While, like most people, visiting the same destination twice seems like a bit of a waste of time, with the exponential amounts of places to visit in the world, I had the chance to visit Amsterdam for a second time and took it.
I can now safely say that visiting a city twice can be an amazing experience. So often, especially Londoners on weekend trips to Europe, we can go to a city for 2 or 3 days, see the main tourist attractions and come home feeling like we’ve “done” a city. Have you done Paris? Well, yes, I sat and drank coffee at a cafe on the Seine, I visited the Louvre, I walked the Champs Elysee and saw the Eiffel Tower. Done. Well, not quite…
While it’s easy to check these cities off like points on a to-do list, it’s worth it every once in a while to go back to a city, having done all the touristy things and give it another look. Go to the outer rims of the city, see how the locals live, don’t step foot in a museum and just relax.
That’s what I did on my latest trip to Amsterdam. Having seen the Van Gogh Museum, Dam Square, Anne Frank’s house and the Riksmuseum the first time around, I was free to relax and take a look at what else the city had to offer.
I’ve highlighted some great things that were done on this trip, but this isn’t a list to copy and try and replicate. This is a personal experience of things I found and liked by looking outside of the tourist area. If you go, I’d recommend finding a whole different set of activities and hidden places full of locals. There are tons of them and this is by no means the best/top/hotspot/go-to list. This is just what I found.
1. Reypenaer Cheese Tasting – Ok, so this was definitely my favourite part of the whole trip to Amsterdam. And while this may still be high on the tourist list, I still hadn’t heard a thing about it until this second time around. Nestled right alongside the Singel canal, this Cheese shop/tasting rooms was the perfect afternoon experience away from the touristy city center. The tasting session which lasted an hour, was restricted to 20 people per session and took place in the basement of this lovely shop. The staff were amazingly helpful, and weren’t stingy with their cheese. We tried 5 different cheeses paired extremely well with wines and ports, and at the end were told to figure out our favourite of the bunch and eat some more! My one suggestion – go towards the end of the day, because you will be buying so much cheese to take away (all vacuum packed so you can take back in your suitcase with no problems) that you won’t want to be carrying it all around the city afterwards.
2. De Zotte Amsterdam – An afternoon in here drinking Belgian Kwak beers at 8% ABV and you’re sure to be asleep by 8pm. Regardless, this off the beaten track bar has an amazing selection of Belgian beers, a cozy atmosphere, and friendly staff. We came for one and stayed for three!
3. Cafe Langereis – We came for the affordable wine prices, and stayed for everything else. A beautiful, vintage cafe with antique furniture, relaxing atmosphere and even a cafe cat! We jumped in this place to get out of the rain and ended up staying for hours. Just off of Amstelstraat near the Jewish Quarter, this cafe will not disappoint.
4. National Maritime Museum – While this is still quite the tourist attraction, it isn’t one of the top things on everyone’s list when visiting Amsterdam. So, this time around we decided to give it a go. The museum dates back to 1656, and even the building is a bit of architectural beauty. On top of the museum itself, you will have to go into the replica of the three masted “Amsterdam”, a large vessel of the Dutch East India Company. Fire canons, hang out in the Captain’s quarters or just take a look out at Amsterdam from the upper deck of the ship. Go back to being a kid again, all in just a few minutes.
These were just a few of the random places we came across on our second journey around Amsterdam. Have you had similar experiences on your second time to a city? Any feedback is welcome.