One Amazing Day at Rotterdam’s Maritime Museum & Antwerp’s Chocolate Nation

While on a road trip, you could easily stop at a gas station to refill the tank and stretch your legs, but why not plan something more adventurous? Continuing our road trip through Europe, today we’re driving from the Netherlands into Belgium for quite possibly the most surprising and delicious day of our trip! Road trips aren’t just about the destinations—the drive itself and random stops along the way help make the trip and build long lasting memories. For us, the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Chocolate Nation in Antwerp, Belgium fit the bill on the two best sites to see that day, and I can honestly say that we had an awesome time.

When investigating unique attractions to possibly stop at along your driving route, one of the key factors should be to not deviate too far off the highway. We would have loved to have seen The Hague, Netherlands. Although the highway did pass through the outskirts of this large city, for us to drive to any attraction in the city center, it would have taken a long time, and we’d likely have hit traffic, extending that day’s trip for us. Also consider the duration of time that it takes to fully experience an attraction. After all, you paid to get in, so you might as well enjoy it to the fullest. Museum or attraction FAQ pages often let you know approximately how long visitors spend on site. We ended up selecting two attractions we felt we could fully experience without being rushed and still make it to our hotel in Brussels by a respectable time to check in and grab dinner.

In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe. We already wrote about the charming town of Volendam here, the best places to see tulips in the Netherlands here, the infamous Amsterdam Red Light District here, the best Amsterdam food here, and the best Amsterdam attractions here. Now, let’s drive from Netherlands to Belgium!


Maritime Museum – Rotterdam, Netherlands

First stop along the drive was to the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This museum was right off the highway, and we easily found street parking, making it a very convenient stop. From our hotel the night before, it was a short 45-minute drive, but it was our last attraction in the Netherlands and allowed us an opportunity to see this city we would have otherwise driven right through.

As you’ve probably gathered from reading other Amarvelous Honeymoon posts, when the Hubbs and I visit coastal towns with rich histories of trade and commerce via the sea, we always investigate if they have a maritime museum. In general, we love cruising and boating and find the histories of sea voyages really fascinating. However, Rotterdam took “maritime museum” to the next level.

We’ve been to many maritime museums, so we have a good sense of what they typically offer. Most all museums of this kind offer to-scale ship models, marine artwork (featuring captains, boats, and maps), and then real parts of the ship (old anchors, captains’ wheels, figureheads, portholes, and diving gear). The unique part about Rotterdam’s museum, though, is that they offered all of the typical stuff mentioned above, plus several interactive experiences and exhibits that engaged you into a deeper understanding of what working on or near the sea is really like. Below I’ve outlined our three favorite exhibits:

The Offshore Experience: The focus of this experience is energy from oil, gas, and wind and an in-depth opportunity to experience what the offshore employees’ jobs are really like. This interactive exhibit begins with a background video to set the scene and some participants put on costumes to play their role. They immerse you in a few projected and in-person rooms. One looks like an oil rig, and the other looks like you are 3 kilometers (just under 10,000 ft) under the sea. Hubby is an energy nerd (he actually does energy for work!), so he really enjoyed this experience.

Dealing with Drugs: Let’s face it… Drug trade plays a heavy role in illegal port activities. This interactive experience takes you through a few perspectives—the port employees, customs officers, drug dealers, and the judge. You start off sitting at a small bistro table in a creepy and desolate setting, then you get called to enter the next room. I won’t spoil anything else, but there are several opportunities where the choices that you make change the outcome of your drug dealer’s fate. In one of the pictures below, you can see me pushing a button that ends up “electrocuting” the dealer in a pre-recorded scene.

Cruise Ships Through the Ages: As I noted above, we love cruising. Our first cruise was in 2010, and since then we’ve traveled the sea to many countries and on many cruise lines. This exhibit was a series of several rooms that showed all different areas on a cruise ship throughout time, the types of extravagant clothing that people used to wear on ships, and the types of old and modern entertainment offered on the ships. As avid cruisegoers, it was interesting to see the history of cruising. I don’t believe that this exhibit is still in the museum unfortunately.

