Amsterdam Travel Guide

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

This year has been filled with a generous amount of travel…both business and pleasure. The later of course being the most fulfilling and memorable. This year also marked our 15th wedding anniversary and to celebrate we decided to take an extensive trip to Europe together. Our journey included traveling to Amsterdam, Venice, Florence, Rome and several cities within the region of Tuscany. To say there was a vast amount of planning for this trip would be an understatement. But fortunately all those little details made for a very smooth holiday and incredible experiences we will both never forget.

We began our adventure with a flight from LAX to Stockholm then on to the first city on our agenda…Amsterdam! And let me just cut to the chase here…we both LOVED Amsterdam!

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

We stayed in an area known as The Nine Streets located in the heart of the city’s canal district. It was a beautiful section of the city filled with quaint boutiques, coffee shops and charming restaurants. It felt like a small neighborhood and we enjoyed being able to walk to dinner and the market for our daily breakfast yogurt. Our first meal after getting settled was a Nutella crepe stuffed with strawberries, a ham and gruyere cheese panini and an authentic Belgian waffle.

Choosing to stay at Hotel IX made our visit incredibly special. The well appointed rooms were so beautifully decorated with simple, yet sumptuous, white bedding and a dramatic black and white photo mural of a street scene right outside their front door. And those wood beams!

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

 The large room had a nice seating area, a free mini bar and Nespresso machine and a great bathroom with a walk-in shower. Usually I’ve found in Europe, hotel rooms and apartment rentals are tiny with even tinier bathrooms. So having such a generous, light filled space was a welcome surprise. One memorable item of note about this hotel (that you won’t read on their website or in reviews) are the soft church bells you hear ringing every hour. It’s like a daily reminder to savor the moment. Wish there were more of them here in the US. I find them soothing.

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Some of the scenes along the canals were the epitome of what I thought Amsterdam would look like. Large trees lining each side, crooked row houses covered in vines, fresh flower stands, old boat houses and bicycles whizzing by nearly every minute. You can rent bikes to explore on your own or with a guide at Yellow Bike and Scooter Rent Amsterdam.

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

One evening we took the free ferry from the Central Station to the north side of Amsterdam to have dinner at Pllek – a restaurant made out of recycled shipping containers! Inside you can sit by the fireplace and gaze out their enormous floor to ceiling windows with views of the water. It’s the perfect date night. They have an amazing menu of sustainably caught seafood and fresh local produce and everything we had was delicious. Oh, and you can see their giant disco ball here!

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Some of our other favorite cafes and coffee shops were:

Cafe Bern – For authentic Swiss fondue and local atmosphere. Definitely not touristy.
Cafe de Pels – Nice little place to sit by the window,  have coffee and watch the world go by.
Paper Planes – Great spot for brunch, regardless of their somewhat odd FB page.
Pluk Amsterdam – Healthy juices, smoothies and fresh salads, beautiful shop as well.
Lot Sixty One – They take coffee seriously…the perfect place for a cappuccino and croissant.
Gartine – Absolutely loved this place. The food, decor, staff…even the dishes. Highly recommend!
Winkel – Famous apple pie. Or is it cake? You be the judge….either way it was delicious!

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

There are so many great places to eat in Amsterdam. We didn’t have a single bad meal. It’s easy to get carried away with trying to hit all the “best” places but I also like to go off the beaten path and just stop when hunger strikes. The Man even ate some sort of crispy egg roll/chicken curry thing from a vending machine at Febo and liked it. Apparently they’re a huge hit with the locals.

One of the trip highlights for me was visiting the Anne Frank House. I read her diary several times as a young girl and it had such an impact on me. I believe it was the first time I ever understood the devastation and atrocities humans can inflict on innocent people. Being able to walk through their secret hiding place, climb the same stairs, see the rooms they lived in and her original hand written diary was an extremely moving experience.

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

There are some wonderful museums, parks and palaces all worth a visit:

Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House, Vondelpark, Rijksmuseum, and the Royal Palace just to name a few. You could spend days going through them…if not weeks. We even popped into the little Amsterdam Tulip Museum to see what was inside.

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam

 I really love traveling in the fall. The weather is generally mild, the summer crowds are gone, and there is a more relaxed pace to things. We would get up early and walk the canals just as the city was starting to stir. We could hear children laughing on their way to school, watch deliveries being made to local businesses and see beautiful Dutch people of all ages riding their bikes on the way to work. Aside from panoramic views and mind boggling architecture, this is my favorite aspect of traveling. To see how other people live. It’s fascinating to witness and hopefully we’ll be able take some of their daily lifestyle habits (bicycle commuting) and adapt them into our own life.

