Ambling in Amsterdam – get away for the winter

Week four is fast approaching and it is never too early to consider a winter getaway!


The possibility of a trip to Amsterdam may not yet have crossed your mind. However, with summatives on the way and the workload starting to build-up, fantasizing about a getaway abroad, even if you don’t actually end up going, is a nice way to relieve the tension.


I was lucky enough to get away to Amsterdam this past June. Here are some of the attractions that I recommend most, with an added winter theme at the end.


The Amsterdam Open Boat Canal Cruise


Of the many options for boat tours across the canal that are available to you in Amsterdam, the one that I recommend to you most is here. With a scenic tour of the major sites, including the Anne Frank House and the Jordaan, this tour is perfect as a first day introduction to the city.


Enjoy a few drinks and conversation with fellow passengers. The tour guides themselves are typically charismatic and full of energy – if you’re looking for interesting stories related to the city or for where to go to next, they are your best bet.


Be sure to wrap up warm if attending in the winter – however, even with the threat of a slight chill, this boat ride is well worth it.


Bike Food Tour of Amsterdam


Explore the streets of Amsterdam while tasting some tasty local food and struggling to stay on your bike!


Among the food I tried on my bike tour are classic Dutch pancakes, bacon sandwiches, and a strange cheese dip to go with chips.


Your fellow riders will be friendly and from across the world – among our companions was a solo traveller from California and a recently married couple from New York – so if you’re considering going to Amsterdam alone and want to meet new people, this is a good bet!


While many food bike tours are available to Amsterdam, here is my recommendation.


The Book Exchange


After persevering through a boat and a bike ride during the depths of winter, step into the warmth to browse some books in Amsterdam’s second-hand book shop The Book Exchange.


The sheer quantity and range on offer here is staggering – across three floors, the shop sells books in topics ranging from classics, history and psychology on the top floor to a whole bottom floor dedicated to science fiction and fantasy.


The best part about a second-hand bookshop such as this is encountering all the books you would otherwise not have known existed, many of which are now out of print – if you want to grab an obscure fantasy book from the 70s that you and probably no one else have ever heard of before, then step on in!


While The Book Exchange was my personal favourite of Amsterdam’s bookstores, many more are on offer. Be sure to check out The American Book Center, Pantheon Bookstore, and the Amsterdam Book Market for books in English, Dutch, and other languages – just leave plenty of space in your suitcase to be filled up for the return journey.


The Amsterdam Light Festival


If you do happen to visit Amsterdam during the winter, you still struggle to miss the annual Amsterdam Light Festival, a huge light sculpture festival across the city that takes place this winter between 1st December and 22nd January.


The festival is entirely free and features artists’ creations from across the world. It features a land exhibition, accessible on foot, and a water exhibition, all lit up between 5pm and 12am.


If you enjoyed Durham’s Lumiere last year and fancy something similar this winter, then this festival is perfect.


Be sure to wear multiple layers to protect against the chill and nip into one of Amsterdam’s many cafés for a warm hot chocolate if you need to heat up.


This is just a small selection of what’s on offer in this beautiful city.


If any students from the Netherlands are reading this and are dismayed by what I have missed out or gotten wrong, please be sure to let me and other readers know in the comments!


Image: Liam Gant on Pexels


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