An adult admission to the Rotterdam Maritime Museum costs €14.00 ($16.46 USD), and I’d say that it was definitely worth the price.

An hour and fifteen minutes further on our road trip journey, and we made it across the Netherlands border into Belgium and to the heart of Antwerp. It was fairly easy to find a paid parking garage in the city center.

Chocolate Nation – Antwerp, Belgium

Belgium is world-famous for its chocolate industry since the invention of the praline, a chocolate shell with a soft center, so I’d say that a trip to a chocolate factory or shop is a necessity. “When in Belgium,” am I right? The Chocolate Nation ( chocolate museum was one of my favorite parts of our Euro road trip and one of the best values. Adult admission costs a mere €16.95 ($19.93 USD) and includes access to the museum, a chocolate demonstration, and LOADS of Belgian chocolate to eat while you’re at the museum. Note the new health precautions below however

Upon arrival, every guest is provided with a museum headset, so as you walk through the museum you can press the corresponding numbers and listen to the audio tour history of chocolate. During part of the experience, you are walking through with a group, and then towards the end you are at your own pace. There is a unique “le petit chef” room where everyone sits at a table and a projection overhead creates a scene right on the plates and table in front of you.

My favorite part was all of the tasting opportunities. Near the start of the tour, in one of the first rooms, they actually had walls lined with candy machines. These looked like the types of machines you’d normally put a coin in (except these didn’t require money), turn the dial, and a whole bunch of candy would pour out the bottom opening. These machines were full of small milk chocolate pieces. There wasn’t a limit to the offering. We filled our hands and then ate the scrumptious chocolate pieces as we walked through the museum.

Another tasting opportunity was in the middle of the experience. It began as a demonstration on how pralines were made. The chocolatier held up a mold and filled it from a machine pouring chocolate. Then he used a tool to maneuver the chocolate and ensure all the gaps were filled. Then he flipped over the mold to run off the excess chocolate. This left a coating of chocolate in the mold which would become the outer shell of each praline. From there, he inserted a filling piece into each praline, then began the process again of pouring warm chocolate over the mold. This time he ran his tool over the edge to ensure each praline cup was filled, and then the mold went into the fridge to set. Once he put the fresh warm mold in the fridge, he surprised us by pulling out an already chilled and finished product and banging it on the counter to reveal other pralines that he had made that day. We were all able to taste a praline.

The final tasting opportunity was right before the exit. The most glorious of rooms was filled with machines of warmed churning chocolate in all the flavors imaginable. Flavors ranged from white, milk, dark, ruby (a new red-colored fruity-tasting chocolate), and then multiple shades in between those most common flavors. The various brown chocolates come from different percentages of milk, sugar, cocoa butter, and cocoa beans, as well as different origins across the globe. Everyone was given a plastic spoon, and we had free rein to walk around and turn the dial at any machine to fill our spoon with warm chocolate and eat it. As much as you want. Serious chocolate heaven overload.

Right after that room, you walk through what looks like a vault door into the gift shop. The whole experience is an opportunity for them to show you just how good their chocolate is, so much so that you need more before you depart. And though we had already had our fill of chocolate by this point, we did pick up a few souvenirs for family. We visited in April right before Easter, so they had a bunch of chocolate bunnies and eggs.

We visited in 2018 when health restrictions were not as strict. Below are the new Covid-19 precautions that Chocolate Nation has listed on their website.

How to have safe enjoyment as a visitor?

  • Buy a ticket online and stick to the chosen time slot
  • If you already have a day ticket, please contact Chocolate Nation ([email protected]) to reserve a time slot
  • Wait times will be respected for your own safety
  • Limit the number of personal items so that you don’t have to use the lockers
  • Stick to the safety guidelines that are communicated in the museum
  • If you feel sick or have symptoms, please stay at home

What is Chocolate Nation doing to ensure safety?

  • Plexiglass is provided at all contact zones, and our employees always wear a mouth mask
  • Upon entry, through the museum, and at the exit, there are disinfection stations to disinfect the hands
  • High touch areas such as sanitary facilities, banisters, and doorknobs are cleaned regularly
  • There is signage throughout the museum to guarantee adequate social distancing
  • At the end of your visit, you will receive a goodie bag so that you can taste the delicious Belgian chocolate at home in safe conditions. So you don’t have to miss any of the delicious chocolate!


