This year, my 22nd birthday musings took place in no better place: Amsterdam. Located in the north of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is a wonderful city to visit with tonnes to do and see for people of all ages, and you’re guaranteed some gorgeous sunshine too.
I stayed in Amsterdam from July 2nd– 5th and I travelled with Aerlingus to Schiphol airport; which is ideally located 20 minutes away from Amsterdam by bus (you can also take a train or taxi). Ryanair also offers flights to The Netherlands, however Ryanair fly’s to Eindhoven which is some distance away, and the cost of a train ticket almost equals that of the cost of an Aerlingus ticket to Schiphol.
There are more bicycles than there are people in Amsterdam. Their transport system is so easy and eco-friendly that it would put ours to shame! The roads are quite wide; each road having separate lanes dedicated to cars, the tram, bikes, and pedestrians. There are even separate traffic lights for each lane, but be careful- it’s so easy to step onto the bicycle lane without looking! Bicycles can be rented all over the city and cost on average €15 per day. The more days you use the bike, the cheaper it becomes. If cycling isn’t your thing, the tram serves every part of the city and is super easy to navigate. On average it costs €2.50 to travel up to 10 stops, and the ticket can be re-used as many times as you like within one hour of purchase. Everything is generally within walking distance.
Amsterdam is filled to the brim with things to do and see- not just the red-light district! The city has an abundance of museums to cater for all interests: The Diamond Museum, The Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, The Science Centre, The Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, The Weed Museum (yep), The Sex Museum, the Heineken Experience, The Zoo, and many more. Before going, I checked out prices online to budget myself and most places cost around €30 on average. However, it turns out that a lot of the websites are outdated and most places to visit range from €9 (Anne Frank House), to €20! (The Zoo: which also includes a planetarium, insectarium, butterfly garden, and an aquarium). If you don’t feel like being indoors, taking a lazy walk around the canals with a cold drink in hand is just as good. Street parties are a regular occurrence during the summer with lots of street vendors, performers, dance parties, and live art shows.
My beautiful apartment (which I found via Hostelworld) was located in-between Vondelpark and Leidseplein, which was perfect for me. Leidseplein is the opposite side of the city to the red-light district, but nonetheless offers a huge variety of bars and clubs – and it’s a lot safer for two young girls to be. Whether it’s a bar crawl you’re after, a late-night rave, or a deep-house club, you’ll find it all in Leidseplein. If clubs and bars aren’t your thing, Vondelpark – which is quite like our own Phoenix park- is filled with beautiful lakes, tea rooms, and even an outdoor theatre that hosts free concerts throughout the summer. Drinking and smoking is allowed throughout the park and it’s a perfect chill-out spot to relax and let the world go by.
Grub and drink
Eating out is very much in vogue in Amsterdam, and the streets are packed with gorgeous and unique eateries so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Lunch on average costs no more than €12, and dinner was around €15. Alcohol is very cheap to buy in supermarkets: 4 bottles of Sol and 4 bottles of Stella Artois cost me less than €12. Some quieter clubs charge €2.50 for bottles/pints/glass of wine, where-as the more popular spots charge a minimum of €5 (which is still cheaper than here).
Like much of Europe last week we too experienced a heat wave. The only downside was the lack of air-conditioning, but most bars and shops offer refuge from the heat. Most days were in the mid 30’s, and night time temperatures didn’t drop below 20 degrees – so pack lightly. Overall, Amsterdam is one of the best city breaks I’ve ever taken, and I would highly recommend taking a visit!