We woke up with fuzzy heads after our night of drinking cocktails in the Red Light District, but to a wonderful view. Rain pattered against the windows of our canal house bedroom, shrouding the terracotta rooftops and chimneys next to our apartment. Venturing out in the rain doesn’t usually appeal to me, but when it’s in an exciting city that you’re keen to explore, it doesn’t get in the way. It turned out to be a perfect day for exploring Amsterdam, from its canals to the Rijksmuseum and beyond.
Breakfast in Amsterdam
First things first – breakfast. We discovered a strong brunch spot not far from our apartment called Loetje. They serve up tasty breakfasts and brunches for hungry girls like us. It was really cold in Amsterdam, so we were excited for something to warm us all up.
We started off with some delicious lattes. I then ordered a tasty cheese and mushroom omelette which arrived with some fresh bread and a side salad. A good way to start a long day of exploring Amsterdam.
After our heavy breakfasts, we went for a walk along the canals to discover a little Dutch shopping.
Looking out among the canals, we were determined to do two things on our trip – take a ride on a canal boat through Amsterdam, and cycle along the streets. On that note, we started exploring Amsterdam by purchasing a canal day pass. We hopped on a boat and headed across to Amsterdam’s Bloemenmarkt district.
Cruising along the canal, we finally reached a rather busy shopping street known as Kalverstraat. We went for a wander round to see what we could discover.
Shopping in Amsterdam
Walking a little way along Kalverstraat, we came across a delicious looking bakery and patisserie. As you can imagine, there are a lot of bakeries in Amsterdam. Not being able to resist temptation, we popped inside for some tasty treats.
What would you pick?
We were all pretty overwhelmed with the choice of goodies on offer, and by the range of Nutella. You can buy anything from cute little pots of Nutella to buckets of the nutty chocolatey spread. If you haven’t yet noticed Europe’s obsession with Nutella, you will in Amsterdam.
We came away with something each. As you can tell, we were pretty happy with churros drizzled with chocolate sauce, and a Nutella hot chocolate. Calorific, yet delicious and warming on a cold April day.
Armed with the perfect goods for exploring Amsterdam, we set off on our wander. I liked the look of the colourful shopfront of this gift and home store.
If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely need to come and explore Amsterdam – there were treats wherever we went. It’s hard to resist!
To mix things up a little, we went savoury. We popped into a gouda store to pick up some supplies for dinner that evening. Gouda is a Dutch cheese, aptly named after the Dutch city of Gouda. It’s one of the most popular cheeses in the world, and definitely one of my favourites. If you’ve not tried it, it’s a semi-hard cheese with a rich flavour and a smooth texture.
Inside the shop, we were able to try a variety of different goudas and mustards and relishes to enjoy with them. There was anything from pesto gouda to truffle gouda – it was nice to try all different kinds.
After much deliberation, we settled on a giant pesto gouda and what can only be described as a sweet mustard to form part of our apartment picnic later that night. We even met the staff in their traditional dress. It was a ‘gouda’ experience, and one I’d recommend to anyone exploring Amsterdam.
Feeling pretty pleased with our purchases but sad we couldn’t take most of the shop with us back home, we stepped outside of the shop. It happened to be slap bang in the Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam’s famous flower market.
Bloemenmarkt is Amsterdam’s iconic floating flower market, dating back to 1862. No matter what the weather, the market on the Singel canal in central Amsterdam is quite literally blooming with colours and fragrances.
Make sure you fit in a visit to Bloemenmarkt between Monday to Saturday. Traditionally, flower growers would sail their fresh florals on canal boats into the city from the Amstel River. Nowadays, the market is made up of fixed barges with glasshouse roofs, but there are some impressive finds.
Visitors and locals alike can discover iconically Dutch tulip bulbs, houseplants, and iconic Dutch souvenirs. Discover all kinds of flowers, from tulips to carnations to orchids to snowdrops.
