Welcome to the new Her Campus Illinois Travel Blog! My name is Lauren and I am a senior studying Communication with a strong addiction to coffee and travel. I’ve had some great opportunities to feed that addiction with a semester studying abroad in Wales, an internship that offered me free flights around the U.S., and friends and family who are always willing to share in my adventures. I can’t wait to write about my travels – both past and present – and hope you’ll share your stories as well!
Our first stop?
Me in front of the iconic I Amsterdam sign
Amsterdam is one of the most interesting (and surprising) cities I have ever been to. Images of dirty streets rampant with drugs and prostitution ran through my head as I took the ferry to land of clogs and windmills. I could not have been more wrong. Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to, and has such rich history, great museums, attractions and amazing architecture. It truly has something for everyone.
Amsterdam’s “Must Do’s”
New Europe Tour
See the best of Amsterdam (and places no guidebook will every take you) with a FREE 3 ½ hour tour of the city! The guides are hilarious and truly passionate about the city. The New Europe Tour is best for fun facts, great pictures and making new friends to meet out later. Don’t forget to tip your guide generously!
Amsterdam’s canals give it the nickname “Venice of the North.”
The Heineken Experience
More than your usual tour, the Heineken Experience was one of my favorite activities. Find out how the beer is brewed, taste raw hops and learn the “correct” way to taste your beer. With three free beers along the way, this tour is definitely worth it.
Anne Frank House
If you do nothing else while in Amsterdam, visit the Anne Frank House. To stand in the very room young Anne and her family hid was an emotional experience for everyone in our group. Get there early in the morning to avoid long lines.
The Red Light District
Legal window prostitution is definitely an odd thing to see, but part of touring Amsterdam! If you feel comfortable, grab a few friends, leave your valuables at home, and take a walk through the district in the early evening. Tip: Don’t take pictures and respect the women no matter your opinion of their job.
A Coffee Shop
Amsterdam’s famous “Coffee Shops” exist for the tourists, and it’s big business. In fact, only 6% of the Dutch people have ever tried it. Marijuana is not legal though, simply decriminalized with a police force that looks the other way. Head to De Dampkring and check out the shop where Ocean’s Twelve was filmed.
With friends outside Da Dampkring Coffee Shop
Vincent Van Gogh Museum
You can see over 200 of Van Gogh’s original pieces in this beautiful museum. You can’t take pictures, but they wouldn’t do them justice anyways. Not an art fan? With a 15 Euro price tag, you might want to skip it.
A Night Out
There are tons of clubs to choose from, but I definitely recommend Paradiso. It’s three floors, has awesome live music and is a great place for some dancing! Warning: Most places are a good 10 or 15 Euros to get in, so bring some cash.