Heather Bullard | Amsterdam
 In my next post I’ll share all my favorite shops! Amsterdam has so many great little boutiques filled with amazing lighting, original home decor, and other beautiful interior furnishings.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam?
Would love for you to share your favorite places in the comments!

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  • Julie @ Creating This Life

    Amsterdam is on my bucket list for all the things you outlined in your post. I’m pinning it for when I get to go someday. In the meantime, thanks for taking us on your trip. Beautiful photos!

    November 10, 2015 at 10:22 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      You will adore it! The people are so friendly, it’s easily walkable and there’s so much to do. Not to mention the gorgeous surroundings! I can’t wait to go back!

      November 10, 2015 at 10:59 am Reply
  • kelley

    We just got back from a Oct trip to Amsterdam also (our 20th). Like you, we LOVED it. Every sight and meal was amazing. the people were so friendly and helpful … each time we were on the street looking at maps, without fail someone asked if they could help. We took a day trip to Delft which was enchanting to say the least. From there we traveled on to Belgium which was amazing!! A total fairy tale.Amazing sights, wonderful people and the food! I need an authentic Belgium waffle recipe STAT they are amazeballs! Not like our waffles here .. more yeast/doughy … I ate one every day. can’t wait to see your next post!

    November 10, 2015 at 10:23 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been wanting to do a post on Belgian waffles. The secret is in the pearl sugar. It creates that crispy caramel crunch on the exterior. So delicious!
      Great to hear you had a wonderful experience in Amsterdam. Congratulations on your 20th!

      November 10, 2015 at 11:01 am Reply
  • Robin K.

    Funny thing, I decided to check your website for a posting today and it was like a present waiting to be opened. Heather, first let me say that I am always so inspired by your work and your wisdom. I always feel better when I see something you’ve styled or when I see your amazing photos of your travels. Congratulations on your anniversary! Coincidentally my husband and I celebrated our 15th this year too, however it was without much fanfare. We were kicking around the idea of a big trip, but with school, work and family obligations we’ve put it off. You have inspired me to pull out my notes and get started on planning something for next year. Thanks again and I can’t wait to see your next post!

    November 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Your comment just made my day, truly. Sometimes I wonder if I should still be blogging at all but for some reason I’m just not ready to let it go. Even if they are few and far between I still enjoy the connection through posting and the conversations that follow. And although we may have never met it feels more authentic than the speedier forms of social media. So thank you for taking the time to reach out…it’s much appreciated.

      And congratulations on your 15th! We’ve had many anniversaries without fanfare as well but this year we decided to put in the time and effort to celebrate. I planned for months! And it was such an amazing time with my husband…lots of funny stories to remember, delicious food, and the people we met along our journey. I hope you’ll start planning a get away, even a small one. You both deserve it!

      November 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm Reply
      • Robin K.

        Yes, you absolutely MUST keep blogging. In fact, I was looking at one of my issues of SOUVENIR magazine and I was blown away by just how talented you are. That magazine was so well done and I know it took a team of passionate people to produce such wonderful work. I think one of the challenges of our generation is moving forward and keeping pace with all the advances in technology, but still maintaining the human spirit in all of it. It’s very hard to connect with people when you’re just taking pictures and sending them out. But when they respond in such a way that lets you know that your image touched them, then you know you’ve got something good. Although I know you travel for work and have just built your beautiful home and have a great family to enjoy, maybe you can look at your blogging as just something for you. But as much as you hate to admit it, it really is something for all of us. So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t blog for a few weeks, and it seems like life is going by so fast. Even if it is just 3 or 4 sentences about appreciating a gorgeous sunrise or a ripe juicy tomato, it will speak to your heart and soul and also the hearts of your readers. Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration.

        November 11, 2015 at 9:36 am Reply
        • Heather Bullard

          Thank you for your kindness and encouraging words. It’s true about keeping pace…sometimes all the FB, Twitter, Pinterest, IG, Vine, Periscope, SnapChat gives me anxiety. I really do not know how people do it all. It also makes me wonder how “connected” it really makes us to other individuals or is it just to fulfill an ego void? Something I check-in with myself on often. I’ve thought about getting rid of it all except the blog and IG (mainly because it’s so fun and EASY!). I presume social media will be the never ending conversation we’ll continue for decades.

