Amsterdam, famous for its ‘coffee shops’, red-light district, sex shops and its general relaxed nature to… well, life. However, beyond this infamous reputation, there’s so much more to Amsterdam than just a popular destination for a messy stag weekend!
My cousin recently moved out there to live with his girlfriend, as the two of them are passionate about sustainability and eco-living and Amsterdam is ahead of the game when it comes to this type of lifestyle; you just need to see the number of bikes around the city to understand this! As well as championing eco-friendly living, cost of living is extremely affordable when compared to London prices. Added to this, the beautiful architecture lining the canals, a delicious up and coming foodie scene and the proximity to England, it soon became clear why they wanted to move. So I decided to spend a weekend in the city they now call ‘home’ and get a taste of life in ‘dam…
WHERE TO STAY IN AMSTERDAM
I flew out with my boyfriend and we were both in awe of the short distance and time it took to get there, a mere 45 minutes before we landed… much shorter than the journey to Scotland where my cousin was originally from. We wanted to treat ourselves as it was our first long weekend away since starting our new jobs, so we booked into a hotel, the Sir Albert , that we discovered on Mr and Mrs Smith (one of our favourite sites for long weekends). It was a gorgeous boutique hotel and perfectly located for everything we wanted to do.
After checking in, we decided to go for a wander and explore the local neighbourhood. It wasn’t long before we stumbled upon a buzzing market with beautiful flowers, local cheeses, meats, olives and the sweet scent of freshly made waffles.
After grabbing some lunch and admiring the various offerings on display in the market we slowly made our way back to the hotel to do some planning and get ready for dinner.
WHERE TO EAT IN AMSTERDAM
On the way back we passed a lovely looking bakery/cafe that seemed to only specialise in freshly made in-house donuts. We decided we had to try one so quickly made a beeline for it and after careful consideration, opted for one with a blueberry jam filling oozing deliciously out the side. After wiping the sugary dust left on my fingers I made a note on my phone of the name of the place. I later found that it was a highly recommended hotspot in Amsterdam and pretty popular on Instagram (@Harewood_bakery/ Harewood Bakery), so it was all the more satisfying that we stumbled across it unintentionally!
I quizzed my cousin on places to visit and where to eat and the following few days we covered most of them.
BREAKFAST IN AMSTERDAM
My absolute favourite was their recommendation of CT Coffee and Coconuts for brunch. Located about 10minutes from our hotel, it’s built in a former 1920s cinema – called Ceintuur Theater – hence the name ‘CT’ coffee & coconuts. It’s worth visiting just to admire the interior. The inside is like a huge church going up and up and up with gorgeous exposed brick walls, hanging tables and plants, endless balconies and beanbag seating on the higher decks. It’s got to be on your list if you decide to make the trip to ‘dam!
Then there’s the food. Which is so Instagram-worthy you’d be silly not to go.
Being as indecisive as I usually am, with far too many options appealing on the menu, I opted for the ‘Full CT Breakfast’ which was perfect as I then got to have a bit of everything- granola, eggs, smashed avo, coconut pancakes… I left with no regrets.
It was so easy to just enjoy ambling around the various colourful streets popping into the occasional cheese shop or museum (they have a myriad of museums on offer) and walking along the iconic canal admiring the quirky architecture. It’s one of the most scenic places I’ve been to and with so few cars it’s pure escapism from the buzz and grind of London.
THE BEST PIZZA IN AMSTERDAM
Next on the list of recommended foodie hot spots that we ticked off on day two was a little Italian family-run pizzeria which we visited after hitting some museums. It’s called Mastino and has a lovely simple menu with a few classic ingredients. I got the sense that it was their version of Franco Manca (which I’m a little bit too obsessed with). They had the most perfect pizza on the menu for me: chorizo, olives and artichokes (my obsession with artichokes on a pizza is also well known) so this really made my day! It was a huge hit with the locals, and I always feel this is a good sign of a true gem.
WHERE TO GO FOR COFFEE IN AMSTERDAM
Where to go for good coffee and an uncomplicated breakfast? Scandinavian Embassy! It does the most amazing cinnamon and saffron buns and REALLY good coffee! The inside is pretty small so it’s a good place to grab a breakfast and coffee to go but you should be able to get a table if you’d rather sit and eat and there’s clearly lots of locals who’ve brought their laptop and are using it as a cosy corner to work in.
We packed a lot into our long weekend and got the perfect balance between doing off-the-beaten track pursuits familiar with the locals (thanks to my cousin’s recommendations) and a few tourist classics such as visiting the Anne Frank Museum which I really recommend (but make sure you book to avoid queuing).
Our trip to ‘dam was filled with delicious food, beautiful scenery and wonderful people. It was the perfect length of time to get a glimpse of life in this magical city and I’d definitely like to return again, maybe in the summer. But if you’re after a weekend break and are wondering where to go for a winter escape, Amsterdam should definitely be on your list!
Have you been to Amsterdam? Do you have any recommendations worth sharing? Tell me below in the comments! x