Planning a weekend city break in Amsterdam and wondering what to see? You can pack quite a lot in 48 hours. There are loads of things to do in this city, so to help you on your way, these are my seven pearls of wisdom on things to see and do, and where to eat in Amsterdam.
♥ Restaurant Van Puffelen
This really is a great insider recommendation. It’s an amazing little bistro-restaurant serving delicious, wholesome food. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable. Plus, it has some tasty vegetarian and pescetarian options. It has a distinct French feel, though remains very much a Dutch restaurant.
Dress up and head here for dinner. By about 10pm the small bar in the room next door is the place to be for a few drinks. Just make sure you stick to beer or wine unless you want to run out of money before 10.30pm.
Definitely book ahead, otherwise you probably won’t get a table. Find out more here.
♥ Heineken Experience
Before you write this one off, hear me out. I’d take a glass of Prosecco over a pint of beer any day, but when in Amsterdam it’d be foolish to dismiss a tour of this famed brewery that calls The Netherlands home.
It’s super modern and sleek; full of innovative and interactive stations for you to ever forget that you’re not that keen on beer (or to revel in the fact that you really do love it!). From pull-out photo frame sets to the chance to create your own Dutch music video it really is a good laugh. The chance to become a bottle of beer on the ‘ride’ near the end of the tour is also surprisingly fun. The Heineken samplers at the end of the experience somehow taste even better than the ones you’ve tried at home – chilled to perfection. Your ticket also entitles you to a short canal boat tour afterwards.
Tickets cost around €18. You’ll find more info here.
♥ Canal Boat Tour
Even though you can get a free boat tour with your Heineken Experience ticket it’s worth buying your own ticket for a full tour. Amsterdam is famed for its many canals that snake round and through the city. They’re beautifully iconic, so it’s worth seeing the city from a different perspective.
You’ll be given a set of headphones to listen to the guided tour (available in loads of different languages, even including pirate!). However, if you’re not really into history and facts just sit back and relax, well for the most part. Some of the points where the narrow canals meet and fork create some interesting manoeuvres!
I’d recommend the tour just opposite the Heineken Experience. Tickets cost around €18.
♥ Bluespoon Restaurant
This place counts as a ‘see’ and a ‘do’. The decor is contemporary and exciting, and will have your eyes darting all over the place. The open plan kitchen showcases the talents of the amazing chefs and let’s just say that ‘doing’ is all about eating. Eating the freshly cooked breads, the artistic nibbles and the piece d resistance, the delicious desserts.
Book ahead to avoid disappointment and allow a good few hours. You can read the full write-up here.
♥ Party with the Locals
The tourists stay in the city centre, but those in the know (that’s you) head in the other direction to drink with the locals. Small bars overspill with handsome and gorgeous Dutchies. The Netherlands is home to the tallest people and nearly everyone seems to look like a model. They squeeze into the bars and those that can’t manage to find a space, linger outside drinking and chatting away. It’s a friendly, buzzing side to the city.
Head to Cafe Gollem from 9pm onwards and you’ll soon see loads of cute spots nearby.
♥ Hop on a Bike
Everyone in Amsterdam owns a bike. How they ever find their bike in the mountain of knocked over bicycles I’m not sure, but they own one. It’s like Oxford multiplied by five hundred thousand. Be a local for a few hours and hire your own one to explore all the winding lanes.
When you’re ready for a little pause, take a walk along to the only floating flower market in the world, Bloemenmarkt. You’ll find beautiful bulbs to take home, as well as impressive blooms and iconic tulips.
♥ Red Light District
Sex is always going to sell and that seems to be the case in terms of Amsterdam. You’ll see crowds heading from the station over to the area, laughing and jeering and the sights to come. You could easily go to the city and avoid this small part of Amsterdam, but although it’s a little risqué it’s worth a sneaky peak.
From afar you’d never know what was going on. Like most of the city, it’s a pretty cobbled grid made up of tall, old buildings leaning into one another, alongside the canal. However, the closer you get the more you’ll realise the difference. Naked (or near enough) ladies, men and all the in-between stand in the windows trying to entice customers. They’ll wink, wave – whatever you like them to do. It’s sad and funny in equal measures. Avoid the Sex Museum (it’s pretty naff) and the tacky sex shops, but spare an hour to do a bit of window shopping!
With ridiculously cheap flights from the UK to The Netherlands (thank you easyJet and Ryanair), as well as more than affordable stylish crash pads (thank you Hotel V Fredericksplein), you really have no excuse not to visit.
Have you been to Amsterdam or is it somewhere you’d like to visit? Do you have any recommendations to add to this list?