Ever since I moved to Paris, I’ve developed a severe case of wanderlust. The geographical proximity to so many amazing places combined with insanely cheap budget airlines have turned me into a travel addict, and I’m always thinking of the next place to visit. It’s common for me to peruse Google Flights (or SNCF Voyages if I’m looking into travel within France) while I have my morning coffee, and my friends here are used to my random outbursts (“I can fly to Stockholm for €45!)
I went to Amsterdam for the first time last week, where I spent a jam-packed 48 hours exploring this beautiful city. Since my trip was so short, I made a list of all the places I wanted to see and mapped out a loose itinerary. When I travel, I don’t like to plan everything down to the minute, but I like to create a basic plan so I can group items according to their location and proximity to other places on my list. This saves time and money spent going from one end of the city to the other.
Here was my itinerary:
When I landed at the Schipol airport at 9am, I took a bus to the Rijksmuseum. This museum has an incredible collection of Dutch masterworks, and I especially liked the Frans Post animal sketches. After the museum, I walked to the Concertgebouw, which had a free jazz lunch concert (Travel tip: Always check for concerts during your vacation – I lucked out with this one!). This concert hall is one of the most famous in the world, and it is known for its amazing acoustics. Although the concert was quite short, I am so happy I could visit such an important concert hall in the realm of classical music.
Before I continue, I have to admit something – when I travel, I’m a “grazer.” I much prefer to snack throughout the day instead of eating larger meals so that I can experience a larger variety of food in other countries. That being said, my food choices in Amsterdam were sinfully decadent and terribly unhealthy. So, after the concert, I walked over to the De Pijp neighborhood, where I strolled through the Albert Cuypmarkt and feasted on Dutch treats recommended to me by my friend Karine. After my appetizer of fries (one of my favorite foods wherever I go), I sampled stroopwafel, bitterballen, pofferjes, and apple beignets – all deep-fried and delicious.
I decided to skip a public transportation pass, instead opting to walk around Amsterdam. From De Pijp, I walked to the KattenKabinet, which is a museum dedicated to cats in the arts. The Cat Museum is in a converted apartment, but every inch is packed with quirky artwork, posters, flyers, and advertisements of cats. The best part? There are actual cats that live there! (Travel tip: They offer student discounts which aren’t advertised.)
Next, I walked through the nearby Bloemenmarkt, which was slightly disappointing. Like many tourists, I expected this market to be rows of fragrant and Instagram-worthy flowers, but it was mostly bulbs to plant yourself. I didn’t spend much time here and instead continued on to the 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) to check into my hotel. In this neighborhood, you’re never more than a few blocks away from a canal, and the streets are full of quirky boutiques and cozy cafes and restaurants.
I was planning on visiting the Anne Frank house (which is unfortunately more famous now for “The Fault in Our Stars” than Anne Frank), but I was quickly deterred by the queue, which was at least 100 people long. I kept walking to Dam Square, where I got to see the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. There are many bustling streets nearby for shopping, eating, and exploring, which is exactly what I did before returning to my hotel.
I awoke early the next morning to continue exploring the 9 Straatjes and admire the autumnal reflection of the leaves in the canals. I ate breakfast at Pluk Cafe, where I (somewhat apprehensively) tried their beetroot latte. I loved the flavor, and their menu has many other “detox” and healthy options. Like many other shops in Amsterdam, there was a resident cat, which only adds to the long list of why I love Amsterdam.
My final stop was De Poezenboot, or Cat Boat, which is a floating cat sanctuary. Visitors are free to play with the resident cats and can even adopt homeless cats waiting to find their forever home. Cats are free to explore inside and outside the boat, where there is a walkway for the cats to watch passing boats and people.
Although my trip was short, I definitely plan on returning to Amsterdam. As much as I love Paris, it’s hard to compete with Amsterdam in autumn. If you’re thinking about visiting the Netherlands, I hope my tips and itinerary help!