Amsterdam has long been a choice destination for groups of young lads - wether it's for a birthday, a stag do or just a hedonistic weekend away to forget about the real world - but is it a suitable city break destination for the rest of us?
I know that my boyfriend was quite apprehensive about visiting Amsterdam with me as he didn't really see the appeal in going. The two main selling points of Amsterdam are the coffeeshops and the red light district and as neither of us smoke weed nor do we require the services of a prostitute, he felt it would be lost on us and we would hate it.
Turns out Amsterdam was nothing like either of us imagined and we both fell in love with the city (if you can't tell by the abundance of posts I created) - We're already planning to go back in the summer to experience another side of it so watch this space.
So what is it that makes Amsterdam so great?
1. Well it's super cheap, something that appeals to all.
Flights from Leeds airport are around 80 quid plus but to fly from Manchester it's £60 for a return. It's only a hour flight so you don't even need to book that much time off work to go. If you're willing to slum it in a hostel you can expect to pay £20 a night each in a mixed dorm but you can find budget double room's for £35 a night. Basically there's a huge range of accommodation for your budget, all really close to where the action is. If you're willing to sacrifice your diet you can probably eat for 20 euros a day too - I recommend chips and mayo in a cone, pastries from Rene's Croissants and noodles from Wok to Go.
2. There are heaps of cosy pubs, cafes and restaurants for you to get snuggly in and watch the world go by.
A lot of our trip was spent in drinking establishments with my favourite being the smallest pub in Amsterdam, Cafe De Dam. We sat in the window, nursed our drinks and watched the world go by. It was great. Another fave of mine was a yellow pub on the corner of one of the 'naughty alleys' - Such fun watching all the lads nudging each other as they debated going for a nosey!
3. And there is a shit tonne of stuff to do.
You can go sit in a coffeeshop or look through some red windows if that's your thang but don't forget that Amsterdam is full of history. Obviously there is a lot of heritage relating to WWII - the Anne Frank House (make sure to pre book online), the holocaust museum & memorial and the Verzetsmuseum - but there is also a load of other interesting museums to visit as well - The Rijksmuseum, the Sex Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Tulip museum, the CHEESE museum...I could go on and on and on as there are loads of random little museums dotted all over the place.
If you feel like you have the time you can hop on a coach and head to the tulip fields, to Rotterdam or to Bruges. There's the Heineken Experience and the Xtracold Ice Bar. If you're feeling brave you could even rent a bike and explore Amsterdam on two wheels. The possibilities are endless.
4. It's easy on the eyes and has quite a romantic kinda vibe going on.
Even though it was really, really cold, walking around Amsterdam was just delightful. The architecture is stunning and the canals are beautiful to walk along. Hop on a boat to see the city from the water or as previously mentioned, rent a bike and explore some lesser known areas but do so at your own risk because the local cyclists are speed demons.
5. The people are lovely.
Wether it's the local people or the tourists, everyone is super helpful and kind. You would think with the abundance of sex/drugs tourism that Amsterdam receives it would have a wild, lairy atmosphere but the whole city has a super chilled out vibe that makes for a highly enjoyable weekend for all, wether you're single, in a relationship, a man or a woman.
Hopefully I've sold you on Amsterdam 'cos it's now in my top five all time favourite destinations and I can't sing it's praises enough. Have you everb een to Amsterdam or has it's reputation put you off?