What a treat you’re in for with Amsterdam. Whether you reach the Dam by plane, bus or boat, it won’t be long before you’re amongst the bicycle bells and coffee house smells. This capital city is actually surprisingly small and very easy to get around, but don’t let its size fool you – Amsterdam has more than enough on offer to keep you entertained over a long, long weekend.
What to do on your first visit to Amsterdam?
Set out on your first morning to take in the awe-inspiring history of Amsterdam and its canals with one of the many museums. Tourists will often head straight for the Rijks Museum, but I prefered the intimacy of the smaller Amsterdam Museum, where you’ll discover how thousands of piles form the foundations of this city. You’ll also learn about the outlawing of slavery, legalisation of marijuana, and the modern Amsterdam as a richly diverse and liberal city.
For those especially interested in design, the Canal Museum is a must-experience. Here you will be personally and audio-guided through the planning, construction and lifestyle surrounding the canals. Don’t miss the doll-house style display of a typical Amsterdam Canal House.
Where to eat in Amsterdam?
The Bazar is a unique dining experience. Described as a mix of North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. This restaurant located in an old church will not leave your taste buds disappointed. Its colourful decor and light shades will transport you a world away from the famous Albert Cuyp Market located just outside. While you’re near Amsterdam’s largest and most popular market, make sure to indulge in the wonder of a freshly made Stroop-waffle.
Also highly recommended is Vinnie’s for breakfast, Pluk for a vegan friendly lunch, and Dutch Frites for any time of the day. And remember to get some Dutch Pancakes in your belly before you leave. The savoury flavour combinations are well worth a try!
Where to get lost in Amsterdam?
The never-ending cobbled streets of De Pijp and The 9 Streets are home to the cutest boutiques and cafes in Amsterdam. You could spend hours just wandering the lanes, popping in and out of stores, in-between cafes.
Where to cycle in Amsterdam?
Vondelpark and Westerpark are good for exploring by bike, but for a lazy Sunday afternoon ride I would recommend rolling onto the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station and heading up the cycle highway toward Noorderpark. The area is much quieter than central Amsterdam so is a great way to wind down after a big weekend. Novice cyclists would also feel more comfortable along these separated cycle-ways.
Where to stay in Amsterdam on a budget?
From Schipol International Airport to Amsterdam Central Station it’s about a 20 minute train ride, then a quick 2 minute free ferry over to ClinkNoord. The hostel is surrounded by Tolhuistuin; a mini village with bars and restaurants that has a sort of hippy summer vacation vibe. Each night I found there was either something going on at Tolhuistuin or the hostel bar. For all the solo travellers, you’ll love that each night there is a meet up in the hostel bar as well. These things usually sound super lame, but I actually met a group of awesome people who I hung out with for most of the weekend here. Just remember, your trip is what you make it!