Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS – this tolerant city isn’t the first place you think of when planning a mother daughter trip, but Amsterdam offers so much more than red lights. We needed a whole week to explore.
8 days / 7 nights
INK Sofitel – located in the city center, near Dam square (a few blocks away from the canals.) Since we visited in high season of April, hotels were snatched up quickly. We planned several day trips from Amsterdam, so this hotel provided quick access to the Amsterdam Centraal train station.
Airbnb – always my first option when searching for accommodations. In my last visit to Amsterdam, we found a beautiful canal house in the neighborhood of Jordaan that just screams Dutch charm.
Pancakes Amsterdam – with several locations throughout the city, you can enjoy breakfast just off the canal or even right after a visit to the Anne Frank Museum. Look for poffertjes, traditional Dutch pancakes that are sweeter, smaller battered treats. My personal favorite is the ham and cheese pancakes which is more like a flat savory crepe.
The Pantry – traditional Dutch food. Plates are hearty, so come hungry. My favorite are the bitterballen, beef croquettes served with mustard (excellent bar snack). Look for hutspot (one pot of boiled potatoes, carrots, and onion mashed together), boerenkoolstamppot and zuurkoolstamppot paired with a smoked sausage or a meatball.
La Zoccola del Pacioccone – local spot for pizza!
Melly’s Cookie Bar – fresh, warm stroopwaffels! It’s a small bakery, but 100% worth the wait if there is a line. Also check out van Wondren Stroopwafels near the Bloemenmarkt.
Restaurant de Luwte – a must for dinner! Candlelit 3 course meal, reservations required.
Cup a la Cake – you’ll want to grab some sandwiches and treats for your boat ride on the canals here.
Eatmosfera – excellent pizza near Rembrandt Square! Reservations recommended.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij – freshly baked, white chocolate filled, dark chocolate cookies. The bakery even has a door man to regulate the amount of visitors – only 4-6 people can fit inside at a time. The line moves fast as they only sell one type of cookie, so only thing you need to decide is how many to buy.
Puccini Bomboni – fine chocolate shop, great for souvenirs
Frens Haringhandel – Fresh Herring stand just outside of the Bloemenmarkt.
Anne Frank House – mark your calendar exactly *two months in advance of your desired visit to purchase tickets online for a specific time slot. Walk through the secret annex where Anne and her family lived in hiding for almost 2 years before being discovered by the Gestapo.
The fine print: 80% of tickets are released exactly two months in advance at 12:00pm* and 20% on the day itself. In case you miss the window to purchase in advance you have a slim chance of purchasing tickets for the same time. Every day at 9:00am*, the tickets for the day are made available on the website. (*Amsterdam time)
Van Gogh Museum – Three very well designed floors that walk you through the life of the famous painter. Recommended to book online in advance.
Canal Boat Ride – Skip the big boat tours and opt for a more intimate ride through the canals through Airbnb Experiences. The “Cozy and Fun Boat Experience” is affordable, limited to 8 people, and Dutch snacks and (unlimited) wine is provided.
Keukenhof – Hello, bucket list. Only open 6 weeks out of the year – late March to mid May. I cannot stress enough, GO EARLY. Like 8am early and buy tickets online. Opt for the combi ticket which includes transportation and entrance fees. We took a short train to Schiphol Airport (you’ll need to purchase the fare to the airport) to catch Bus 858 (fare included in the combi ticket). Make your way outside and follow the “Keukenhof” signs.
Lisse – Get lost in the Dutch countryside on bike while exploring the spring bulb fields. Just outside the Keukenhof entrance in the parking lot is Van Dam Bike Rentals. This is a must!! Chose the purple route 4 for less people and a more private adventure.
Zaanse Windmills – free and open to the public – a quick 30 minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal. Learn about wooden clogs, Gouda cheese and how the Dutch pump water out of the swampy lowlands. We booked a local tour through Airbnb experience for more color commentary.
Albert Cuyp Market – street market located in the De Pijp area. You can find everything from souvenirs, cheese, ethnic foods, and stroopwafels. A visit to Original Stroopwafels alone is worth the trek.
Vondelpark – explore the Dutch way on bike from A-Bike Rental.
The Red Light District – no trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete with a stroll through the red lights. Just make sure to keep your phone in your pocket. The girls will become aggressive and some keep a cup of urine near the door if they catch tourists trying to take photos. Word to the wise, be aware of the blue lights…
Coffeeshops recommended by locals: Coffeeshop Basjoe, Gray Area, Paradox. Bulldog is touristy and more expensive.
While Amsterdam in April was still cold, it’s definitely worth planning a visit around the tulip season. There’s nothing else like it!