Have you been to Amsterdam lately? (I mean, as a 30-something “grown up?”)
There’s some of the general reasons we all flocked to Amsterdam on college study abroad trips, but beyond the obvious connotations with the city, I was amazed at the culture and beauty of this gorgeous European town on the water. I had a great two night visit, enjoying Amsterdam’s craft classes and vintage shopping while fueling up on the best gluten free meals.
There’s a lot I can do in a small apartment with my family and two dogs, but when a chance to submit a large proposal for work came my way, I instinctively booked a quick train trip to Amsterdam. I needed just two days alone to walk and soak up inspiration before going back to my room to have nothing to distract me from my work at hand. It was such a great investment in my work and I was so happy as my return train pulled back home to Freiburg, Germany, knowing I had way more than just a finished proposal with me from the journey.
As crazy as it is, this was my first time traveling alone! Amsterdam was the perfect host city for the occasion. With friendly English speakers, an easy to navigate public transit system and something unique and beautiful around every corner, these two nights became one of my favorite trips in my life.
If you’re looking for an Europe destination that’s accommodating and energizing without losing a bit of it’s old world charms, I think that’s what Amsterdam is all about!
Here’s a round up of things I loved discovering on my visit.
Amsterdam Craft Classes
One art form synonymous with the Netherlands is Delfts Blauw pottery.
I was so excited to learn I could take a class to learn all about Delfts Blauw before trying it myself! The journey of this style of painting from its origins in the Ming Dynasty of China to Holland was so interesting to me.
The class was held in the pretty Heinen Delfts Blauw showroom, making it easy to get lots of inspiration before class.
I love an inspiring work station! The hospitality for the class was top notch with fresh water and chic coffee service for students.
As for the detailed blue painting style I really did it! I was so excited to see the design I chose come to life thanks to the encouragement and tips from our instructor. It was fascinating to sit and try something new with the rest of my class, who came from Denmark and Sri Lanka. As hard as it was to finish up and leave, I was so excited to know my finished product would be glazed and mailed to me at home!
Another craft workshop on my list for Amsterdam is at Pansy ceramics. The shop happened to be relocating as I was in town, but I couldn’t believe my luck when I turned onto a street while walking to breakfast and realized I had walked up on Pansy’s new location.
Pansy’s workshops focus on ceramics making and glazing. I love the chunky, modern and playful designs! I can’t wait to come back here on a future visit.
The Best Vintage Shops in Amsterdam
I love to check out vintage shops anytime I travel. Amsterdam really takes it to another level! I felt like I couldn’t walk down a city block without getting pulled into a cute secondhand shop.
These favorites really impressed me with their collections.
Anytime I am in Amsterdam in the future I will stop in at Marbles Vintage! I loved the selection and the prices were amazing. My exchange with the sales associate that rang me up was one of the friendliest I’ve had since moving to Europe. Trust me – it goes a long way.
Started by a young couple in 1979, Zipper is one of Amsterdam’s oldest vintage stores. It’s two levels of finds for men and women, jam packed while still shoppable. I had the best time digging through here and found some great items for my dude holding down the fort at home.
I really shot from the hip on this trip, waking up and just pointing myself in the right direction in the morning. I was shocked to turn a corner and stumble onto Waterlooplein Flea Market, known for being the oldest flea market in Amsterdam with 300 stalls. Tables piled with vintage denim and knick knacks and racks of coats and clothing for days make it a great place to shop in the open air.
Right next to the flea market was Candy Store Vintage. I loved the 90’s nostaligia and lay out of their shop.
Gluten Free Food in Amsterdam (and Decadent Sweets!)
Immediately upon exiting my train, I walked about a block from the train station to Pancakes Amsterdam, where I had a delicious and enormous gluten free pancake with no time for a photo. There’s no better referral than that, IMO, so don’t forget to put it on your list!
Unsure how I would top my pancakes from the day before, I set out to try Heart Garden Waffles. The frothy lavender latte as well as the huge waffle topped with vegan whipped cream, perfectly laid chocolate chips and banana were only a small part of the experience at this adorable breakfast cafe and coffee shop with a passion for consciousness and spirituality. This place is so special to me now. I’ll be back on every return trip in my future.
