After a hectic Lent Term, I was looking forward to unwinding but the brutal London temperatures gave me the summer blues! Looking for a quick escape to sunnier skies, I searched through Skyscanner for cheap tickets, which led me straight to Amsterdam, and boy am I glad it did! Very quickly the 4 day trip to Amsterdam turned into a 4 day trip around the Netherlands and gave me memories I will cherish greatly.
When we visit a city or a country, we often try to cover as much ground as possible, to soak in as much culture as possible so we don’t have to keep the place on our bucket list because there are infinite places to visit already and the list just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. The Netherlands is a tourist haven for this reason with its quick, easy, cheap public transport and high level of safety.
Read on to plan your own getaway to the Netherlands in the most convenient, relaxing, money-saving way possible.
Arrive in Amsterdam on an early morning flight. Step out of the Schiphol Airport, get a picture with the ‘IAMSTERDAM’ sign just outside, and step back into the domestic terminal to access the ticket counters. Buy a three day Amsterdam public transit pass and sit back onto the comfortable double-decker inner city trains of Amsterdam. The train will lead you directly to Centraal Station, an ideal place for your stay in Amsterdam. This part of the city is close to Dam Square, cruise terminals and the red light district.
After a quick check-in, walk along the streets to grab a bite of the world famous Mannekenpis Frites before you board a tram to the Museum district. Spend the afternoon strolling through the Rijks Museum, Stedelijk, and Van Gogh Museum before heading back on the tram to Dam Square. Walk around the old town square and rent a bicycle to ride along the canals of Jordaan. Once you are tired of the blissful canals, head to the Red Light District for a moonlit walk along the infamous area.
You can spend your second day visiting not one, but three of the Netherland’s top cities! Start your journey at Rotterdam, Netherland’s second largest city, home to modern architecture. The trip won’t be complete with a visit to the famous Cube Houses and the astounding Markthal.
After Rotterdam, a short train ride away lies the peaceful city of Delft. Home to an excellent university with a beautiful, green, canal side campus, Delft is also home to the famous Blue Pottery of Netherlands. Buy some pretty souvenirs, visit the university, and meet some friends before heading out to the magnificent, historical city of The Hague. This city was a must-do on my list and might be for many of you as it is home to the International Court of Justice. The Hague houses the Parliament, Palace and many similar buildings of importance. The town has glorious architecture and an overall warm ambience. After this long day, return back to Amsterdam Centraal. Amsterdam is the city of canals and so, a canal cruise is a must-do! To save time, I combined dinner with a sightseeing canal cruise = a pizza canal cruise! You can try the same. Enjoy a sumptuous pizza dinner with unlimited drinks and crisps as you float along the canals of Amsterdam gazing at the Drunk, Dancing Houses of Amsterdam.
I was so motivated to visit Amsterdam during Easter Break because of the Tulip Festival. The world-famous flower festival runs from mid-March to mid-May every year at the Keukenhof Gardens near Lisse, which is less than an hour from Amsterdam. I’d strongly suggest you take this trip during this time to experience the festival too!
I must clarify that I am not overly fond of gardens or flowers, yet this experience is now on the top of my list! You can expect more than 500,000 tulips on display here. What’s unique about the Garden is that it has multiple themed galleries and greenhouse collections. So, you are not walking into a natural garden, but curated display pieces made completely out of flowers. From large flower farms to floral windmills to boat rides on flower-lined canals – Keukenhof has it all. Genuinely, it could be a visual of how we might imagine heaven. If you get tired of the flower power soon, you can squeeze in a half day trip to Utrecht, a medieval Dutch city that also houses the art and architecture paradise – the Schroder House.
This can be an optional day depending on your fondness and willingness to explore more of Amsterdam. If you do choose to spend this time here, I urge you to visit the Magere Brug (the skinny bridge) and Keizersgracht. This area houses street artists selling beautiful illustrations of Amsterdam, Anne Frank’s House which is now a museum, and the famous Homomonument. For an authentic taste of Dutch food, visit Winkel 43 – a cute little bakery said to have perfected the apple pie. With my cinnamon allergies, I have never been much of an apple pie fan but I gobbled one all by myself. With a relaxing, peaceful trip through The Netherlands, you can now fly back to London on a late flight.
Hope you find these tips and itinerary helpful and that it leads you to a beautiful Dutch experience.