In this post you’ll find my travel diary/guide to Amsterdam. We went in mid-April on a trip that consisted of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and three destinations in Norway (Oslo, Balestrand, and Bergen). Our full trip itinerary is below:
Day 1- Fly into Amsterdam // Day 2- Amsterdam // Day 3- Amsterdam/fly to Copenhagen // Day 4- Copenhagen // Day 5- Copenhagen // Day 6- Copenhagen/fly to Oslo, Norway // Day 7- Train from Oslo to Myrdal, train to Flam, ferry to Balestrand // Day 8- Balestrand, Norway // Day 9- Ferry to Flam, train to Myrdal, train to Bergen // Day 10- Bergen, Norway // Day 11- Fly to Oslo, fly to United States
In my opinion, it was the best of Amsterdam/Scandinavia and a once-in-a-lifetime trip. My mom planned it (I take ZERO credit this one!) and brought along this guide book during the trip. We would highly recommend our travel itinerary, but note that we planned it according to my little sister’s school schedule, as she was studying abroad in Copenhagen, so you could definitely switch it up! Our ONLY regret is not packing less, ha! I would recommend bringing a backpack, a crossbody bag, and a medium sized suitcase. You can find everything I packed for the trip here. The weather we experienced ranged from the low 40s to low 60s and we had blue skies and sunshine every single day, except for the last day in Bergen it drizzled!
This post includes all of the details from our stay in Amsterdam, but you can also find our Copenhagen Travel Diary and Norway Travel Diary as well. I only included restaurants/excursions that provided the best experiences, and that I would recommend to a friend. 🙂 I also only provide our personal opinion and candid photos, because the facts on everything, as well as the professional photos, are already available online through the links I include. At the end of the post, you’ll find my overall description and thoughts on the place, so definitely make sure to read that!
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions at all! I’m here to share our photos and tips, in hopes that it can inspire a trip or help you find the best spots if life takes you to any of these places!
Thoughts on Amsterdam
We spend a lot of time wandering the streets of Amsterdam, soaking up all of the warm spring Amsterdam sunshine and popping into little shops (there’s a great vintage luxury handbag store right down the street of the store & Other Stories!). It was actually my second time being there, because I went three-ish years ago while I was studying abroad. It’s the kind of city that makes you want to get lost among the slanted buildings and winding canals. It’s so overwhelmingly charming, quaint, and historic. My sister called it the “Nantucket of Europe” and I have to agree. We all could easily see ourselves living there (which says a LOT) and it’s definitely in my top three favorite European places (right behind Prague and the Amalfi Coast)!
Where We Stayed
Hotel Esthera— This is a gorgeous boutique hotel in Amsterdam, right alongside one of the prettiest canals. The décor was exquisite and very on brand for me 😉 with lush palms and pink flamingos everywhere! The pros were its location to lots of awesome restaurants and fun shopping spots. The one downfall was that they didn’t have a traditional concierge so it was difficult to book things through the hotel (like the tulip garden tickets per say). It’s a gorgeous hotel though and we loved hanging out in the fancy living room-esq lobby.
What We Did
Amsterdam Boat Center Canal Boat Tour— As soon as we landed in Amsterdam from the US, we checked into the hotel, dropped off our luggage there, and walked down the block to hop on the boat tour. It was a warm, sun drenched day and the perfect way to ease into the new time zone and see an awesome overview of the city. Amsterdam is one of those places where a boat really is the best way to see everything, so I highly recommend starting out with a canal tour!
Keukenhof Tulip Gardens— We happened to be in Amsterdam smack in the middle of tulip season, which was so lucky! There’s a famous tulip garden (it’s actually like multiple gargens— it’s huge!) located about 30 minutes outside of the city. After trying to figure out public transportation to get out to it (this is one of those moments we wished the hotel had a concierge ha), we decided to hire a taxi to take us there and tour us around for the morning. The taxis there are so nice (luxury cars are the norm!) so it ended up being a really easy way to get to the tulips. There’s a bus that you can take to the airport to get another bus to the tulip garden, but honestly it was our second day there when we were trying to figure it all out so we just gave ourselves some grace and got in the car. ?
BUT the journey was worth it. Keukenhof, the tulip gardens, were absolutely spectacular— full of every type of tulip imaginable, all planted and blooming in intricate designs and color coordinated throughout the gardens. It was definitely worth seeing, but clearly a tourist destination. And though we are the first to admit that we are very touristy, we were more interested in the less frequented tulip FIELDS. We had spotted huge, colorful tulip fields right before the entrance to the Keukenhof gardens, so after driving around for a bit trying to figure out how to get there, we finally figured out that we could park across the street from them and enter via the side of the road. There were less than ten people there and it was much more of the authentic, Holland tulip fields moment we were going for. It was also my dream photo background, but are we surprised?! 😉 Tip: drive around the countryside outside of Keukenhof for a bit and I guarantee you’ll stumble upon some stunning tulip fields!
Anne Frank House— My sister and I have already toured the Anne Frank House when we’ve visited Amsterdam before in the past, but my mom and dad of course wanted to visit while they were there. Unfortunately, we were unable to get tickets. They museum releases 80% of the tickets online for purchase two months in advance of the day you want to go. They release the other 20% of the tickets the morning of the day that you want to go, at 9 AM. However, the ticket release time fluctuates day to day and we tried to get them online multiple mornings in a row and failed (there 2,100 people in the virtual waiting cue before us at one point). Our tip would be to book your tickets two months in advance, so that you 100% know that you have them going into your trip. My sister and I had gotten lucky in scoring our tickets only a few weeks in advance when we visited before.
Heineken Experience— To be honest, nobody in my family is a Heineken drinker (I don’t drink beer at all actually), and my dad loves to drink beer that’s as locally brewed as possible depending on where we are, but it was really cool to see the history of the brand and the process that goes into brewing the beer. I’m a total geek for any brand that has an authentic history and tells it in a compelling way, so I really enjoyed getting to see that part of the experience. It’s definitely a must for anyone who drinks beer or loves an interactive museum.
Where We Ate
Trattoria Caprese— We ate dinner here during our first night, per our hotel’s recommendation. It’s a little Italian spot that’s about a minute walk from the hotel. We ordered wine, pasta, and buffalo mozzarella and tomato… total comfort food as we were still a bit jet legged! Big statement coming at ya: it was the best buffalo mozzarella I’ve had in my life. No joke.
Cafe George— Our second night in Amsterdam we ate at Cafe George, which is a luxe cafe with Capri, Italy vibes. It was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel and we had the best time there! Order an Aperol spritz to start then the Vermentino wine to split. 😉 The seafood pasts were DELISH. Definitely a fun spot to go with a group.
I hope you found this post to be helpful, inspiring, or at least fun to scroll through. 🙂 Definitely let me know if you end up visiting any of these spots due to my recommendations, I would absolutely love to hear what you think! xx