Not interested in the red light district? Smoking in the coffee shops? Taking part in a stag do you will later have no memory of? Then let Destinology writer Catherine Howarth tell you of all the amazing things her Amsterdam has to offer.
Having visited Amsterdam a number of times, I think of the book markets where you can find the strangest and most interesting reads, the beautiful canals and boats, Vondelpark where people relax and enjoy the lakes, cafes and greenery, the delicious falafel stands dotted across the city, my favourite pancake café (The Carousel) and much more. Some of my favourite places to visit are:
1.The Katten Kabinet
For anyone who loves cats, this is a great place to visit as not only are there hundreds of weird and wonderful cat artefacts, there are real life cats dotted around the museum! Winner! There is also a gift shop selling cat memorabilia and art prints featuring cats (obviously) and the house itself is really interesting as is the décor, furnishings and gardens. I happened upon a sleeping cat one visit who was not happy to be woken up for a cheeky stroke and I may have left with a claw-like war wound, so practice caution when approaching the cute looking cats in case they are startled by you. Common sense if you will! It’s a great little place to visit and the entry fee goes on the upkeep of the museum and its cats.
Herengracht 497, 1017 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands
2.The Blue Teahouse
If you want to drink THE best coffee in the city as well as the nicest fresh, warm croissants for breakfast then this is the teahouse for you! Located in the heart of Vondelpark, the café looks exactly as its name suggests and there are two levels to sit inside and out in an octagonal shape so the café is open on all sides to the park. Many people take their dogs to the cafe and some people work with their laptops as it is a quiet oasis in the centre of the park. It’s a great way to start the day and have a browse through your guide book planning your next adventure and they serve hot and cold meals throughout the day. Vondelpark itself is a fantastic oasis in the centre of Amsterdam where you will find city dwellers enjoying the park land, having a picnic, playing games, cycling, skating and working on their laptops, it’s one of my favourite parts of the city for long walks and people watching.
Hailed as the best escape room in the city, if you want to spend an hour using your puzzle skills to escape a locked room in 60 minutes, then this could be the place for you. Escape rooms are huge business in the UK and the same can be said for Europe. It’s a great activity for couples and groups of friends and it will be the quickest 60 minutes of your life, trust me. Choose from The Vault which turns the break OUT theory on its head as you have to break IN to this room as a team of highly skilled thieves. The safe is over 90 years old but with state of the art security, a challenge indeed. The other rooms are The Architect and The Port Game, both of which use Amsterdam culture and history as part of the room theme. I didn’t manage to break in OR out for that matter, so I pass the baton on to you!
Beursplein 1, 1012 JW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Yes, a beach, well not quite in the city centre, but it is just a 15 minute ride on the tram (number 26 from the central train station) and voila you will find yourself squeezing the sand between your toes and taking in this manmade beach. It is actually built around a large lake in Amsterdam and on a warm sunny day it’s a great day for relaxing, having a picnic and enjoying the quality beverages at the beach bar as well as snacks they serve throughout the day. The water is pretty shallow, but it’s clean and refreshing and a complete change to the hustle and bustle of the city centre. During the summer there are different parties held at the beach which are worth checking out if you are in the mood for a beach party with a difference.
Strand Blijburg, Amsterdam
If you want some of the best views of the city, try this 22-floor sky deck which offers panoramic views of Amsterdam. Not only can you see the city below, you can also find the highest SWING (yes you read correctly) in Europe which allows you to swing in the air nearly 100 metres above Amsterdam. You will have to wear a safety harness before swinging across the sky but the views it offers (if you dare to look down) are amazing and it is a very exhilarating experience from start to finish. You can also take some fantastic photos, but do be careful you don’t drop your camera because its highly unlikely you will see it again! The tower opened in 1971 as part of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company until a 2016 multi-million-pound refit with nightlife and the city's first ever observation deck opened. Well worth a visit, especially when the sun is setting and for photography lovers who want to get some amazing shots across the city.
Overhoeksplein 1, 1031 KS Amsterdam, Netherlands