Since our onward flight to Hawaii did not start until early Sunday morning, we only had a whole day for Amsterdam to see the sights of the old town.
Table of contents
The Dorint Airport Hotel Amsterdam
Due to the early departure to Hawaii, we had decided to have a hotel with a direct location at the airport. The Dorint Airport Hotel Amsterdam (since 2018 new name: Ramada Amsterdam Airport Schiphol) seemed to us the best choice: good location, a shuttle service to/from the airport, low price (64 € per night) and a free breakfast. The shuttle bus departs right in front of Schiphol Plaza and also serves two ibis hotels. Unfortunately, the two hotels are approached first, so the trip to the Dorint can take up to 20 minutes. This should definitely be planned. The staff at the check-in were very nice, even if it was already late at night. We found our room quite nice and cozy – at least we felt right at home. It was everything you needed and it was clean. The free breakfast surprised us (positively): there was a wide selection of cold and hot dishes – here everyone is definitely fed up.
If you have a one- or two-day stopover in Amsterdam, we can definitely recommend this hotel as an overnight accommodation.
The I amsterdam City Card
For the next day we had considered an individual sightseeing program for Amsterdam, which had to be worked out. So nothing like getting on the train, which takes you for 4.20 euros and in just 20 minutes from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam city centre. After we arrived by train at the main station, our first port of call was the I amsterdam Store in the middle of the station hall. Here we picked up our “I amsterdam City Card“, which were deposited for us. In the next 24 hours we had the opportunity to try out and use the card. The card costs 57 euros for 24 hours and includes:
Equipped with a city map and the most important sightseeing points already noted, the discovery tour could already start in slightly cloudy weather.
Things to know about Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has about 850,000 inhabitants, making it the most populous city in the country. The port city is located at the mouth of two rivers into the Ijsselmeer and is often referred to as the “Venice of the North”. The name Amsterdam derives from a dam built in the 13th century with a lock of the river Amstel (Amstelredam). The city is known mainly because of its many canals (canals) that run through the entire city. The many small bridges, old merchant and storage houses and the beautiful patrician houses with their very narrow fronts also characterize the cityscape to this day. The most famous sights are besides the canals of the Flower Market, the Rembrandtplein, the Van Gogh Museum, the Vondelpark, the Rijksmuseum, the Anne Frank House and the Red Light District De Wallen.
What to see in Amsterdam
The Royal Palace and the Nieuwe Kerk Church
The first stop of the sightseeing program was the large main square Dam, which can be reached from the main station in just a few minutes. The square is located in the medieval city centre and houses numerous buildings, such as the Royal Palace or Koninklijk Paleis. On the day of our visit, the view of the beautiful buildings was unfortunately completely installed, because in front of it a fair with its whole stalls was built.
On the right side of the palace is the church of Nieuwe Kerk, a late Gothic basilica and coronation church of the Dutch monarchs. Until the beginning of 2018 you can still see the exhibition “We have a dream: Gandhi, King, Mandela.” By the way, with the I amsterdam Card you don’t pay any admission here, so we also took a quick look at the exhibition. However, we were more interested in church construction than anything else. It seemed a little strange that the whole church was delivered with the exhibition walls and that one did not actually see much of the church itself.
The Tulip Museum
With the I amsterdam Card we also had free admission to other museums. First we looked at the private tulip museum, which is located not far from the Anne Frank House – after all, the tulip is considered one of the country’s landmarks. In the entrance area there is a normal shop where you can buy flower bulbs and souvenirs. In the rear area of the ticket office, we then head to the exhibition rooms, where the history of the tulips and the associated fascination are explained and illustrated in more detail.
The Museum Het Grachtenhuis
The next stop was the Het Grachtenhuis Museum in Herengracht, one of the best preserved canal houses in the city. In the museum you can inform yourself within a 45-minute tour very interactively and multimedia about the origin and development of the city and the canal belt.
The Floating Flower Market
Passing the beautiful canals for a walk, we have come to the well-known floating flower market, beyond the borders of Holland. Since 1862, fresh flowers, plants, flower bulbs and typical souvenirs have been offered here from Monday to Saturday.
A few minutes walk from the flower market is the quietLy located Begijnhof (german: Beguinage) – a little hidden in a courtyard. A Beguinage used to be the residence of the Beguines, the female members of a Christian community. The last Beguine died in 2013, ending the 800-year-old tradition of the Beguines. The Beguinage in Amsterdam consists of 47 18th-century residential buildings, grouped around a green courtyard. The current rows of houses are not the original buildings, but a reconstruction, since only one house had survived a fire in 1470.
Other sights in Amsterdam city centre
On our way through the city centre of Amsterdam we passed many beautiful canals, churches, house facades and buildings, all of which represent beautiful photo spots.
The Rijksmuseum with the I amsterdam sign
One of the last sightseeing spots of our tour was the architecturally impressive Rijksmuseum at museumplein. The Dutch National Museum houses an 8,000-exhibit collection of painting art pieces as well as Asian art objects and artifacts. The exhibition was less interesting for us, but the beautiful building. Behind the museum there is a large I amsterdam signat a spring fountain, in front of which all the tourists gather for selfies and group photos. It was almost impossible to snap a proper picture of the sign, because you always had some people in front of the lens who confused the letters with a climbing frame.
Tour of the canals of Amsterdam
Our I amsterdam City Card also included a free boat trip through Amsterdam’s canals. We had the opportunity to choose one from a number of four boat tour operators. The choice for us was Blue Boat, as the boat trip here went a whole 75 minutes, i.e. 15 minutes longer than the others. As far as the route of the tours is concerned, the providers hardly differ. Our boat had a large seating area in the interior, but also a small outdoor area at the back, which was wonderful to take photos in peace. Not all boats from the other suppliers had this outdoor area – another advantage of Blue Boat for us. The boat trip passed beautiful canal villas and numerous houseboats (there should be over 2,000 here!); through beautiful old bridges. The approximately 80 km long Amsterdam canal belt, whose work began in 1612, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Sitesince 2010.
The red light district de Wallen
At dusk we walked towards the Red Light District, which is also called “De Wallen”. Here the tourists push themselves over the narrow streets and marvel in particular at the so-called window prostitution, i.e. the women, who present themselves as a commodity half-naked in the shop windows. Taking photos is strictly forbidden here. In addition, there are a number of sex cinemas, sex shops and erotic museums that attract visitors. The visitor structure goes from groups of men to bachelor parties to couples – and of all ages.
Around 8 p.m. we were back in our hotel and fell into bed tired. The next morning, our trip to Hawaii started 🙂
Starbucks Global Icon City Mug of AmsterdamWe are collecting the Starbucks Mugs from the cities and islands we visit on our travels. Unfortunately, not every city that has a Starbucks store with an own mug. But if the city has an own mug we like to collect them as a souvenir. We only collect city mugs from the "Global Icon Series", which was released in 2008. You can see our complete collection here: Starbucks - Our collection of Mugs from the Global Icon Series
Amsterdam has several Starbucks stores and also its own cup 🙂