Happen to be in Amsterdam this weekend? Here are four awesome things to cross off your list this weekend.
Amsterdam Light Festival
Be dazzled by the lights of the Amsterdam Light Festival. This year’s theme is DISRUPT! and you’ll see displays on nature and climate issues, but also ones on Amsterdam’s history. My favourites are The Clothes Line, the Drowned Street and the Paparazzi Tunnel. They recommend booking a boat tour to see the displays from the water – combine with hot chocolate or a gluhwein and you are sorted! You can also explore by foot and follow a walking route that will give you more time to examine the displays and take a more relaxed photo or two.
The Food Department
The relatively new food hall on the top floor of Magna Plaza is the perfect spot for a quick bite or a drink in the city centre. Feel like Mexican? Tacos & Tequila has you sorted. Up for something more sweet? You’ll have more than enough choice at Petit Gateux. And who doesn’t love a burger whatever day it is – if so, The Butcher is ready to take your order.
Intimate Audrey Exhibition @ Beurs Van Berlage
Intimate Audrey is an exhibition about the life of Audrey Hepburn, curated by her son Sean Hepburn Ferrer to celebrate her 90th birthday. The exhibition focuses on the person behind Audrey Hepburn and not on the icon. There is a surprisingly vast selection of private photos, dresses, and accessories across a well furnished space. I loved seeing her wedding menu, spotting an image of her smoking and learning she got an EGOT! Also good to know that the profit of the exhibition goes to Eurordis – Rare Diseases Europe, a very admirable cause.
Explore a neighbourhood
From Pijp to Noord or Jordaan, all are perfect for a little stroll. Walk through one of the typical streets markets, gaze up at the slanted houses and find a place for a well-deserved break and tuck into some almighty good food. Whichever area you choose, you’ll gain a little insight into what it’s like living in the Netherland’s biggest city.
Amsterdam is perfect for a quick Friday to Sunday city trip. While the city has a lot to offer, if you’ve only got 48 hours then I have the ultimate guide for you on where to stay, where to eat and what to see that won’t leave you too over- or underwhelmed. Here’s a custom-made itinerary I devised for a friend which went down brilliantly with her party of four.
I wish everyone could experience a stay at boutique hotel The Exchange, where the rooms are ‘dressed’ by fashion designer students, giving each room a character of its own. But if your budget doesn’t allow it, the Volkshotel is a great alternative. And the best thing? It features a cocktail bar and a rooftop terrace so you never have to leave. Chains like Citizen M, Hoxton and Generator Hostel are also present in Amsterdam, so if you like familiarity, they’re your best bet.
Amsterdam is easily doable on foot, but you’ll probably end up on the tram when it starts to rain. Tram tickets costs €7.50 for 24 hours – you purchase them on board and only cards payments are accepted. If you think you’re a cat and have 9 lives, you can try cycling in Amsterdam. Download the Citymapper app to get around with getting lost, though losing yourself can be a fun diversion.
QUICK TIP I
Amsterdam has some top-tier museums and like in most cities I recommend booking ahead. As there’s a lot of choice, here’s a few of my faves in order of importance: Anne Frank House (doesn’t need explaining), van Gogh (obviously!), Stedelijk Museum (modern and contemporary art classics), FOAM (snaptastic photos) and Rijksmuseum (art and history, plus the famous I AMsterdam sign)
QUICK TIP II
Eating out three times a day can add up. A budget breakfast & lunch tip for your stay: find the nearest Albert Heijn to Go and get a selection of bread rolls, a jar of peanut butter (I recommend Calve extra crunchy) and a pack of cheese (Beemster jong belegen is a favourite) and you’re all set for a very cheap Dutch breakfast and lunch during your weekend. Fingers crossed for picnic weather!
QUICK TIP III
Chances are you’re on a late afternoon flight/train, meaning there’ll have been some delay and you’re likely to arrive later than expected. If you’re running late when arriving at the Central Station, grab some food at Wagamama, Salsa Shop or Burgerij.
What’s a good Friday night in Amsterdam? If you feel like going out for a quick walk I’d recommend The Red Light District – famous for the windows and ladies of the night, or 9 Straatjes – known for its canals and cute houses.
Happen to be in Amsterdam on the last Friday of the month? Make sure to spend it at Vincent on Friday at the van Gogh museum. I know you’re like … ”Tea, why would I spend my Friday night in a museum?” Well…aside from the paintings, there’s jazz bands, silent discos, and ear painting workshops…not bad eh?
Alternatively, there’s Boom Chicago, an English comedy troupe performing topical sketches, improvisations and songs. Alumni include Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin and Jason Sudeikis so it’s not too shabby. Check out their programme here.
Want to dance the night away? I don’t know where the cool kids go, but my favourites are Melkweg or Paradiso, both have club nights and themed music evenings where you’ll definitely look good on the dance floor until the lights come on at 4 AM.
