I Amsterdam

January 17, 2017
January 17, 2017 Hilary

I Amsterdam


I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but after years of hearing what an amazing city Amsterdam is, I am happy to finally be able to say I wholeheartedly agree! A lovely and walkable city with no shortage of interesting sights and streets to wander we made the most of every minute. With it’s Seattle meets Europe vibe, I felt right at home and I would even go so far as to say, “I would live there,” a distinction I’ve saved for only the most special of places. Needless to say, I hope to return one day.

I Amsterdam


I Amsterdam is located behind the Rijksmuseum

Always looking for a fun photo opportunity I was excited to visit the I Amsterdam sign! You can’t miss it as the red and white sign is 2 meters tall and crawling with people. The city’s catch phrase, I Amsterdam, represents not just the city itself, but a state of mind and is a symbol of inclusion. It’s hard not to fall in love with such a positive message and it was clear from the crowds swarming on, in and around it that I wasn’t alone in my feelings. There are four I Amsterdam signs throughout the city!


Of course we joined the masses and posed in, on and around the sign doing our best to get that perfect shot!


I Arrive

Training from Bruges and arriving in the early afternoon we grabbed a taxi to the Hotel Sebastian in the Jordaan District, dropped our bags, and immediately set out to see what the city had to offer.


Meeting up with friends was a highlight of our stay!

Lucky for us, we had personal tour guides as some dear (Dutch) friends from the States were also in town. We met them for dinner and a walking tour through the city.

I Giggle

The Red Light District

One can’t write about a visit to Amsterdam and not mention the infamous Red Light District, so let’s just get it out of the way…


The Oude Kerk in the Red Light District

I’ll start by saying, It wasn’t a place I had on “my list” and definitely not with the kids in tow, but we did end up walking through. Talking and walking, and not paying attention we looked around and… Oops! Suddenly instead of retail shops, many of the windows had red curtains hanging in them, but only the occasional few had someone standing inside. The younger boys were oblivious (thankfully), and the older boys did a great job of pretending they were.


Many of the windows were empty

Funny enough it was the window displays in the “toy” shops, that brought out the giggles in the adults… thankfully the boys, too busy eating ice cream, didn’t notice. However, they did notice the “coffee shops”. The general consensus was: “Why would anyone go in there? It smells so bad!”

I Feel

Anne Frank’s House


As soon as we decided upon a visit to Amsterdam I knew I’d be visiting Anne Frank’s House. My experience visiting this special place was so profound, that I’ve given it a completely separate post. Keep in mind that getting tickets can be somewhat complicated, as the timed Tickets are only available from the official website exactly two months in advance.

I Wander

Walk or Bike Everywhere


A highlight of our visit were the many walks we took. In fact, we walked as many places as we could, rarely using any public transportation. I know you’re wondering why not bike?  Unfortunately, Elliot just wasn’t confident enough to ride a bike in such a big city.




The Van Gogh Museum


I loved this museum, which you might be surprised to learn was a surprise to me! Not only will you see the largest collection of Van Gogh works in the world, but you’ll learn Van Gogh’s fascinating life story along the way. Especially touching to me was the close relationship he shared with his brother and sister-in-law who were instrumental in his success and eventual world wide fame.


The museum’s layout was easy to navigate and the children’s activities were superb. This museum is incredibly popular, and I highly suggest booking your tickets in advance online as you’ll be able to skip the lines!

The Rijksmuseum


The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch National art and history museum. The museum is vast, so if like us, you’re traveling with a large group, or with children it might be a good idea to choose some highlights rather then try to see it all.


Studying Rembrandt’s famous Night Watch

On our can’t miss list were paintings by the Dutch Masters Rembrandt and Vermeer a painting of William of Orange, who I learned quite a bit about while in Belfast, the modernist exhibit from 1900 to 1950, a Van Gogh (of course), and the largest painting in the museum, Waterloo.


I loved this ship model



The MOCO (Modern Contemporary) is a brand new, privately funded, museum featuring what they themselves refer to as the “rock stars” of the art world. On display during our visit were works by two internationally famous artists: Bansky, a London based graffiti artist, and Andy Warhol, an American pop artist. If you’re interested in either of these two artists, you’d better hurry, the exhibits close January 31, 2017.

Keep in mind this is a very small museum. A visit here could easily be tacked on to either of the above mentioned museums. If you enjoy street, graffiti and pop art than this museum is definitely worth a look around.

