When people think of Amsterdam what may first come to mind might be images of hippy youth frolicking freely hidden in clouds of smoke, prostitutes showing their nightly goods in window fronts, red fluorescence lighting the haze of their sin or picturesque canals and bikes buzzing. Or something like that…
While Amsterdam is, of course, all of those things, and perhaps it does live up to those expectations more than even your wildest dreams could let you imagine. There are still many things to experience that are slightly tamer. I and my boyfriend traveled to Amsterdam for a few days and wanted to take in the history, museums, and see these shenanigans for ourselves.
What is a decently behaved couple to do in Amsterdam in between sightseeing and museum hopping? Well, actually lots, and not just romantic meals and concerts! Here are three things we enjoyed while on our trip that was easy on the wallet and G-rated.
Rent Paddle Boats
On our first evening in Amsterdam while walking along the picturesque canals our attention was captured by laughter from under a nearby bridge. From under the bridge appeared a paddle boat filled with people, laughing, exploring and looking like they were having way too much fun. We decided that if the opportunity arose we should give it a try. A few days later, after a somber and heart-wrenching Anne Frank House tour we found the paddle boats for rent just outside the museum. This was a great way to lighten the mood before continuing on with the day.
We were given a map of some canal routes and an hour. We set off, exploring up close and personal the canal wildlife (ducks, cranes, and geese.) We also got to see the canal boat houses more closely. Not that I was peering in windows or anything. At one point we were even accompanied by the cutest family of baby ducklings, which was a highlight for me. The paddle boats were a lot of fun and something very different that I had not considered trying before this trip. Easily one of my best Amsterdam memories. Simple and perfect.
Rent Bikes and Ride through Vondelpark
I was pretty excited about visiting the Vondelpark before my trip. It seemed like an enchanting break from the city, filled with greenery, and little ponds and bridges. So we put it on our list of things to do. We also wanted to ride bikes at least once, seeing how it is Amsterdam and all. But once in Amsterdam, I was slightly intimidated by the sheer amount of people who actually ride bikes there. Whatever you think it will be like in your head, multiply that by 10, there are so many bikes. Overwhelming only begins to describe it.
So my thoughts were that the safest option would be to rent bikes for an hour or so and explore the park. There is a bike rental shop just up the street from the main entrance of the park and they had western friendly style bikes. Rental was cheap and there was coffee available for free (added bonus.) Once in the park, we glided around streets and paths, we stopped at the cafe for a cold beverage and enjoyed the smells and relaxation that the park had to offer. I would suggest having lunch in one of the two restaurants in the park also.
Explore the Albert Cuypmarkt
In Amsterdam, there are 3 outdoor markets that run every day of the week all day long, with the exception of Sundays. Selling books, produce, handmade goods and much more. Heavenly!
While on the tram heading to our hotel the first day we arrived in Amsterdam I caught a glimpse of the Albert Cuypmarkt through the window, I instantly wanted to check it out. A few days later we managed to make it to the Market with about 2 hours to spare until it closed. Giving us a fair amount of time to explore all of the interesting vendors. There was clothing, fresh fruit, meat, fish, jewelry, furniture, and all other kinds of enchanting sales. This was the perfect way to spend our last day in Amsterdam allowing me to fill the remaining space in my bag with souvenirs. After some shopping and just taking in the sights and sounds we stopped at a cafe/restaurant located on the market street and had a Heineken, before continuing shopping some more.
This was a great way to buy some souvenirs and enjoy a leisurely walk together. Taking a break to enjoy a locally made brew also made for a relaxing afternoon.
Amsterdam is wild, crazy, liberal, artistic, exciting, shocking, beautiful, romantic and so much more than my limited vocabulary will allow me to describe. Whether visiting as a couple, with friends, a group or family try out one of these awesome relaxing activities. It was a great way to enjoy some G-rated fun and escape the wild hustle and bustle that the city is so full of.