          As for the blog, it still brings me joy to share something I found inspiring or lovely. And I’ve always liked creating beautiful images, hence the job of doing just that. So I’ll continue on over here for the time being…as the mood strikes or creativity peaks, even if it’s now and again. 🙂

          Thanks so much for connecting with me here today. I’ve loved our conversation.

          November 11, 2015 at 1:31 pm Reply
  • Sue W.

    Gorgeous photos. Sounds like a wonderful trip. Looking forward to the rest.

    November 11, 2015 at 2:11 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Thank you, Sue! 🙂

      November 11, 2015 at 8:19 am Reply
  • Claudia

    What a wonderful post about Amsterdam. I have not been, but your photos and description make me want to book a flight there right now. I would love to say at the same hotel, and try all the restaurants you recommend (I will visit each of their websites). I can’t wait for your next post about the shops! I wish I had thought to plan a trip to Amsterdam this October to celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary. Sounds like it would have been a trip to remember. Maybe next year for our 21st!

    November 11, 2015 at 3:58 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Thanks, Claudia! I love hearing from those of you celebrating anniversaries…congratulations! Amsterdam is a great city for couples. You can walk or bike everywhere and there’s so much to do! Hope you are able to go someday with your love. 🙂

      November 11, 2015 at 9:20 am Reply
  • lissa

    Good morning Heather! I enjoyed reading this so much! Next year is our 20th anniversary and I’m DYING to go to Europe! If I could I’d see EVERYTHING! It’s a bit overwhelming for me- all the research that’s involved. I wasn’t even thinking about Amsterdam but now you’ve got me thinking… so many wonderful places to see! And I trust your taste for sure!! xo

    November 11, 2015 at 6:45 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Hi Lissa!
      How exciting for you both…and congratulations! I’m going to be sharing more of our travels. If any of the places are on your list I’d be happy to send you one of the Google Maps I created. I did one for each city and it helped so much with the planning! We were literally trains, planes and automobiles for this trip…plus bicycle, taxi, and boat! 🙂 But all the planning paid off and it was pretty much smooth sailing the entire trip!
      Wishing you the best as you plan for yours!

      November 11, 2015 at 8:23 am Reply
      • lissa

        That is so generous of you! If we do end up visiting one of these places I just might take you up on that! Thank you so very much! xo

        November 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm Reply
  • Jeri E

    Our first trip to Amsterdam 17 years ago was a game changer, we go every year and are now looking for a retreat in the city to buy. It is an amazing city and so glad you loved it too. A little known secret about Anne Frank house, they open at 7am, not 9 like posted. A couple of years ago, my daughter who was then 16 and I got up early and went. We were the only ones in the rooms and it absolutely was one of the most moving experiences of my life. We walked into the upper room where Peter slept just as the church bells began to ring. I could not get over standing alone in that room with my daughter, listening to the bells as Anne had done, and thinking she was just like my own daughter. Can’t wait to see what shops you liked as well, love your blog. So much inspiration on it.

    November 11, 2015 at 7:25 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Your comment gave me chills. I think anyone who has read her diary would be moved visiting her home. It feels surreal to be standing in a place with such vivid history. What an incredibly special time you had with your daughter. I’m sure you will both cherish the memory forever.

      November 11, 2015 at 9:23 am Reply
  • Laura

    Amsterdam is one of our favorite cities – so much to see and do – the city has amazing ambiance. So glad you visited Winkel – I send everyone there. You captured it beautifully in your images! Thank you for a little armchair travel today 🙂

    November 11, 2015 at 10:22 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      So what’s your verdict on Winkel…pie or cake? And have you tried to recreate it? 😉

      November 11, 2015 at 1:12 pm Reply
  • Lisa at celebrate creativity

    Hi Heather, I’ve never been to Amsterdam but your photos make me want to visit.

    Love all the photos on this mini-tour, especially your opening bike photo and the room at Hotel IX is stunning. What gorgeous beams and that large photo mural is perfect. I also want a slice of that pie-lol.

    Always a pleasure to browse your lovely blog and photos (and travel vicariously).

    Congrats on your anniversary. Beautiful way to celebrate.

    Enjoy your day!

    November 11, 2015 at 11:11 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Thanks so much, Lisa! When I returned home I sort of wished I had taken more photos! Everything was so beautiful. But I suppose I was living in the moment. Not everything has to be documented in order for it to have happened, right? 😉

      Appreciate the anniversary wishes…I would marry him again in a heartbeat!

