During our expatriation in Rotterdam, we visited Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.
Visit of Amsterdam
I (Madeleine) had already been to Amsterdam twice, once in 2015 during my interrail trip and once in 2016 for a weekend with friends. This time, we were going to visit Amsterdam together and it was the first time for Pierre-Adrien.
Transportation and accommodation
We left Rotterdam on Friday night after work around 5pm. We drove to the capital of the Netherlands with our bikes hanging from the trunk in order to be more mobile in Amsterdam. Arriving around 6pm, we went directly to the Zeeburg campground (the one in which I stayed in 2015)! We were able to settle down very quickly to leave as soon as possible to discover the city, before nightfall.
We paid €52 for a tent space for two nights, two adults and a car.
Amsterdam by bike
I was very happy to take the bikes as we were able to cover a lot more distance in 1 day than I had been able to travel the other two times I was in Amsterdam. Camping Zeeburg is a 20-minute bike ride from Amsterdam city centre and it’s all flat so it’s an easy ride. – much simpler than our 30 mins bike to go in the city center of Rotterdam. –You can even rent bikes at the campground. Otherwise, there are trams that leave from the central station and take you close to 5min by foot from the campsite. The only difficult parts to cycle in Amsterdam are the bridges, which sometimes go high enough for the boats to pass under, but there are only 1281 bridges in the whole city. 😉
The different districts of Amsterdam and what can be done
East of Amsterdam: Eastern Docklands, Waterlooplein and the old Jewish Neighborhood
On the road between the campsite and the city centre, we first went to a neighborhood called “East Docklands” where we could see the largest wooden mill in the country. De Gooyer, octagonal in shape, it was once used as a flour mill.
Then, we passe by Artis the zoo of Amsterdam and Micropia, the zoo of microbes and then the botanical garden Hortus Botanicus. Farther, still in the direction of the city centre of Amsterdam, we saw the Portuguese synagogue, the House of Rembrandt Museum, De waag the Nieuwmarkt, etc. A lot of monuments and places of interest that we would never have seen if we didn’t have as much cycling to do to go in the centre.
On the way back, we always took a different road that made us go past the Opera, Amsterdam Hermitage and the Magere Brug – an emblematic bridge.
The old Amsterdam
Our first real stop was in the main square “the Dam”, between Madame Tussaud, the Royal Palace and the National Monument. Then, we went on a canal where you can find a lot of coffee shops, like the first coffee shop in Amsterdam, the Bulldog, and very touristy restaurants.
It was time for a lunch/picnic break, so we sat along the canal in front of the old church of Amsterdam. As the evening was starting, the people of Amsterdam began their evenings as well and we were able to admire the parade of boats passing on the canals whilst people were enjoying the sun and drinking a beer.
After eating our sandwiches, we headed towards the Red Light District with its prostitution museum and the Sexmuseum, which is on the next canal.
The next day, we left the campsite around 10am to continue exploring the city through the big canals starting with the Singel canal. For starters, we walked around the Bloemenmarkt, a very old floating flower market, which became a must for tourists in Amsterdam.
In front of this market, you can see the Museum of Torture… I would never visit a place like this, but it might be interesting! :/ If you follow the canal you will find many art galleries, charming small restaurants (Eetcafé – café where you can eat), discreet bars or coffee shops and charming hotels. The following two canals, Herengracht and Keizersgracht, are very similar.
The fourth and last large canal, Prinsenstraat, is probably the most interesting to follow. There is the Amsterdam Cheese Museum and a little further, you can visit Anne Frank’s house. I would love to visit this house one day, but there is always a huge line to get in, so I never took the time.
By going down the canal a little bit, you can observe a church, Westerkerk, in which Rembrandt is buried. Behind this church, on the side of Keizersgracht, you can see a monument to homosexuals, proof of the full opening of this Dutch capital. Moreover, Rembrandt also has a place in his honor in Amsterdam. It is located between the Amstel Canal and the Herengracht Canal. Rembrandtplein is a very nice place with cafés and restaurants all around.
Jordaan and the west of Amsterdam
To the west of the large canals is the trendy district of Jordaan. It was in this neighborhood that I stayed during my weekend with friends in March 2016. I have not travelled all the small streets to say that I know this area well, but just north of Jordaan, there is a street that I adore especially. It is Haarlemmerstraat which continues in Haarlemmerdijk. It is a large popular street where you can really see people living, going shopping, sitting at one of the many terraces, etc. At the end of this street, you arrive at Haarlemmerplein, a square with a gate, Haarlemmerpoort, the West gate of the Dutch capital. Behind this square, the Westerpark is a big park, probably the biggest in town, which is very nice as less crowded than other downtown parks.
Leidseplein and Vondelpark
After Haarlemmerstraat, I think my favorite place in Amsterdam is Leidseplein. Leidseplein is a large square with terraces of bars or restaurants where it is nice to sit for an entire afternoon. It’s also a neighborhood where you can find a lot of hotels and theatres.
On the other side of the canal, you can find hotels and theatres, but you can also find the Vondel Park. Probably the most popular park in the city.
The Museum District is located just off Vondelpark. It is one of the major tourist points of Amsterdam with the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum (Modern Art), crowned with the sign “I Amsterdam“. This whole area sets in a large green space, Museumplein, a square that greets many outdoor events. During our weekend, there was a sports competition with BMX, skateboarding, basketball, etc.
There are many other very interesting neighborhoods in Amsterdam. This article is not at all exhaustive of what can be done in the capital of the Netherlands. We also have many other photos that you can find on Facebook in the album: Netherlands, Amsterdam in the summer.