The Netherlands and Amsterdam are just as you’ve imagined! Lush, green fields, bikes for days and happy, at-peace vibes.
Things to do in the Netherlands/Holland near and in Amsterdam
I fell in love with the Netherlands, also known as Holland, where e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. rides bikes e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e! This gives the feel of a content, friendly, welcoming society.
How to get to Amsterdam
Check out flights going into Amsterdam (Schiphol Airport) or even Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt is a 4+ hour drive, but you get to drive on the Autoban! Beware: you can’t go as fast as you want once you cross the border into the Netherlands, because you will get a huge expensive ticket from some kind of unseen radar detector, a fee goes to the rental car company, and you’ll also pay for the wiring fee. Don’t ask me how I know. 🙁
Renting a car is a good way to get around if you’d like to visit various cities outside the main ones. You do have the option of trains and buses. Suggest: Sixt or EuropCar. You must get the insurance, as most other insurance carriers from other countries won’t cover you if there’s an issue.
How to park in Amsterdam
Highly recommend: Parking Center Oosterdok as it is centrally located and you can walk to most of the city’s main sites. It’s easy, simple, cheap-for-any-city. Prices are 6 Euros for 6 hours or less or 25 Euros for 6-24 hours. Reserve ahead of time online (any browser except Safari). Otherwise there are 7 park and rides located outside the city with buses back in. Purchase P&R GVB card – can use on bus, train or metro. Parking is 1 Euro/hour or 8 Euros/24 hours. They say a parking spot in Amsterdam lasts 30 seconds, so it might not be worth your time dodging the massive amounts of bikers to try to find an elusive spot.
I’ve spoken with some people who have a misconception that Amsterdam is filled with marijuana smoke. Incorrect. Sure, if you’re looking for it then you can easily find a “coffeehouse” to buy marijuana legally in Amsterdam (as well as many other cities in the world). There will be a green and white sticker in the storefront windows. If that is not your thing then don’t go to a “coffeehouse.” But if you are looking for coffee and pastries then find a koffiehuis. Or go to a “cafe” which is a restaurant or bar.
Amsterdam Recommended Activities:
- Canal Cruise. Recommend: Lovers Canal Cruises at Stationsplein 14, 1012 AB Amsterdam. Only a 10 minute walk from Parking Center Oosterdok. 1 hour tour and able to get a quick overview of the city with interesting history and current even tidbits. Buy tickets at location. 17 Euro = $20.94/per person. Some cruises offer hop on/hop off.
- Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). Singel 630 to 600, 1017 AZ, Amsterdam. Hours: Monday – Saturday 09:00-17:30; Sunday 11:30-17:30. Flowers, plants, bulbs galore. Of course, tulips in every color. And it’s floating- a sight to see and experience!
- Van Gogh Museum. 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Museumplein 6, Amsterdam. Purchase tickets ahead; you will get a time for entrance. Tickets: 19 Euros/person, <18 years free. Vincent was very busy in his mere 37 years, and you can physically see what he was up to right here. He also led quite a fascinating life and was extremely talented. The museum is spacious and well done and definitely worth the trip.
- Anne Frank Haus. Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam. Tickets are 14 Euro/adult, less for youth. This is a very popular destination so buy tickets well ahead. The Anne Frank Haus is a painful but important reminder of a little girl’s and a world’s struggle with evil and how it decimated so many innocent lives. It is both a powerful remembrance and a shameful experience to share in this family’s life in the secret annex for just a moment.
- Vondelpark. Pretty green space in the middle of the city with trees, lakes, paths and restaurants. A nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Free.
Places to Visit Outside Amsterdam:
Things to do in Kortenhoef:
Kortenhoef is a small, sweet town a 30 minute drive outside of Amsterdam. And is it ever the picture of Holland! Winding streets, storefronts right on the little roads, canals, green, green, green and biking locals. I stayed in Kortenhoef at the most wonderful Airbnb guesthouse with sheep in the backyard and canoes for my own use through the maze of canals. Could not have been more lovely and picturesque.
Hiking in Kortenhoef
Oppad, 1241 LV Kortenhoef, Netherlands. It’s a lovely stroll through a nature reserve with lush, green pastures (may be slightly wet in summer) with canals and peacefulness. The trail ends in another part of Kortenhoef. Lunch option is 1/2 way at Zuidereinde 208, 1243 KR ‘s-Graveland, Netherlands. Route is 2.5 miles round trip. Park in watersportbedrijr “Moby Dick” and cross the street to start the hike. Click here for the hike on Google maps.
Rent canoes, sloops, motor boats or even electric bicycles to cruise through the maze of canals. Suggested: Jachthaven Kortenhoef at 2A Moleneind Kortenhoef, NH 1241 NE. Reasonable prices and options.
