City-trip in Amsterdam, the trendy city with many faces

  • Trips
  • 8 February 2018
  • MN

In just one hour from Basel-Mulhouse Airport, close to our Belgian neighbors, is Amsterdam. The city which inspired one of Brel’s greatest hits manages to have it all. It has the buzz of a metropolis, with a few big-city drawbacks. It’s small enough to walk or cycle almost anywhere you want yet is rarely dull. It’s trendy with many faces that attract more and more tourists from all over the world! And if you are not yet part of the 4 million annual tourists who loved the city… well, you’ll be able to catch up this year! It’s time to check Amsterdam from your bucket-list and discover its bridges that have inspired Brel’s creativity, its coffee houses and the Red Light District that gave reputation to the city. Make your dream come true. Here are the best tips coming directly from the mouth of an expatriate.

The basic information before departure

Unfortunately, weather is not the main attraction in Netherlands. It’s always changing and moody. So, before packing for the trip, make sure you read the weather forecast. The month of May in Amsterdam is not the same as the one in Nice for example. Do not end up like those tourists who arrived with a bathing suit and a t-shirt in the Dutch capital and have no choice but to run to the first store to buy warmer clothes. Take warm and comfortable clothing when packing your suitcase. Don’t forget a raincoat or an umbrella!

The best season to visit Amsterdam

Each season has its charm, and of course, its quirks. There’s always something to be happy or sad about. But, when the sun shines everything is more beautiful. Therefore it’s better to visit Amsterdam between April and September. From April, the city is covered with the perfume of tulips. Riding your bike through the city with this smell all around you gives you the most beautiful feeling in the world. During the sunny days the parks are filled with laughter and in the evening, the terraces of bars are crowded with people. There is laughter in the air, happy voices; all the simple joys of life. That’s the magic of the sun

Which means of transportation to take?

By bike, of course! Cycling in Amsterdam is a truly unique experience. It takes a little dexterity at first to look out for pedestrians, cars, scooters and other cyclists, but after a few minutes, the ride is a real pleasure. It’s also a great way to get an authentic insight into the daily life of the Dutch.
Practical info: The Netherlands is the most pleasant and safe country in the world for cyclists. That is why there are more bikes than population (22.5 million bicycles in comparison to 17 million inhabitants), a practical and very economical means of transportation (in Amsterdam one hour of public transport is 3 euros). Renting a bike is very easy as soon as you’ve arrived in the city. A lot of companies offer this service, here are two options:

  • Rent a Bike : a wide selection of bikes to choose from at a very affordable price, around 10 euros per day.
  • Amsterdam Vélo : in addition to bike rental (14 euros per day) they also offer guided tours in French. (25 euros for 2h30 ride)

What to do in Amsterdam for a weekend?

When you find yourself in an unknown place for 2 or 3 days, you tend to want to discover everything. It won’t be easy to pop in to some of the city’s best attractions. You will not be able to do everything, or see everything, so choose 2 or 3 essential points that you want to see and from there, let the magic of the unknown to do the rest. Meanwhile you can just take advantage of other interesting things during your stay.


For a short weekend, visit the most important:

  • Anne Franck’s House which traces the story of a Jewish teenager who tried to escape Nazism,
  • The Rijksmuseum, which exhibits Dutch art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Here you can admire the famous “The Milkmaid” by Johannes Vermeer and “Self-Portrait” by Vincent Van Gogh to name a few.

Being a cultural city, there are still many other museums in the city to visit but impossible to see them all during just a weekend. Two choices will do the job unless the weather isn’t friendly. Museums are always good shelters.

Nota Bene : the best way to beat the lines is to buy in advance tickets online. It will save you so much time. Just keep in mind that you need around two hours to visit the Rijksmuseum and one hour for Anne Franck’s House.

The Dutch bars

If you are in Amsterdam then you have to go to a local café, outside of the tourist destinations. The Jordaan neighborhood is full of famous Café Bruns, 100% local bars that got their names from the brown decoration.

