Crazy News: We’re Going to Amsterdam!

So, I have some crazy news: We’re taking a (very) spontaneous quick trip to Amsterdam! Leaving tomorrow!! Here’s the story: We were planning to take Toby to Europe this summer, but we priced out the flights, and it was prohibitively expensive. (Summer flights to most major European cities started at $1400; and we’d need to buy three.) We figured our Europe dreams were dashed, until we realized that if we squeezed a trip in April, the flights were much less expensive—and the overall trip would be doable if we stayed for just a handful of days.

So! We decided to plan a less expensive family vacation this summer in the midwest, but to scratch our Europe itch, Alex and I are taking a quick trip to Amsterdam this weekend! We’re going for just four days, while Toby stays home with his beloved babysitters (since a weekend trip to Europe—with long flights + jetlag—would be no fun for a two-year-old). I’m so excited to visit Amsterdam: I’ve always wanted to see the cool houseboats and even cooler bikers. Also, one of my best friends from college—Penny—is living there right now, and we can’t wait to see her.

This is all so exciting and heady—I’m the least spontaneous person ever, so it’s funny/thrilling to be heading to a big city without any planning. If you have any Amsterdam tips, we’d LOVE to hear them! Have you ever been?

Weekend round-up coming up, and sending you a big kiss! Eeks!
P.S. I’ve written a bunch of posts for next week that I hope you enjoy.

(We’ll miss this little dude)

  1. Wie of wat u ook wilt (laten) vervoeren: personen, documenten of pakketten, Wie of wat u ook wilt (laten) vervoeren: personen, documenten of pakketten, bij Marcus bent u altijd aan het goede adres. Onze gestage groei danken wij aan een hoge mate van klanttevredenheid. Wie die eenmaal heeft ervaren, wil niet meer anders!
    http://www.marcus.nlbij Marcus bent u altijd aan het goede adres. Onze gestage groei danken wij aan een hoge mate van klanttevredenheid. Wie die eenmaal heeft ervaren, wil niet meer anders!

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  4. Anonymous says...

    Amsterdam is amazing!!! I’m so jealous :) hope you have a wonderful trip! :)

  5. Anonymous says...

    Hi Jo,

    In Amsterdam you have to taste the Jaimie Oliver’s restaurant.

    The only one in Europe, out of UK..

    Sophie from Belgium

  6. i was just talking to my friend joy about our stay in the netherlands, we went on a five month trip throughout europe where we seriously went everywhere and when we were in amsterdam we all (45 students) split up into host families and my family took me to a cheese museum it was the WeirdEST thing ever. but epic and i lovvvved it lol

  7. I’m living in Amsterdam, the Jordaan area, at the moment — it’s one of the most delightful places I’ve been. I can’t wait to use all of these tips myself! Happy adventuring!

  8. So exciting! Hope you have fun! :)

  9. You will love it. Promised.
    Love, a Dutch.

  10. You will love it. Promised.
    Love, a Dutch.

  11. Hi Joanna!
    You’ve GOT to be kiddin’ me…!
    You are/were in Amsterdam?? I am from Amsterdam and sadly missed this post before the weekend, otherwise I’d LOVED to give you and Alex some insiders tips.
    Hope you had a wonderful time in ‘my’ amazing city..!
    For next time, just let me know if you feel like some advice for cool & relaxed stuff to do [I also do AirBnB and have a gorgeous house in Haarlem – which is small Amsterdam!!]
    “Tot ziens” :)

  12. It has been said before, but the Van Gogh museum is a must-must-do!! Enjoy.

  13. You will love Amsterdam! We have been there a year ago with my husband a couple of friends, loved every single minute, food, atmosphere, people, gorgeous architecture and biking of course! enjoy it!

  14. Hi Joanna!

    I’m so excited for you to visit Amsterdam! I’m a college student studying abroad here and I nearly DIED when I read this post!

    Here are some of my recommendations:

    1. Greenwoods- the best brunch in the city, in my opinion. Also, if you’re in the mood, their High Tea is TO DIE FOR. They’re located on an adorable canal.
    2. Pompstation- One of the best steak dinners I’ve ever had. The atmosphere is wildly cool, too.
    3. Singel 404- Scrumptious sandwiches.

    1. Like everyone says, the 9 Streets are a total gem. Spend an afternoon wandering in and out of shops. My favorite store is Laura Dols- great vintage!
    2. Noordermarkt- Sunday market with fresh food and quirky odds and ends.
    3. American Book Center is super cool! It’s a huge bookstore that spirals around an amazing old tree.

    1. Anne Frank Huis is my favorite.
    2. Van Gogh is, of course, worth the trip.
    3. Rijksmueum is great for Dutch history.
    4. House of Bols- super fun!

    1. You must go lay out and people watch in Vondelpark if the weather is good!

    Have such an amazing time! I can’t believe you’re in my city for a few days!


