Amsterdam – all the highlights in 5 days

I’ve decided one of the best things that can happen when living abroad, is when a friend from home says they’ll meet you in another country! Seeing a friend + Discovering an new city = Happy!

Even better when the city is Amsterdam. The pictures don’t lie. Old town in Amsterdam really is quaint and adorable, full of flowers, canals and bikes. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover stroopwafels and Dutch pancakes, then Venkel Salades, a health food cafe to balance out the sweets!


Sir Albert Hotel

  • Super sleek and modern Design Hotel
  • The lobby, concierge services, restaurant, etc were fabulous
  • Fabulous location near the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Musuem and Albert Cuyp Market

Activities and Sights by Day

Day 1 | Windmills and Beer
  • Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a brewery in a windmill, right in the center of Amsterdam! Brewery tour with nice local beers. A perfect chill activity for the first afternoon in Amsterdam!
  • De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) – an adorable section of old town with shops and cafes
Day 2 | History and Orientation
  • Anne Frank House (arrive bright and early to avoid the queue)
  • Canal Cruise – there are a lot of options, many of which depart from right by the Anne Frank House, so makes for an uncomplicated day and the tour helps with city orientation
  • Wander around Jordaan, take pictures of bikes and tulips, visit the market (only on Saturdays)
Day 3 | Art and Outdoors
  • Van Gogh Museum – my favorite museum in Amsterdam. An approachable size and layout, with so many pretty Van Gogh’s and works by artists who inspired him or were inspired by him. Buying tickets in advance allows you to wait in the short line, which saves a lot of time.
  • Vondelpark (+photo op at the I Amsterdam sign)
  • Rent bikes or afternoon stroll to Rembrandtpark
  • Early drinks at Bar/Restaurant Floor 17 for pretty views of Amsterdam

Day 4 | Museums and Markets

  • Rijksmuseum – a massive art museum, with a wonderful Rembrandt exhibit right now, some pretty Monets, Dutch impressionism, etc.
  • Bloemenmarket  – Tulip and gardening market
  • Red light district and Dam Square – this whole area is a little gross, but I guess walking through is necessary!
Day 5 | Sad to go home



  • Izakaya – Asian fusion restaurant at the Sir Albert Hotel. Small plates to share is always fun! We loved the pan fried scallops, beef toban and an amazing blueberry mouse dessert. Everything had very complex, interesting flavors that we couldn’t quite place but enjoyed.
  • Restaurant As – I found this in a list of new restaurants in Amsterdam published in Bon Apetit, so I had high expectations! Everything about it was contradictory but made sense. It’s located in a bunker like building in the middle of a park, in a residential neighborhood. There is a cool mix of unfinished metal, sparkly chandeliers, bright glass and light wood communal tables. They don’t have a menu, just the option of 3 or 5 courses, including a vegetarian, meat or fish entree. Everything is locally sourced. Definitely different, but I loved it!
  • Thai Phutakun – The Dutch colonized Thailand, and as a result Thai is a must have in Amsterdam – there are exceptional options all over the city. Thai Phutakun was a great pick and there are lots of bars in the area for pre/post dinner drinks!
  • La Olivia – We stumbled upon this adorable Italian small plates restaurant when exploring the Jordaan. It seems like the type of neighborhood restaurant you could visit weekly, and never get bored. There were so many things I wanted to try! I can’t wait to go back!

Coffee, Lunch, Drinks

  • Venkel – breakfast, lunch and juice in a cute bright healthy seeming space. I’d get lunch here every day if I lived in the neighborhood! Definitely the best salad I’ve had since leaving the US!
  • Bakers & Roasters – cakes, coffee, sit down brunch!
  • Bakken Met Passie – a wonderful bakery, right by the Sir Albert hotel
  • Bar/Restaurant Floor 17 – pretty views of Amsterdam from Rembrandtpark
  • House of Bols – Slightly touristy Amsterdam institution near the Van Gogh museum
  • Door 74 – Speakeasy with inventive cocktails (reservation and password required)


— More activities, neighborhoods, and places for coffee, drinks, snacks, etc shown on the Amsterdam map! —



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One Response

  1. Nancy
    | Reply

    Love your Amsterdam entry! Well done. Very descriptive. Really makes you want to visit!!

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