Last week I travelled to Amsterdam with my Mum and Sister for a mini-break to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday.
Amsterdam is only a short flight from Belfast, taking around an hour and a half to get there, so it’s the perfect location for a short trip away.
I have visited Amsterdam with my husband and kids before and I was so excited to return with my Mum and Sister. Despite being a fairly large city, it has such a relaxed atmosphere and the locals are so warm and friendly.
I booked us into a B&B located near the tramline for ease of access from Central Station as we didn’t want to waste loads of time trying to find our accommodation. We were really pleased with our choice of B&B because the host Jeroen was so welcoming https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/10075323?m=19905. As mentioned, it was very handy for the tramline, which was only a 5-minute walk away and the tram goes to the train station in around 11 minutes. It cost us 2,90 Euros each for a 1-hour ticket which you purchase at the front of the tram and scan on the way in and out.
On our first day we had made a reservation for a canal boat tour. The tour lasted an hour and a half and was extremely relaxing and informative. We learned loads of little interesting facts and getting to view the city from the canal was pretty special and I highly recommend it. While there are tons of boat tour operators in Amsterdam, I can safely say that the one we booked with was very reliable and the boat was beautiful.
After our boat tour we went for some food and spent the remainder of the evening wandering along the canals and enjoying the atmosphere. There are plenty of restaurants for casual dining to choose from and lots of bars to stop and enjoy a drink while relaxing beside the river.
The following day we went to the Anne Frank House. We did book our tickets online well in advance to ensure we got in on the day. The queues at the museum can be very long so I do advise prebooking to avoid disappointment. Plus, you also get allocated a time slot which enables you to plan the rest of your day.
We went for an early morning time slot and once inside the house we were given an audio guide which told the story of Anne Frank’s family and their experience in the house during World War 2. It is fascinating, humbling and heart breaking and the many pictures and artefacts which remain in the house make you realise what people truly endured. It is well worth a visit, we all thoroughly appreciated the experience even though it was very sad.
What we most loved about Amsterdam is that it is a city built for people. While we wandered, talking and laughing and enjoying one another, we were amazed at the way cars, bikes, boats and pedestrians were all respectful of one another. Each mode of transport has its own designated space and while to the outsider it may seem a little chaotic to begin with, after a little while it becomes apparent that it all works together in a perfect symphony.
Throughout the city there are pockets of green space to stop and rest. Little urban parks are dotted about the place for kids to safely play and it just seems like a really cool place to live a raise a family.
The architecture is stunningly beautiful too, with lots of attention to detail and quirky art work making each building unique.
It is evident that Amsterdam is a very green, eco-conscious place too with recycling bins everywhere, active travel the norm and the streets were spotlessly clean.
Overall we loved our mini-break to Amsterdam. As we were there to enjoy my sister’s birthday, I was delighted that she fell head over heels in love with the place. It means we need to go back again and explore some more!