Now that I’m back home and settled in, I have a whole lot of travel photos to share and places to recommend, just in case you’re headed to one of these European cities. If you missed it, I spent nearly two weeks in Europe recently, visiting Amsterdam, Paris, and London with Jeff and several others.
To say that I packed in lots of to dos on this trip would be quite the understatement. Not much downtime at all, which was great actually, because it meant that I really got to explore each area in the short time I was there.
Anyway, long story short, I’ll be sharing a travel guide from each city over the next week or two, starting today with Amsterdam!
Though, I should probably warn you first… I’m not the type to do a ton of touristy sightseeing stuff. These guides will mostly consist of the best food, coffee, and shopping.
Why? You know the touristy spots already, if you’re headed to one of these cities for a visit. So, I’m going to mainly focus on the stuff you don’t know already – like the best place to get a cappuccino, the coolest bakery to pick up pastries, the best boutique for home decor items, etc, etc.
You game? Let’s go!
Getting Around the City
If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam before, you know it’s known for it’s quaint canals and lots and LOTS of bikes. There are more bikes than cars in Amsterdam, which means more bike traffic than car traffic. It didn’t get named the bicycle capital of the world for nothin’. So, if you can find a bike shop to rent from for a few days, you’ll fit right in with the locals.
If you prefer to walk though, which is what we did, you can get around just as easily. The city is very conducive to walking! BUT you do have to be careful of the bikers because there are so many of them and there aren’t many traffic lights. So… you really have to pay attention when crossing the street. Bikers will come out of nowhere. I learned this the hard way a couple of times. So, just look out for that and you’ll be fine.
You can also get around easily on the tram, if you want to go that route. It’s clean and affordable. We only rode the tram a couple of times, so I’m no expert, but there’s lots of info on tram stuff here.
Other Things to Note
Lots of shops and restaurants do not accept debit or credit cards, so be sure to get some cash for your trip. We exchanged our currency at the Amsterdam airport.
To get a better idea of where we were, we stayed in this Airbnb. It was in a really good location on a canal, which made walking everywhere super easy, plus there was a tram stop right in front of our place. AND a really amazing rooftop terrace. It was pricey, but if you’re going with a bunch of people and splitting costs, it’s worth it. The hosts were amazingly nice and helpful too!
Best Places to Shop
Hutspot: This place is awesome! I bought a bunch of stuff here and discovered a few new brands that I had never seen before. FYI – Hutspot has 3 locations in Amsterdam. This is the one I went to, which has clothing, accessories, a barber shop, a photo booth, and a coffee shop.
Felice: Love this concept store…men’s and women’s clothing, home decor, lighting, and accessories. There are lots of other cute shops and restaurants right around here too. So, find this shop and just walk around to the rest.
HAY: I’m a big, big fan of the brand HAY and their flagship store in The Netherlands happens to be in Amsterdam. Definitely worth a visit! There’s a little cafe with coffee and pastries attached to it as well, if you need to recharge after shopping.
Spiegel: Cute little housewares shop featuring Dutch designers. I remember seeing some cute stuff for kiddos in this shop too, if you have any little ones to shop for.
The Frozen Fountain: This shop was really cool and HUGE. So many good pieces…furniture, home decor items, sunglasses, textiles, etc.
Cool Coffee Shops
One of my favorite coffee shops overall was one called Bocca. Get the jasmine green tea or a flat white. The space has a cool vibe and it’s bigger than a lot of the other coffee shops around (a lot of the coffee shops we visited in Amsterdam were really small). You can also bring your laptop if you want to get a little work done, but they only allow ‘laptop parking’ for one hour. And they do keep track, trust me. So, if you’re looking for an all day work spot, this isn’t it.
All five of us on the trip agreed that the best spots for a pour over in Amsterdam are Sweet Cup and Back to Black. They’re pretty close walking distance of each other too. So, you can try them both on the same day, if you’re a coffee addict. Also, Sweet Cup has a resident pup that is really, really sweet and super adorable.
Awesome Food Spots
Bakers & Roasters was the first place we went to eat when we arrived in Amsterdam and it was delicious. The decor was really cool too.
Stach is great for sandwiches, salads, cold pressed juice, and snacks. I really like their goat cheese sandwich, stroopwafels, and giant meringues.
Albert Cuypmarkt: This is Europe’s largest daily market and it’s really fun to walk up and down the street shopping and people watching here. We found it by accident and then ended up buying flowers and cheese and pastries, etc. I’d recommend doing a lap around the market before buying anything because a lot of vendors sell the same thing, but everything is priced differently (flowers especially vary drastically in price from vendor to vendor).
Try My Little Patisserie if you’re looking for a super cute bakery / pastry shop near the market.
Photography by Brittni Mehlhoff
P.S. If you like this guide, be sure to check back for my Paris and London travel guides, which will be up in the next week or two.
Have you ever been to Amsterdam before? Did I miss one of your favorite spots? Let me know!