. Sadly we only saw one. And yes he did look shifty.
Red Light Secrets – Red Light District
This is a tiny yet wonderful museum in the thick of the Red Light District. Here you can wander through make believe brothels and even sit in your own red light window box, for the authentic Amsterdam experience. There’s also a wall of bizarre confessions which you really need to see. I hope they were made up but I fear they were not.
Anne Frank’s House
Something you must do when visiting Amsterdam. Unfortunately everyone else visiting Amsterdam must do it too, which is probably the cause of the biggest queue I’ve ever seen in my LIFE. It stretches through entire streets, like a giant shrieking snake full of screaming children and grumbling teenagers. We reached the end of the queue to find a four year old child named Oscar being asked by his ADULT parents if he felt like queuing up for the rest of his life so he could see Anne Frank’s House. Oscar said no, wise despite his diminutive size and leaking nose. I said no, too. But I did see the outside of the building so you know, it’s sort of the same. If you are planning a visit be sure to bring sustenance, you’re going to need it.
The Flower Market
Another thing you are supposed to do. I’m not really sure why. The flower market is a series of floating stalls on the canal selling millions upon millions of tulips and accompanying tat to tourists. Not hugely exciting, but ok if you’re wandering past anyway.
The Torture Museum, Damrak 33
This is next to the disappointing flower market, and it is, in true Amsterdam style, completely weird. The place is done up like the London Dungeon and full of grisly implements. Do not sit on the guillotine, you could lose your head.
Sex Museum, Venustempel
Probably the only thing in Amsterdam weirder than the Torture Museum. You must go, they’ve got flashing mannequins.
Cheese Shopping – Everywhere
These people love their cheese. There’s a cheese shop on every street. Cheese shops are like the Dutch version of Pret. Make sure you get some gouda, it comes in ALL flavours. We got pesto, and upon opening realised the cheese was a disturbing shade of green. Tastes nice though.
Coffee Houses – Everywhere
There’s no coffee here. If you want coffee you need to go to a café instead. This is very important.
Souvenir Shopping – In the big square where the backpacks congregate
All souvenir shops in Amsterdam seem to have a secret yet not really that secret back room stocking frankly alarming produce. One we found was full of weed plants, and books about how to grow weed at home. Most sell ornate glass bongs designed to be smashed to pieces on the way home. Another, for no reason at all, stocked a wide variety of tacky souvenirs and yet also STAB VESTS and TERRIFYING KNIVES. Beware of the souvenir shops.
Street Art – Everywhere
Amsterdam is home to some of the world’s finest street art, so keep your eyes peeled as you wander around. This one’s my favourite – anything featuring ET rates highly in my book.
After this I endured what I can only describe as the worst possible journey anyone has EVER had, but I’ll tell you all about that another day.