Hallo – Megan here! I recently made a solo trip to the Netherlands for a few days, and I’d love to share with you all a selection of highlights and suggestions from my first visit to the country. Perhaps you’ll feel inspired to book a long weekend off and explore somewhere new yourself!
Read on for more…
~ The Nitty-Gritty: Flights, Accommodation, and Local Transit ~
If you’re based in the UK as I am, then the Netherlands is an easy and relatively inexpensive place to visit for a few days. A lot of budget-minded European airlines fly to Amsterdam, and it’s a short hop, skip, and a jump from pretty much whatever UK airport you choose to fly out of. I flew between Manchester and Amsterdam, and that took only about 45 minutes to an hour in either direction. You can routinely grab a bargain with a little bit of early planning and comparison shopping, with round-trip prices rarely surpassing £100.
When looking into accommodation options, consider booking a stay on a houseboat. After a bit of browsing, I found Bed Breakfast Boat via Booking.com, and I’m really glad I chose to stay there. A breakfast of meats, cheeses, bread, fruit, yogurt, and pastries is included, delivered to your doorstep each morning in an adorable antique-looking chest. It’s about a 30-45 minute walk east of Amsterdam city centre (which I found very manageable), but it’s also quite close to bus and tram lines which will take you just about anywhere you want to go in 10-15 minutes. If this particular option isn’t available or doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other houseboat bed and breakfasts out there, so start looking and get booking!
If you would like to take advantage of the excellent public transit options available in and around Amsterdam, I’d recommend purchasing a travel ticket for the appropriate amount of days you’ll be visiting before you arrive in the Netherlands. Personally, I got myself a 3-day Amsterdam Travel Ticket, but there are other options. I Amsterdam has a helpful page listing several of the choices you can pick from, as well as links to ordering them. Whichever one you decide to go with, just remember to ‘boop’ your card on the OV-chipkaart card reader whenever entering or exiting your bus, tram, or train.
~ Canals, Bicycles, and Pancakes – Oh My! ~
Only visiting Amsterdam? Check out these suggested things to do, see, and eat while in the capital city…
+ Wander along the many, many, many canals and admire the stately, slender homes and buildings along the way. I particularly enjoyed strolling along the Herengracht near the ‘Golden Bend,’ the area where the wealthiest merchants of the Dutch Golden Age built their homes. Another area that is quite lovely is the stretch of the Prinsengracht skirting along the slice of Amsterdam called Jordaan.
+ Walk or take a tram to Museumplein, home to the enormous ‘I Amsterdam’ sign as well as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum (among others). If you only have time for one, I highly recommend the Van Gogh Museum. Do note that tickets for the Van Gogh Museum are only available online and in advance.
+ PANCAKES. Whether you’ve a hankering for savoury or sweet, Dutch or American style, this place has got what you need.
Have time to go a bit further afield? Here are some half and full day excursion options.
+ Haarlem, a city near Amsterdam known for its historic charm and lovely independent shops…
+ Zaanse Schans, an area filled with windmills, craft shops, and museums…
+ Keukenhof (Note: Only open in Spring), an enormous garden bursting with 7 million bulbs, 800 varieties of tulips…
Hopefully this might spark a few ideas of your own when it comes to planning a short break in the Netherlands.
Well, that’s it for now… Time to start planning the next adventure!