Welcome to the gorgeous city of Amsterdam! Don't worry there is no such thing as too many canal pictures. Take some time to walk along the canals, the 9 streets and shop in the city's adorable minimalist shops.
Neighborhoods to stay in:
Jordaan- This neighborhood runs along the canals and is incredibly picturesque. The shops, cafes and restaurants are trendy but not overrun with tourists. The neighborhood is relatively quiet and about a 15 minute walk from all the action.
De Pijp- This neighborhood is further away from the canals (about a 10-15 minute) but close to the gorgeous Vondelpark which will remind you of Central Park in NYC. De Pijp has an array of concept stores, it is home to the famous Albert Cuyp street market and has bars that locals frequent.
Lunching and brunching:
Bakers & Roasters- If you've ever wondered what a take on Brazilian and New Zealand brunch would look like then come to Bakers & Roasters. Yes it looks like it belongs in Brooklyn but there are at least 5 languages being spoken here at all times. Also did I mention they have amazing egg benedict and an egg plate with haloumi, avocado and creamy mushrooms? Because they do.
The Butcher- The burgers are as good as they look in all the pictures. Do yourself a favor and splurge on the cheeseburger because it comes with Danish cheese which is soooo gouda ;) . The burgers are flipped on a charcoal grill in front of you. Now this is the fast/casual food we all deserve.
What to do
You can spend hours exploring the Museum mile in Amsterdam. The stand out museums for me were:
The Van Gogh Museum- They house a large collection of Van Gogh's works since he painted primarily in the Netherlands. The museum is curated really well and will make you feel like you have a personal connection with the artist.
MoCo- They're currently showing Banky's work which is a must see! I can't believe I got to see the girl with a balloon in person. They also have a great selection of Andy Warhol's iconic pieces.
Stedelijk Museum- I'm a big fan of contemporary art so I loved this museum. The exhibitions were topical with exhibitions ranging from in vitro beef, sustainable housing, WikiLeaks and so much more.
If you have time left after seeing these museums then consider taking a canal cruise. The sun may be setting but the city is still lovely to see at night and especially so from the canals.
Pro tip: If you like museums then consider purchasing the Iamsterdam city card which gives you access to many museums for free including all of the above except MoCo, canal cruise, galleries and more.
Moeders- Moeders is "mother" in Dutch and you'll understand why once you eat here. Moeders serves traditional Dutch food so think cabbage, beef stew, smoked salmon, mashed potatoes and Dutch apple pie. The walls are covered in pictures of mothers from all over the world and you can also bring a picture of yours for them to hang up. This restaurant embodies the essence of home cooking to the fullest.
Kartika- Did you know there is a huge Indonesian food scene in Amsterdam? The Indonesian restaurants here serve a famous rice table which in Dutch is called, Rijsttafel, that comes with a selection of at least 10 different curries. Kartika is renowned for their rice table and curries that I thankfully got to taste first hand. If you've never had Indonesian food I can best describe it as a fusion between Bangladeshi, Thai and Filipino food.
Day one in Amsterdam complete! The adventures are just beginning.