Travel Notes: Amsterdam & surrounding areas

Amsterdam offers more sites and photo opportunities than I even know about. But, it’s also a good idea to head out beyond the city and into nearby areas.

The Netherlands brings to mind wooden shoes and windmills but there is so much more.


We stayed in Amsterdam, on a houseboat. What a great experience. There was a local little pub where we ended up a few evenings after long days of walking and sightseeing. It was perfect.

One of the best things we did was to hire a private tour guide. It was just him and us. He walked us around and through the streets of Amsterdam and filled us in on the history and had plenty of stories to go along with that. I highly recommend this. It is so much better than a big group tour. You can personalize what you want to see and do and you are able to develop a relationship with your guide.

Our guide was Henk, if you’re ever in Amsterdam he was so knowledgeable and helpful. Contact me if you’d like his information for your trip to the Netherlands.

Beyond Amsterdam

Another invaluable perk to having a local private tour guide, they can take you places you’d never have likely found on your own. Henk picked us up the next day and we visited a working windmill, the Alida Hoeve Volendam cheese farm and a stop for lunch at one of his favorite spots.

The cheese farm also has the wooden shoemaker Klompenboerderij De Vriendschap.

Then a stop at one of the working windmills in the area. Don’t forget to take videos along the way.

A wonderful side trip to the town of Marken. What a beautiful harbor area and little town. Then, dinner on the way home, one of Henk’s favorite spots. The deWitte Swain Pannekoekenhuis in Waterland. Yum!

The Cheese towns


Next, we spent some time in the towns of Edam and Gouda. We, of course, sampled cheese and visited the wooden shoe shop at the cheese farm near Edam. Alida Hoeve and wooden shoemaker De Vriendschap in Volendam.

It is so relaxing to be able to wander these towns on our own with a guide. No pressure of time to get back or be at the next location. No scheduled tourist shows or “local” treats. The local treats were legitimately local and not staged. They were everyday happenings like the food market where we grabbed a snack. Or the antique market we wandered around in for a bit.



Dutch tourist photo opportunity
  • Cheese indeed! Always fun to get goofy shots. Take the tourist photos, for the memories of the laughs.
  • Don’t forget to create video snippets of your travels. Whether it’s with your camera or your phone. They are nice to have to hear the sounds and see the action.
  • Go back through images from past vacations. With post-processing options improving all the time, you may find more keepers and hidden gems you missed.
  • Hire a private tour guide. Yes, it may be a bit more money but it is so worth it. Especially as a photographer, you can request more time in a location or wander off the usual tourist route to capture images of something you might see.