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  • Tony

Amsterdam in October

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

October 2023

Amsterdam has been on our list of cities to see in Europe. We were hearing about how crowded it is during the peak summer travel season so we decided to wait for the off-season to visit. Even with cooler weather and off-and-on rain, Amsterdam didn't disappoint. It's still a little crowded (I can't imagine what summer is like) but very manageable. The Architecture, Canals, Countryside, and Food exceeded our expectations of this fantastic destination.

The City has grown up from its reputation for debauchery with legalized Cannabis "CoffeeHouses" and prostitution in the Red Light District. Some still travel here specifically for these attractions, but the vast majority are here to enjoy everything else Amsterdam has to offer. The City has done a great job controlling these legalized attractions, making the City feel vibrant, not seedy. Yes, you can smell Cannabis throughout the City and see nearly naked women on display in the windows of the Red Light district. Still, once you get beyond the novelty, you realize how these play into the tolerance and diversity that makes Amsterdam great.

We decided for this trip to avoid the usual Museums and instead focus our time getting to know Amsterdam by wandering through its districts, canal streets, and nearby countryside, discovering its fantastic architecture, shops, street markets, and the incredible diversity of the food here. The City was clean, and it felt safe to walk day and night.

I have included our Itinerary and more information about the area at the end of this post.

We stayed at the Tivoli Doelen, one of Amsterdam's oldest hotels, recently renovated and very charming. A great location in the Amsterdam center between the Kloveniersburgwal Canal on one side and the River Amstel on the other provided great views from our room.

A little fog one morning ...

Street-level views as we wandered through the streets of the Jordaan district, De 9 Straatjes (Nine Little Streets), The Red Light district, De Wallen, Oud-West, De PIJP, and I'm sure many more that we didn't know the names of.

Some were hip and quirky, others very Bohemian, everything from eclectic boutiques, vintage clothing stores, modern shopping, charming restaurants and cafés and cozy bookstores. The PIJP district's narrow streets are lined with Middle Eastern eateries, old-school pubs, and cafes with sidewalk terraces. Take in Dutch specialties at the Albert Cuypmarkt, like herrings and waffles.

Canal views as we walked through the Canal districts

We took two different Canal Cruises, one during the day and one at night. A few images from the water level.

Basilica of Saint Nicholas

The Amsterdam Central Train Station is spectacular in both Architecture and operation. Our train experience was great: easy maneuvering, clean, and efficient. The station itself is vast and constantly very busy, with crowds entering and departing by the hundreds all day long.

DAM square is the central main square of the canal district. It's where they dammed the Amstel River to control the water and fill the canals. The Amstel Dam is where the name Amsterdam was derived. Here, you will find the Royal Palace, plenty of shopping, and incredible architecture.

The Bloemenmarkt, Founded in 1862, is a famous floating flower market with stands connected to houseboats.

We were in Amsterdam around Halloween, so throughout the week, we saw signs of Halloween spirit throughout the City.

Bikes are EVERYWHERE in Amsterdam! We didn't use them during this trip, but they are a great way to get around, and the locals embrace them as the main transportation despite the weather. While walking in the City, you need to be very aware, staying off the Bike lanes and looking out not only for cars but for bikes, trollies, and trams. Some of them end up in the canal, requiring regular cleaning and removal that apparently brings up hundreds from the bottom. One pictured below looks like it was at the bottom for a while

Birds are not shy here. This one was walking the streets beside pedestrians, not afraid to approach you if you looked like you had some food to share

Amsterdam humor...Saw this in a small shop in the 9 streets district. A hilarious assembly of quotes/tweets/etc... turned "poetry." The store owner said it is one of his best-selling items, with over 2,000 sold!

We only used the Metro late in the trip. I highly recommend the Metro, train, Buses and trams to get around the City and the countryside. They are inexpensive, clean, and efficient. I don't know if this is a strategy of the transportation system, but we had this bird as a fellow passenger on board the Metro. As people got off, he would quickly move to where they were sitting to clean up (eat) any crumbs that were left behind. Brilliant!

A day trip by train to the small town of Zaanse Schans to see the historic Windmills. It is a bit touristy but provides a glimpse of traditional Dutch life with Windmills, wooden houses, and barns. There's cheese-making, coffee-grinding, clog-carving, and Jenever (Dutch Gin) tasting just for starters.

Modern-day windmills...

The Maritime Museum

Ran across a few rowdy Brits at a pub before the Aston Villa vs AZ Alkmaar match, apparently a big rivalry between Dutch and British teams. There was a lot of chanting and singing by British fans at the crowded pub and throughout the City even though the game was not here. The singing carried on through the night at neighborhood bars and from groups of fans roaming the streets as the Brits beat the Dutch 4-1.

Marken Island. Once an island fishing village now behind the dykes built to hold back the Sea water and rising tides to add land for farming to the region.

We found the food in Amsterdam to be outstanding! A broad diversity of restaurants with a heavy Asian influence due to the relationships developed by early explorers and spice traders.

Krua Thai Classic - Fantastic authentic Thai dishes with attentive, knowledgeable service and a warm dining room upstairs or downstairs

We didn't actually eat here; I just liked the name and sign.

Greenwoods - Wonderful neighborhood tavern with a fantastic gourmet comfort food menu. The cute outside terrace gives that real Amsterdam vibe where you feel like a local.