Whether you are looking for a fun trip with your friends, a cultural escapade or just a relaxing adventure, Amsterdam is the place. It is a “happy” and very diverse city. If you are planning to go there from London then you are in luck as Eurostar is planning to introduce a direct train between the two capitals. The trains will be launched at the end of the year and the journey will be less than four hours. Therefore, no more queues at the airport or changing the train in Brussels and no more excuses about how long it take to get there.
We were lucky enough to travel there 2 times already and there are still plenty of things that can be done. The first trip was in February 2013 for four days. The flight was cheap and short, and the airport is well connected to the city. There are local busses just outside the airport that take you straight to the city centre. We found a clean and cosy hostel (there are a lot in Amsterdam) which we booked online for which unfortunately I do not remember the name.
This trip was organised very quickly, almost spontaneous as half of us wanted to see a football game. Therefore, the first day was reserved for the game between Ajax and a Romanian team Steaua Bucharest at Amsterdam Arena. After we managed to buy tickets we walked the streets of the city. It started snowing and we were able to see Amsterdam from a different perspective. We enjoyed a tasty meal in one of the many pubs in Amsterdam. St. James`s Gate, an Irish bar, in particular, was very cosy and serves amazing food. There are cats there as well so you can stroke one while you relax and enjoy your meal. The trip with the underground to the stadium was interesting as there were a lot of supporters for Ajax and just us for the other team. Except for the looks and whatever they were saying in their language we arrived safely. Unexpectedly watching the game was a very enjoyable experience. Also, it feels like you are doing two things at once, see the game and also see the stadium if you are passionate about visiting stadiums (you can visit it for 13.50 Euros per adult). The atmosphere was amazing and even if I am not into football I ended up supporting Steaua as well. Unfortunately they lost but still, I was glad that I got to experience this.
In day two we started to explore the city properly. The snow was gone, but at least it was starting to warm up a bit and it was more enjoyable and easy to walk and explore the beauty of the city. We bought the I Amsterdam City Card for 72 hours which gives you free public transport, free entrances to popular museums, discounts on some attractions and day trips to Haarlem and the Zaanse Schans. The prices in 2017 vary from 57 euros to 87 euros depending on how many hours you need it. Always buy it online as it is cheaper than buying it from Amsterdam when you arrive. When we used it in 2013 there was also included a free Canal Cruise which is what we did on the second day. Now, the prices vary depending on the type of trip that you choose and you can fine more information following this link. I recommend it as it is a very good way to observe the people in Amsterdam, enjoy the views, experience the authenticity of the city and find more information regarding the most important sights as the boat comes with headphone where you can hear the important facts while passing by the sights. In the evening we explored the Red Light District also known as The Wallen and it consists of a network of alleys containing one-room cabins rented by girls who offer their sexual services from behind a window or glass door which is typically illuminated with red lights. You can also find a lot of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana and “special” cookies. This are is very popular both during the night and day.
The third day was reserved for travelling to the Zaanse Schans which is a 30 minutes ride on the train from Amsterdam. The village has a collection of well-preserved historic windmills and houses which were brought from all over the Zaanstreek (nl) and place in the Zaans Museum. The Zaanse Schans houses seven museums: the Weavers House, the Cooperage, the Jisper House, the Zaan Time Museum, the Albert Heijn Museum shop and the Bakery Museum.
The last day we went to The Hortus Botanicus (9 Euros per adult or free with the IAmsterdam card), one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world founded in 1638 and it contains more than six thousand tropical and indigenous trees and plants. Very close by there is the Natura Artis Magistra (21.50 Euros per adult), the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and one of the oldest in mainland Europe. It is not just a zoo, there is an Aquarium and a Planetarium as well.