The best part about traveling alone in the Netherlands? Not having to share my stroopwafels (thin little waffles with caramel sandwiched in between, or also known as, ‘heaven in a bite’) with anyone.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Amsterdam and Delft – moving around was relatively easy, and the wonderful thing was that many of the activities were free or within reasonable price ranges.
Windmills, windmills and more windmills!
You have to throw in a visit to a windmill. Do your research and make it a day trip, or go on a whim, but you must include a windmill visit! There are sleek ones and modern ones, but my favourites are the old ones. Kinderdijk was the first thing on my list – I spent the whole day there just wandering around and taking it all in, the sights, the sounds, the peace. There are 19 windmills in Kinderdijk, all built in the 1600s. A visit to this area is free, and you can roam around pretty much anywhere, but there are costs involved if you do want to go into and up a windmill (do!).
Grab a sandwich before you head out. Lunch on the grass being surrounded by gorgeous windmills while waving to the occasional cyclist – life doesn’t get better than this.
This site gives good directions on how to get to Kinderdijk.
I’d read the book and was really looking forward to visiting this place. Tip: Buying your ticket online saves you the hassle of spending half an hour in the queue! Look carefully though – there’s a queue for tickets, and there’s a queue to enter.
There was a strange kind of silence in the house. I’m not sure what I expected, but everyone kind of walked around with a silent, solemn respect, looking at preserved portions of the house, reading the inscriptions, just taking in all the history. It’s not a big place, but it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s a powerful, deeply moving feeling standing in a place where so much took place in history.
The same ticket allows you to visit the actual house that Anne Frank and her family hid in, and the Anne Frank Museum next door. You can buy your tickets beforehand here.
Walk, walk, walk. (Or cycle)
A few doors down from Anne Frank House, is Pancake House. The pancake was big, the coffee was big, and I was normal sized. But I finished it all by myself and had to walk it all off after. Thankfully, Amsterdam is a great place for walks.
I loved the canals. I loved the buildings. I loved the peaceful feel. I wasn’t confident that I could manage a bicycle in Amsterdam though, but I did rent a bike for 2-days in Delft, where roads were less crowded.
Tip: If you’re not a confident cyclist, don’t think for a minute that by divine intervention, you will receive a sudden boost of skill and compensate for your height with high heeled boots on a bicycle that’s too tall for you. Just a random tip. Not that it happened to me or anything. No, of course not. Well ok, yes it did. But I lived to tell the tale. As the girl who screamed the entire time she was on the bike, worried that she would crash into 1) other cyclists, 2) pedestrians and 3) walls.
But hey, adventure, adventure! Also, striking “cycling in Holland” off my bucket list.
The Red Light District?
I must admit that as a solo female traveller, I was slightly apprehensive about visiting Amsterdam’s famed Red Light District. But since there were walking tours of the place being marketed, I figured it couldn’t be that dangerous. I must have been there too early because most of the windows were closed; I expect that the scene must change drastically by nightfall.
Ferries on the IJ
The River IJ (pronounced “eye”) has free ferries to hop on, and it’s a short walk from Centraal Station. Look out for the blue-and-white ferries. There are a few destinations, so just get on any one. You’ll have to share it with cyclists as well, which adds on to the charm! The best part? There’s a clock that counts down, showing you how long to wait for the next ferry.
Planning a solo trip? I highly recommend Amsterdam! As a solo female traveller, I was never harassed, and never felt unsafe. Although, it is always advisable to keep your wits about you. In a souvenir shop, a young shopkeeper casually asked “Are you traveling alone?”. Honest me said yes out loud. Then, realising that I shouldn’t have, I quickly said, “But my er, friend is in the next shop”. He saw through my obvious lie and we both laughed, but that was that. I never made that mistake again!
Where to stay in Amsterdam?
My oh my, hotels are expensive in Amsterdam! Watch out for tight staircases (maybe you should leave the big suitcases at home if you choose a small hotel) and note that breakfast is not always included. Also, it may be helpful to take down details like where the hotel is near/next to, because many buildings look very similar!
Here are some recommendations on accommodations within the city centre for all budgets.
Hampshire Hotel Prinsengracht is conveniently located right in the middle of the Old Centre. There are a few hotels in Amsterdam under the Hampshire Hotel group so make sure you go to the right one!
Hotel Hegra Amsterdam Centre is a tiny little canal side building with only 9 rooms. Facilities are basic but price is justified! Check prices here.
If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, I hope you’ll enjoy walking about and exploring as much as I did! If you know anyone who’s planning a trip to Holland, I’d love for you to share this with them.
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