This post should have been titled: I had the best Italian in Amsterdam, and buy your tickets in advance. You’ll see why…
Amsterdam is a vibrant and thriving city set on the stage of a thousand canals with endless winding streets and alleys. Holland, or the Netherlands, is small in size but mighty in personality. Yes, the buildings and canals are distinct, but the restaurants, shops, and lifestyle sing of being in Times Square. The city hums to the sound of bicycles, honking horns, and the local tram system teetering on the tracks. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Amrath in the city center, which was an ideal location to get around the city. Uber could easily pick us up right outside of the hotel, and most of the major attractions are within walking distance. Depending on where you are staying, access to a driver or taxis may not be as seamless.
While the hotel was beautiful, we discussed after the trip that the real way to do Amsterdam is rent a houseboat. Moored in almost all the canals are beautiful houseboats that seem like more of an authentic experience you wouldn’t be able to find in a hotel. A quick search on Airbnb showed that houseboats are available and at the same rate many of the major hotels charge. We booked this hotel on points from our Chase card, so while we did save some money during this stay, we agreed that our next visit to Amsterdam would be on the Canal. The weather during the trip was perfect. Sunny and 70, which locals swore up and down was not typical for the city. Locals and tourists alike filled the outdoor cafes and the canals – there was no shortage of activity during our stay. My first pro tip for your Amsterdam stay is to buy tickets in advance. This city is a tourist hotspot, and we heard several times while waiting in queues, “we’re sold out for the day.” Speaking from experience, the tours in Amsterdam are simple to book in advance online. We bought advance tickets for:
We did not have time in our itinerary for the Rijksmuseum, but did rest our feet at the free admission garden that is just outside. There is a small coffee shop inside the garden (that also sells Moet), and a plethora of seating. There is also a fountain that shoots up from the ground that you can step inside to take photos. We found a favorite pastime to be laughing and how many people were not able to exit before the water shot back up again. I will post separately about the Heineken VIP tour, as the experience warrants its own write-up. But, something I HAVE to tell you about is Impero Romano. Our tour guide from Heineken raved about this restaurant during our beer tasting, and while we were skeptical about Italian in Amsterdam, it did not disappoint. We ordered the “Tagliolini Al Parmigiano” pasta that is stirred in a parmesan wheel and for an extra charge can be topped with truffles. I am drooling over my keyboard thinking about it. Speaking of food, one thing we learned on this trip is that if you ask for a “Dutch” restaurant – locals will laugh at you. It happened to us multiple times. We did find a great breakfast spot near the hotel, “Prins Heerlijk!” that served mini Dutch pancakes – may be as close as you will get. If anyone else was able to find traditional Dutch food, please send me an email.
Amsterdam Top Three
*Travel tip: Amsterdam is small, and many quaint towns are accessible via train. We took a day trip out to Leiden to get out of the city and enjoyed a quiet lunch, shopping, and a windmill museum.