You want somewhere chilled but also exciting and obviously filled with culture! Amsterdam is a city with an abundance of all three of those things plus a whole lot more - as we're sure you've probably heard.
With a city so packed it can be hard to work out what to narrow it down to, so I thought I’d help you by taking a trip and letting you know my pick for the 5 things to do whilst in Amsterdam.
Visit a ‘Coffeeshop’
Let’s face it, this is the sole reason half the tourists visit Amsterdam in the first place.
The coffee shops are really nice places and not at all how the uninitiated might imagine. The staff are friendly for the most part and happy to advise those of us that aren’t regular visitors.
Try not to buy too much as you’ll no doubt want to try lots of different shops around the city. It’s well worth having a look online at the menus and checking out reviews of the shops to make sure you are getting a good deal.
We recommend going and sitting inside with a coffee (the name coffee shop isn’t a joke, the coffee is really great) and just relaxing. Do as others do and bring your own paraphernalia because not everywhere will have some to lend out. You can get this stuff in just about any shop in the city.
Oh and don’t go into a place labelled “Café” or “Koffiehuis” and try to buy weed, that’s just as bad as trying to buy some in your local café at home.
Journey through the Red Light District
The walk through the infamous Red Light District was really something. There is absolutely nothing like it anywhere else I’ve been. There’s not too much to say on the subject as it is hard to put the atmosphere into words but just go and you’ll understand. So, so strange.
Go to Amsterdam's Museumplein (Museum Square)
There are a few reasons to do this but you’ll want to save it for a sunny day. First off you need to get the compulsory cliché photo with the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign so you can use it as your Facebook cover photo for the next three months.
Secondly take a look a look at the building behind the sign. What you are now staring at, open mouthed, is Rijksmuseum. Amsterdam has a vast array of unique and wonderful architecture but this was my personal favourite. After you’re done gawking you can sit and relax with some food in the lovely park and move on to the next attraction.
Plenty other strange museums around the city too - from the famous sex museum to Rembrandt house, and of course, as we'll chat about, the home of Vincent Van Gough.
Visit Van Gough
Technically this could be included in the point above as it one of the three museums located in the square, but I felt this one deserved some special attention.
A perhaps unexpected highlight of the holiday was the visit to see the masterpieces inside the Van Gough museum. The art is truly mind blowing and a must see.
It was pretty strange to see all of the pictures that you see on TV and learn about in school in real life and it definitely left an impression. Even if you’re not an art enthusiast this one should be on your list. Hell, it should be on your list even if you’re not going to Amsterdam.
Enjoy the alcohol
Bit of a strange one and probably not the thing that jumps in to your head when thinking about the Dam but the Dutch have a rich history filled with beers and spirits.
Home of Heineken, Grolsch and Bols, not to meantion being the birthplace of Genever (The spirit that Gin was inspired by and reason for the phrase “dutch courage”) you should definitely immerse yourself in activities Amsterdam has to offer.
The Heineken factory tour and a visit to The House of Bols come highly recommended. After all, what’s a holiday without a few drinks.
If you're looking for a more out of town/tourist experience and to really take in the culture, get along to Canvas - an art gallery and cocktail bar on the 7th floor of a building that turns into a club on Fridays and Saturdays. Music policy comes from funk and soul to house and techno, and with an open air panoramic view of the city from the balcony outside, this is a place a bit off the map that is well worth a trip.
The Dam square has plenty good nightlife going for it too - pretty much tourist central come dark. We ended up partying in an old comedy club called Chicago Boom where half the rooms are filled with folk smoking and the other half is electronic music. It was pretty insane.