Honeymoons have evolved from simple beach vacations, and these days, couples can choose a trip as unique as they are. In this series, Katie Goldstein from Travelingpanties and Smartypanties. is breaking down the best honeymoon destinations, one at a time, to help you narrow down the dizzying array of options so you can choose the one that reflects your interests, budget and style. Up today? Amsterdam.
You’re looking for culture and laid-back romance with plenty of options to party.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) is the main international airport in the city. Amsterdam is also easy to reach from neighboring countries via trains to its main station, Amsterdam Centraal.
Amsterdam is nearly free of cars other than the occasional taxi. Most popular areas can be reached simply by walking. In fact, one of the most romantic activities is getting lost among the city’s streets and canals. But if you need to get somewhere fast, the Amsterdam public transportation system, which mostly consists of trams, is cheap and easy to use.
Amsterdam provides the perfect idyllic setting for a European getaway and is often an option that is more affordable than cities like Paris and Rome. From its storybook canals to its laid-back open-air restaurants, Amsterdam might just be one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Despite its naughty rep for its lenient drug laws and raunchy Red Light District, if you stay away from seedy areas, Amsterdam is filled with just as much culture, history and luxury as other popular European honeymoon destinations. Amsterdam’s luxury travel market is booming yet offers competitive pricing. Added bonus? Most of the locals in Amsterdam speak English and are extremely friendly and pleasant.
Where to stay
The InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam has been revered for its palatial and classical grandeur for over a century. Its staff is professional and attentive, and its rooms are warm, traditionally decorated and extremely spacious. Don’t be surprised if you spot a celebrity holed up at this famed hotel as this is where many choose to stay. Plus, the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam is home to Michelin-starred restaurant La Rive.
If your tastes lean toward contemporary styling, the Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam is the perfect option. Guests can luxuriate in an indulgent spa and enjoy a fabulous location that is only steps away from many of the city’s most popular attractions.
If you’re looking for boutique luxury, look no further than The Toren Hotel. Lovingly kept by a local couple, the attention to detail radiates throughout the entire property. From the posh bar to the delicious breakfasts, guests don’t want for anything. Honeymooners should consider renting the Executive Suite, which features high-tech amenities, dual rain-shower heads in a steam shower cabin, an enormous Jacuzzi and the most comfortable bed you have ever slept in (Note, the wonderful beds are a hotel standard).
Where to eat and drink
To experience the farm-to-table craze firsthand, visit De Kas, which is housed in a gorgeous glass conservatory. Many of its organic ingredients are grown on its own farm just outside the city or in its greenhouse, which is actually on site at the restaurant. Diners will enjoy the superb cuisine, which is served in a prix fixe menu set each night by the chef. (The menu can be adjusted if there are special dietary preferences or restrictions.)
- If you’re looking for a quick yet delicious meal of noodles in a contemporary setting, check out Wagamama.
- Sample Basque-style tapas and northern Spanish delicacies at La Oliva.
- If you’re looking for fine Chinese dining, visit New King, which serves delectable Mandarin cuisine. There is usually about a 45 minute wait, but it’s worth it.
What to do in Amsterdam
- Art enthusiasts will delight in the incredible array of art museums in Amsterdam. Perhaps the most famous attraction is the Van Gogh Museum, which is currently housed at the Hermitage Amsterdam while the Van Gogh Museum is being renovated. This thrilling exhibit is dedicated to the work of Van Gogh and his contemporaries.
- Rembrandt fans can’t miss a trip to the Rembrandt House Museum, where the artist lived and painted for nearly 20 years. Fans of Rembrandt should also visit the Rijksmuseum. This Dutch national museum is dedicated to paintings from the Dutch Golden Age.
- Finally, modern art lovers cannot miss the Stedelijk Museum.
For history buffs
- The Anne Frank House is a museum dedicated to the inspirational young woman, Anne Frank, famous for her diary about Nazi persecution during World War II. A visit to Amsterdam is not complete without a stop here. Buy tickets online and go early to avoid long lines, which almost always persist.
- Skip the one-hour canal tours that simply play a pre-recorded message and take one of Amsterdam’s free walking tours, which are extremely informative. Do note that although the tours are free, the guides are paid on 100 percent tips based on your experience, so be kind.
For libations enthusiasts
- The Heineken Experience is a fun museum where you can learn about the Heineken brewery and can even sample the product!
- Indulge in High Wine (like High Tea but with wine!) at the Dylan Amsterdam, where a decadent pairing of four fine wines and savory snacks is served daily from 3-6 p.m. Book a table by the fireplace for an over-the-top romantic experience.
For night owls
- Amsterdam is filled with cafes, bars and pubs that thrive at night. Pollux, ‘t Smalle and Vesper Bar were some of our favorites. If you’re looking for live music, check out Paradiso.
- If you’re looking to hit the town and experience the local coffee shops, Amnesia, Bulldog Cafe and Greenhouse are a few popular local favorites.
For those looking for an excursion
- Bruges, one of the most picturesque cities in Europe, is only a short two-hour train ride away. Yes, it’s been criticized for being a bit touristy, but it’s one of Belgium’s most popular destinations for a reason. Bruges is a well-preserved medieval city filled with charming squares, romantic canals and some of the best culinary treats in Europe. Bruges’ streets are lined with chocolate shops (Sukerbuyc and Chocolate Line were among our favorites), cafes serving up delectable waffles and of course bars featuring some of the best Belgian beer you have ever tried (Bar Des Amis is a local favorite).
- Where to stay: For the perfect blend of historical elegance with today’s amenities, we recommend Kempinski Hotel Duke’s Palace. If you’re looking for a boutique luxury experience, we highly recommend Hotel Heritage. Be sure to check out the view from the top floor. A night or two in this tiny fairytale town will be plenty, and once you’re relaxed, you can return to Amsterdam for the wild nightlife.
What to watch out for
Amsterdam can be a lot of fun, but be careful when you indulge to not go too far when imbibing any substance. Also, when crossing streets, be aware that bikes come from nearly every direction. If your mind isn’t, say, at its sharpest, be sure to exercise extreme caution.