canal amsterdam netherlands

Exploring Amsterdam: A Free Canal Cruise & More

After wanting to go for so many years, I finally made it to Amsterdam. We had some friends visiting for two weeks and so we decided to go. It’s one of those quintessential European cities that is probably on a lot of bucket lists.

I wish I could have spent more time there and I can’t wait to be back soon, maybe even in the summer. But for now I’ll review our trip and give you a few tips for yours!

Amsterdam

amsterdam netherlands canal

It only took me a few seconds in the city to already know that I loved it. Walking down the canals and passing so many cute cafés and bars was exactly what I had hoped for. The city is very cosmopolitan and I was struck by how many of the people spoke English. And not just a few words for the tourists, it seemed like everyone could have a conversation and was happy to do so. That’s definitely not the norm for a lot of other cities I have visited recently and so it was a welcomed surprise.

If you only have 24 hours like us, I recommend just taking the time to walk around as much of the city as possible. See the famous red light district, walk down to Vondelpark, stop in a cheese store and eat a few free samples. If you are looking to do a tour or a museum, see my review of the Heineken Experience below.

Good Hotel Amsterdam

good hotel amsterdam

Good Hotel Amsterdam (Source: goodhotelamsterdam.com)

Yes, you read that right, the name of the hotel we stayed in is actually Good Hotel Amsterdam. And it did live up to its name. We stayed in several hotels recently while doing some traveling and this was by far my favorite place I have stayed in a long time. It’s located about 15 minutes by foot from the central railway station, which makes it ideal for those arriving by train.

Good Hotel is a pop-up, not-for-profit business, meaning that they reinvest their profits into other businesses, people, and education. The hotel is incredibly modern, trendy, and minimalist. The lobby and main floor of the hotel is set up to accommodate casual meetings and provides a hang out space for guests.

When booking the hotel, they will ask you what you are most interesting in experiencing in Amsterdam, such as culture or art. Then, upon check-in, they provide you with a curated list of options for your time in the city. Overall, I highly recommend checking out this hotel if you are looking for a place to stay in Amsterdam that is more than just a room.

THe Heineken Experience

amsterdam-netherlands-heineken-brewery-expat-travel-blog

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Heineken Experience. I’m not always the biggest fan of museums or tours, especially if they are expensive. But we wanted to do at least one touristy thing in Amsterdam, so we chose the Heineken Experience. The first half of the tour didn’t impress me, it was crowded and mainly consists of walking through rooms and reading the minimally provided information. It ended with a somewhat entertaining, but strange, interactive ride.

Then we moved onto a small tasting, which was nice. After that the experience turns into a giant adult playground, which was surprisingly fun and included some cool games and a lot more entertainment than I expected. At the very end is the promised two glasses of Heineken. If that had been the end, I would have been happy but slightly underwhelmed.

However, on our way out, we were offered free tickets to a Heineken canal cruise from an employee. What’s the catch? Well, naturally they take you on a 25 minute boat ride to the Heineken Brand Store, where you receive a free small Heineken glass. But hey, a free boat tour? I was pretty excited and it turned out to be really fun. If you are interested, I would ask someone in the gift shop if they have any free tickets for the next canal cruise.

Park & Ride Amsterdam

If you are planning on driving to Amsterdam, Park & Ride might be the right solution for you. We looked into parking in the city but couldn’t find an affordable option. We searched for alternatives and found Park & Ride. It’s slightly complicated, but if you get everything right you could pay as little as 1€ for 24 hours.  Basically you arrive at one of the designated P&R parking lots, get a parking ticket, and a discounted ticket for the metro. Then use the metro ticket to go straight into the city center. When you are ready to leave, use the metro ticket again to go back to the parking lot, and make sure to scan it when you pay for the parking. Take the time to look over all the rules listed on the website if you are interested in P&R. It might sound complicated, but it really isn’t difficult and totally worth it for the discounted price.

 

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