Two Amsterdam Weekends
Amsterdam is one of our favorite European cities. The canals and architecture make it beautiful and unique, and we love the laid back atmosphere. Since we’ve been there a few times, we’ve found some go-to spots that we return to, and visiting Amsterdam feels familiar and comfortable. We took two trips close together, so we decided to combine them into one post with two different weekend itineraries. The first is a more traditional tour of Amsterdam, and the second is a little off-the-beaten-path.
We were looking for a short weekend trip to take before Josh got into busy season at work, and we found a great deal through British Airways for our flights and hotel together. We travelled with our friends Kari and Steve, who had never been to Amsterdam before, so Josh played tour guide and showed us all around for the weekend. Despite being so cold, we had a really fun time.
Friday 8 January
It's a quick and easy ride from Amsterdam's Schipol Airport into the city. The trains leave right from the airport, and the ride to the central station takes 20 minutes. From there, you can hop on a bus or tram to wherever you're going.
Amstel 144, 1017 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands
We booked a British Airways City Break deal where you book your flight and hotel as a package. The hotel was old and run down, but it included breakfast, which was a nice bonus. It was in a convenient part of the city and we were able to walk almost everywhere.
Daily at 10:00 11:15 and 14:15, lasts 3 hours.*
Tour starts in front of the National Monument at Dam Square.
We had done the free walking tour on a previous trip and remembered it was a good one. We thought it would be a good way to get oriented. We’re glad we did it again, because our guide Gert was really entertaining and informative.
We were pretty exhausted from our early morning wake up and departure, so after the tour we relaxed at the hotel before dinner.
Frederik Hendrikstraat 98, 1052HZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is known for having great Indonesian food, but we didn’t try it the last time we visited. Restaurants often offer prix fixe rijsttafel (or "rice table"), which comes with several dishes for everyone to share. We loved everything and would definitely recommend this restaurant. After dinner we bar hopped around the city center, taking in the vibrant night life scene.
Saturday 9 January
Check seasonal opening times.
Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
Everyone says to buy your tickets online as soon as you have your trip booked, but we of course forgot and the online tickets were sold out by the time we looked. The museum opened at 9am, so we arrived at 8:40 and were inside by 9:10. By the time we left at 11:30, there was a substantial line, so we were glad we arrived when we did.
It's amazing to learn the story of Anne and her family in the place where it all unfolded. It helps you more fully comprehend how incredible it is that so many people lived in hiding in such a tiny space. We both had been to the Anne Frank House before, but were glad we went back as adults when we were able to appreciate it even more.
I Amsterdam Sign
Hobbemastraat 19, 1071 XZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
After a heavy morning, we were needed to lighten things up and just wander and explore the city. We walked over to the I Amsterdam sign for the obligatory photo op. We intended to walk around Vondelpark as well, but it was cold and we were starting to feel hungry.
Monday - Saturday 9:00 - 17:00
Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Next we walked over to the Albert Cuyp Market and sampled cheeses, dips, and olives. The highlight was eating warm, fresh stroopwaffles, which are thin waffle-like sandwich cookies with a caramel center.
Berenstraat 38, 1016 GH Amsterdam, Netherlands
This restaurant was recommended to us before our last trip to Amsterdam, and we loved it so much that we wanted to bring Kari and Steve. We waited for about twenty minutes before being seated. Dutch pancakes are thin almost crepe-like, and you can get them with sweet or savory toppings. We all opted for savory, with toppings like goat cheese, spinach, pine nuts and pesto. It’s definitely a greasy meal, but worth every bite!
We dropped the guys off at a pub and us gals took some time to wander the streets of “The 9” shopping district and explore the cute shops. You could spend hours bouncing in and out of the various boutiques, and we probably would have, had it not been so cold.
Floating Flower Market
Monday-Saturday 9:00-17:00, Sundays 11:00-17:00
Singel, Amsterdam, Netherlands
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the floating flower market. Unless you’re seriously into tulips or want to bring bulbs home with you, we wouldn’t recommend going out of your way for this. In addition to flowers, many of the stalls are filled with cheap souvenirs, making it for a crowded and touristy experience.
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 511017 PW Amsterdam
Other than Asian food, most of the food in Amsterdam isn't great, so we opted for Vietnamese food. The girls thought the food was fantastic (probably because our server indulged us with three refills of shrimp chips), but the boys weren't as impressed. The best part of the meal was when our server brought us each a take-home gift of porcelain bowls and chopsticks. To this day we’re still not sure why, but it certainly made for a memorable dining experience.
Sunday 10 January
Saturday - Monday 11:00 -17:00, Tuesday - Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Plantage Kerklaan 61A, 1018 CX Amsterdam, Netherlands
This museum told a different and interesting side of World War II history. We spent about two hours here and were glad we took the time for it
Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is known for having delicious french fries, so there was no way we weren't going to sample some of the best. Vleminckx is a little stand on the street with no seating and over 25 types of sauce for your fries. We got lucky and the line was short, but when we were finished the line was double in length.
We didn't plan back to Amsterdam so soon, but Josh’s friend Colin was planning a Europe trip and we wanted to meet him somewhere. It ended up being the best place for us to meet him because it's a city we know well and had already toured a lot, so we didn’t feel pressure to see the sites and could just enjoy. Being there in warm(er) sunny weather was also a nice change, since our last two trips were quite cold.