I Shop

The 9 Streets


If you like to shop, then I you might like The 9 Streets. Located in the Jordaan Neighborhood The 9 Streets are home to galleries, cafes, restaurants and more than 200 retailers, many of them one of a kind, selling everything from modern design to vintage clothing. I especially enjoyed, Pluck, an adorable cafe/shop selling a bit of this and that. An added bonus they had a nice bathroom. If you’re a fan of whimsy then make sure to stop by the Amsterdam Rubber Duck shop, where you’re sure to find a rubber ducky that suits everyone in your party!



Founded in 1862, when flowers were still delivered daily by boat, the Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market. Beyond the expected tulips you’ll find the bulbs and seeds of many other flowers as well as marijuana seedlings and starter kits. Before you’re tempted to purchase anything make sure the items your after can be imported into your home country.

This area is also home to many souvenir and cheese shops, so even if you can’t purchase that rare flower or starter kit (wink wink), you’ll be sure to find something else to remember your visit by.


A Day in The life


View from Harriet’s balcony

Invited to join our friends at a local friend’s home we were excited to go inside a traditional Dutch house. The owner, a children’s book writer and amazing artist, was kind enough to give us a tour of her in-home art studio. I was so excited when I got to try-out her printing press!


A visit to The Vondelpark gave the kids a chance to run free while the adults enjoyed conversation, bitterballen and beer. We had such a lovely afternoon and felt very much like we’d just experienced a day in the life.

Walking back to our hotel through the park we came across this neat little art exhibit, findfence. Where art meets the lost and found!


Day trip to Zaanse Schans

het-jonge-schaap-sawmill-windmill-6037We spent the majority of our time in Holland exploring Amsterdam, but I felt I couldn’t visit Holland without seeing at least one windmill up close and personal! I know, I know, that’s a very touristy thing to do, but hey, sometimes I’m a tourist!


Located just a 30 minute ride from the city, Zaanse Schans was quintessential Holland! There are many things to see and do while visiting Zaanse Schans, the demonstrations of  windmills, clogs, and cheese of course, but also walking and biking trails, boating and of course shopping.


De Waag


Dinner on our first night in town, was at the lovely De Waag a restaurant cafe located in the Nieuwmarkt. De Waag (the weigh house) was built in 1488 and was originally one of Amsterdam’s City gates. We were lucky to find a table outside, but a reservation is a good idea!

Cafe Hegeraad


A neighborhood favorite for over 100 years and well known for their delicious apple pie, we made it a point to visit Cafe Hegeraad (Tim lOVES pie). The pie was fine, especially if you’re a fan of pie (which I admit I’m not), but I couldn’t get past the restaurant’s strange decor. Their were RUGS on the table tops. Actual rugs complete with fringe, which I found incredibly weird. I couldn’t get past the idea that rugs are for floors, not table tops.

De Belhamel


De Belhamel, is a lovely and potentially romantic restaurant (we brought our kids) at edge of the Jordaan quarter. Located on a corner where two canals meet the restaurant’s outdoor dining area has a fabulous view of both canals. Unfortunately it was too windy for outdoor dining during our visit, thankfully the interiors are equally as wonderful and the food was delicious.

De Reiger


Also in the Jordaan Quarter was the restaurant De Reiger. I enjoyed everything about this meal, the atmosphere inside and out, the service and the food. You can’t ask for more than that!

The Pancake Bakery


Hearing they had the best pancakes in town, we had to go to The Pancake Bakery. The table line was long, but moved fast. I’ve decided I’m not a fan of Dutch pancakes (sorry), but everyone else in the group enjoyed them. Elliot’s car pancake actually came with a giant toy car. Who knew!?

I Sleep


I highly recommend the Hotel Sebastians as both the location and service were perfect. The rooms and ensuite bathrooms were also lovely and spacious, but I admit the having the toilet inside the shower stall was a bit strange. If I wasn’t considering a houseboat stay on my next visit I would absolutely stay here again!

We Love


Can you tell by the length of this post, that We ALL loved our visit in this amazing city?

Pin for later:

I Amsterdam Things to do in Amsterdam

Would you like directions to all these fabulous places? Why not take me with you! you can download this and other fun hilarystyle articles using the GPSmyCity app!


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I love to travel & explore the world both near and far! I do my best to make the most out of life each and everyday! I have two boys and they are, at the ages of 13 and 18, world travelers and all around go along guys. There isnt anywhere I cant take them. It is my hope this blog will be a way to share the fun things Ive learned while on our many adventures together!

Comments (50)

  1. What a wonderfully informative post. Thank you for spending so much time organizing everything in such an artistic manner. I hope to visit the city and I will try to remember all of your suggestions.

