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Four days Amsterdam

My husband and I just returned from our 10-day trip to Amsterdam (4 nights), Bruges (2 nights) and Haarlem (4 nights) and I thought I’d share some details for others planning a similar trip. Overall, there is very little I would change in terms of our itinierary. We found this to be a very satisfying mix of museums, “immersion” kinds of experiences, indoor and outdoor experiences. We felt the pacing to be very doable and not overwhelming. We made time for a day trip from Amsterdam, and 2 day trips from our home base in Haarlem, and I’m glad we did. This post refers only to our first 4 days and nights in Amsterdam. Bruges and Haarlem are in separately posted topics.

DAY 1: Arrived Schiphol airport 11:00 am, train to Amsterdam. Picked up IAmsterdam Card at north entrance of train station. This card is a must; reserve one online and pick up when you get to A’dam--it covers most museums, including both the Rijks and Van Gogh (you must pre-reserve an entry time for VGogh ahead of time). We also really liked convenience of using IAM card to get on and off trams! Checked into apartment in Jordaan. THIS is a great neighborhood—best location, loved staying here and would again. Lunch at Café t’Smalle—recommend!--a lovely spot. Did 5:00 Boat tour with Those Dam Boat Guys—wonderful way to relax, they do a great, fun job! Our guide was also quite knowledgeable about the city. Ate fabulous pizza at La Perla, short walk from boat drop-off. This is a great restaurant area in general, recommended by RS (Twseede Egelantiersdwarsstraat, or “Restaurant Row”).
DAY 2: Breakfast @ Broodje Mokum —great spot and it opens at 6:30 a.m. for early risers. Did Rijksmuseum; get the excellent audio guide! Spent 2 ½ - 3 hours here—as an artist, I was surprised that I didn’t need more time than that--a wonderful museum. Lunch @ Rijks Café—bright, cheery atmosphere, great food/service! Walked to and around Vondelpark—lovely! Did Anne Frank tour at 6:00 pm. (reserved tickets 2 months ahead of time, do it early to ensure your entry. One of the few museums not covered by the IAM card). Very moving experience. Went back to “Restaurant Row” area and ate at Assaggi, an excellent Italian restaurant steps from La Perla. Intimate setting, neighborhood favorite, fabulous food and service!
DAY 3: Breakfast at Bagels and Beans, 3 min. from the Van Gogh museum. (Bagels and Beans has several locations—even though it is a “chain” they serve very satisfying breakfasts!). Did Van Gogh Museum—LOVED this museum! Be sure to get the audio guide here as well—it really adds to the experience. Spent at least 3 hours here—I did delve deeper into some of the works beyond the “highlights tour” on the audio guide. There are also audio “stations” where you can listen to 2 minute narrative excerpts from VG’s letters to his colleagues and family—it is very interesting insight into his private thoughts and artistic point of view. Lunch Café Gruter, close to museum. Great lunch menu, heated patio seating on a very pleasant square, many locals, good prices. Took tram to Rembrandt House museum—HIGHLY recommend! Covered by IAM card. Another excellent, free audio guide. Almost didn’t do this museum and SO glad we did—real immersion into the Golden Age and his life. Beers across the street at Café de Sluyswacht—a lockkeeper’s house from 1695 right on the water—great patio scene. Walked to Dam Square and did RS self-guided Jordaan walk back to apartment, recommend. Evening, wandered the Nine Streets area—charming. Dinner at Moeder’s—wonderful, traditional Dutch food. Ordered the Traditional Dutch meal for two—delicious. Not a place for non meat-potato eaters! Don’t be put off by the surrounding area (rather charmless IMHO), but the inside of this place is kitschy fun with photos of mothers covering every wall surface. We ate outside—super casual, totally satisfying comfort food. (Continued on 4 days Amsterdam, part 2)

Posted by
1041 posts

Suzanne, thank you for your wonderfully complete and detailed trip report. Sounds like you did a lot of preparation, which made your trip go so smoothly. I won’t comment in general about my experiences in the Netherlands except to say that I, too, loved Kinderdijk. Visited it years ago on a bike/barge Netherlands trip and it was a highlight.

Posted by
5151 posts

Suzanne, thanks for this series of trip reports..

We also recommend the Rembrandt House; loved the lessons on etchings. Did you go to the Hermitage? The Resistance Museum is also a great choice.

Sounds like you had a great trip. Thanks for all the recommendations.

Posted by
131 posts

(4 days Amsterdam, part 2....it was suggested that I repost this as a reply so that parts 1 and 2 are on the same thread :)

DAY 4: Day trip to Enkhuizen open air museum (covered by IAM card) and Hoorn. Train to Enkhuisen, spent a good 3 hours there. You could do it in about 2 ½. It was glorious weather for October—this museum was a real treat; excellently presented, authentic immersion experience. I HIGHLY recommend! Great for kids or anyone! When you get to Enkhuizen, go the the VVV tourist center across from the train station and pick up your tix for the museum and/or ferry that takes you to the west end of the museum to start out. We ate lunch at the cafeteria on site, which was disappointing. I would recommend instead eating in the very picturesque town of Enkhuizen if you have the time. Took train on to Hoorn. Did Westfries Museum --recommend! We also did the museum’s Virtual Reality Tour, which was very interesting! It’s narrated in Dutch only, but you still get a unique experience. You need to reserve a spot ahead of time online (although it’s free); I thought I had done this, but the reservation area on their website is only in Dutch so we didn’t actually have a reservation. Perhaps because it was end of September and not high season, there was room for us and we got in anyway—they were very accommodating. Drinks/snack at d’Oude Waegh across the square—great spot! Train back to A’dam. Wanted to eat at highly recommended Jun (Indonesion) in Jordaan area, but I neglected to make a reservation so we couldn’t get in…disappointed, we went back to the Restaurant Row area and ate at Kinnaree Thai Restaurant instead (RS recommendation). It was truly delicious! Excellent service, many locals there. It is a bit tricky to find, as it is on a less travelled side street, one block parallel to Restaurant Row (Eerste (“1st”) Anjeliersdwarsstraat). Don’t give upon finding it--It was a very satisfying “last supper”—recommend!
DAY 5: Before departing for Bruges by train, we ate a wonderful breakfast with great service at Kessen’s in the Jordaan neighborhood.
On to Bruges…posted under Belgium section of this forum.