Planning a trip to Amsterdam? Aileen O'Leary gives her top places to go.
Four days: That’s 96 hours, 5,760 minutes, 345,600 seconds to see all that we could in Amsterdam, and I think we managed it. The thing about city breaks is the time constraints they have, usually flights and travel take a lot of time, there’s queues and getting from one side of the city to the other. However, Amsterdam is the exception. In a city that has so much to offer and having a limited window of time, we had to be smart about what we were planning.
 
On my latest city break I had the opportunity to go with two of my best friends, and while this trip was short and sweet it was also unforgettable experience. It’s difficult to pack so between the three of us we decided to be practical. We ended up not checking any bags, carry on suitcases were perfect with a medium sized handbag/backpack each. I don’t know how we did it but we managed to fit ten attractions into four days and managed to still have time to spare. Here are my top five:
 
1.The Heineken Experience:
The experience at the Heineken Brewery was unforgettable. We went on our first day, and I have to recommend that anyone going to Amsterdam makes this a priority. The tour begins with the history of the company and takes you through an exhibit, then onto the process of making Heineken, there are a tonne of interactive points on the tour including a 5D experience where you go through what it takes to make Heineken. There are also loads of great photo ops from photo booths, to a recording booth where you and your mates can fake cycle through the canals and catch it on tape. Of course there are plenty of opportunities to sample the product with the tour finishing on a rooftop terrace that overlooks the city, the perfect spot for snapping memories that will last a lifetime.
 
2. XtraIcebar:
-9.5 degrees, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Also its affordable, three free drinks one in the lounge and two in the actual bar, consider it an arctic escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. But make sure you’ve layered up because it is colder than you’d think, the experience gives out coats and gloves but make sure you’re wearing a warm jumper too. Drinks are served in actual ice glasses, but don’t wait too long to drink them or else your drink will turn into an ice cube right in front of your eyes.
 
3. Canal Cruise:
The best way to see the city that was built on canals? On a canal boat of course! There are a tonne of canal companies throughout the city but we went with blue boats and had an amazing night. We opted for an open top boat trip at night, and we were lucky enough to see the light festival that takes place each winter. Artists from all over create pieces along the canal that light up at night. Wrapped up in blankets, sipping hot chocolate, without a doubt it was the best way to see the city, and the exhibition made it even better.
 
4.Anne Frank House:
Her story is beloved by millions. Generations recall the bravery and tenacity of the girl who kept a diary during one of the darkest hours in our history. Her bravery, loyalty and hope for a better future lives on in the museum. This is one of the most popular attractions in Amsterdam, and its estimated that over a million people visit each year. The rooms were left unfurnished at her father’s request to give a real sense of what it felt like to be in hiding. Dark, small, and tight, the house is the furthest thing from a home, but the story of the Franks and their friends is inspiring.
 
5. The Royal Palace:
This was a last minute decision, on our final day we were killing time and decided to have a look. The architecture and design of the palace was breath-taking. From the great hall that is adorned by three circles of the world, to the stately offices and courtrooms that were used to try the convicts of the day. Located in the centre of dam square it sits in the heart of the city. A place that housed international balls and galas and even a royal wedding in the early 2000’s. It’s simply stunning and a great way to finish off a trip.