  15. I’m from Oregon but just spent the last 5 months living in Amsterdam as an Au Pair. (Arrived back in Portland just 2 days ago!) Check out the Jordaan neighborhood, where the Anne Frank Huis is located, and make sure to try a slice of famous Appel Taart at Winkel 43 (located right next to Noordermarkt–a farmer’s market on Saturdays). Take a stop at Kitsch Kitchen to buy some kitschy bike bags made from brightly colored oilcloth. Take a walk through the “nine little streets” shopping district and enjoy all the vintage shops and Dutch designers.
    Check out the Begijnhof, a hidden little quiet courtyard in the middle of busy Amsterdam. Gorgeous and a quick trip–definitely check it out!
    Walk through Vondel Park and make a stop at the Blue Tea House (‘t Blauwe Theehuis) for a quick coffee.
    Wander through the Redlight District and while you’re there you MUST MUST MUST go to “our lord in the attic” museum or “Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder”. It’s less touristy than other museums in A’dam and it is truly amazing. It’s a Catholic church hidden inside a 17th century canal house, from the 1600s when Catholics in Holland had to worship in private.

    Those are some of my favorite places. :) You will love Amsterdam, even if it is rainy! Oh, and a word of advice: ALWAYS check both ways for bikes before crossing the road. I’ve had some close calls! Bikes rule the road. Enjoy it!

  16. PS – I hear you on the pricey trans-Atlantic flights! This is what keeps us from visiting the states more often, not to mention the cost of everything once you get there. Speaking of which… If you’re interested, we have a pretty great apartment in Germany not far from wine country that we’d be willing to swap for a holiday in NY… ;)

  17. Sorry this is a bit late, but… I second the recommendation above about dressing warmly. We were there in May and it was still freezing! Aside from biking – which is a must! – I most loved Pisa IJs for the best ice cream ever and Kantjil & de Tijger for Indonesian food. Enjoy!

  18. It looks as though all the good tips have already been given ;) I second all the museums (especially the Stedelijk and the Rijksmuseum – although both are only showing part of the collection due to renovations) and yes, do be careful around the bikes. We have a set of traffic rules for bicycles but ahem, tend to treat those more like guidelines… If you want to see something truly outrageous take a quick look at the bicycle parking platform next to Amsterdam Central Station. It’s ridiculous :)

    If you can find a stand, try some hot giant stroopwafels (syrup/caramel waffles). These are freshly made, the size of a breakfast plate and absolutely scrumptious!

    Try to skip the area around the Kalverstraat and visit places like the 9 Straatjes (the 9 streets) and the Jordaan area. This is much more fun and a bit less cluttered with shoppers and chain stores.

    Please be aware that if you are visiting Amsterdam on April 30th and the night before it will be crazy CRAZYINSANE busy as we will be celebrating the Queen’s birthday! Festivities are all over the country but Amsterdam is, on that day and the preceding evening, a festive madhouse! Wear something orange, buy a beer from a street vendor and blend right in ;)

    Have a great time in Amsterdam and in the Netherlands!

  19. omg. you’re there on the 420 weekend. you hafta smoke some sweet leaf! i mean! 420! in amsterdam! come on! :))

  20. Anonymous says...

    Hi Joanna!
    What a surprise! Enjoy your stay in Amsterdam!!!

  21. HI,
    We were there just for easter!

    It is very nice there!


  22. OMG…. Love Amsterdam. Get fries in paper cones from vendors on the street, and eat with Dutch mayonnaise! There are HEAPS of Argentinian steak restaurants which are always good. Dutch beer = amazing (and there’s always good wine if you’re not a beer fan). Go walk around the Red Light District for a giggle. Buy tulips at the insane flower shops. Anne Frank museum. Rembrandt’s house. Churches galore. Order hot chocolate (it’s amazing, trust me). Buy a big wheel of Dutch cheese. Drink Chocomel! The pubs are fantastic too. Enjoy!

  23. I lived in Amsterdam for many years and it’s a great city. As a lover of beautiful things you should not miss the 9 straatjes, or 9 little streets in the Jordaan. You will find the most amazing little specialty shops, the best cafes and they’re such a pleasure to explore and walk around in!

  24. Carousel Pancake House! Dutch PANCAKES AND CAROUSELS…. What in the heck could be better than that??! Nothing! I recommend trying the “salty” pancakes where they cook the eggs and breakfast meat inside of the pancake. I was skeptical at first but fell in love with the first bite. If my memory is right the Heineken brewery is not far from this either.

  25. how fun! what a great weekend adventure… I’m jealous! can’t wait to read the recap :)

  26. Anonymous says...

    Hi Jo! Exciting! I live nearby to Amsterdam in the town of Leiden. I can suggest the Noorderlicht Cafe ( in Amsterdam it’s one of our fave places when we go to the “big city” – go on Sunday afternoon if the weather is sunny – so nice sitting outside and great drinks and food, very laid back and you take a fun little ferry ride (free!) to get there, from Centraal Station and then a cool 5 min walk through an awesome old shipping yard – now converted into an amazing art studio space and skatepark! Enjoy!

  27. Anonymous says...

    If you are traveling to the midwest- you HAVE to visit St. Louis! It is in the heart of the midwest and is truly America’s forgotten gem.

  28. Welcome in Amsterdam Joanna and Alex!

    So much tips by your readers already! I just came up with a few more which i did not mention in a mail i have sent you Yesterday:

    Diner in Cafe Amsterdam,
    or Hotel de Goudfazant,

    Dutch sandwich and more comfort food in one of the Bakkerswinkels,

    De Haarlemmerstraat for shops like Sukha,

    Museum district for Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum and a drink in the Conservatorium Hotel bar,

    All by bike, of course ;-) You are welcome to try my ‘bakfiets’ for a day or two, it’s this model

    Veel plezier (Dutch for, Have fun!)

