Getting there: Take the morning direct Eurostar from London’s St Pancras Station to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station or alternatively fly into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Don’t forget to pack a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch for the train ride!
Getting around: Although Amsterdam city center is very walkable, the trams are fantastic for when the weather turns rainy or you are lugging a suitcase or two and a one hour ticket is available for purchase from the ticket attendant on board for only €2.80. Another option is the 24 or 48 hour tickets, also available for purchase aboard the tram; perfect if you plan to frequently utilize the tram or bus which is also included. Additionally, you can purchase the iamsterdam card, giving you unlimited access to public transport in the city as well as other benefits such as free entrance to various museums, attractions and other discounts.
There’s also a free nifty Amsterdam transit app and website called 9292 (similar to citymapper for my London readers) that you can use to plan your journey, plugging in your starting point and your intended destination, and it will list all the bus, tram, train, and walking route options you can take.
Museum: Rijksmuseum (€17.5, 9-5pm daily)
Explore Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages to the present day at this national museum including Rembrandt’s well-known Night Watch. Don’t forget to grab a creative selfie with the “I amsterdam” sign outside at the nearby Museumplein.
Market: Bloemenmarkt (Monday thru Saturday, 9-530pm)
A trip to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without checking out the tulips at the flower market. You’ll find a row of stalls selling tulips, seeds, bulbs, and other souvenirs such as wooden clogs.
Food: Reypenaer Cheese Tasting (hour long tastings from 12-530pm, tickets from €15)
Taste six of Reypenaer’s finest cheeses paired together with red wine, white wine, and port. You’ll learn how to really savor the best taste of each cheese while getting a little wine buzz at the same time. The 2 year V.S.O.P gouda is to die for!
Drinks: Door 74 (8pm-4am daily)
Door 74 is the first speakeasy style cocktail bar in The Netherlands. With the requisite hidden door, antique barware, tin ceiling, sophisticated atmosphere, and delicious handcrafted drinks it’s a perfect place to grab a nightcap.
The city at night: Blue Boat Evening Canal Cruise (8/910pm departures daily in the summer or 8pm in the winter, €17.50)
Hop aboard this 90 minute candlelight cruise to see the city from the water, including a pass through the canals of the Red Light District. A personal audio guide narrates the landmarks as you pass them. Your ticket also includes a glass of wine or beer.
Museum: Anne Frank house (€9, 9-9pm daily)
Either get there early in the morning to beat the growing line or take a risk and check out the line later in the day after 6pm when most of the day crowds are likely sitting down to dinner instead. Limited advance tickets are available from the website. Book these early!
Market: Boekenmarkt Op Het Spui (Monday thru Saturday, 10-4pm)
Peruse books, cards, maps, and engravings at this book market for a unique souvenir.
Food: Dinner at ‘t Smalle (10-1am)
Grab a bite to eat at the highly rated traditional pub with wood-paneled walls & a canal-side terrace serving hearty food & Belgian beers.
Drinks: Sky Lounge (open till 1am)
Head to the 11th floor of the DoubleTree Hilton just before sunset to watch the city light up. Cozy up with a cocktail on their spacious heated rooftop terrace and enjoy views of the Ij and Amsterdam’s skyline.
The city at night: Red Light District
Wander the famous district of sin to see the center of sin lit up in its nighttime neon with numerous bars and coffee shops beckoning out to the crowds. Don’t forget to respectfully put the camera away when walking past the ‘working girls’ windows as it is illegal to take photographs of the women.
Museum: Van Gogh Museum (€15, 9-5pm daily, open until 10pm on Friday and Saturdays)
Discover the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh, featuring masterpieces such as Almond Blossom, Sunflowers, and The Bedroom.
Market: Albert Cuypmarkt (10-5pm daily)
Head to this daily street market to wander through stalls selling everything from cheese of all colors, leather goods, clothes, you name it. Look out for the stroopwafel stand and enjoy a delicious snack of two delicately thin wafers sandwiched together with caramel dipped in melted hot chocolate.
Food: Amsterdam Main Library
Head up to the 7th floor café terrace for lunch with a view. The modern library is quite a sight itself.
Drinks: VOC Cafe at the Schreierstoren Tower
Grab an afternoon libation of besenjenever or black currant gin at the VOC Café named after the Dutch East India Company who’s trading ships use to depart the so-called Weeping Tower, named so for the women who gathered there and wept as their husbands departed from port to head to war or on trading expeditions. Erected in 1462, Henry Hudson also set sail from this point on his trans-atlantic voyage that would lead to the discovery of Manhattan and the Hudson River. Jenever, a juniper flavored liquor from which gin evolved, is a popular drink in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The city at night: Rembrandt Square
Check out the bronze cast representation of the scene of Rembrandt’s famous “Night Watch” when the square is free of the hordes of tourists that descend during the day making it nearly impossible to get that requisite silly selfie in. The square is lined with bars and restaurants to grab a late night drink or bite to eat.
Museum: Verzetsmuseum (10-5pm daily, €8)
The museum presents stirring insight into ‘Life in Amsterdam’ before and during the Nazi occupation of WWII as well as the various actions of Dutch citizens in either adapting, collaborating, or resisting in response. On your way, detour through the Jewish Historical Quarter and the Auschwitz Memorial Monument.
Market: Waterlooplein (Monday thru Saturday, 9-530pm)
Browse the stalls of clothes and various knickknacks at the flea market held next to the National Opera and Ballet for a one off souvenir.
Food: Herring sandwich
Are you brave enough for the national delicacy of Hollandse Nieuwe? Raw herring caught at the end of spring and typically eaten with raw onion in a hoagie roll, it’s not for the faint of heart!
The Dutch love their coffee! Make sure you don’t mistake the coffeeshop signs you see everywhere as a spot to grab a latte though! Those establishments are more synonymous with cannabis then coffee beans so if its a cappuccino you’re really after look for whats known in the Netherlands as a ‘brown cafe’, called so because of the dark but cosy wooden interiors and nicotine-stained walls and ceilings. Grab a cup of joe and reflect on the awesome weekend you just had before making your way to the train station or airport for you trip back home.