      November 11, 2015 at 1:16 pm Reply
  • Eileen

    Hi Heather,
    I enjoyed your post and photos! We were lucky enough to live in Europe and we visited Amsterdam several times. We enjoy it so much! We lived in Brussels, Belgium and you would love Bruges also! Another great canal city!

    November 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Ohhh, Eileen…I really want to go to Brussels. I’ve tried to take a train there a couple times when I was in Paris but the timing was never right. It’s definitely on my list! Along with Copenhagen, Iceland, Greece, etc., etc. I need to start playing the lotto! 😉

      November 11, 2015 at 1:18 pm Reply
  • Andrea C

    I totally agree with your reader Robin K. It truly is like a little present when I see your name in my emails. I just know that a deep exhale is coming because that’s what your images, your home and your charming writing evokes. Don’t stop. I also love your instagram feed and always love any products that are featured or in use in your home. (I have the sads that the Bowl and Pitcher pitcher is no longer available).

    I was in Amsterdam years ago when my son’s soccer team traveled to Sweden for the World Cup. It was an amazing experience and the Anne Frank house was truly moving. Most of the time was spent entertaining his soccer team so it was a different experience for us (to say the least). We also traveled to Copenhagen and I must say that Denmark was one of my favorite places. Our Christmas tree has a few mini delft clog ornaments. I always buy ornaments while on vacation. Anyway, thanks for sharing your lovely pictures and Happy Anniversary!

    November 11, 2015 at 3:24 pm Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      World Cup! How exciting for your family! I hope to make it to Denmark one day…another great bicycle city.

      Thanks for following along here and IG. All the comments have been so encouraging…much appreciated. 🙂

      What Bowl and Pitcher is no longer available? You mean the business or a specific product? You have me curious!

      November 12, 2015 at 10:25 am Reply
      • Andrea C

        The pitcher that you used as a centerpiece 5 weeks ago(I just checked instagram to see when it was pictured) . Your post was an “autumn table inspiration from last fall”..It looks like such a nice size. Bummed!

        November 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm Reply
        • Andrea C

          I am so silly! It wasn’t the World Cup..It was the Gothia Cup in Sweden which is a youth soccer cup tournament..Sorry for any confusion! I was under the weather yesterday..

          November 12, 2015 at 5:25 pm Reply
        • Heather Bullard

          Oh! The pitcher you’re talking about is the Seagate made by Canvas. Here’s a direct link to purchase it on their website:
          …just in case Bowl & Pitcher isn’t going to carry them any longer.

          November 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm Reply
  • Garden, Home and Party

    What a wonderful trip. Your homework sounds like it paid off, big time. What a beautiful city. Happy Anniversary to you and your hubby.

    November 11, 2015 at 7:13 pm Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      Thanks, Karen! I’m such a lucky gal to be married to him! He’s my best friend and life wouldn’t be the same without him in it.

      November 12, 2015 at 10:28 am Reply
  • Pink Camellias

    What a fun trip! I can’t get over that hotel room – the beams are incredible!

    November 16, 2015 at 2:26 am Reply
    • Heather Bullard

      I know…isn’t it incredible?! And the owners are both wonderful. We loved visiting with them and appreciated their attention to detail in making their guests welcome and comfortable. It was the perfect place!

      November 16, 2015 at 3:15 pm Reply
  • Becki Griffin

    What a gorgeous trip report and travel guide. Stunning!!! Your trip looks amazing Heather. Happy Anniversary!!! We just celebrated our 28th last week. Laughing a little now thinking about it because we didn’t celebrate much this year…we had burgers and a garage sale, lol.

    November 17, 2015 at 12:24 pm Reply
  • Denise

    I’m hoping we can travel there some day! It’s just gorgeous, and seems almost fairytale-like. The canals, the commuting, the gorgeous homes….I would love to live there for a little while and just take in the culture. I have a friend whose sister lives there, and get to live vicariously through her travels too 🙂 She goes to an amazing flea market every year in October, and I’d love to find out more about that to fit that in!! Thanks for sharing the amazing photos. Looks dreamy.

    November 20, 2015 at 11:33 am Reply
  • Jessica

    Such a fan of yours especially through Instagram. I’m so glad that you shared all of these wonderful places to visit. It’ll make my trip in March more enjoyable-can’t wait to find some of our own “off the beaten path” places too!

    January 4, 2016 at 6:47 am Reply
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