Backpacking Guide to Amsterdam

Backpacking Guide to Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canal Bike Rides

Why Go to Amsterdam?

There are so many great reasons to visit Amsterdam. Some of the best museums can be found in Amsterdam, not to mention the fantastic architecture and pretty canals. Most importantly for the backpacker, Amsterdam has an incredible and legendary nightlife.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is all about location. If you are going to spend the night in Amsterdam, try and get a place as close as possible to the Red Light District. All the night-time action is around the Red Light District – that’s what you came to Amsterdam for, after all.

Hostels in the City

The hostels all tend to offer similar amenities and none really stick out too much. Besides, if you do Amsterdam properly, you shouldn’t be spending too much time in your hostel anyway.

Where to Eat in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam Architecture

There are a number of amazing things about Holland and the Dutch. Unfortunately though... their typical cuisine tends to leave you a bit wanting. No matter though, it is filling at the very least. So, check out Smullers, a chain which can be found around nearly every corner in Amsterdam, for some of their fries and mayo.

Dutch Food – What to Try

Stumbling into any Amsterdam bar for some amazing Dutch beer means you have to try some Dutch bar food too. For the really adventurous, try frikandel, an odd sausage which tastes terrible; you cannot say I didn’t warn you.

Bitterballen is a much better choice, which is basically a deep-fried bit of heaven. Both frikandel and bitterballen (and croquettes) can be bought from a chain of vending machines called Febo, also found everywhere in Amsterdam.

Recommended Beers of Holland

For beer, you could go simple with a Heineken – nothing wrong with that. Grolsch is another great option and my personal beer of choice. If you have a hankering to try cherry beer, the best would be Liefmans Kriek Cuvee, which every bar should have.

What to do in Amsterdam?

There are essentially three distinct reasons to go to Amsterdam: some people come for the museums and history, others come for the unique architecture, the canals and the crazy bikers, finally, backpackers come to Amsterdam for the nightlife.

Now, no matter what your real reason is for coming to Amsterdam, you should really take in a bit of all three of these itineraries.

Amsterdam Museums

Amsterdam Graffiti

Amsterdam is full of incredible museums. The Van Gogh Museum is the top of the list, for obvious reasons, although it is reportedly due to be under construction next year. The Rijksmuseum, which is under construction right now, is also interesting, but since such only a small part of the collection is on display right now you might be better off waiting until more of the structure is open again to the public.

Anne Frank Museum

No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Anne Frank Museum. Even if you haven’t read the diary you should have a vague idea about the occupation, and it's very thought-provoking to see the hidden staircase behind the bookcase.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amsterdam Cats On Buildings

Even spending a couple of hours walking around the canals (which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site), looking at the beautiful, little narrow houses and playing dodge the biker is worth the trip to Amsterdam. Being serious about the bikers for a moment, not everyone will give you a chime to get you out of the way.

Finally, we come to the part I'm sure you have been skimming to get to – the Amsterdam nightlife. The Red Light District is really one of the most unique places in the world.

Obviously, the women stand in little windows surrounded by red lights. Just remember, DO NOT take pictures of them, unless one of your goals is to be manhandled by giant security guards. I’m sure it would make a great story though. Be sure to tell me how it goes.

As for Red Light District bars, any bar would be great. The Bulldog – possibly the most famous Red Light bar – has four locations along the main canal in the Red Light District, including a great 'coffeeshop' in case you would also like that experience while you’re in Amsterdam.

Day trips from Amsterdam?

If you have a bit more time in The Netherlands, there are a few day trips from Amsterdam worth the time and effort.

Tulips and Holland

If you are here from mid-April to mid-May, you should take the time to see Keukenhof, the tulip gardens. Tulips are the quintessential picture of Holland and there is something very amazing about seeing thousands of tulips all lined up in pretty, colourful rows. The tulip fields by themselves are well worth the cost of a bus ticket out of the city.

Windmills in Kinderdijk

If you miss the tulip season, but are in town while it’s warm, take the train and bus down to Kinderdijk, the best place in The Netherlands to check out open space and windmills. Kinderdijk is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located just outside of Rotterdam and can be reached by bus, car or boat. There are 19 remaining windmills here and you can rent bikes to go through the 43 km of paths. You don’t have to go through all 43 km, of course, but why not give it a try? Also, entrance to the park is free, another bonus for the backpacker on a budget.

A guide to Amsterdam