Last week, Dom and I visited the Netherlands – home to idyllic windmills, canals, tulip fields and cycling routes. We stayed in Utrecht, a city about a 25 minute train journey away from the capital, Amsterdam.
We stayed for a week and managed to cram in lots of things during our time there. It was a lot busier than I expected it to be – there was always something to do.
So, if you’re thinking of exploring Amsterdam and the surrounding area, I thought I’d share our itinerary to give you an idea of how much there is to do!
For the first couple of days we travelled into Amsterdam. The first thing we did was purchase the I Amsterdam city card, which gives you free entrance to lots of attractions, discounts on restaurants and access to free public transport within the city.
We opted for the 48 hour card as we knew we wanted to spend more than a day there. It cost €67, but it saved us money overall.
So, discount cards in hand, we began our day.
The NEMO science museum
This interactive museum was so fun – we were like excitable children over the different exhibitions they had there. Granted, we didn’t spend too much time reading the information (science really wasn’t my forte at school) but we had a great time testing the contraptions and seeing what they did.
The famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt, created a great deal of his artwork at his home in Amsterdam. It was fascinating to be in the same rooms as he would he would’ve sat, eaten, slept and created. If you’re interested in art and history, definitely take a trip here and get the audio tour.
We had a bit of spare time before our next attraction, so we decided to give the tulip museum a go as it was free entrance with our cards. Possibly the smallest museum I’ve ever been to, it went through the history of the tulip and how it came to be so popular in Holland.
Anne Frank House
This wasn’t included on our I Amsterdam cards, but it was so worth the extra expense. Anne Frank and her family hid above her Father’s offices in Amsterdam during WWII to escape the Nazis. Now open to the public, the ‘secret annex’ is such an interesting yet harrowing place to visit. A must-see.
EYE Film museum
If you love film, do take a look around here. It explores the history of film and even has little pods where you can watch a selection of movies! When we went, they only had one exhibition open so we didn’t spend as much time there as I would have liked, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.
As a treat, we also bought tickets to the A’DAM Lookout. Just as the sun started to set, we went up to the very top of the skyscraper and viewed the city from its ‘sky deck’. With a 360 degree view, it really was stunning. We also had a cheeky cocktail in the panorama ‘sky bar’.
On the second day, we started off at the botanical gardens where we saw plants from all over the world. It’s such a beautiful setting and so calm compared to the hustle and bustle of the city. They even have a ‘butterfly garden’ where we saw all sorts of different species!
FOAM (photography museum)
This was a pleasant surprise – I wasn’t expecting such an interesting array of photographs. The context and research behind each picture was so interesting and the gallery as a whole was definitely worth the visit. From body parts to 1960s Italy, the artwork was so diverse.
Again, if you love paintings and art, this is for you. We didn’t purchase an audio guide, however I think the experience would have been better if we had. The museum was so much bigger than I thought it would be, and it holds many paintings by Van Gogh, his students and his influences.
With the I Amsterdam card comes a free canal cruise. After exploring the city by foot, it was interesting to see it at a different level while learning more about the history.
So, having had a couple of jam-packed days, the next day we decided to chill out and explore the city where we were staying – Utrecht. So we did just that. And it tipped it down with rain (honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much rain and I’m from England).
We visited the historic Dom Cathedral (which my boyfriend, Dom, was very excited about) and the Museum of Utrecht. Mostly, we just wanted to take it easy and recharge.
Over the weekend, we visited Rotterdam – a modern port city in the south of Holland. However, I don’t know if was just because I was still tired, but I wasn’t such a fan. There’s nothing wrong with the place, but it’s just nothing particularly special (sorry). There was lots of tall, modern buildings and a huge shopping centre with familiar shops.
So, after a few hours at the ‘Market Hall’ (a big indoor food market), we decided to hop on the train to Delft.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Delft but, when we got there, I fell in love with it. It’s just so beautiful. Much smaller and quieter than its surrounding cities, Delft is an idyllic town with lots of historic buildings and pretty canals.
We decided to sit out in a fairy-light-dotted square until the sun set.
For our final day, we ended our trip with another visit to Amsterdam. Only this time, we knew where we were going (more or less) and what there was left to do. We started with the Body Worlds museum (where there are actual human bodies on display). Entrance was a steep €18 (student price), but it was worth the cost.
We also visited the Sexmuseum which was… interesting? Shall we say?
After a very busy week, it was time to go home. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and loved the atmosphere. If you’re thinking of going, I would definitely recommend it!
So, where next?
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