  29. So exciting! Spontaneity is an amazing feeling isn’t it?
    My one and a half year old and I will be venturing to Amsterdam for a week in May, renting a bicycle and staying in airbnb accommodations.
    I can’t wait for all you can eat Pannekoekenboot trip around the canals!

  30. Great city! I’m from holland. You will like evrything. The bikes at the central station, the houses, the musea and go to the redlight district…
    To bad you’re going this weekend, because if you want to experiance how we dutch party, you have to be in Amsterdam with ‘koninginnedag’ ‘queensday’… And that’s the 30th of april…
    And eat ‘poffertjes’ and ‘patat’ and a ‘frikandel speciaal’ and a ‘kroket’.

  31. Anonymous says...

    hello joanna,
    i am a fan of your blog and i am from netherlands; so exciting to hear that you are coming here! :) unfortunately the weather is really bad; i hope you are bringing thick clothes ;) would be soo funny if i saw you while walking on the street!

    i think people gave already so many nice advices for amsterdam..the only thing i can add is that, you should try to see utrecht as well. amsterdam is very popular among tourists; but utrecht is the real star for the locals ;) it is just 30 mins by train, if you get overwhelmed with the crowd in amsterdam utrecht can be a really nice get away.

    oh and you should definitely try the “erwtensoep” or asperges soup(asparagus in english i think) since it is the season now. they are very very dutch tastes.

    have fun!


  32. I am from Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and have grown up in a town near to Amsterdam. The musea are great in Amsterdam and there is a little neighboorhood called ‘de negen straatjes’ (the 9th street). Here you find nine little streets with all sort of shops, like little jewellery shops and a lot more. If the sun will shine a little ( it is right now!) it would be nice to visit the ‘Vondelpark’. I hope you have nice time visiting Holland.

  33. Anonymous says...

    Gartine for an ammaaazzzinnngggg, simple, non fussy, delicious afternoon tea!

  34. So JEALOUS that your going to Amsterdam! It’s quite possibly my favorite European city, (beating out Paris and Rome).

    I’d recommend the Rijskmuseum and walking around the Museum district simply cause it’s great. I also love the Dutch store HEMA! I can spend ages in there!

    Eat some stroopwafels too!

  35. Oh how amazing Jo!
    I live in the Netherlands and I go to Amsterdam very often! It’s beautiful there!
    Make sure you go to Leidseplein (there are a lot of pubs/bars, shops and coffee shops! haha) Also the Keizersgracht is beautiful! The Anne Frank House is also there! If you want to shop, you can go to the Kalverstraat and “de Dam” is the best place to spot a lot of musicians and funny street artists!
    I’m so excited for you! Hope you have a lovely little vacation with Alex!

    Veel plezier! (have fun in Dutch :)


  36. Anonymous says...

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  37. Anonymous says...

    I went to Amsterdam with my Mum for a girly weekend for my 18th birthday and we found this adorable little cafe called Greenwoods. It’s on the Singel, and it is run by a nice English lady who serves traditional afternoon tea! Really cute and cosy!

  38. you should check out restored ( and sukha (
    both on the haarlemmerdijk/haarlemmerstraat

    they sell the most amazing things! and the shops themselves look awesome too!

  39. Courtney says...

    I am so jealous, I have always wanted (and will someday soon) visit Amsterdam!

  40. This is a link to the website of a cool spot that my brothers good friends went to Amsterdam and opened. It is a “speak easy” and it a word of mouth kinda place! I’d love to hear your take if you make it there! It is called Hiding in Plain Sight. CHECK IT OUT!!!!!

  41. Kaitlyn says...

    I was just in Amsterdam last week! It’s beautiful, the tulips are in bloom right now. Be sure to check out the flower market and the major museums around the area. Just remember to buy tickets before, especially the Anne Frank house, because the lines can be massive without a pre-purchased ticket! Rick Steves has a very useful guidebook to the area, might want to pick it up on the way.

    I loved my trip to Amsterdam and can’t wait to go back next year. I hope you have as much fun as I did! Be sure to post plenty of photos!

  42. I have 0 ideas because I’ve never been there, but I hear it’s so much fun and bike friendly! Photos look gorgeous too! Have oodles of fun! xx

  43. Some people try to stray away from them because they’re touristy, but a canal tour is a really great way to start. Amsterdam is shaped like a horseshoe, meaning no square blocks. The tour helps you understand the the city spatially (and the history lesson is great).

    DO NOT get your stroopwafels and frites in the tourist areas. Go to the outdoor markets (I like Albert Cuyp the best). They taste way better there.

    Definitely get bikes and don’t be afraid to get lost. Just make sure you turn your wheels so they don’t get stuck in the tram tracks!

  44. Oh how much I love Amsterdam! It’s the most beautiful and full of fun city! Enjoy!

  45. Marleen says...

    I live there!!!! But you should reaaally visit the lovely city Utrecht (very close to Amsterdam, like, 20 minutes by train). It’s the better and smaller and cosier and ‘artier’ and prettier version of Amsterdam. Such a lovely city.