After a very long second day of walking, I stumbled into Pasta Factory and threw myself at their feet. My dinner meal was everything a European night cap should be – filled with carbs, decadent cheese and a few fresh greens so flavorful that eating them feels nothing like a chore.
I always loved Tony Chocoloney bars in the States. Everything about them is so fun and feel good, from the happy packaging and thick chocolate chunks to the fair trade supply chain. I had no idea the chocolate originated in Amsterdam until I was preparing for my trip!
Tony’s goes all out in their hometown, with a Wonka-level shop and a cafe that will seriously blow your chocolate loving mind, filled with baked sweets and treats.
With having to avoid gluten, I hardly settled by choosing their mocha latte as my pick. The chocolate layer on tops slides down the mug to be the perfect finisher on a delicious espresso treat.
Other Finds and Favorites
The smells! The color! Even without purchasing any myself, this was a delight to walk through.
My tip for the flower market are these wooden tulips. They capture the memory of the flower market while being able to fly home. I got a bundle at the Amsterdam airport almost 13 years ago and they continue to be a favorite home item of mine.
I love checking out craft stores when I travel and Pipoo’s did not disappoint! I found super unique kits and squealed with delight over an entire Pippi Longstocking section for kids.
This hotel and co-working space sits in a former newspaper building, beautifully restored but filled with charm. It was the perfect place to run away to so I could write, and I loved my “XS” sized room that felt cozy but super comfortable.
If you get a chance to stay at the Volkshotel, don’t miss your chance to see the sun come up over Amsterdam from one of their cedar plank hot tubs after waking up in their sauna. This was such a special part of my trip.
The Amsterdam Packing List
Traveling to new cities, I love to try feel like I’m wearing the best version of my personal style while being comfortable and paying homage to the style culture of where I’m traveling. For Amsterdam. I added a few funky finds to my travel capsule of hardworking, chic basics.
Oversized White Shirt – The most classic staple for a beautiful historic town, made ultra comfortable and modern in an oversized fit.
Wrangler Jeans – I love my Wranglers! The true blue indigo and straight leg look just as good walking around Europe as they do in a Texas horse stable.
Turtleneck Bodysuit – I have two of these bodysuits, which are the perfect weight for layering or wearing alone. The neck is just right, not a mock style like I see on other bodysuits.
Trench Jacket – Everyone needs one! I love the shorter style for spring trips.
Black Ribbed Leggings – I exercise in these leggings, but my favorite place to wear them is on the train! Just the right amount of compression with the comfortable, seamless fit. The ribbed detail gives them a vibe that, I think, helps them achieve their best lives as travel pants.
Vintage Premapress Shirt – I’m always looking for cute button down shirts in permapress fabrics in vintage shops. It’s often the print or detail I need to make my travel look stand out, and they always come out of my travel bag ready to go!
https://openheartedhome.com/2022/04/05/the-best-leather-travel-backpacks/Women’s Leather Travel Backpack – My favorite travel accessory! Check out my recent post on the best leather travel backpacks for all my picks.
Chunky Socks – I love the retro vibe and how ready they are for long walking days.
Women’s Timberlands – I have no survival rate traveling in Europe without my all-time favorite show!
Beanie – An inexpensive addition to my bag that captures the street style of Amsterdam.
Silk Bandana – One of my best Amazon finds. I have two styles and love how they travel so well.
Funky Round Sunglasses – The fun side of the city in chic shades! I love.
Triangle Two Piece – I think an inexpensive, unfussy suit like this is perfect for hotel saunas and spas.
Bralettes – My go-to, and especially comfortable when traveling.
Reading Material – Joan Didion essays really inspire good writing and beatnik adventures.
Laptop Case – I love this case and how little space it takes up in my bag.
Travel Pouches – I alway have one pre-packed with chargers and one on hand for toiletries!
Battery Chargers – Slim enough for my pocket and enough juice to help me stay out all day.
What do you think? Does Amsterdam make your list? What’s your favorite place to travel to alone? Leave a comment and share with the class!