We saw so many beautiful flowers, and made a pact that if we ever lived in Amsterdam, each day we’d have to visit Bloemenmarkt to choose a fresh bunch of tulips for our apartments.
Our next stop was one of the world’s most famous museums, the Rijksmuseum. We hopped back onto the canal boat and set off for the Rijksmuseum in Museumstraat.
Sailing past, we took in the views of Amsterdam and its impressive canal houses. Luckily for us, we had a guide who gave us a bit of a tour and some history on the canal houses. We learnt all about how the canal-side apartments were built to tip forwards slightly to give the impression of a bigger property than the reality.
Recognise this house? It’s Sluyswacht, where he had beers and snacks on our first day in Amsterdam.
We arrived at the Rijksmuseum. The grandest and most popular museum in Amsterdam, it has an impressive collection of art and history artefacts that span over 800 years of Dutch and world history. I recommend visiting the Rijksmuseum’s garden too – it’s beautiful and landscaped. You can relax among its impressive sculptures and flowers. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the impressive buskers who perform classical music for passers-by to enjoy.
The Rijksmuseum itself boasts impressive paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and other famous Dutch artists. The museum is also famous for its incredibly intricate and adorable dolls houses. I liked this painting – can you see the resemblance?
We wandered the impressive collections of art, artefacts, and books. It’s a must-do on your visit to Amsterdam to see for yourself.
Another hour, another area of Amsterdam to explore. Grabbing some sushi for a quick bite to eat, we hopped back onto the canal tour to go and see the Dutch area of the Jordaan. While we waited for the boat, we came across our very own pair of Dutch clogs.
I really recommend taking the canal boat tour. It’s really relaxing, you take in so much of Amsterdam, and the guide is informative and interesting. Did you know, none of Amsterdam’s canal houses have house numbers? That’s because each house would have it’s own plaque that’s relevant to the family living inside. It could be an emblem or symbol to indicate the breadwinner’s profession. Even the postman would recognise each and every one of the symbols for delivery.
Exploring The Jordaan
We floated past Anne Frank’s House on our canal trip to the Jordaan, but more on that tomorrow. The Jordaan is one of Amsterdam’s most famous neighbourhoods. Much like the Cockneys of London, it was once a hub for the working class to bond, chat politics, and drink and party together.
The Jordaan has become gentrified over the years. Now, it boasts galleries, restaurants, and shops. The streets are scenic, and the views beautiful – a great part of exploring Amsterdam. There’s undeniably a unique atmosphere in the Jordaan – it feels a little grungy, but it’s hip with its stylish barbers and boutique stores. It reminded me a lot of Gastown in Vancouver, and certain parts of New York City.
I loved the look of Cafe de Klepel and its canary yellow front and awning.
We meandered the streets of Amsterdam’s Jordaan, taking in the sights and scenery of the apartments. The shops here are divine, and well worth coming to discover.
In need of a break, we found ourselves stumbling across another coffee shop, so stopped for a caffeine refuel.
Afterwards, it was onto the night ahead.
Club Air, Amsterdam
Having done enough exploring Amsterdam for one day, we headed back home. We all enjoyed a quick power nap, before serving up a picnic dinner of all our favourite Dutch treats. We grazed on fresh bread, olives, cured meats, pesto gouda, and much more.
All washed down by a few glasses of wine of course. We talked about our favourite highlights from the day, and enjoyed the view from our canal house apartment.
Our plan for the evening was to go and party at Club Air. We spent the evening getting ready, having drinks, and chatting. We then caught a taxi to Club Air. Clubbing in Amsterdam was a foreign experience to us, quite literally. You turn up and have to pay for a locker to put all of your belongings away, then put all the money you want to spend onto a special card to pay for your drinks. Handy that you don’t have to carry anything I guess!
We found a table and enjoyed some drinks. It was a fun night, finished off by grabbing some food en route home.
Sweet dreams from Amsterdam!
That’s my day of exploring Amsterdam! Which sights and attractions would you recommend going to see? Let me know in the comments.