4 Days in Amsterdam

4 Days in Amsterdam- Amsterdam canal houses

Amsterdam was always somewhere that was on my list of places to visit. So, when we (mostly me) decided to plan an autumn city break, Amsterdam was an easy decision.  

When I came back from this trip, I was so excited to write up a post on everything we did while we were over there.

And bam…a month later, here it is. No time like the present, eh?

We had never been to Amsterdam before, so we wanted to see all the major touristy, “just to say you’ve seen it” kind of places. What we ended up with was a trip full of lots of walking, lots of museums, and a whole lot of me stopping in the middle of roads to take photos of pretty buildings.

Amsterdam central station exterior

Amsterdam colourful buildings

Where We Stayed

We were looking for something reasonably priced, reasonably close to the centre of the city and not full of drunken reprobates on stag dos.

We ended up going to Hotel Parklane, a small-ish hotel in a quiet area, near Artis Zoo. It was relatively central, around a mile from most of the major areas of the city, and a stone’s throw away from the nearest tram station. While not the cheapest of hotels, it was fairly reasonably priced compared to others we looked at. It had tricky winding staircases; trying to get up them with a suitcase was…interesting. Despite this, the hotel was clean, quiet, and had friendly staff. Can’t go too wrong. 

Amsterdam blue canal house and autumn tree

The I Amsterdam City Card

I’m about to go on about this with such fervour that it might sound like I’m doing a sponsorship. I promise you, I am not. (Not least because I have no followers). I just really, really like this card.
If you’re in Amsterdam for a few days and, like me, are keen on going to lots of museums and can’t be arsed to walk everywhere, the I Amsterdam Card is a great shout.

For a set price (we paid around £85 each for a 96 hour card), you get free entry to most museums in Amsterdam, and discounts on lots of other attractions. On top of this you get a free canal tour, and free transport all around the city.

We spent the majority of our time in museums, the prices of which all would have added up very quickly. The I Amsterdam card was worth the money for that alone.

I had intended on walking around most of the city to see the sights as much as I could. As it turned out, my poor, sore tootsies and I couldn’t hack it. We ended up travelling by tram pretty much everywhere, and I was very grateful for the easy transport.

If you’re going for a brief trip and want to pack in as much as you can, definitely invest in the I Amsterdam card.

4 Days in Amsterdam- pose on Amsterdam canal bridge

Where We Went

We packed quite a lot into our trip, so I’ll try to keep this condensed and just talk about the highlights.
A must-see for me was definitely the Anne Frank House. Though I’d only read the Diary of Anne Frank once before this, quite a few years ago now, it was still an incredibly sombre and moving experience. If you’re able to go here, definitely do.

Another highlight was definitely the Van Gogh Museum. Despite it being frustratingly busy, even early on a Monday morning when we were there, I’m so glad I went. I’m far from a huge art buff but seeing Van Gogh’s art in person was an amazing experience nonetheless. Being close enough to see brush strokes on canvas is almost surreal. If I suggest one thing about going to the Van Gogh Museum, it’s this; get the audio guide. It’s only about 5 euros, but it gives lots of extra information about Van Gogh; his life, his inspirations, his techniques. In my opinion, it adds a lot to the experience.

We also checked out the Artis Zoo (our hotel was right next to it. We couldn’t not, could we?), and ended up spending a whole afternoon there. It probably seems odd to go all the way to Amsterdam to spend an afternoon at the zoo, which we could easily do in Scotland, but it was a really good zoo! If you’re looking for an easy, fun activity, the Artis Zoo is a good shout.

Amsterdam Museum Outdoor Exterior

A few other highlights included Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder, the Amsterdam museum, and the Sexmuseum. Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder is a hidden church, in the attic of a canal house, from the 17th century, when Catholics were banned from openly worshipping. A good place to see if you’re interested in history. The Amsterdam Museum is also excellent. It’s very extensive and full of information about the history of the city, from its early beginnings all the way to recent history.

The Sexmuseum was great fun; perhaps not for the faint-hearted or prudish, but good for some entertainment. Good if you fancy a giggle, but also quite interesting to look at from a sociological perspective (yes, I’m that person. Cue that clip of Homer Simpson saying ‘NERDDDD’).

PANCAKES Amsterdam Dutch pancake with blueberry and yogurtThe Eats

As a notoriously fussy eater, food certainly wasn’t the driving force behind this trip. There were a few disappointing meals, and a whole lot of eating things we could just as easily find at home. (Hello, Vapiano.)

However, there were a few honourable mentions. PANCAKES appeared to be a big chain (we found numerous branches scattered across the city). Unsurprisingly, they served different varieties of pancakes. We both went for a traditional Dutch pancake with blueberries and yogurt. It was ginormous, and it was amazing.

Another mention has to be given to, what can only be described as, the apple pie of dreams. One does not simply go to Amsterdam and not eat a slice of proper Dutch apple pie.  We originally wanted to go to Winkel 43, which seems to be generally thought of as having the best apple pie in Amsterdam. However, we got there and there was not an empty seat in the house. So, after a bit of investigating (meaning, Googling), we went in search of a place called Café'T Papeneiland. This tiny café on a street corner in Jordaan looked pretty similar to an average old-man’s pub you would find in the UK but, my god, this place had some good apple pie.

If you’re looking for street food, the Albert Cuyp Market is a good shout. We went there quite early in the day, so we weren’t massively hungry. However, we did grab a cone of very tasty fries and shared an absolutely gargantuan-sized Stroopwaffle. It was called the Super-Strooper (which, of course, led to me singing it to the tune of Super Trouper) and it was literally the size of my face. (It was also listed on the menu as being for real men and crazy women; I felt the urge to shove the entire thing in my mouth, while making uncomfortable eye-contact with the vendor, just to prove a point.) If you eat one quintessential Amsterdam thing when there, make it a freshly made Stroopwaffle. Can’t beat it. 

Amsterdam Canal Bridge on Sunny autumn day

All in all, it was an amazing, though pretty exhausting, trip. 4 days was pretty much all we needed to pack in all we wanted to see. I’d love to see the city again, perhaps during springtime to see the tulips; although, next time might be a slightly more relaxed trip!

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? What are some of your favourite places in the city?

4 Days in Amsterdam- Amsterdam Highlights- Pinterest image

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