Friday 24 June
Hotel Iron Horse
Overtoom 33, 1054 HB Amsterdam, Netherlands
We chose this hotel because it was fairly close to where Colin was staying. The hotel was newly renovated and clean. We ended up liking the area because it was fun to get to know a new part of the city and to get away from some of the more touristy areas.
Saturday 25 June
This was our first trip to Amsterdam in warm weather, and it was great to get outside and enjoy it. Vondel Park was a few blocks from the hotel and made for the perfect place for a Saturday morning run. The park was filled with other runners and bikers, but it didn’t feel too crowded.
Monday - Saturday 9:00 - 17:00
Albert Cuypstraat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
We grabbed breakfast on the go, met up with Colin and then walked over to the Albert Cuyp Market. At this point we know that most of the stalls aren’t going to be of interest – lots of cheap sneakers, clothing, cosmetics, and luggage, but we always go back to sample the food and get a fresh, hot stroopwaffle.
La Boutique Del Caffe Torrefazione
Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 38, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Colin’s Airbnb host had recommended this café, so we decided to stop in when we passed by. We're glad we did because the espresso was delicious. In Amsterdam it’s important to note that if you’re looking for coffee you should go to a café, and if you ask about a coffee shop, you’re going to get the green stuff.
Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam
Farmer's market Saturdays 9am - 5pm, Antiques May-Oct 9am - 5pm
Nieuwmarkt 1012 CR Amsterdam The Netherlands
From the café we made our way towards the city center. We stopped at the Nieuwmarkt and explored the farmers’ market stalls and then had lunch at one of the pubs near Dam Square.
Daily 10:30- 21:00
Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE in Amsterdam
It started to rain, so we needed an indoor activity. We decided on the Heineken Experience and bought our tickets online from our phones right before we arrived, which saved us from waiting in the line that wrapped around the corner. The Experience gives you a brief history of the beer and company and then has a bunch of random games, like foosball, FIFA, karaoke and photo booths. It’s all a bit random, but for €16 and the three beers included, it was a good way to spend a rainy afternoon in Amsterdam. By the time we got to the tasting, the rain had stopped and they opened the roof deck, which was fun (apparently it’s only open on Saturday’s when it gets crowded).
Singel 498, 1017 AX, Amsterdam
Since we liked our Indonesian dinner so much last time, we decided to try the cuisine again at another restaurant. Sampurna is in a pretty touristy part of town, right next to the floating flower market, but it’s certainly not a tourist trap when you consider the quality of the food, ambience and price. We ordered one of their rijsttafels for two people and split it three ways, which was plenty of food. Everything was really tasty with varying levels of spice. We would definitely go back here and would especially recommend the chicken satay.
Prinsengracht 494, Amsterdam, Netherlands
After dinner we had some drinks at a cocktail bar that we stumbled upon on our way back to the hotel. It had a cool vibe and was a great place to end our evening.
Sunday 26 June
Prinsengracht 191 1015 DS Amsterdam
We decided to branch out from our usual Dutch pancake spot, Pancakes! We really liked the food at The Pancake Bakery and found it less greasy than Pancakes! We first split the pancake with lamb and feta, which was really filling, and then we split one with banana and nutella.
After breakfast we walked around and explored shops in the Jordaan neighborhood and the 9 Streets. We happened upon a pop up street market and parade, which was a fun surprise.
This was the weekend right after the Brexit vote, and this canal home had an opinion:
Damrak Pier 6
We’d been talking about doing a canal cruise all weekend but were nervous every time clouds rolled in. We decided to chance it and took a late-afternoon cruise that departed from outside the Central Station. There are several companies that offer cruises, we wanted the open air because the boats are much smaller and more intimate than the big covered ones. There was a live guide who provided a bit of information but didn’t talk too much. It was a really cool way to see the city from a different perspective, and we were really glad we did it.
Sunday -Thursday 11:00 - 23:30, Friday -Saturday 11:00 - 01:00
Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT Amsterdam, Netherlands
This food hall is in a shared building with other artsy type vendors. We got there around 5pm and the other vendors were closing up but the food stays open late. There are a ton of food-truck-style vendors and a variety of cuisines. We got some Korean fried chicken (okay) and Hawiian style poke with rice (delicious). There were a couple of bars and a good amount of seating and the Euro's on TV, making for a fun atmosphere.
I Amsterdam Sign + Vondelpark
Hobbemastraat 19, 1071 XZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
No trip to Amsteram would be complete without a trip to the iamsterdam sign. It was a beautiful evening, so we walked around Vondelpark and the lively De Pijp neighborhood, which is filled with bars and restaurants.
On every trip we share our rose (highlight), thorn (lowlight), and bud (what we're looking forward to).
Rose- canal cruise (Becca), Indonesian dinners (Josh)
Thorn- being cold in January (Becca), not renting bikes (Josh)
Bud- America! (both)
If you go... things to know
How long? You can cover a lot of Amsterdam's biggest sites in two days, but a third day will alllow you to go at a more leisurely pace and add in some fun additional activities.
When to go? We've visited in fall, winter and spring, and obviously warmer weather is nicer. That said, we had a great trip when we were there in January.
How to get around? Amsterdam is a very walkable city, but the trams are fast and easy to ride when your feet are tired. Above all, Amseterdam is a biker's city, and you have to be careful because the bikers rule the roads and can get quite aggressive. Many tourists do rent bikes, but we didn't.
What else is there to do? There's a great bike ride to a brewery in a windmill just outside the city. We thought about doing a Red Light District Tour too, but never got around to it. The Van Gogh museum is great too, but usually crowded.
*Opening times and meeting points are subject to change -- double check before you go!