  46. Jen says...

    My husband and I live in Utrecht and go to Am’dam all the time. I recommend Proef, a restaurant in Westerpark! So good. Also kid-friendly. You should be in for some very Dutch-like weather! Bring the wellies.

  47. As a quite reader who lives in Amsterdam, I hope you have a wonderful time. I love reading all the tips everyone is sending you, and if I can give one as well: If the weather in the evening is nice, as it was today and yesterday, take the ferry up to Amsterdam North (on the other side of the IJ-waters). Get yourself directions to cafe ‘Noorderlicht’ (Northern light) and watch the sun set on Amsterdam while all the lights turn on. And all of this while enjoying good, organic food. It is absolutely one of my favorite spots, and because it’s only reachable by ferry, it’s wuite known to residents of the city, but not soo much for tourists. Enjoy <3

  48. Have a beautiful time!! I cannot wait to hear about your trip. I am thinking of going away for a few days just to get away and Amsterdam was one of my possibilities! Also, maybe Paris! Xx

  49. The art museums are wonderful! I especially loved the Rijksmuseum. The Van Gogh Museum is really interesting, but for just 4 days, I personally wouldn’t want to spend half of a day being jostled by tourists. The old jewish quarter is wonderful and touching. The markets are amazing and the food is delicious. Please do try the french fries and tangy mayo in any of the little snack shops in the side streets. They also have large beautiful parks perfect for bike rides right in the city. In one of them, I went to a sort of treehouse cafe complete with awesome sandwiches, beer, and the best apple pie I’ve ever had (and continue to dream about)! Not sure if its still there, but worth finding for such a quirky cafe spot. :) Have a wonderful trip!

  50. Very excited for you! I’m in Holland now too (visiting my parents) and I hate to say it, but…. However, Amsterdam is charming when it rains too. I love the Haarlemmerstraat, the nine streets, the Westerpark and Westergasfabriek, and if you want to catch a movie, I would recommend either Tuschinski, with it’s art deco grandeur, and it’s interesting history, or The Movies. Walk, or ride a bike, wonder around. I’m sure you’ll love it. (oh and for a great sandwich and fresh juice, Singel 404 is the place to go. It’s small and you’ll probably have to wait for a table, but it’s worth the wait). Have fun!

  51. How fun!! I LOVED Amsterdam. The Anne Frank house really is remarkable, and if you have time, you should take a little side trip out of the city to the Keukenhof Gardens. I was there two springs ago, and even in March they had such a dazzling array of tulips. I’m sure it’s even more gorgeous now!
    On a nerdier note, the library (kind of by the train station) is beautiful. If the weather is bad, take a little stroll through there.
    If you want a thorough walking tour of the city, consider the New Amsterdam tour ( The tour guides are funny and knowledgeable, and at the end of the tour, you only pay what you think it was worth. I highly recommend them.
    Lastly, DON’T take pictures of any of the, uh, ladies in the windows. We saw a tourist do that, and she got nailed with a full can of pee.
    You’re going to have such a wonderful time! Can’t wait to see your photos!

  52. How fun!! I LOVED Amsterdam. The Anne Frank house really is remarkable, and if you have time, you should take a little side trip out of the city to the Keukenhof Gardens. I was there two springs ago, and even in March they had such a dazzling array of tulips. I’m sure it’s even more gorgeous now!
    On a nerdier note, the library (kind of by the train station) is beautiful. If the weather is bad, take a little stroll through there.
    If you want a thorough walking tour of the city, consider the New Amsterdam tour ( The tour guides are funny and knowledgeable, and at the end of the tour, you only pay what you think it was worth. I highly recommend them.
    Lastly, DON’T take pictures of any of the, uh, ladies in the windows. We saw a tourist do that, and she got nailed with a full can of pee.
    You’re going to have such a wonderful time! Can’t wait to see your photos!

  53. This might be a bit much for 4 days, but if you can, get out of Amsterdam and go to Utrecht for a day (it’s about an hour train ride away). It’s got all the beauty of A-dam (bikes! canals!) but without all the drugged-up tourists looking for trouble.

    If you don’t want to wait in the long line at the Anne Frank house, go to Haarlem and visit the Ten Boom house (it was another house where Jewish people were hidden from the Nazis) and listen to the stories on the English tour. Amazing!

    Finally, make sure you eat some french fries, wrapped in paper and with a big dollop of mayonnaise.

  54. I wish you absolute joy and some great food!

    How fun you guys are, very inspiring indeed.

  55. People have covered pretty much everything, but I’m not sure anyone’s mentioned the Amsterdam City Museum. They had a fantastic exhibit a few months ago when I was there that is likely still up, called Amsterdam DNA, and it’s really just excellently curated and presented. Lots of fun, very interactive, and a great way to get a sense of the city’s history! Have a wonderful time!

  56. how exciting! you will be there to see the tulips :) I am going with a friend in 2 weeks so look forward to your review. have a wonderful time!

  57. As an enthusiastic Dutchie would say, Wat superleuk!

    I’m also an American living in the lowlands, although in Amsterdam’s smaller, quirkier sister-city Utrehct and echo all of the marvelous advice here:

    The “9 Streets” area cannot be beat for fabulous and unique boutique perusing.

    And man oh man are you in luck! The epicly beautiful Keukenhof Gardens are in FULL BLOOM right now — think rippling fields of tulips, creatively landscaped compositions and funky sculptures.

