In continuation of my Top 5 Places I Think You Should Visit series, a follow-up to my post, The Top 5 Places I Officially Can’t Wait To Visit, today I want to talk about Amsterdam.
Now, most everyone’s heard of Amsterdam and know it’s reputation and what people enjoy doing there, but I’m here to tell you that Amsterdam is so much more than that.
Amsterdam is truly one of my top 5 favorite places in the world and it has nothing to do with what it’s known for. And because I know most people assume I say I loved it because of their reputation as a city, I already have my ‘what makes Amsterdam so special’ speech playing out in my head before I even finish saying the sentence, ‘Oh, I loved my time in Amsterdam.’
But before I get into all of that, I want to share with you a little bit about my first time in Amsterdam. I had been travelling for just over a few weeks on my first solo backpacking trip across Europe and had spent most of that time in Germany. I had planned to stay in Europe an entire year, so, when 3 weeks in, I still hadn’t quite found my footing abroad, you could say I was starting to question this decision and how long I had been thinking it would actually last.
That was, until I got off the train in Amsterdam.
I remember the first thing I saw walking out of the train station was a bridge over one of the canals with lettering in lights that spelled out, ‘Today I love you.’
I had no idea how true that would end up being.
As I had experienced hostels as a solo traveler while in New Zealand, I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for in one. Mainly easy ways to meet people, a comfortable place to hangout with those people, and friendly and knowledgeable staff. I got all of that and more out of the hostel I had booked and for the first time since leaving home, I felt like I had made the right choice coming to Europe, and that a year might actually go by quicker than I thought.
But it wasn’t just about the hostel. Amsterdam, like Zadar, has a certain energy about it. A certain je ne sai quois that necessarily be described, but can absolutely be felt.
The Dutch I have found are incredibly friendly and kind to tourists and travelers alike. I visited 4 other cities and towns besides Amsterdam while in The Netherlands and found the same kindness and generosity everywhere I went.
The canals make the city a very unique shape to wander around and are beautiful any time of day, either sunlit during the afternoons or lit up at night with rows of fairy lights.
Vondelpark, a beautiful bit of greenery in the middle of a city is a perfect getaway if you’re wanting to get off the busy streets. Filled with plenty of surprises of it’s own, you’ll find a variety of cafe’s, lots of playgrounds, a couple bodies of water, lovely green foliage and even a wooden jungle gym type feature built throughout some of the trees, almost like a mini treetop walk. (okay, okay, it was totally designed for kids, but I swear it’s still a pretty cool little spot!)
Vondelpark is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
At night the city lights up and the streets become filled with people. There’s plenty of exciting nightlife and even more sweets shops and restaurants worth grabbing a bite at.
And though I don’t imagine everyone saw the interweaving of cyclists, pedestrians, cars and trams the way I did, I also thought it was like watching a work of art weave itself in and out miraculously without any accidents happening. (sidenote: though I didn’t see any, accidents do happen there, mainly because pedestrians walk in the bicycle lanes without realizing it. So if you do go visit, be sure to keep an eye out where you’re walking!)
I ended up returning to Amsterdam 3 times on that trip and have been back once since then. And I don’t go back for the party life or because of what it’s known for, I go back because I will always feel a pull to that city and to the experiences I had there. And of the many other travelers I’ve talked to about it, they all have come to the same conclusion:
Amsterdam is so much more than people think. It is truly something special.
So when you’re planning your next trip to that area, consider visiting Amsterdam. Not because of what you may think you know about it, but because of what I guarantee you don’t. Not yet, anyways 🙂
Until Next Time Searchers.
P.S: Have you been to Amsterdam? Tell me about your favorite part in the comments below!