This article was originally published for BGMT.nl and you can find it here.
Winter is almost here. You can feel the cold through your fingers and you are most likely already rocking your winter gear. With that, the Netherlands is going in and out of partial and full lockdowns. So what do you do when hospitality businesses are closed and there is no place to cozy up in? Well, that only means exploring, exploring, exploring.
In this article, I will propose a few fun things you can do around Amsterdam – the city I live in. These ideas revolve around exploring the town specifically during the winter time. You can enjoy them with a friend or two (depending on current regulations) or even better – by yourself. Either way, exploring Amsterdam with a cup of coffee/tea in your hand is probably a good way to remain sane and healthy during the winter lockdown period.
Credit: Evelyn Liow from Unsplash
Did you know that you don’t need money or experienced tour guides to explore Amsterdam? You can sign up here to receive free weekly walks curated by locals and tour guides by email. They are very easy to follow using Google Maps (plus you get some exercise in). I have found them to be one of the best ways to learn more about the historical side of Amsterdam. For instance, a few weeks ago, I was exploring Amsterdam East and on one of these walks, I saw the building in which Napoleon received the keys to Amsterdam. I would not have known this fact without using these walks.
Try them out and comment below, telling us what fun new place you found!
Don’t be scared to also curate your own walks and get lost in Amsterdam neighborhoods. Now is the best time to take in every single thing that is around when there are fewer tourists walking the streets. Lately, I’ve been noticing more Amsterdam locals than ever enjoying what their city has to offer. The activity of finding a new cool café, spot, shop, itself is quite rewarding. Become a regular at those places and make connections (with a mask and distance, of course!) and show off your new finds to your friends! One of my favorite bakeries at the moment is this one, in my neighborhood. It’s great to grab a coffee, a pastry and walk towards Vondelpark. Moreover, don’t forget to support local places; they need our help the most at these times.
How does a romantic winter stroll along the beautiful canals of Amsterdam Jordaan/West sound? Now that the holiday lights are up, it is a wonderful part of town to explore (it also happens to be my favourite Amsterdam area). For this I would suggest getting some fresh and warm cookies from Van Stapele. From there, you can walk towards the bench from The Fault in our Stars (it’s near Leidsegracht 34HS). The view is quite wonderful and you can either share it with a fellow explorer or just enjoy it by taking yourself on a date.
Okay, I will suggest one more cute exploring expedition if you happen to still be in Amsterdam West. Can you spot the tiny hidden houses on Westerstraat? Maybe this article will help.
Parks, parks, parks
What? Is it not raining today in Amsterdam? Then you need to get out there and visit the parks that Amsterdam has to offer. You can bike or walk; after all, exercise is quite important and especially supported by the Dutch government at the moment.
Fortunately, Amsterdam is known for the variety of parks one can explore. But let’s admit it, Vondelpark is overcrowded and definitely not one of the best. Here are some of the ones I would recommend instead:
- Sloterplas – so many things to see and it also has a lake and its own beach area.
- Beatrixpark – a smaller park, but the dogs are definitely worth it.
- Amsterdamse Bos – a.k.a. the Amsterdam forest, where you can definitely get lost. De Bos has a goat farm, where you can feed baby goats for 1-2 euros (it will be closed until February, but you can visit after). You can opt for exploring the forest in its entirety and try spotting a Highland Cow. Yes, a highland cow.
- Amstelpark – leave your bike outside of this park as they are not allowed in. You can do a lot of exploring here with the mini-golf area and the ‘farm’ with alpacas, donkeys, and more.
- Westerpark – for animal lovers, you can check out Nemoland.
Yes, I admit. Walks, strolls and parks are all fun, but only up to a point. We all need a fun activity to do from time to time. However, the pool of activities in Amsterdam is quite limited right now.
Museums are open, so there is no need to mention those. If you have the Museumkaart there is no point in waiting – you need to get out there and see them all. Otherwise, go ice skating! It’s the best winter activity you could possibly do at the moment and it’s a lot of fun. If you are a fan of more passive activities and enjoy having a few laughs, comedy clubs such as Boom Chicago are open again.
In conclusion, exploring Amsterdam during this winter lockdown does not have to be boring. There is still plenty to enjoy and do. To be honest, now may be the best time, as it motivates you to be creative and find out what places are still open. It also allows you to spend some time by yourself or get closer to some friends. So get out there and explore to the fullest, but don’t forget a hot beverage in your hand for the days when the sun is not on your side.