I had heard such a lot of comments of Amsterdam before I actually decided to go there in last May. The comments were mainly about the Red Light District or the coffee shops and I would never have expected to be so thrilled about this city and its neighborhoods. I would like to share with you some of my fondest findings.
My favorite neighborhood in Amsterdam: the Joordan
First, we had the chance to find an amazing place to stay during our journey in Amsterdam in the lovely neighbourhood of the city, the Jordaan. In the early 17th century, the district was built to house working class and immigrants. Nowadays, with the phenomenon of gentrification, the population of the Joordan is mainly young professionals and artists.
We had the chance to rent a houseboat studio belonging to a very friendly and welcoming artist, reached on Airbnb. Her houseboat studio was located to the Prinsengracht canal in the heart of the neighborhood which was very convenient. Every point of interest was within walking distance and accommodation was so original. I think it was my best renting experience ever. That’s why I warmly recommend you to have a look on Airbnb, especially if you are interested in quirky accommodation. To avoid any nasty surprise, I suggest you to read carefully the comments of others travelers. It is usually a very good indicator. And don’t worry, the huge majority of people are as you and me, very kind ; )
Visually the Joordan is full of beautiful houses and hosts the grandest canals of Amsterdam: the Prinsengracht. If you like shopping, the Negen Straatjes or the Nine Streets is full of vintage and designer shops, speciality stores and cosy cafés.
That said, for a weekend in Amsterdam, the Jordaan is the a very cool place to stay!
The classics to visit in Amsterdam
As this part deals with the classical must to see in Amsterdam, which you can find more or less in every traditional guide books, I will be quite brief here.
As we had a quite short trip in Amsterdam (4 days and a half), we decided to choose only one museum to visit. And the winner was…… Van Gogh Museum! Congratulations to him! Even if one of us (whom I won’t reveal the identity ; )) is not, I would say, a museum enthusiast, he admitted that it was worth visiting especially with the audio guide.
At the heart of Amsterdam, Dam square is crowded but it is nice to go out and about for an afternoon.
In the district of Oost (in the East), you can find a lovely book market focused on old books which takes place every Friday at the Spui.
For a day trip outside of the city center, the Noord Amsterdam is really worth visiting! You can rent a bicycle, take the free ferry to cross the IJ and enjoy the Amsterdam’s hippest area.
From there, you can ride around historic villages such as Nieuwendam, Ransdorp and Zunderdorp which have authentic stolpboerderijen (traditional Dutch farmhouses), wooden houses and canal locks.
For a more creative experience, you can go to visit the NDSM, an old shipyard industry transformed into cultural hotspot. From there you can discover some artists’ studios, art, vintage market and original bar and coffee such as the Broedplaats de Ceuvel.
My favorite cafés in Amsterdam
To finish on a sweet note (from the French idiom ; )), here are my favorite cafés in Joordan Amsterdam.
Pluk is a lovely address where you can find health lunch and breakfast as well as different types of nice products in a cosy place. Ree 7 is located just next to Pluk and serves delicious and nicely presented pancakes and yogurts. You can also find delicious green juices all around the Joordan.
That said, Amsterdam with its famous Red Light district and coffee shops is full of others beautiful places which are really worth visiting.
Let me know your impressions of the city. French comments are always welcome as well : )