Amsterdam is the perfect European city for a weekend getaway, whether it’s a visit squeezed in after a long work week, or one of many stops throughout Europe, Amsterdam is buzzing with energy and has a great vibe, not to mention, there’s something for everyone!
What are the best things to do with just a weekend in Amsterdam?
Visit a museum
The most popular are the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum and the Dutch National Museum, Rijksmuseum, which is dedicated to the country’s art and culture and always hosts special international exhibitions. For a quirkier experience head over to the world’s first sex museum near Central Station, open until 11:30 p.m. or make a trip to the world famous Heineken Experience in the company’s original brewery (I know you were wondering, and yes of course, beer tasting is included for those 18 and over). Don’t forget to purchase your tickets online in advance! Museum tickets often sell out and there’s always long lines.
Snap a selfie with the I Amsterdam sign
If you choose to visit the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, or the stedelijk Museum, then don’t miss the chance to take a photo with the nearby I Amsterdam sign, which has become an icon of the city. I really enjoyed walking around the area in the evening, the lighting was great for photos and there was a romantic feeling in the air. There are also two other signs, which are less crowded, one located near Schiphol Airport and the other is a popup sign, that makes random appearances throughout the city.
Spend the afternoon in Vondelpark
Near to the museums and the I Amsterdam sign is the 120 acre (470,000 m2) Vondelpark, a great place to take a break and feel like you’re out of the city. There are numerous bike and walking paths, ponds, bridges, playgrounds, grassy areas to sunbathe and four cafés where you can order a beer or a bite to eat.
Explore the canals
They don’t call Amsterdam the ‘Venice of the North’ for nothing! The city has over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of canals and more than 1,500 bridges, so please, pick up a map at the airport (or keep Google Maps handy) since the city can become a winding maze for those with even a slightly poor sense of direction. The seventeenth-century canal ring, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 is also beautiful by water. Get a different perspective of Amsterdam with the hop-on, hop-off cruise, which leaves from the dock in front of Central Station starting at 9 a.m. in the summer and 10 a.m. in the winter.
Chill out at a coffeeshop
A trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete without a visit to one of the city’s many coffeeshops. Although smoking marijuana has been increasingly decriminalized in many countries and U.S. states, there’s nothing really comparable to an Amsterdam coffeeshop experience. It may be crowded, but you can say you’ve been to the first coffeeshop in Amsterdam, if you stop by The Bulldog, now with four other locations throughout the city. Since it’s located in the red light district, you can also see the infamous ladies in their lit glass doors. Explore a bit and find a coffeeshop that suits you, but don’t get trapped, there’s so much else to see!
Sample and bring home some cheese
Cheese, especially gouda and edam are huge in the Netherlands. Enter any of the many cheese shops in Amsterdam and you’ll be able try a variety of samples. On my last trip, I discovered De Mannen van Kaas – Dutch Delicacy, a great hole in the wall cheese shop and bakery. They sell delicious breakfast items, sandwiches and breads topped with cheese, prosciutto, olives and more. The shop also sells amazing flavored cheeses like pesto or lavender gouda and a delicious aged variety, don’t forget to sample them all. The Old Amsterdam Cheese Store is also a great shop or stop by the Amsterdam Cheese Company, which can be found on almost every street corner.
Most importantly, what to eat!
There’s so much food to try and not enough time! Make sure to taste Dutch pancakes, which can be sweet or savory and topped with everything from bacon or just dusted with powdered sugar, also, the syrup is a bit different, try it for yourself.
When in a rush grab some french fries topped with various sauces like mayonnaise, peanut satay and onions or find a FEBO, the Dutch automatic fast food chain that stays open until 4 a.m. The Kalfskleekroket (veal croquettes) are absolutely amazing and everything is less than €2, just remember to have the exact amount in coins for the machines! For more typical dishes to try, check out this Buzzfeed article
on the best food in Amsterdam.
Have an amazing weekend in Amsterdam! Leave a comment below and let me know how it went.