I hope that this post inspired you to do some investigating on fun attractions while on your next road trip. Especially on long stretches of the trip, it’s a lot more fun to have something small to look forward to and a stop to get out and stretch your legs for a bit. Not to mention, if you can learn something unique about the town that you’re in, or taste some of the local cuisine, then that provides you with more memories, and you’ll actually remember the drive and cities where you stopped along the way. Also, if you’re ever in Rotterdam or Antwerp, then you MUST check out these two great attractions!

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Best Attractions in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Today we’re taking you on a rollercoaster ride through the best 21 attractions that Amsterdam has to offer. Through our four days in Amsterdam, we experienced a lot, but there’s so much more to see that we’re already making another must-see attraction list for our next trip. Come along as we explain the best attractions, when you should book your tickets, and how to avoid making some of the mistakes that we made.

In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe. We already wrote about the charming town of Volendam here, the best places to see tulips in the Netherlands here, and the best food in Amsterdam here.

Due to Covid-19, access to Amsterdam is currently limited. All public venues and non-essential shops are closed until March 2, 2021. Some of the attractions listed below may continue closure and open later this spring with a reduced capacity. If you’re interested in a particular attraction, then I highly advise you to visit their website and reserve tickets. We visited pre-Covid-19 and had a difficult time acquiring tickets to some attractions. My best advice for this exciting tourist destination is to plan your trip as early as possible and purchase all of your attraction tickets in advance too. We didn’t do that, and some attractions were totally sold out when we arrived in the country. I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be when attractions open with less tickets available than before.


A’DAM Lookout

We had a lovely time visiting the A’DAM Lookout. This observation deck towering high over the city landscape provides a panoramic view of Amsterdam. We spent a lot more time at this attraction that I thought we would. The rooftop offered multiple photo opportunities and a bar with large beanbag chairs where you could lounge with the best view in the city overlooking Amsterdam Centraal. I could have probably stayed up here all day if we didn’t also have tickets for the This is Holland attraction next door. This is definitely not an attraction to miss.

Anne Frank House

I am most saddened that I did not get to experience the Anne Frank House on our trip. This was the number-one attraction I was interested in seeing. Months before our trip, I began looking into tickets, and they were already sold out. Though we booked our flights a couple months before I started looking up attraction tickets, it hadn’t occurred to me that they would sell out. It makes sense though. This attraction is the actual house where Anne Frank went into hiding in 1942. It’s a regular house, so the flow of people moving through a home-turned-museum can’t be that much. Book this the second you book your Amsterdam trip. It is one of the most desirable and coveted attraction tickets.

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Artis: Amsterdam Royal Zoo

ARTIS is the oldest zoo in the Netherlands and sits in the heart of Amsterdam. ARTIS isn’t just a zoo though; the ticket also includes access to an aquarium, planetarium, arboretum, and a large collection of art and sculptures that also reside on the ARTIS campus. I wish we’d have had one more day in Amsterdam, because I’d have loved to have seen it. Adding this to my next Amsterdam must-see list!

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Bike Rentals

Amsterdam is a very bikeable city. InfactBicycling is one of the ways locals commute and travel around most. You’ll see in front of transportation hubs such as Amsterdam Centraal that there are what seems like thousands of bikes chained up on bicycle racks. In fact, there are bike rentals on many streets. So, this isn’t necessarily a recommendation on any particular company to book as much as a suggestion that a bike ride would allow you to explore like a local, take in the sights, and enjoy the waterfront canals.

Boat Tour

Just outside of Amsterdam Centraal, you can find many boat companies that offer guided tours of the canals. Since we didn’t select a hotel along the canal, we knew that we wanted to experience the water via a boat tour. We booked our day tour with Stromma Canal Cruises and had a great time. The tour included headphones that you plug right into your seat and then select your language to learn as you ride through the waterways. Don’t miss the photo of the Seven Bridges. It’s quite impressive, and you only have the vantage point to capture it from inside a boat in the river.