    Have a blast and don’t worry too much about the rain — all the more reason to snuggle up with your man on your getaway.

  58. Hi Jo,

    I went to Amsterdam for a weekend last year when I was studying abroad! It was one of my favorite cities, and it was so beautiful! I would definitely recommend acting like a local and biking around for the day, if the temperatures warm up a bit! You have to go to Melly’s Cookie bar and have some lemon caramel cookies – so delicious (It’s located up the street from the Royal Palace of Amsterdam). And definitely enjoy some Dutch pancakes before you leave. Have a great trip! Can’t wait to hear all about it when you return!

    Safe travels!


  59. Have a wonderful time! You better tell me all about it…as I am going in 2 weeks with my mom and sister! Safe travels!

  60. Frites! The best.

    Anne Frank Huis. Intense.

    Just wandering the adorable canal front sidewalks. Hopefully you’ll be able to see someone moving in our out using the giant hooks atop their homes to lever things to and from the front windows. Wish they had those in NYC!

    We took a nightime canal tour, which is pretty touristy cheesy, but they serve beer and it’s actually a pretty great way to see the city.

    Have fun!

  61. Joanna, Amsterdam is beautiful! You’re going to have such an incredible trip! Be sure to…

    1. Hit up the Pancake Bakery on the river. The apple-bacon pancake is life changing.

    2. Also, it may seem cheesy, but the “lovers” river boat tour is actually really beautiful. My girlfriends and I did it together and enjoyed every sappy bit of it.

    3. One last piece of advice, check out the farmers’ markets along the river on the weekends, grab some cheese, bread and produce, then head to the Museumplein park. If you make it a late-afternoon picnic, you may have enough time for a twilight stroll around the Van Gogh museum with a glass of wine from the cafe.

    So excited for you! Can’t wait for an Amster-BAM! post!

  62. My husband and I went 2 years ago to stay with friends who live on Prinsengracht St. Gorgeous! We were only in amsterdam for 3 days before moving on to Paris. One thing I was sort of dragging my feet on doing was visiting the Anne Frank Museum. I knew how important it is to see, and Anne Frank’s story is one I am strongly moved by, but I didn’t know if I wanted to risk being sad the whole trip after standing in the very attic she lived in. Our friends swayed me into going, and I’m so glad I did! It was extremely powerful, but the overall effect it had on me was not as I had thought. We left feeling touched and inspired by these beautiful, resilient human beings who went through such tragedy. Riding our bikes home afterward, we felt more real and present taking it all in and being surrounded by life, happiness, history and beauty. In a strange way, we felt light. We felt honored to be part of the legacy Anne Frank left and thrilled to be here living the lives that we have. Amsterdam itself has been through so much and still endures, it’s history is a celebration of humanity and life! Have a wonderful time!!!

  63. Enjoy! I spent a week in Amsterdam a couple months back and wanted to go this summer again. Hubby and I darn near soiled our pants when we saw the ticket prices. I’m SO glad you are still able to go. Bundle up though, it’s still pretty chilly according to my friends that live there. The Tulip Museum and a restaurant called La Perla were my favorite things there. I loved everything though!

  64. Mari says...

    That’s so great Joanna!

    I’ve been to Amsterdam once, on two VERY rainy days! Don’t let that bring you down, you can still perfectly enjoy the city. Some places I’d definitely recommend visiting are Anne Frank’s house, and the Rijksmuseum (touristy places, I know, but still worth the visit). Also, if you’re in the mood and have time, go to Keukenhof – . It’s beautiful and it’s only available from March to May. There’s the Foam Fotografiemuseum as well, which is awesome. Also, be sure to visit a Hofje, which are hidden gardens in the city that you can access through a door. One address is Prinsengracht 159 (Zon’s Hofje) (open Mon-Fri during the day I believe). Last but not least, go to the Van Gogh museum! It will blow your mind (plus Vondelpark is just a few blocks away).
    I hope you have fun!

    xoxo Mari

  65. The Appeltaart (a traditional Dutch apple cake served with fresh whipped cream) from Winkel was AMAZING! We ate it twice on our last day there. The waitress laughed and told us that we weren’t the only ones to come for it twice in one day. It’s that good!

  66. there’s an amazing sushi place called “Sumo”, its is a MUST!!!

  67. The windmill bar! Its a brewery in an old windmill. It’s real name is De Gooyer windmill on the Funenkade. Great day bar and interesting people go there!
    Also any genever bar – it is Dutch specialty (flavored liquors)! AMS is one of our’s favorite cities for quick trips and my husband and I dont even smoke pot :)
    you guys will LOVE it!

  68. How exciting!! We just came back and I’m raring for another trip. We loved the Tropenmuseum–definitely worth a visit. Loved the Noordmarkt too for the organic food and crafts on Sat and the antiques on mon.
    We also loved the Pancake House–they have 79 varieties!!!

  69. My boyfriend and I just went to Amsterdam in March! I can safely say it is now my favorite city in Europe. You’re going to have such an amazing time. =)

    I would highly recommend getting the I amsterdam city card ( It gives you free access to all of the trams (the primary form of public transportation) and free or discounted access to a lot of the museums and other attractions. You can buy one for 72 hour access for 60 euros (per person). We bought ours at the visitor center outside of Centraal station, though I think you can buy them elsewhere, as well.

