Have you ever been to Amsterdam? I recently visited in December and was delighted by pretty much everything I saw. It’s pretty cool – figuratively, yet most people don’t hit up Holland in winter. Since their weather is much milder than ours, it’s great time to escape our frozen climes and explore without crowds.

If you do go in winter, try and time it so you catch the Amsterdam Light Festival. But really, Amsterdam is cool anytime of year. Below are a few of my favourite shots. Hope you enjoy.

Amsterdam pub

How adorable is this little pub?

There’s a lot to see and do in Amsterdam, but if you’re pressed for time, it is possible to do Amsterdam in a day.  You’ll have to be strategic with your time, though.

Like hitting up an atmospheric pub like the one pictured above. Perched beside the canal, it had  crooked floors and emitted an amber glow all night long.

You’ll get your IG shots, a break for weary legs and will feel like a local while soaking up the history (it first opened in 1695!). Naturally, they also served the very best warm cocktails inside.

The best fries in Amsterdam

French Fries in a paper cup

Cone of fries topped with gobs of mayo

Fry carts are everywhere in the capital (and the country). Stumble out of a pub and soak up the alcohol with these beauties – available on most street corners.

Fries must be served in a cone with a dollop of mayo. Not ketchup. Of course the fries are sure to taste better after you’ve visited an Amsterdam Coffeeshop. Not that I would know…

Bikes in Amsterdam

Bike wheel beside art

Bicycles and street art were everywhere!

If you’re a pedestrian, you’ll need to watch out for the aggressive bikers. Better bikes than cars, though. There are so many bikes, I found it hard to get images without bikes in the shot. No matter. Everywhere you look, they’ve managed to meld the old with the new. This fin de siècle inspired poster (above) is a perfect example of that.

front bike carrier for kids

We’re finally seeing more of these front carriers in North America, but not nearly as many as in Europe.

Why don’t we have these massive bike boxes for kids? So much cuter and less pretentious than a double-Chariot, don’t you think? And why don’t we Canadian moms dress like we give a damn?

Day trip to Haarlem

bike rack parking

More bikes and canal houses in Haarlem.

These buildings are in Haarlem, an impossibly pretty town (and shopping enclave!) less than an hour away from Amsterdam. It’s definitely worth the trip out even for a day.

Of course there’s plenty of hotels to stay at in both cities, but if you’re looking for budget accommodation, these are the best hostels in Amsterdam for backpackers.

Alms house shutters

Such pretty shutters on this Alms house.

In Haarlem they had hundreds of Alms Houses used to house poverty stricken elderly women. You can tell the homes by their jaunty red and white shutters.

Alms House Haarlem holland netherlands

Would it be similar to living in a sorority house, I wonder?

About 20 of these Alms Homes are still operational today. They’re tiny, but they each look onto a lovely courtyard.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? What do you recommend hitting up?

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? What’s your favourite thing to do in the city?