  • • One of the oldest (active since 1624) and famous is Café Chris, which was Rembrandt’s favorite.
  • In Pijp, we recommend the Dopey´s Elixir.
  • Next to Rijksmuseum, there is A must! Café Brecht with its cozy atmosphere.

9 Straatjes, an Instagram neighborhood!

When reading about it in blogs or tourism sites, it’s presented as a small flower market, but truth be told, it is a small street, crowded with people. Flower lovers may find seeds of rare plants which they can offer to friends and family, but apart from that, there isn’t much to see. Take a bike ride or rather walk in the Jordaan (the bohemian district) towards the “9 Straatjes” (9 Streets) for a shopping stop out of the crowd. This is a good way to discover the romantic face of Amsterdam with its canals, its beautiful buildings with colorful doors. And we promise, it’s a very “Instagram friendly” corner

Good spots to party

Down town, in Leidseplein, there are a lot of bars with a dancing floor, ready to welcome the tourists. The best places:

  • le Koopstootbar, but unfortunately closes early (around 2AM).
  • • On Rokin Street, there are also some dancing bars likeCafé de Paris which starting from 10PM is a dancing bar

The essential food places

The best thing about a country with 180 different nationalities on its territory is that there is a huge culinary diversity.

  • First stop Foodhallen an original concept that is also found in London, Barcelona and Lisbon (under other names, of course). You will discover a wide choice of food ready to be eaten. The atmosphere is chic and relaxed with good music (proposed by a DJ) that instantly gives you the desire to have fun.
  • On the Spuistraat Street, just next to Spui Square, you’ll find Tapas Bar Catala, or the Italian restaurant Trattoria Caprese
  • • For good Dutch dishes, you can count on the Buffet Van Odette which proposes a simple and delicious menu.

Coffee shops to test!

One of the main reasons tourists are visiting Amsterdam is the easy access to cannabis.

That’s why, there are so many of them in coffee shops, whereas the Dutch prefer a good beer or to smoke at home. This is why the coffee shops in Amsterdam have a very touristic orientation and are mostly found in the Red Light District (Old Town), the headquarters of many of them. Here, you can find the worst coffee shops in the city.

The best are in Joordan and Pijp. Our recommendations are:

  • le Grey Area Coffeeshop,known for the quality of its cannabis (which it explains the higher prices). Because of its reputation and small size, do not be surprised to find a long line at the entrance.
  • Another good address is the le Green House which is just as famous as the Gray Area, but way further in the Pijp district. You will see many locals, some tourists and maybe even some big names in pop culture (Eminem, Snoop Dog, Rihanna or Cara Delavingne).

The Red Light District

The Red Light District is another attraction that Amsterdam is famous for. You have certainly heard of its red windows where women expose themselves as merchandise. This hot district is located in the old city center of Amsterdam. In addition to its famous red shop windows, you will find sex shops, striptease clubs, coffee shops and cheap motels. The description is quite dirty, and yet this part of the city does not lack charm and a very rich history. There you can also find the oldest church of the city, the Oude Kerk, and the fortifications of the city. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about its history.

Keep in mind that the police are everywhere in this area for security reasons, and yet, avoid walking alone late at night. It is also strongly recommended to buy nothing from dealers to avoid ending up on the news of the next day. And also, if you come across these women in the red shop’s windows, keep in mind that they are human beings, like you, your sister or your mother, and they deserve respect. Have compassion instead of hasty judgment. This experience can be shocking for some and it’s well understandable, but we especially hope that it will inspire you to educate yourself about this subject.

One more tip

If you are in Amsterdam in the spring, visit Kokenhoff, the largest flower park in the world. More than 7 million bulbs, including 800 different kinds of tulips are on display here. Can you grasp the image! A feast for the eyes, perfect for a family outing since the park also has a play area for children. Visits are possible from mid-March to mid-May (dates vary each year depending on weather conditions). Be careful, this park is not located in Amsterdam itself, but there are many shuttles from the Central Train Station that will take you there in less than an hour.

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