    We also did a Holland International candlelight canal cruise (discounted with the city card), which gives you a lovely view of the city (especially the houseboats!) at night. And, it comes complete with wine and cheese.

    Last, but certainly not least, buy some stroopwafels. They are absolutely delicious.

    Have fun on your trip!

  70. OMG, you’re coming to my city :-) Lots of good tips already. If you’re staying for a couple of days and you are here on monday I would recommend Applepie on monday morning for breakfast at Winkel at the Noordermarkt. The best applepie in town! Trust me, I tried all of them ;-)

    Have a great time!

  71. This is awesome because I’m going to Amsterdam at the end of May. All of these comments have just helped me plan my trip too! Have a great time and I can’t wait to hear what you liked.

  72. Amazing! I am going to Amsterdam in June to visit my best friend from college as well! My current roommate and I are traveling together for one week to visit our long lost bestie and to seee the city (among Paris and Switzerland). Can’t wait to hear your experience!


  73. Oh, that sounds wonderful!

    However, I won’t share the experience my friends had…just because it was not so great for them : )

    BUT, I can’t wait to take a spontaneous trip someplace!

  74. You MUST have the cities best apple tart at Cafe Winkel.
    Amsterdam public library has a cafe on the top floor, and at 8 in the evening all of their desserts go on sale for 1 euro. THEN eat the dessert on the observation deck that gives you an AMAZING view of the city!

  75. Ha, I’m such a geek! I read your weekend post and figured that the Amsterdam you were talking about must be some city in New York since you said it would be a quick trip! Ahhhh. Have a wonderful time!!!

  76. Hello Jo,

    Alas, I am not writing to give any cool tips on what to do in A’dam, but to advise you to BRING YOUR WINTER GEAR!!! I live in Brussels, like 2 hours away from Amsterdam, and trust me- Benelux is freezing right now! We’re talking rain and 10°C tops!



  77. One of the BEST cities in the world! They have great Indonesian food (former colony) and don’t miss the Anne Frank Museum. The Dylan Hotel is a great place to stop for drinks and Frozen Fountain is a fabulous design store. Hit as many museums as you can, as they are all fabulous. And the cancal boat tours are touristy, but very fun.

  78. Hi Joanna,
    My husband and I were in Amsterdam for a quick trip in August (just three days) and we did an awesome bike tour of the city with We did the tour on our first day and it was a great way to get acquainted with the city. It helped us decide what areas we wanted to go back to and I felt much more confident renting bikes on our own after having learned some of the ‘road rules’ on the tour. You guys are going to have a brilliant time – enjoy!

  79. Leeza says...

    If you like meat, make sure you have dinner at: Castell, Lijnbaansgracht 252-253-254, Amsterdam


    Leeza, from Holland

  80. It’s a beautiful city, so nice to just wander, get lost and discover some great places.
    We just had a guest editor on our blog who lives in Amsterdam and listed a bunch of places to hit up – maybe some of these will be of interest..

  81. I would love to go to Amsterdam! Have a great time. Spontaneous trips are the best!

  82. Have a fantastic trip. I love your spontaneity with this one!

  83. Defintely take the FREE walking tour! My husband Ben & I went to Amsterdam in 2009 and loved every minute of it! Have so much fun with your man–I’m pumped you get to squeeze in a little European goodness in April. YAY.

  84. A says...

    I just got back from a trip to The Netherlands. I’m sure it has already been said, but go to Keukenhof Gardens (it is the perfect time of year to see those tulips) and also check out The Rijksmuseum if you are an art fan. The Rembrandts are amazing! It is a lovely city. Have fun!

  85. I hope you see this or someone else recommended Nam Lee restaurant. It was the best meal we had there. You have to order the oysters in black bean sauce. Amazing!

    Also, the original pancake house for a Dutch pancake

    Mike’s bikes have awesome bike tours, city ans countryside. And of course the Van goh and Heineken museums. Have fun. We loved Amsterdam

  86. You have to visit the Anne Frank house, it’s amazing :)

  87. Forgot to mention Van Gogh Museum in Vondelpark. Both are excellent.

    Sorry for the long comments, have a fantastic time!

  88. Sorry if any of these are repeats:

    *Keet in Huis, Pol’s Potten and Sissyboy Homeland are all on the same street.

    Keet in Huis at Ksnm-Laan 297. Amazing kid store. Get a toy for Toby.

    Pol’s Potten at Knsm-Laan 39. Super rad housewares. They have limited hours.

    Sissyboy Homeland: they have a few locations, the one at knsm-Laan 19 has a cafe which was DELICIOUS. Good clothing, cute housewares.

    I also loved walking around the Nines neighborhood and the shop Frozen Fountain was adorable. Found at Prinsengracht 629.

    You have to get a dutch pancake from a pancake house and some fries. Vlaams Frites Huis is famous.

    Sissboy Homeland cafe was delicious, so were the sandwiches at Hartenkaas (Reestrat 19).

    Definitely check out Ann Frank Huis (get tickets first, you can email Toby an e-card when you finish the tour); we also loved the Rijksmuseum to see Dutch masters at their finest; I also loved walking into Begijnhof, this adorable tiny little neighborhood with the cutest church.

