Exploring Amsterdam with Amsterdam Unguided {Part 1}

Amsterdam has to be without doubt one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited – which means you can expect quite a few posts as I took far too many photos when we were there a couple of weekends ago. We were lucky enough to be able to stay at a friend’s apartment right in the centre of the city and so we had the perfect base from which to explore this stunning city..
I’ve told you before that sometimes I think it’s necessary to just play the tourist, and when it came to Amsterdam it was the same – some serious tourist-ing had to be done!

When the people at Amsterdam Unguided got in touch I was more than intrigued! I love the idea of a tour, as when I visit a city I want to see all of it – especially the off the beaten track areas. But, I also hate the idea of wandering around in a group of tourists.

The idea behind Amsterdam Unguided is that it’s a self guided tour around Amsterdam’s main attractions, as well as the local hotspots. The best bit, we found, was that you could dip in and out of the tour as you pleased, and do as much or as little of it as you liked.

We ended up doing most of the tour, but over the two days that we were there – as I had pretty much walked my feet off after the first day!

It comes in a box and is full of maps, discounts for museums, ice creams and information about the city. Did you know that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice?! Things you learn!

We picked up our box at a hotel near Centraal Station and sat down for a quick breakfast before heading off to explore.

Centraal station has to be one of the most beautiful, imposing stations I’ve ever seen – and coming from London, where the stations can be stunning, that’s quite a compliment.

We started by heading away from the crowds and down some of the quieter side canals – a perfect introduction to the city.

I knew that there were more bikes than people in the city (another handy guidebook fact!) but couldn’t get over the fact that next to every canal there were tens of bikes tied up.

I was also very impressed that this tour boat managed a 3 point turn in a narrow canal!

We wandered down to the beautiful houses of the Jordaan area which really were stunning – I honestly must have a couple of hundred photos of this area alone. They’re all beautifully tall, in such pretty colours and shapes.

I could easily see myself living in one, one day.

We ambled round the canals, taking in the sights on the way – with Andy playing tour guide and reading to me, as well as checking in with our Lonely Planet Amsterdam guide book to make sure that we weren’t missing anything. And credit where credit is due, the Amsterdam Unguided box had a really good coverage of the sights and in a beautiful route.

Next up on the tour was Noorder Market, which was full of everything from antiques, to clothes and food. I couldn’t resist a quick snap of this gorgeous bread. How sweet that they had put flowers all over the stall!

As we had had a little lie in that morning, we were a little pressed for time and wanted to keep going, so didn’t have time to stop at Winkel who are famous for their apple strudel. But just look at the queue outside the shop – you know it’s good when that many people are queuing!

I loved how many beautiful churches there were all over the city, but this one really caught my breath – it was so Gothic and the stark colour of the clock was beautiful.

Just as I was pausing to admire the view, a family were being taken round Amsterdam in a traditional old horse and cart – and the cutest two little girls were waving and saying hello to everyone they passed!

Next up was the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, for which we had a 50% off voucher from the box, which was beautiful!

After nipping in quickly, it was onwards we went! We still had so much to see and it was fast approaching lunch time.

I’m fascinated by history, and so really wanted to see the Anne Frank Museum, but unfortunately, even though I had been looking for tickets weeks in advance, we still couldn’t get any as it was high season and they were sold out. Sadly, we also didn’t have time to stand in the queue – but there’s always a reason to go back isn’t there?!

As I mentioned, it’s super simple to dip in and out of this tour, so instead of seeing Dam Square and the end of the tour as we were supposed to, and as we didn’t think we would be in this area of the city later on in the day, we popped along to see it.

Once you make your way through all the trams, you see this beautiful square full of stunning buildings.

And then it was time to go back to Jordaan for a more unusual tourist attraction…

…a very exciting cheese shop!

De Kaaskamer is famous in Amsterdam, and you’ll see lots of locals, and the occasional tourist popping into buy some delicious cheese. We treated ourselves to some Camembert (which if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know we baked) and some blue cheese for Andy.

They also had a wonderful selection of cured meats and olives – which had we been staying longer I would have stocked up on!

It was the most glorious day – the sun shone the whole day, which was incredible, and the start of the great European heatwave of 2015!

By this point our little feet needed a well earned rest, so we stopped off at Café Americain for a seat, a drink and some lunch.

As it was so warm we took the opportunity to sit outside and admire the water feature. What I would have given to be one of the little kids playing in the water I can’t tell you! Something told me that it wasn’t acceptable though..!

I couldn’t resist a nice, cold glass of wine – and boy did I need it! In the family we call this the holiday foot-numb-er!

I took advantage of the gorgeous light and played around with my camera over lunch. 

One thing I have to say is that despite the wonderful location, and the good food – the service wasn’t great. The waitress herself was wonderful, but they were horrendously understaffed which meant it took 20 minutes to order drinks and even longer to order food. As I was a little hangry this didn’t go down so well.

Poor Andy, he had to calm me down a little. What can I say, I needed my foot-numb-er!

It really was the most glorious setting though, and I would highly recommend the restaurant – but just don’t pop in for a quick bite to eat.

I couldn’t resist ordering a Croque Madame (toasted ham and cheese sandwich with two fried eggs) with cherry tomatoes – and oh my, was it good. It was just the fuel that we needed after a long morning walking.

After our feet rest and fuel stop we headed off for another afternoon of exploring this gorgeous city.

This post has been written in collaboration with Amsterdam Unguided.

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  • Catherine Lux

    I've never been to Amsterdam, but it looks so beautiful! The canals and buildings are gorgeous!

    C x | Lux Life

  • I love Amsterdam, wish I'd seen the tulip museum…

  • Amsterdam will always have a special place in my travel heart… it's such a beautiful place to walk around (and burn those tempting calories off!)

  • It's so beautiful isn't it? I think we walked 40km that weekend – my feet are still killing me! X

  • It's a great city isn't it? There's always a reason to go back!

  • Ahh Catherine, I'm sure you would love it – it's a stunning place and so easy to get to! x

  • What an interesting idea, I've never heard of a self-guided, guided tour! I really need to go back to Amsterdam and see it properly.

    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

  • Neither had I but I think it works really well! x

  • I love Amsterdam, your pictures really capture it so well! It is bike heaven too, I have a dutch bike which I curse going up hills but love it all the same! xx

  • Looks like you had an amazing trip! We will have to try the unguided tour when we visit!

  • Such a wonderful trip, Bridget! Definitely do – it was fantastic!

  • Ha ha tbh I wouldn't cycle over there they fly around, not very relaxing!! Safer walking! Xx

  • You said it!

  • So many stunning buildings and I just love the canal. Amsterdam is definitely on my list to visit. I'd totally be a total "tourist" too, taking pictures of EVERYTHING and just swooning over the food 🙂

  • You HAVE to visit, it's incredible – I totally fell in love with it! Oh yeah, it's all about the touristing!