Dam Square & National Monument

The National Monument and Dam Square are two sights you could easily see for free as you are walking from one attraction to the next. They sit conveniently in front of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and only an 11 minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal Station. The National Monument is in remembrance of the casualties of World War II, and there is a ceremony every year on May 4th.

Diamond Museum

The Diamond Museum Amsterdam is an attraction that we just stumbled upon. We were in the area after having just been to Moco Museum, then we grabbed lunch at The Burger Room (highly recommend), and then we walked past the entrance of the Diamond Museum, and it piqued our interest, so we stopped in. The museum is self-guided and explains the history of Amsterdam as the City of Diamonds. They also have many gorgeous crowns and gemstones on display. It was a small museum but fairly inexpensive and a nice bonus attraction in this area of town.

De Wallen

De Wallen, or the Amsterdam Red Light District as some call it, is a lively canal-lined neighborhood in Amsterdam most known for its bars and sex shop scene. Thought I knew I wanted to include it in this post, the neighborhood has so much more to offer, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out my full post which you can find here.

The Heineken Experience Amsterdam

If you like beer, or Heineken beer in particular, then the Heineken Experience is for you. This one-and-a-half-hour tour takes you on a journey from the creation of Heineken, through the process of how beer is made, the iconic Dutch Gelder horses, interactive experiences and games, and finally taste-testing.

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

If you are visiting the Netherlands during tulip season in the spring, then I highly recommend that you take a day trip (or a few days) to explore more rural areas where farmers grow fields of tulips. I wrote a whole post on where to see the best flowers in the Netherlands here. However, if you only have a few days in Amsterdam, or are not visiting during spring, then vising the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is a great way to get your flower fix.

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I Amsterdam Sign

There are actually two I Amsterdam signs. One permanently lives at the Schipol Airport, and the other sits within the city center but moves around every few months. Due to the large size of two meters high by 23.5 meters wide, the sign draws quite the crowd and over the years has been moved around the city to several locations to help alleviate excess continued congestion in neighborhoods. In 2018 when we visited, the sign was in front of the A’DAM Lookout across the river from Amsterdam Centraal. We were already across the river experiencing a few attractions, so it worked out nicely to squeeze it in. Though there wasn’t a formal line to wait in to take pictures, there were mobs of people hanging on the letters, so it’s unlikely that you can capture a photo of just yourself with the sign. If visiting, this is a fun free photo op. Just click this link to read where the sign is positioned before your trip.

Moco Museum

Moco Museum is a boutique museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art that sits in close proximity to Rijksmuseum. During our visit, many pieces on display were from Banksy. We loved the interactive augmented reality art experience where you hold up your smartphone and the static piece of art comes to life with movement on your screen. This is the future!

National Maritime Museum

The Hubbs and I love to visit maritime museums when traveling. There’s just something extremely fascinating in learning about how a port town used to operate, and then comparing it to modern day. Though nowadays there are significantly less ships coming in with goods, the Amsterdam National Maritime Museum gives you a glimpse into the 500-year-old history of Dutch Maritime.

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Nemo Science Museum

The Nemo Science Museum is a boat-shaped building with hands-on immersive science and technology activities indoors, as well as a rooftop observation deck on top of the museum outdoors. The building sits right on the waterways, and you can recognize its distinct shape from boat tours and the A’DAM Lookout.

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Rembrandt House Museum

Though there are Rembrandt pieces in the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House is the home where Rembrandt lived and features an almost complete collection of Rembrandt’s etchings on display. There are also temporary exhibitions where modern artists that were inspired by Rembrant are featured.

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The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to art and history of Amsterdam and arguably the most famous and popular museum in Amsterdam. This museum houses The Night Watch by Rembrandt, The Threatened Swan by Asselijn, Self-Portrait with a Felt Hat by van Gogh, and The Battle of Waterloo by Pieneman, among so many other treasures. On our final day in Amsterdam, we arrived right when they opened, with tickets in hand that we had purchased the day before, and we spent the morning at the museum until we had to depart for the airport.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The Royal Palace is one of three royal buildings in Amsterdam and located next to Dam Square. Though the palace is currently closed to visitors, you can now take a glimpse inside the palace virtually.