    Also go check out the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) and Blaubrug (Blue Bridge) if you have time. The Bloemenmarkt is a flower market on the water, it was sweet but only if you have time.

    Take a canal ride if you have time, definitely rent bikes, there are places all over (MacBike was easy to work with).

    Go!! It’s in season, it’s super touristy but so darling. We rented bikes at the parking lot and rode them around the fields. I suggest doing Keukenhof on your way out of Amsterdam. You can take a bus from the airport to Keukenhof. So just head to the airport a few hours early, stash your luggage, and go see the tulips.

  89. when i studied abroad in amsterdam, my FAVORITE thing to do was ride around aimlessly on my bike. there are so many amazing neighborhoods and areas to see. i would personally avoid visiting EVERY museum and the super touristy areas (although the red light district is the most historical part of the city). there’s a windmill brewery near the intersection of sarphatistraat and zeeburgerstraat– if the weather is nice the place fills up with locals… dangling their feet along the canals.

    also! the public library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam) has some of the most amazing views of the city from the top floor.

    and my favorite market to walk around is Waterlooplein.

    have an amazing time! of all the european cities i’ve visited, amsterdam is my favorite. can’t wait to read about your trip when you return.

  90. That sounds great! Being Dutch, my favorite place in Amsterdam is a French bakery in the city centre, called ‘Gebroeders Niemeijer’ on the Vinkenstraat 94, although you might want to get fries, caramel waffles (stroopwafels) and cinamon sticks (kaneelstokken) if you are in the Netherlands ;) Have a great stay! Hope the weather is nice, you never know in our rainy small country.

  91. That’s so nice you get to go to Europe! We did realize tickets are a lot cheaper in the spring, but with so many destination weddings to attend this year, our European adventure got postponed to next year! Have fun :)

  92. I just want to second (or maybe third) De Bakkerswinkel and Bakken met Passie – two very good bakeries!

    Have a wonderful time!

  93. Have fun! My favorite part of visiting there last year was renting a bike and just riding around. I’d recommend heading towards the museums, as there are some parks over there and it’s much easier to navigate than the streets.

  94. yay! glad to hear the europe trip worked out – and can’t wait to hear how it goes with toby – i bet it’ll be amazing !

  95. I just thought of another…a euro chain but so amazing…Maoz. Falafel pita loaded with goodies. Yum yum yum!!

  96. Anonymous says...

    Go to The Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht. They have gorgeous pancakes that are seriously huge. You won’t regret it! Alma x

  97. you must must must have pancakes for breakfast! i didn’t think much else of their food was impressive but the pancakes were absolutely delightful!
    have fun!!

  98. I was there for a weekend while studying abroad in college so you can guess what we did the ENTIRE time lol! How fitting you’re going on 4/20 weekend ;) Many people have suggested the Van Gogh Museum, which is a must, but if you’re feeling adventurous take it to the next level and eat some (legal) shrooms before you go LOL! the paintings come alive! waves are crashing, trees are swaying, you get the idea. One of the craziest experiences i’ve ever had :)

  99. I love Holland!! I’ve been there about 6 times as I have a good friend who lives outside Amsterdam. Must do’s (if possible):
    –Canal ride,
    –bicycle tour in Amsterdam (although I’ve never done one…I’m sure it would be very interesting),
    –the Keukenhof would be beautiful (but a short-ish train ride outside the city)
    –Anne Frank Haus (but the Corrie ten Boom Haus in Haarlem is better, in my opinion)
    –I’m sure the Rijkmuseum is fasinating (never been) but it is quite huge and can take up a great deal of time. If you want to see a musuem though, maybe go to the Van Gogh museum.

    –Hope this helps! Enjoy!! Can’t wait to hear.

  100. Amsterdam is one of the prettiest & one of my favorite cities I’ve ever been to! If you’re in to museums, the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh museum are great. One thing you MUST do however, is go to one of their pancake houses–they do thin, almost crepe like pancakes as big as a pizza with every topping imaginable available. I had a cinnamon/apple/whipped cream one and a curry pancake as well! Enjoy:)

  101. mo says...

    WOW! I am so excited for you! Amsterdam is at the top of my list of places I want to go, and now I get to hear your tips after you get back. :) Good for you guys! Have a great time!

  102. Jeanne says...

    My favorite part of our trip was a visit to the flower market in Aalsmeer. It is on the outskirts of Amsterdam but easy to get to by city bus. And don’t forget to eat lots of pomme frites in paper cones! I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

  103. I went last Summer on my way to Croatia and then Venice and I loved it! There’s some great independent restaurants and some really cute shops around Haarlemmerstraat. Definitly try to visit the Van Gogh Museum if you can and I loved visiting Ann Frank’s house beacuse I was a little obsessed with her diary as a teenager (print tickets before if you do because there are huge queues but you can beat them with pre-bought tickets with a set time on). Also, I loved an Etheopian restaurant called Semhar where they served loads of piles of curry type food on a giant plate with pancake/bread things to soak it all up and the coconut and banana beers served in coconut shells were pretty special too. Have a great time. x

  104. I studied abroad in Amsterdam many moons ago! So while I don’t have any advice about restaurants or anything above a student budget, I *do* know about inexpensive treats:

    * Near the museums is the busy Leidseplein area, and in there is an ice cream shop called Australian Homemade — it seems weird to go to a place called Australian in the Netherlands for delicious ice cream, but there you go. My faaaaavorite is the speculoos flavor, which is something like a spiced gingerbread cookie — so so good!

