"The city below the sea level" Amsterdam by monica71

Amsterdam Travel Guide: 10,667 reviews and 22,712 photos

I needed a break from my daily routine and I decided to go to Amsterdam for 4 days. I found the city more colorful and alive than I expected. There is something to do for everybody there!

I was thrilled when I landed at the Schiphol airport and knew that I was in fact 4 meters below the sea level. I could not wait to hop on the train, get to the hotel and start exploring the city.

One thing that caught me by surprise was the number of bikes one will see in the city. I knew people like to bike there, but I never expected that many bikes. I learned that Amsterdam has literally 700.000 people and 1 million bikes!

With only 4 days (well, basically 3 days considering that the first day I am always tired and jet lagged after the long transatlantic flight) time was too precious to waste.

I arrived at the hotel on Wed around 1pm in the afternoon. My room was ready and after checking in, taking a shower and changing clothes, I was ready for exploring the city.

I walked a lot during my trip and there were times at night when my legs were so tired I could barely feel them anymore. I did not spent too much time visiting museums since lines were long and I did not feel like spending my time waiting on line. I did go to Anne Frank house (the wait time was 45 minutes), but skipped the Van Gogh museum since the line was huge and the estimated time to get inside the museum was between 1.5 hrs to 2 hrs. So if you want to go to museums, get ready to spend a lot of time waiting in line.

Walking is indeed the best way to see the city. You miss a lot by not exploring the streets on foot. And getting lost is part of the fun!

Here is how I spent my time in Amsterdam. It may not look like a lot, but my legs were sore for few days after coming back to Chicago.

Wed: arrived in Amsterdam, checked in at the A-Train Hotel; walked from the hotel to Leidseplein square along the Singel Street towards the Leidsestraat, passing the Flower Market and stopping for few pictures there; had dinner on a terrace in Leidsestraat square and walked back to the hotel taking Nieuwezuds Voorburgwal from the Flower Market and passing by the History Museum, the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk. It was almost 9pm by the time I reached the hotel and I was very tired.

Thu: did a very long Jordaan walk from my hotel to Brouwersgracht to Rozengrachfor to Leidsegracht. If you consider doing this walk, get ready for a lot of walking and have your camera handy. This walk will easily take a whole day and most likely you will get lost on the tiny and charming streets if you are like me and change your route when you see a street you like to explore, an interesting looking building, etc. Have a good map with you and look at it from time to time.

Fri: walked to Dam square and spent some time exploring the tourist stores on Damrak street while getting there and bought some souvenirs from inside the Magna Plaza shopping mall.Went to Muntplain and bought a tulip vase from the Royal Delft store located right under the tower. Dropped off the purchases at the hotel and took a 1 hour long sightseeing cruise. It was after 9pm by the time I got back to my room and I was very tired but looking forward to the next day.

Sat: took a fantastic 8 hours long organized tour that took us to the following places: a tulip farm located 1 hour North of Amsterdam, the "enclosing dyke" where we could see the North Sea and the lake, the town of Medemblik where we had lunch and visited a fully working wind mill, and Zaanse Schans. The tour was very well organized and I highly recommend it. I went to bed that night with a huge smile on my face. My short vacation was perfect!

Sun: woke up early in the morning to catch my 10am flight to Chicago

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:colorful city, friendly people
  • Cons:the smell of canabis can be strong at times on the streets
  • Last visit to Amsterdam: Mar 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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