aKnowing I would be in Amsterdam for 3 months with a 4 month old baby, I made sure to go bike dodging each day (in your city, I believe you would call this activity "walking") and find things to do. One day, our bike dodge took us to The Yoga Garden where I signed up for a weekly Baby + Mom Yoga class. The class takes place in 2 parts: In the first half hour, the babies get a massage and the last hour goes towards yoga practice.
As I was getting my mat set up for my first class, the yoga instructor told me to get my son completely naked for the half hour massage. I had to confirm: "You want this baby out of a diaper for an entire half hour?" To me, this had "bad news" written all over it, but I thought to myself, "When in Rome..." and had him buck naked for the longest 30 minutes of my life. Somehow, there were no Lululemon casualties that day, but as I planned to come each week, I wondered when I would be paying for new studio hardwood floors.
Once my son began rolling and could move from one side of the room to the other faster than I can say "namaste", my luck at the yoga class ran out. He began throwing a wrench in the studio's zen vibe as he started rolling into other babies, the instructor, various mats and downward dogs. He also broke his "no peeing while naked" streak, and with all of his rolling, I wasn't quite able to contain it. He pretty much marked his territory across the entire room, and didn't stop to avoid anyone's personal belongings, yoga mats, blankets, or those damn hardwood floors. I was never asked to replace them, but we were asked not to come back.
Luckily for us there were a lot of other fantastic things to do in this city. Part 1 (This post) covers things to do in Amsterdam by foot (and stroller); Part 2 covers Holland by bike, boat or car; and Part 3 talks food and drinks..
So, here are my favourite things to in 2-wheeled city by foot:
1. Take the Free Walking Tour of Amsterdam This tour runs daily at 10, 11:15 and 14:15. It runs for approximately 2.5 hours and if you're interested in taking it, you just show up at The National Monument in Dam Square 10-15 minutes before the tour is scheduled to start. Once there, they will pair you up with a group and an amazing guide. This tour is a great way to see a lot of the city; some points of interest include the Anne Frank House, The Red Light District, Dutch art, hidden churches, and The Royal Palace.
2. Visit Museums Most museums in Amsterdam have super long line ups; but they also allow guests to order tickets ahead of time online. If you are organized enough to choose a date and time to go to the museums you are interested in, it will save you a lot of time out of lineups.
The Anne Frank Huis If you only have time for 1, I recommend this one. The line up to get in is the biggest of them all, so save yourself the 3 hours and purchase an online ticket here. I ordered mine ahead of time and was able to ring a doorbell and walk right in. If you can't get tickets ahead of time, plan to arrive as soon as the museum opens to the public as the wait is usually the shortest at this time.
The museum is located in the middle of Amsterdam at Prinsengracht 263-267. The museum contains steep staircases, Anne's actual diary and The Secret Annex, the place where Anne and 7 others hid from 1942-1944.
The Van Gogh Museum This museum is located at Paulus Potterstraat 7 and is open daily from 9AM-6PM. Tickets cost €17 and f an extra €5, you can purchase the audio tour (Totally worth it). The museum's floors showcase Van Gogh's self-portraits, influences and many masterpieces while telling his story as an artist.
The Heineken Experience: You can find this brewery at Stadhouderskade 78 and tickets cost €16 each (Last ticket is sold at 5PM on weekdays and 7PM on weekends). The tour is interactive, but self guided and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. You can also download an audio and video app to help guide you as you move through the building. The tour gives you 3 free beers and after visiting, you will see that the rumours are true: Heineken does taste better in Amsterdam.
The Rijks Museum This museum and it's architecture is stunning, inside and out. It is open from 9AM-5PM and tickets cost €17.50. There are over 8000 articles (And lots of Rembrandt) and they "tell the story of 800 years of Dutch history, from the year 1200 right up to the present." I only had a morning to explore it and it definitely wasn't enough time.
The Houseboat Museum: Located at Prinsengracht 296 K, you can pay €2 to tour a houseboat called the Hendrika Maria. If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live on a houseboat in Amsterdam or just happen to be in the area with some time to spare, you should check it out.
3. Shop at De 9 Straatjes The 9 Streets (Which are Actually 3 vertical streets separated horizontally 3 times) are located behind the dam and in between the Singel and Prinsengracht. They are charming, packed with amazing scenery, landmarks, great food, shops and fashion. And I mean, who wouldn't want this kind of selection when shopping for socks? Not my husband, that's for sure.
4. The Flower Market: With the flowers on houseboats along 630-600 Singel, this is the only floating flower market in the world.
5. Stroll through Jordaan: This was my favourite district in Amsterdam. It is full of narrow streets with boutiques, shops, pubs, markets. "The Jordaan begins at Brouwersgracht, just west of Centraal Station, and arches around the Canal Ring between Prinsengracht and Lijnbaansgracht before ending at the Leidsegracht. The area north of Rozengracht is the more touristy and commercial section though the quieter area south is no less scenic. Traditionally, the Jordaan was defined by the area in which you could hear the bells of Westerkerk– as described by Anne Frank in her diaries." (iamsterdam)
6. Rembrantplein Square: This is one of the busiest squares in Amsterdam and it is named after Rembrandt (He owned a house near by). It was "originally known as the Botermarkt (Butter Market). It was established in 1668 and built from the remnants of the old city port. As the name suggests, the first use for this central square was as a dairy market." (A View on Cities) It is now home to many shops, cafes, restaurants and clubs.
7. Check out art at the Spui Market: Every Sunday at the Spui, local artists set up their work for sale. Surrounding these artists is a square of cafes and bookshops. Also in the Spui is The American Bookstore, which hosts author events and sells books...in English!
8. Vondel Park is the largest park in Amsterdam and is a fantastic place to visit. While I had some good picnics, jogs, walks, and reads in this park, I particularly enjoyed 2 restaurants:
De Groot Melkhuis (The Great Milk House) Right in the middle of the park, this restaurant is set up cafeteria style and you can have sandwiches made for you. It is right by the water, so it is a relaxing spot in the park.
‘t Blauwe Teehuise (The Blue Tea House) is a pub with snack food that runs from an old windmill. After you order inside, you can enjoy your drink and snack on patio tables with strung lights and a great view of the park. If you're unsure what to order, try a mint tea with a Stroopwaffle!
uh oh, it looks like I'm beginning to dabble into my Amsterdam food and drink post. The next one will cover bikes, my boat renting addiction and driving cars on this side of the pond. In the meantime, please add your Amsterdam suggestions in the comment section below!