A Guide to Amsterdam by Naomi Purvis
Last year I was lucky enough to live in Amsterdam while on my placement year at university. Although it always looked like a pretty place to visit, my only preconception of Amsterdam was that it would be full of stag-do’s and coffee shops. Granted the Red-Light District does consist of those things, but the city is so much more than its stereotypes, and the Red-Light District as an area is nearly too small to notice, nonetheless view, as a representation of the rest of the city.
The city itself is full of gorgeous architecture and parks, the Dutch way of living just seems a lot more carefree and easy going compared to busy cities in the UK. Getting a bike is a must regardless of how long you’re staying, it’s the only way to feel like a local and explore the city. I must admit, at first I was a little apprehensive riding a bike around a busy city, but to locals it’s second nature, even cars give the right of way to cyclists so it’s worth experiencing.
There’s too many incredible Instagram-worthy bars, restaurants and cafes to list them all but if there’s one thing Amsterdam does well – its brunch. It became a weekly routine for me, to every weekend try out a new brunch spot with friends, some favourites being Louie Louie, Bakers & Roasters and Dignita.
Amsterdam is split into different districts, Amsterdam Centre, West, Oost, Noord, Zuid, Nieuw-West and Zuidoost. I found myself almost avoiding the centre as this is where the city does have a downfall of being very tourist centric, so West and Oost feel a lot more ‘local’ and there’s so many places to explore in both that make you feel at home.
The city has endless ways to spend your free time, from botanical gardens to food halls, museums to canal tours and countless festivals throughout the year. Amsterdam Noord is worth a visit, accessed by a free ferry from Central Station, and is home to one of the biggest monthly flea markets in Europe which is great to just wander around – there’s even a city beach to relax in afterwards!
I feel as though my time in Amsterdam has greatly influenced my life today, it has made me appreciate the little things in life and allowed me to become more open to new experiences and opportunities. I was incredibly sad to leave but at the same time it also excited me, as now I know places like Amsterdam exist and I hope to visit them someday too.