Kick-start your day with the 10.00 AM Free Sandeman Tour. The Amsterdam edition one of my favourite tour companies. During the 2.5 hours long walk you’ll be given a concise but attention grabbing overview of city’s history and culture.
The tour ends in the Jordaan neighbourhood, which is nice to stroll around on your way to the Foodhallen! An indoor market with loads of food stalls covering every corner of the world, I usually opt for burgers at the Butcher, but next time I want to consume everything Taqueria Lima can throw at me.
Time to walk off your meal or take the tram to the Central Station – on the way you can check out the Bloemenmarkt, or Flowermarket. I don’t really see the fuss, but it’s always crowded, so it must have some hidden charms? I reckon the countless flower stands filled with tulips must have some hidden mind-control powers of tourists.
Once you make it to the Central Station take the free ferry to Buiksloterweg to A’DAM Tower to really get your swing on – yes we’re talking the highest swing in Europe, plus a viewing platform (both have to be paid for separately). And when you’ve finished with the adrenaline rush, why not spend the rest of the evening celebrating at its bar?
Late Night Local Snack: In the UK you might stop by McDonalds for your late night cravings. In Amsterdam why not try out one of the food vending machines at FEBO. You’ll be in heaven! Deep-fried snack heaven that is. Make sure you keep €2 change in your wallet to try beef croquette, cheese soufflé or deep-fried bami.
On Sunday get your culture on and visit a museum or two you’ve already pre-booked. Depending on when your flight/train leaves you might want to spend the afternoon at:
Hortus Botanicus – the city’s botanical garden, filled with pretty plants and insta-worthy glasshouses.
Brouwerij IJ – a little brewery wtih tours and tastings all in the shadow of the giant De Gooyer windmill.
Willet Holthuysen – 19th century-style canal house with a tiny Versailles garden
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder – a pristine Catholic church in the attic of a canal house, where worshippers hid during the ban on their religion.
Now sloooowly make your way towards the station and walk via 9 Straatjes, even if you’ve seen it on your first evening it will look very different during day light. There’s more than enough small boutiques, vintage shops and coffee places to keep busy.
Before heading back to the station, treat yourself to a big and fancy lunch as no one has time for airport food. Head to the Insta famous MOOK Pancakes or Coffee & Coconuts if you have enough minutes to spare, go for Vinnies if you have less time and need to stay close to the station, or fries at Manneken Pis if you are really in a hurry.
Your journey back is the perfect time to plan your next visit, because Amsterdam is going to leave you wanting to go back over and over again.
Whenever I mention I’m from the Netherlands people always assume I’m from Amsterdam. Sadly I’m not, but from what I hear from my friends it’s like living in any big city: rent is way too high, smashed avocado sandwiches too expensive and public transport is shit.
But those big city flaws don’t stop me from visiting often, and as I wandered around the city one a sunny afternoon last week I realised I do have some Amsterdam rituals I keep coming back to.
Get My Culture On
During my teens, Amsterdam was where I went throw away my hard-earned money on shopping sprees, and when I got a bit older my go-to place for concerts – but then I’d only see what was between the train station and the venue. It wasn’t until later I learned to appreciate its many museums and historical activities, so now I try to cross off one museum per visit. From a quick exhibition at FOAM to a Friday Late at the van Gogh and checking out a new kid on the block, the city’s cultural hubs will never let you down.
Eat All The Fried Goods
When I’m at my parents I usually go for Bosnian dishes and Dutch cheese, so for me Amsterdam is where I can indulge in Dutch deep fried food. My favourites are fries at Manneke Pis, cheese croquettes at EYE and the delicious goodness that are bitterballen. If you see bitterballen in the menu, do yourself a favor and order a portion, they’re breadcrumb-covered little pieces of heaven.
Go All Touristy
While I have a a bit of love/hate relationship with tourist traps, I don’t turn my back on them all! I still haven’t seen everything so I always make cross something off my Amsterdam list whenever I go. Whether that’s going for pancakes at that place that’s all over IG, spotting the bench from the Fault in our Stars or facing my fears at the A’dam Lookout swing.
Do you have rituals for the places you visit often?
In the spirit of out-takes, I want to talk about a failed post I had hoped to publish a few months ago. Before I headed to Amsterdam last time this idea came to mind, a post on what to do/get for one to two Euros, so not a post on how do Amsterdam on the cheap or for free, but how to enjoy that last 1 or 2 coins you have left to the fullest. You know how you always have some change at the end of your trip? Some save it for a next trip or take it back to their Euroland and others give it to a street artists or someone in need, but does that really feel good? I embraced the experiment and went out to test in the field – because that’s what I do…but sadly I came back disappointed. read more
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