The ferry pulls up in front of the Amsterdam Central Station and the bikes, motorcycles and cars around me start to rev their engines and push their pedals. There isn’t a moment to hesitate as I am suddenly wrapped up into the Amsterdam crowd of bicycles disembarking from the ferry and scattering into the city like dust in the wind. As I keep pace with the Dutch, it feels as if I’m riding in the Tour de France — turn left, turn right — and soon we’re biking along dreamy canals and colorful Dutch homes.

Amsterdam opens itself up to us like a warm embrace, instantly disarming and charming, it has the feel of a fairy tale with its quaint homes, horse drawn carriages, canals, house boats and delicious smells. It’s just the first day but already we are in love with this city — instantly and whole-heartedly; the same unconditional love that hit me when I first walked down the streets of Paris. Amsterdam is an incredible city to visit; a place where beauty, pleasure and open mindedness reign supreme. If headed to Amsterdam for the first time, consider this your quick guide on where to sleep, eat and what to see.

Must-See Neighborhoods


For something risqué: The Red Light District

If headed to Amsterdam, chances are you’ve heard of the famed Red Light District and its notorious debauchery and openness when it comes to sex and drugs. It is worth walking through the Red Light District to simply see it and embrace how completely open Amsterdam is when it comes to vices other cities will keep under wraps.

For walking around: the Jordaan Neighborhood

The Jordaan neighborhood is considered the most beautiful neighborhood in Amsterdam and even the Netherlands because of its classic Dutch style homes and charm. The best way to explore is by simply walking around, snapping photos and discovering the little cafes and shops along its streets.

For shopping: The 9 Streets

9 Streets is often compared to London’s Oxford Street for its charm, quirkiness and shopping. The 9 Streets are…well, 9 cobblestone streets that connect the main canals and are lined with cafes, restaurants and shops.


Sleeping in Amsterdam


The Dylan Hotel (Splurge)

The Dylan is the type of hotel one dreams of staying at when traveling abroad. Elegant, decadent, classy, comfortable and ideally located; the hotel is charming and offers excellent service, Michelin-starred dining and unique accommodations.

ClinkNoord (Budget)

If you’re a budget traveler and looking to make dollars stretch, consider the ClinkNoord hostel. It’s a huge hostel that offers bike rentals, breakfast, good rooms (privates and dorms) and great on-site activities such as yoga, happy hours, etc.


What Not to Miss


The Anne Frank House

Anne Frank is one of the most famous former residents of Amsterdam who is known worldwide for her tragic story and endearing diary entries. During World War II, Anne Frank and her family were in hiding in the attic of a canal-facing home in Amsterdam before they were ultimately betrayed and found in 1944 and sent to various concentration camps. Today, the Anne Frank House (Prisengracht 267) is a museum that holds her original diary and the belongings of her family. TRAVEL TIP: Book an online ticket in advance to skip the long lines!

Van Gogh Museum

Considered one of the most popular museums in the world, the Van Gogh museum holds the largest collection of Van Gogh’s work–including over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 personal letters. TRAVEL TIP: A visit to the Van Gogh museum is FREE with an I Amsterdam city card and book tickets online to skip the line!


The Floating Flower Market

Known locally as the Bloemenmarkt, this flower market is the world’s only floating flower market. The market is along the canal on Singel Street and is full of colorful tulips, flowers and more.

I Amsterdam Letters

The I Amsterdam Letters are a popular spot for travelers to come and take the iconic Amsterdam snapshot. The letters are behind the Rijksmuseum, which is considered Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museum. TRAVEL TIP: The I Amsterdam Letters are crowded  so if looking for a good photo, consider coming early in the morning.


Vondelpark is a fantastic park that includes an open air theater, cafes, trails, bike paths and a rose garden with more than 70 types of roses. While in Amsterdam, we biked the length of the park and were surprised to find that in the trees there were a family of brilliant green-blue parrots living! Keep an eye out for them when biking!


Final Thoughts


Arriving in Amsterdam was a lot like falling in love. From the moment I stepped outside the train station, I swooned at the biking crowds, charming buildings and quaint, Dutch culture. If New York wasn’t my home, perhaps I could see myself living in Amsterdam. I consider myself lucky to have spent some time exploring this beautiful city and cannot recommend visiting enough!

What do you think – have you been to/done any of the above? Do you have any other tips for visiting Amsterdam? Let us know in the comments below.