    * DO eat stroopwafels — you can actually get these at Trader Joe’s, but they’re so much better in the Netherlands, even if you just pick up a package from the grocery store (which is a lot cheaper than getting them from the tourist shops). So worth it, and be sure to bring a bunch home too!

    * Just for fun, you might want to try a late-night snack from one of the many FEBO food vending machines around town. Just to say that you’ve tried it! I’m sure it’s not quite as tasty if you’re not drunk, but I remember the croquettes (krokets) being good, or as the Dutch say, lekker.


  105. Miss Becca says...

    SO excited for you! It willl be a wonderful trip I am sure! Please take lots of houseboat photos!!

  106. How exciting! I’m living in Amsterdam at the moment, I’ll be walking around because I have friends visiting, if I see you walking around I might not resist saying hello…oh my, did this sounded too weird? Anyways, I’d recommend the Noordmarket for a classic dutch Saturday morning rituals. Right next to it it’s Winkel Caffe with it’s famous apple pie. Typical walk through the 9 streets and the main canals (Herengracht, Keisergracht, Prisengracht…rent a bike!) I have a special love for Westerpark/Westergasfabriek (if it’s not raining you can relax on the grass with Toby) and Haarlemmerstraat. The secret neighborhood Begijnhof, FOAM museum and Van Gogh Museum…But Amsterdam is one of those cities that is enjoyable even if you’re just walking or cycling through the streets. I’m curious to see your post when you come back!Have fun!!!

  107. I went to Amsterdam a few years ago and it is one of my most favorite cities in europe. There is a central flea market on the weekends (we found some awesome antiques, including a great door knocker that no lives on out bathroom door), if you go, be sure to grab an apple pastry or apple pie from the little cafe looking onto the market. The fondue was also amazing, and the canals are beautiful – worth taking a tour for sure.

    Have fun!

  108. I love spontaneous trips! I went to Paris not too long ago on a whim, and it was the most exhilarating experience. Instead of over thinking my weekend agenda there, I did everything spontaneously! And to this day, remains one of the best trips of my life. I’d love to do that in Amsterdam! Have a great time + safe travels!

  109. Nicole says...

    Check out They just returned from a trip to Amsterdam!

  110. I went to Amsterdam and LOVED it!!
    Great museums & yummy food.

    Definitely rent bikes, and don’t be afraid to leave the city center (you can do that in about 10 minutes). Ride to Vondelpark & through the cute surrounding neighborhoods.

    The Anne Frank museum is worth seeing for sure.

    Also, right near the Anne Frank House is a place to get authentic delicious pancakes. It’s simply called The Pancake Bakery and you have your choice of sweet or savory pancakes.

    Have a wonderful trip!

    Amsterdam is one of my favorite places I have visited!!

  111. Trish says...

    How fantastic ! You will have to save up and bring Toby to Dublin next year… It’s the perfect place to bring a kiddie on holidays. Have fun……

  112. Anonymous says...

    Joanna, i’m leaving for Amsterdam tomorrow as well. We planning to visit Keukenhof on Monday. Weather forecast is ominous.


  113. Ha!! Me and my husband just got back from 4 days there. The most beautiful city Ive ever seen. People is super stylish, bakeries are super-uber delicious, they have very good coffee everywhere. You will def love the bikes and the beautiful people in there.
    Take some time to go to FOAM museum, where they are having a photography exposition on “The New York Times Magazine”, which is completely amazing!!! And The Van Gogh museum in brilliant as well.
    awwww I love that city!! Have fun guys!!!

  114. I agree with Dee- The Pancake House near the Anne Frank Huis is great! We actually just ate there… an hour ago! I’m in Amsterdam right now, although we’re headed to Den Haag on Sunday, then on to Brussels. Have a great time!! According to the locals the current weather (grey skies and rainy) is supposed to last through the weekend, but nice skies are in store next week, so hopefully they come early for you!

  115. Jennifer__NJ says...

    So jealous….have a wonderful time! Enjoy.

  116. We brought our toddler (1yr at the time) to Amsterdam last November and we had a GREAT time. I mean, a really fabulous time. The entire time while we were there, we were dreaming about buying an apartment and visiting a zillion times a year. Have fun! We’re jealous.

    ps. We actually eloped in Amsterdam and were married on a small wood boat on the canal, which was insanely romantic.

  117. LF says...

    I live close to Amsterdam! I hope you have a pleasant stay there…

    Funny thing is… next week I’m in NY for 5 days… :)

  118. Beawere of bikes!!! :-DDD

    What’s not to love in Amesterdam!!! My first time in Amesterdam: my 3 best girl friends kidnapped me a month before my wedding and we went to Amesterdam. My future husband was so jellous because he already knew the city and wanted to be the first person to take me there, because he always says that Amsterdam is the most romantic place, with the water cannals and the tulips and everything…

    Since then, I’ve been to Amesterdam another 4 times, I guess. It’s always very nice (last time was in december, with our 1 year old son)

    Museums are a must: the national museum and van ghogs museum!!

    The flower market, the coffee shops, the Vondel Park, red light district…