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This is Holland

This ultimate flight experience is a 5D flight simulation with wind and water effects that takes you soaring over iconic Netherlands landscapes. Amsterdam was the final Dutch city of our trip, so we’d already seen many of the sights, but getting this bird’s eye view took the same sights to the next level. This attraction is across the river from Amsterdam Centraal and does require you to take a ferry ride, so be sure to account for that time in your travel plans.

Van Gogh Museum

As we approached the Van Gogh Museum, the line was so long that I knew we weren’t getting tickets. We tried anyway though, and we were told that they were sold out for weeks. Unfortunately, we had assumed that all of the Netherlands museums would be like museums in New York City, where you could just show up to purchase a ticket and enter, but we were so wrong. Book early for this one. Though we missed the museum entirely, Rijksmuseum does have some Van Gogh pieces on display which were nice to see in person.

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Vondelpark, named after the Dutch playwright and writer Joost van den Vondel, is a 47-acre public park with free entrance. We booked the Hotel Piet Hein right across the street from the park. Fortunately for us, every day in Amsterdam we were able to stroll through the park when going out for the day or coming back in the evening. It was lovely.

Houseboat Museum Amsterdam

The Houseboat Museum is actually a former working barge that has since been transformed into a home. Measuring equal to the size of an Amsterdam apartment, visitors have the opportunity to experience what life aboard an Amsterdam canal houseboat is like.

Other Attractions of Interest:


I hope that you enjoyed today’s post on the best attractions of Amsterdam, Netherlands. There is clearly a ton to see and do there! If there is one takeaway that I can’t stress enough, it’s that Amsterdam isn’t the kind of city where you can wing it and just book attractions as you go. Book as early as you can! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve enjoyed other activities that aren’t listed above. Feel free to leave a comment!

DISCLAIMER: Any brands listed above are not sponsors.

Best Places to Eat in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Food is one of the most important aspects of a vacation. It’s a time to not diet or count calories, but rather indulge and fully immerse yourself in a city. We spent four days in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and had some excellent food during our stay. Today’s post will cover the best food in Amsterdam, taking us through breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. I hope you had a snack before you look at all the yummy photos below! 😜

In case you missed it, this post is a continuation of our one-year anniversary road trip through Europe. We already wrote about the charming town of Volendam here, the best places to see tulips in the Netherlands here, and Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District here.

Food is very representative of a city’s culture. In order to really get to know a place and the people, you’ve got to eat the food.

Emeril Lagasse



De Bakkerswinkel (Warmoesstraat 69, 1012 HX Amsterdam) is the most darling sit-down breakfast spot. The café is two floors: The first floor included the open kitchen, to-go counter, and some dine-in tables, while the second floor offered more dining tables overlooking the first floor like a loft. The whole aesthetic was light and bright, including fresh tulips in bud vases on every table. The menu offers everything you’d want out of a brunch or high tea. We ordered quiche, French toast, and a scone. Everything was excellent, but our favorite part was the homemade jam. When you sit, the server supplies you with an assortment of jams. Our table had five flavors, and you can eat as much jam as you like. Needless to say, we tried all five. We loved them so much that when we were paying our bill we asked if they sold jars to-go. They did! We ended up buying jars of jam for all of our family and friends back home. It was the perfect souvenir and very affordable.


Cheese Shops This will be the only free snack included in this list… so consider it my freebie to you! Stop into nearly any cheese shop in the Netherlands, and you can sample any cheese before purchase. We bought a bunch of cheese while in the Netherlands and loved that we could taste all the flavors and variety.

Febo is what I’d consider a grab-and-go vending machine fast-food spot. Food is prepared fresh every morning then delivered to the vending kiosks daily. They sell items such as croquettes, burgers, chicken skewers, ice cream, and more. The unique thing about this company is that they are a family-owned fast food chain and use local Dutch ingredients. They have over 66 locations, making them conveniently located all over Amsterdam.