  2. Great post. Lovely photos and lots of detail. Considering it’s so close to the UK, I’ve still not been! We’re hoping to finally go this yeat, so I’ll note down the hotel and other places you mentioned😊 x

    • I hope you get there! It’s so nice how close you are to everything living in the UK. It’s such an undertaking for us to get anywhere from here.

      • Other European countries are really easy to get to, which is why we tend to visit there. Yeah I bet. You’re not too far from central and south America, Canada etc😊 x

      • Ha ha, it seems like we are, but it’s so big here! Good thing I don’t mind flying!

  3. aandj8804

    Great method of organizing your post! Loved the pop’s of red and the “I –––”. Of course, your entire trip to Amsterdam looks amazing and now I am dying to go. The food, the Anne Frank house, the art … just all of it! It looks like the perfect city to explore! Thanks for sharing! 🙂 #citytripping

  4. What a gorgeous city Amsterdam is! I couldn’t help laughing at the rubber duck shop. Omg… A shop selling nothing but rubber ducks. I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam.. But I’m reserving my visit to Holland for a time when I can visit during tulip season. Which never coincides with our local school holidays. So I guess I need to wait like 18 years till the kids complete school or something. Sigh. #CityTripping

    • I understand about the tulips. I grew up in the other largest tulip growing region in the world, so I’ve seen tulips! 😘

  5. Ruth

    What a wonderful post! By the way, I love the length. I prefer to have a lot of content and not end up wanting more. I visited Amsterdam way too many years ago. I had less than a day there. Therefore, what I saw was very limited. After seeing and reading your post, I am eager to visit once again. I know it would be fabulous! #citytripping

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I’m always torn when it comes to how much to include, and I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post! I loved Amsterdam and hope to get back there someday!

  6. Such a great post! I hoped you’d take me right back to Amsterdam and you did! I long to return – I honestly thought it was one of the most liveable cities I’ve ever visited. And it’s so easy to get to from UK airports. I’ve no excuse not to go back really! I’m off to check flight prices!

    • Thank you so much!! I found it to be a magical place! I must admit I’m a little jealous at how easy it is get from place to place over there! Xx

  7. What a fabulous post and guide to the city – it’s one of my favourites too and I had a great visit with my daughter. I’d love to go back with her another time too: we had a great time at the Van Gogh museum but left the Rijksmuseum for another time. I loved our canal tour too so would really like to stay on a houseboat. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Thank you! We weren’t able to fit in a canal tour, so will have to do that next time… I loved how all the museums had activities just for children, it made the experience!

  8. I love this, and I share your love of Amsterdam, I only had a short visit there but I also put it in my rare ‘I would love to live here’ category. I am seriously trying to think of ways to make my way over there for a longer period time. It’s such a charming place!

    • Thank you!! Funny, I was just thinking how can I spend more time there! I’m even considering a summertime house swap!

  9. pigeonpairandme

    I’m not surprised you love it. Amsterdam’s amazing! Your beautiful post has made me yearn to go back – like you, I’ve always felt I could live there. Your bit about the red light district made me gigle. I haven’t taken my kids there, but I wonder what they’d make of it….#citytripping

    • Ha ha! We weren’t actually intending to take them, but in a way I’m glad we did… now that we have, the mystery of what it’s all about is now solved and having heard of it my entire life it was interesting to finally “see” what it’s all about.

  10. Oh Hilary, your post made me sooo hungry! (Huge pie fan here.) I thinks it’s hilarious that you guys walked through the red light district accidentally. Good thing it was daytime, right? Happy Travels! #citytripping

  11. Clare Thomson

    It’s great to read this less than a month before my own trip. I always love your photos and you’ve given such useful tips and suggestions for a visit to Amsterdam. Thanks a million for sharing it on #FarawayFiles

  12. I can see why you loved Amsterdam so much. Great post! I’ve been to the city a couple of times but not to the most of the museums you mentioned. Anne Frank’s house was an incredibly moving experience though. You’ve certainly made me realise I need to revisit Amsterdam. Oh, agree about the rugs. Seems a bit unhygienic to have them on tables! #citytripping

    • Thank you! The great thing about the museums was they all had children’s activities. I’m not sure we would have made time for so many had that not been the case.

  13. Lovely post! Enjoyed reading about your highlights. Would love to visit Zaanse Schans the next time I travel to Amsterdam. #CityTripping

  14. Hilary your love for Amsterdam oozes out of your post. We were there about a year ago and I loved this charming city too. We missed the Van Gogh museum so it is on the list for next time. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

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