A #NoFilter Adventure in Amsterdam.

A #NoFilter Adventure in Amsterdam.Usually we go on holiday with very specific expectations of a place. We have a full itinerary and a clear idea of how a city will make us feel. We know what we want to taste, see, do, and experience.

But it can be so wonderful to visit a place we know little of. To allow its streets to tell a story. To get swept up in the feeling of a city.

That was my first experience of Amsterdam.

I went right after I graduated university. My best friend was doing a semester abroad there, so it seemed like the perfect excuse to go to Europe for the first time. But all I knew of Amsterdam was its reputation for sex and drugs. So I expected it to be fun. I didn’t know it would be magical.

amsterdamTo me, Amsterdam is like a fairy tale, all narrow streets and winding canals and flowers bursting out of every corner. But I was also surprised by its rock n roll edge. Vibrant street art. Perfectly curated vintage shops. Beautifully designed homes never adorned with curtains. There seemed to be something new and wonderful around every corner.

Traveling without knowing much about a place is like stripping off the filter of our expectations. Instead of being let down if it doesn’t measure up or only seeing one side of a city, we

That’s why I love the London City Airport #NoFilter campaign. They’re encouraging travelers to document their holidays without editing or filters. Rather than forcing your photos to look a certain way for Instagram, you can capture a place as you really saw and experienced it.

DSC01694Here are a few tips to take the best photographs straight from your phone or camera:

  • Use natural light to your advantage. You’ll take your best photos first thing in the morning or a couple of hours before the sun sets. But if it’s midday, just try not to position your subject in direct sunlight as this will create harsh shadows. If you’re indoors, try to take photos near a window.
  • Get familiar with the manual settings on your camera (this isn’t overly complicated, and I’ve provided some tips here). Then be intentional about how you can use your exposure and aperture to create the visual effect you’re looking for.
  • Take a moment to carefully compose your shot. Think about how a particular angle or framing might make it more visually interesting.
  • Take a variety of photos. Especially if you’re photographing people, as it can be difficult to notice if someone is squinting or making a wonky face.
  • Photograph details. We often focus solely on photographing landmarks or big attractions but sometimes the best photos are of the small things you loved about a place. Perfect latte art in a cosy cafe. A friendly cat on someone’s font step. A pile of tangled necklaces at a flea market. You can find amazing photos of a city’s most famous spots anywhere, but no one else can capture the small moments that defined your trip.

DSC01551Amsterdam is such an accessible city; you can bike across the whole thing in about 20 minutes, which means you can soak up so much of it in a short amount of time.

If you visit, by all means, take advantage of its wonderful sights. Give remembrance at the Anne Frank House. Marvel at creative genius of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and the Dutch masters. Visit the floating flower markets and marvel at the expanse of technicoloured blooms.

But save time to let Amsterstamd take you by surprise. Hop on a bike or set out on foot and wander the curved paths of the canals. Turn down a street when you feel the urge to. Stop and explore anything you feel drawn to.

It might be a vibrant red eyeglasses museum. Or a cuppa and vintage clothes shopping at The Darling. Maybe you’ll want a strong brew at the lovely Two for Joy or to stop for a beer under a windmill. If you’ve got time, you could see a film at this independent cinema or shop the ceiling high stacks of magazines at Athenaeum. Spend a day exploring aimlessly. Let your intuition guide you. Allow your story to weave with the city’s. And be sure to tell me what treasures you stumble on.

What kind of traveler are you: do you prefer to plan every detail or go with the flow?

Love, stroopwaffels, & piles of bicycles,



This post was sponsored by London City Airport and was written in accordance with my disclosure policy, which you can read here. For more #NoFilter posts, visit the campaign website. Duncan Rhodes from The Urban Travel Blog will be judging all of the entries and selecting his favourite, so keep your eyes peeled for the results.


  1. Oh gosh, I wish I were sent on a trip to Amsterdam, it’s been calling to me lately! Ive been 3 times and always happy to re-visit :)

  2. I’ve wanted to visit Amsterdam (as well as many other parts of Europe) for ages! Older cities have a certain charm and mystique, don’t they?

    I’m not much of a planner, but if I’m going somewhere new I either try to tag along with someone who’s familiar with the area or I’ll do some research first. I winged it when I went to Boston and to Austin, TX last year, but in Austin I had a friend guide and in Boston I didn’t. I had fun at both places, but it makes a huge difference when you have a knowledgeable resource walking along with you. My only goal at Austin was to spend time with my friend, see some new things, and eat the best breakfast tacos in the city. We managed to do all of that. :)

  3. Amsterdam has crept up onto my must-visit list in the last couple of years. Thanks for sharing its magical side – you’re giving me further wanderlust now, girl!

    Oh, and consider yourself hi-fived this week for this awesome post… xx


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