When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when in Amsterdam, you cycle – everywhere. For that reason, we couldn’t leave the city without exploring it by bike. Luckily for us, there was a huge bicycle rental near to our apartment so we headed off in search of some wheels. Our plan for the day was to tick off a few remaining sites – Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. After these two key attractions, we fancied going cycling in Vondelpark, arguably the city’s most famous park.
Anne Frank House
We began our day by picking up rental bikes so that we could zoom around the attractions we wanted to see on our last day. There are so many bike rental companies in Amsterdam, it can be a little difficult to know where to go. In the end, we picked MacBike as they had a hub around the corner from our Amsterdam apartment.
We picked up our bikes and headed up on the escalator for another day of exploring Amsterdam. Safety should be a priority here as pedestrians and vehicles tend to fly out in front of you, so take it easy. We cycled over to the Anne Frank House.
We weren’t able to prebook our tickets to the Anne Frank House online, and so unfortunately had a rather long wait ahead of us. I’d read Anne Frank’s diary when I was younger, and was travelling with my two friends who’d studied for a MA in Jewish Studies, so it was important we visited. Fending off the elements, we managed to make some Italian friends in the queue. Conversation made the two hour wait go past pretty quickly.
For respect, no photography is allowed inside the museum. The tour of Anne Frank House itself was heartbreaking. Anne Frank herself and her family lived in the annex of the building at Prinsengracht 263. Hiding there for over two years, staff brought supplies and news, until August 4th, 1944 when the secret annexe was betrayed. Anne and most of her family were sent to concentration camps, in a tragic and devastating real life story. It felt odd seeing the house in the flesh, instead of visualising it as I read the diary. As you experience the different stages of the family’s experience, it’s hard not to get upset as it’s contextualised in line with the Second World War. I really do think everybody should visit Anne Frank House, if nothing else, to see the trauma that many people had to endure through the War.
Van Gogh Museum
Collecting ourselves after the Anne Frank House over a cup of tea in the cafe, we hopped back onto our bikes for the next stop on our cultural tour – the Van Gogh Museum. I must admit, Van Gogh has never been one of my favourite artists, but just seeing some of his iconic works was fascinating.
One of the world’s most popular museums, Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum houses Vincent Van Gogh’s largest collection of works. In the museum, you’ll find over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters. You can find the museum on Museumplein in its large modern building.
We had a good look around the three or four storeys of the Van Gogh Museum. Occasionally, we’d stop to stare out over the beautiful views and doll-house like buildings of Amsterdam. It was really cool to see Van Gogh’s most famous work, Sunflowers. Painted in Arles, France in 1888, Van Gogh painted the sunflowers with simply three shades of yellow. By doing so, he proved that an elegant image can still be achieved. Van Gogh himself said that the sunflower paintings represented gratitude. What do you think of the painting?
After some drama around a lost bike key, we finally managed to unlock our tangled bikes and set off for Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. Having got a little lost en route, it was lovely to no longer have traffic to dodge. Instead, we had an ‘open bike path’ to feel the wind in our hair as we raced past flowerbeds full of tulips and lakes speckled with ducks.
Cycling in Vondelpark
Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s most popular park. Each day, it invites thousands of locals and visitors to explore its beautiful surroundings. In true Dutch style, many people enjoy cycling in Vondelpark to explore the scenery. Designed by landscape architect L D Zocher, Vondelpark has since been awarded national heritage status.
We cruised through Vondelpark on our bikes, passing adorable lakes and rows of tulips. Vondelpark opened in 1865 as a trendy walking spot for the middle class of Amsterdam. Zocher designed the park in the style of an English landscape, with rolling views and woods. This was intended to give the appearance of a natural landscape.
We discovered the Vondelpark’s namesake – a statue of the seventeenth century Dutch poet, Joost van den Vondel,
We continued cycling in Vondelpark until we became a bit peckish. Vondelpark is home to a number of restaurants and cafes, and even a skate rental shop and an open air theatre. We discovered a pretty listed building with a restaurant inside – Vondelpark3.
We bagged a table and sipped some wine. It felt much deserved after our long day of exploring and cycling. My friends chose fresh crab salads with fries on the side, and I went for a tasty steak tartare. It was a lovely meal, and one to celebrate the end of a wonderful minibreak in Amsterdam.
Hopping back onto our bikes, we went for one last cycle into the city and Rembrandtplein to see the area lit up at night. Passing twinkling canals, we made one last stop at a coffee shop for some caffeine.
Afterwards, we made our way back to our apartment for our final night in our wonderful canal-house.
Amsterdam, you’ve been a blast.
Have you been cycling in Vondelpark? What are your favourite things to do in Amsterdam? Let me know in the comments below.