Mannekenpis Verse Vlaamse Friet (Damrak 41, 1012 LK Amsterdam) is the french fry shop of all french fry shops. The potatoes are from Zeeland, Netherlands, and after being picked they are processed into french fries the same day they arrive to the factory, making them super fresh. What makes these fries special is the 20 flavors of sauce you can choose from as a topping. The fries are served in paper cones with little wooden forks that make them easy on-the-go and keep your fingers clean. The Amsterdam location is just a window where you order, no sit down. We picked up two cones and snacked while walking from one attraction to the next.

Simit Sarayi (Damrak 57, 1012 LL Amsterdam) is a diverse and affordable fast food option with a menu including breakfast, lunch, and some dinner-ish foods. They do have tables for those wanting to sit down, but you could also order and take your food to-go, making this spot convenient for tourists on-the-go. The location we went to was centrally located by many activities we were going to that day. We ordered at the counter then sat down for ten minutes to eat.


Café Restaurant Mamouche (Quellijnstraat 104, 1072 XZ Amsterdam) is an upscale Moroccan-French restaurant. We love Moroccan food, and they did not disappoint. The Pastilla, lamb kefta, couscous with kebab, and Moroccan mint tea were all superb. We dined at a lovely table outside. Highly recommend this gem.

Restaurant Bazar was a Mediterranean restaurant located in Amsterdam. Since our visit, they have decided to close permanently. However, they still made my list because they were really tasty; just look at our dishes below! All hope isn’t lost though, because they do have a Rotterdam, Netherlands, location just an hour away. When we visited the Netherlands, we actually visited several cities, and Rotterdam was one of them.

The Burger Room (Paulus Potterstraat 30H, 1701 DA Amsterdam) is a burger restaurant and cocktail bar inspired by the Wizard of Oz. The 1920s art deco style is mixed with lush velvet emerald green and gold accents. The Wizard of Oz theme runs deep, with creative names on the menu, artwork, and a mini museum downstairs, including a replica of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. We had spent the day in the museum district seeing museum after museum, and this burger spot was the perfect place for a break and replenish. We ordered burgers and milkshakes, and they were really tasty. If you like burgers or are just a Wizard of Oz fan, then you need to check this place out.

Vegan Junk Food Bar (Marie Heinekenplein 9-10, Amsterdam) is a vegan eatery that sells everything from meatless burgers to ribs. We didn’t actually eat here but had stumbled upon it while on the way to our Moroccan restaurant. It was definitely the busiest restaurant in that whole area of town. The crowd we saw, plus the 4.5-star reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor led me to believe that it’s really good. I wish we had one more day in Amsterdam so we could have eaten here. There are four locations in Amsterdam.


Banketbakkerij v.d. Linde (Nieuwendijk 183, 1012 MG Amsterdam) is a special ice cream shop in the heart of Amsterdam. I’d heard really good things about this place so figured I’d give it a try. They only sell one flavor, a smooth rich vanilla whipped cream scoop in a waffle cone. Vanilla isn’t my favorite flavor of ice cream, but this is more than just vanilla. It was very affordable, and the quick-moving line out the door of this shop will tell you just how good it was.

Van Wonderen Stroopwafels (Kalverstraat 190, 1012 XH Amsterdam) is a stroopwafel shop that was highly recommended by a friend. Stroopwafel is a dessert-like chewy wafer cookie made from two thin layers of dough, pressed with a thin lining of filling in the middle (most commonly a caramel or honey-like substance). This shop makes them to order, and they were seriously gourmet and so scrumptious. They also sell a bunch of prepackaged stroopwafel items you can purchase as souvenirs, or to save for a midnight snack in your hotel room later. 😊


And that’s a wrap (pun intended) on our best food in Amsterdam post! I hope I introduced you to some new dishes and restaurants that will influence your next Amsterdam dining experience. Stay tuned for the next Amarvelous Honeymoon blog post, where we’ll be covering the best Amsterdam attractions, and in the coming weeks we’ll be writing about the rest of our unforgettable trip through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Spain!

DISCLAIMER: Any brands listed above are not sponsors.