24 romantic hours in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city that is full of surprises, and while it’s probably best known for its seedier side, there is far more to it than just the red light district. In fact, the city itself offers some stunning views and architecture to take in as you meander its picturesque canal-side streets – not to mention an array of exciting activities to take part in that are available in few other places in the world!
The city is steeped in rich history, with evidence of settlement dating back as far as 2600 BCE. Its first reference in writing was made in 1275 in a civic document, while the first to settle there were fishermen and traders – largely thought to be due to its privileged position for trading between Scandinavia and Europe itself.
Amsterdam’s history makes itself evident in the civic planning, architecture and atmosphere of the city, and exploring this energy with a partner can be a very romantic experience indeed. To help you get the most out of it, we’ve put together a list of the best ways you can spend a lovely day in the city with your other half. There are plenty of exciting things to do in Amsterdam, if only you know where to look!
1. The Canals
When it comes to canal-side walks, the first name on most people’s lips is likely to be Venice, but don’t under-estimate the romance of Amsterdam’s offerings. A great place to start is the Spui, which has a few flower shops, stocked with flowers picked freshly that day from a couple of miles out.
From there, you can take any direction you like and hit upon lovely views, beautiful bridges, and fantastic architecture evident in the city’s townhouses – and stop to take some enduring photos to remember it all by, of course. Try to visit the Magere Brug at dusk, when you can witness the lights on the bridge being turned on. These lights are incredibly romantic; made of hundreds of small bulbs that delicately illuminate the bridge.
For the most satisfying end to a thoroughly enjoyable walk, finish up in the nine streets area. Made up of small, boutique and vintage shops selling all kinds of gifts, jewellery and clothing it’s a delight for any lover of finery. With shops stocking diamonds that were cut in the city itself, any jewellery bought here would make a fantastic gift for your partner to remember your trip by. Cap it all off with dinner at one of the many family-owned and run cafes and restaurants for a truly memorable evening.
Another way to enjoy the canals, if you’d rather have a more restful day in the city, is to book out a canal cruise! While this type of trip may not offer the same romance as being guided along by a Gondolier, canal cruises do have more creature comforts available to passengers. Some cruise boats offer a dinner & drinks service, as well as an open roof on which to enjoy the city’s delights as you’re gliding along.
2. Beverages & Excitement
While Amsterdam offers some fantastic nightlife, we’d leave the Red Light District for another time – it’s not the place to go on a romantic trip. There are plenty of exciting places to visit away from the seedier parts that you and your partner can enjoy together, from Whiskey bars stocked with some of the finest spirits from all over the world, to jazz cafes, cocktail bars and social clubs – but despite the wealth of options available, there are two in particular that cannot be missed.
The Okura Hotel’s rooftop bar boasts breath-taking reviews over the city, and is reminiscent of the Aqua Shard in London or even a restaurant atop the Burj Dubai. With views of Amsterdam you can’t get from any other building in the city, This is truly a unique experience. It’s not just the view that is stunning in this bar either; the service is world-class, with silver service from immaculate waiters. The drinks are also to die for, with cocktails made to order and tailored according to your tastes.
The Ice Bar Amsterdam is another unmissable experience when visiting the city – and an interesting way to find out what it would be like to be trapped on a ship, freezing in the North Pole. After being taken on a tour through “Het Behouden Huys” and the story of Willem Barentsz and his doomed voyages to the North Pole, you’ll get a warmer than expected welcome in this below freezing bar.
The bar itself is pretty amazing, built entirely out of ice and with temperatures kept at -10C. Guests are provided with coats and gloves on arrival, and you’ll definitely need them! Your visit will include a few free drinks, including of course, Heineken; but if you’re not a fan of beer, then of course you can also get shots of Vodka and cocktails.
Finally, if you’re in search of a more cultural experience, then there are many places for you and your partner to visit during your stay in Amsterdam that promise to get those mental juices flowing. There’s a reason this is the city many writers head to to push through their writer’s block and find some inspiration! If you want to see what’s considered by some as the most beautiful cinema in the world, then you should visit Pathé Tuskinski. Otherwise you can visit the Rijksmuseum or Stedelijk Museum for some contemporary charm.
If you’re more a fan of the classics, then you can while away an afternoon wandering the Van Gogh museum, Rembrandt house or Royal Concertgebouw. And, if gemstones are more to your tastes, then the Amsterdam diamond museum (the only one in Europe!) is an enjoyable way to learn about the world’s favourite gemstone.