How to get from Amsterdam to Edam on bikes
There’s a way to bike from downtown Amsterdam up to the village named for the yummy cheese, Edam. Pronounced “ee-dam” – I had a hard time with that and I’m a speech pathologist, so don’t feel bad if you did too. Bikes are easy and cheap from various locations throughout Amsterdam. I chose MacBike at Centraal Station. De Ruijterkade 34, 1012 AA Amsterdam. Be sure to get a lock as bikes are frequently stolen. I made Edam my destination for an overnight. To do this, I rented a bike at Centraal Station (14,75 Euros per day, plus deposit). Ask for a map of the bike route to Edam. I used Google Maps on the bike setting. It is super easy to follow. *Get your cell phone’s international coverage before leaving your home country then cancel it when you get home. After renting your bike, go to the north side of the station and under the tracks following the signs to the free ferry boat “boot” to IJplein. It’s about a 10 minute ride while standing next to your bike. Then begin your journey along bike paths up to the old world gem of Edam. Recommended hotel is the Hotel de Fortuna (via Booking.com) which is welcoming with a Holland-esque charm about it (it was built in the 17th century). It is right off a curvy Dutch road with adorable cottages and canals all around. They didn’t have air conditioning in the 17th century, but there are fans now. Breakfast is good and free! Take time to wander the streets and parks and look for cheeeeese (hint: Henri Willig at Spui 71135 BA Edam). Stay the night and bike back to Amsterdam taking time to check out the little towns on the way if you want. Get back to MacBike before closing time.
I rode to Edam and back on my last 2 full days in the Netherlands. So the day of the bike trip to Edam, I dropped the luggage off at a hotel near the Schiphol Airport (most hotels will hold luggage for you in a secure area) and returned my rental car at the airport. Then I took the train from the airport to Centraal Station with only an overnight backpack. Be sure to buy a train ticket and remember that you must validate the ticket (check-in and check-out each way using the card readers near the platforms or at the gate barriers).
|Day 1||Drive to Amsterdam. |
Park at centrally located “Parking Center Oosterdok. “
Lovers Canal Cruises
Address: Stationsplein 14,
1012 AB Amsterdam.
10 minuted walk from parking. Buy tickets at location.
1 hour tour. ~17 Euro/person
Address: Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam.
A 24 minute stroll along the Singel Canal.
Drive to Kortenhauf for lodging.
1016 SX Amsterdam
|Day 2||Explore Kortenhauf:|
Take a walking tour through the nature reserve. (Google Maps search: “Begin Oppad” Kortenhauf)
Rent a canoe or motor boat from Jachthaven Kortenhauf. (30 Euro/day for largest canoe)
Visit the market (Jumbo) and outdoor cheese market (outside the Jumbo).
Bistro de Garde (1/2 way point of hike)@ Zuidereinde 208, 1243 KR ‘s-Graveland, Netherlands
GSJ (Brasserie Geesje) @ Kortenhoefsedijk 157, 1241 LZ Kortenhoef
Shop at Jumbo and make dinner and breakfast at Airbnb.
|Day 3||Drive to Amsterdam. Park at centrally located Parking Center Oosterdok. |
Van Gogh Museum
38 minute interesting walk from parking area.
Purchase tickets ahead – 19 Euros/person, <18 years free.
Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Anne Frank Haus
28 minute walk from Van Gogh Museum.
Purchase tickets ahead – 14 Euros/adult
Address: Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
*If there’s time in between activities – walk through Vondelpark or enjoy lunch.
Travel back to Kortenhauf.
Dine: Hollands Hap Hmm Restaurant
(11 minute walk from Van Gogh Museum – through Vondelpark
Eerste Helmersstraat 33, 1054 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dinner and breakfast at Airbnb.
|Day 4||Return car to Amsterdam Airport. Drop off luggage at hotel airport. Take backpack only for overnight bike trip. Take train to Centraal Station (Amsterdam)|
Bike Trip to Edam:
Rent bikes from MacBike Centraal Station
De Ruijterkade 34
1012 AA Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 624 8391
No reservations needed for bikes.
Restaurant de Fortuna (at hotel). Seating outside.
|Day 5||Bike back to Amsterdam and drop off bikes. |
Take train back to airport and/or hotel.
Dine: (near Central Station)
|Day 6||Fly out from Amsterdam Airport.|
Recommended lodging: Airbnb or VRBO in Kortenhoef
I stayed in a private guesthouse with 3 bedrooms and a full kitchen. The backyard was lush and beautiful with sheep and canoes to use to roam the canals. Walkable to restaurants and bus stop.