The best weekend in Amsterdam: what to see, what to do and where to go in the Dutch capital to make your trip special

By Tetiana PavlichenkoApr 5, 2024 16:22 PMAmsterdam
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The best weekend in Amsterdam: what to see, what to do and where to go in the Dutch capital to make your trip special
A canal walk is a must-do on a trip to Amsterdam. Source: Image user32212/Pixabay

Amsterdam has long gained a reputation as a favorite city for bachelorette and bachelor parties. There are many things to do and places to see that are strongly associated with being in Amsterdam, such as coffeeshops, the Red Light District, biking along the canals, and so on. But beyond that, there are plenty of things to do in this city that make you realize just how special it can be. If you're planninghow to spend a weekend in Amsterdam, use these tips for an exciting trip.

How to get to Amsterdam

The best weekend in Amsterdam: what to see, what to do and where to go in the Dutch capital to make your trip special
Central Station can be a starting point for exploring the city. Source: Image Siggy Nowak/Pixabay

There are flights to the Dutch capital from most major airports in Europe. Other modes of transportation are also available. For example, from the UK, you can take the Eurostar trains from St. Pancras station in London. The train can be a more comfortable and cost-effective option, although the journey takes longer this way. On the other hand, if you decide to take air travel, you should also take into account the time to catch check-in, as well as the journey to the airport in both directions. So there may not be a significant time difference. In addition, while traveling by train to Amsterdam, you will be able to admire the picturesque scenery from the window.

Where to stay in Amsterdam

The first thing to consider for your weekend in Amsterdam is where you'll be returning to after a busy weekend of exploring the city.

The DoubleTree by Hilton

If you arrive in Amsterdam by train, you'll be able to get to your room in minutes. The hotel is located right next to the train station, making it not only a good place to stop, but also a great starting point for exploring the city. It's just a kilometer from Dam Square, where you'll find Madame Tussauds Museum, the Royal Palace, and other iconic Amsterdam landmarks, and from Harlemmerdijk, filled with expensive storefronts and boutiques. The hotel is also close to the old center and the Red Light Quarter.

The hotel offers rooms and suites to accommodate guests, many with ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the canal. There is an on-site restaurant, a 24-hour lobby bar, a fitness center, and a bright rooftop dive bar with a beautiful panorama of the city.

The Waldorf Astoria

If you're looking for something more luxurious and intimate, this hotel is the place to stay in Amsterdam for the weekend. The Waldorf Astoria is a complex of six palaces built in the 17th and 18th centuries. It stands right on the banks of the Herengracht Canal, where the richest and most influential merchants lived in the 17th century. Every detail of the hotel epitomizes luxury, from the marble lobby and exquisite restaurants (one of which is Michelin-starred) to the sleekly minimalist rooms overlooking the canal and private garden, and the option to choose your room scent from the collection of French candle brand Cire Trudon at check-in.

What to do in Amsterdam?

Visit the art quarter

Amsterdam has many interesting places to visit for travelers, making it one of the popular tourist destinations in the world. One of the city's main attractions is its art scene, so even if you don't count yourself as a true art fan, put the art district, also known as Spiegelkwartier, on your city itinerary. Set aside a day for this walk, as in addition to museums, you'll find galleries, stores, and the offices of dozens of art specialists. Stroll down Nieuwe Spiegelstraat and visit its art and antique stores to peruse artwork and various items from the past.

Take a stroll through the thrift stores

If you're into fashion and its history, check out Episode, the city's largest second-hand clothing store. Here you'll find two floors of clothing, shoes and accessories where you can find truly vintage and rare items in excellent condition. It is an international chain of stores with an office in the Netherlands. There are 4 of their branches in Amsterdam, and its stores are also present in Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France, Norway.

Visit the museums

The best weekend in Amsterdam: what to see, what to do and where to go in the Dutch capital to make your trip special
Amsterdam has a unique collection of museums. Source: Image user32212/Pixabay

Amsterdam's main museums are centered around the famous Museumplein square. There are also interesting cafes (but they are overpriced compared to less touristy areas) and stalls selling various souvenirs and other small things that tourists like to take home as a souvenir of their trip to the Dutch capital.

Every Amsterdam guidebook will surely recommend that you make time on your weekend to visit the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Undoubtedly, they are worth a visit. But also worth checking out is the Moco. It's an independent museum that will remind you of being in a townhouse owned by some fabulously wealthy contemporary art aficionado with impeccable taste. There are works by Banksy, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst and many others. You'll also find an interesting gift store with an assortment of reproductions and quirky accessories.

The next must-see in Amsterdam is at the NDSM marina. You'll need to take the free ferry from Centruum Station (if you're staying at the DoubleTree, it's right next to the hotel) to get to STRAAT, one of Amsterdam's most famous museums dedicated to street art. It features over 180 works of art from over 170 authors, as well as a grand collection of works by street artists from all over the world.

After exploring contemporary street art, use your location for another famous Amsterdam attraction, the A'DAM LOOKOUT observation deck at the top of the A'DAM Tower. From here you'll enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the city: you'll see the historic center, the bustling port and the famous canals, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can also take a free audio tour of the city's history and culture. For thrill-seekers, Amsterdam has something a little more extreme - the tallest swings in Europe. Over The Edge is an attraction that allows you to hang in the air at a height of 100 meters. There's also a virtual roller coaster around the city and other interactive attractions, and you can pop up to the rooftop for lunch at the Panorama restaurant or a drink or cocktail at the Sky Bar.

Stroll the cobblestone streets

Wander the city streets, taking in the sights, houses and various establishments. You don't have to plan every minute of your weekend trip to Amsterdam: instead, try to get lost to make it more interesting. You're unlikely to actually get lost because the canals connect most of the city's main streets, where the main tourist areas are located. For example, look for the best flower markets in Amsterdam: you'll find one on the Singel Canal.

Take a boat tour

If you don't like wandering around the city and don't know what to do in Amsterdam on the weekend, you should get on a boat tour, which allows you to see the city from a different angle. You can choose a traditional Captain Jack tour, where you'll learn a lot of interesting facts about the city's history from a local, or an all-inclusive cruise, where you can relax in a fun company besides sightseeing, and beer, drinks and wine are included in the price. You can also rent a boat with or without a driver, for example from Mokum Boot, and make your own itinerary for a boat trip around Amsterdam.

Excursions and companies that provide them are enough for every traveler to find the best option for himself. You can swim at almost any time of the year and not only during the day. Evening cruises along the canals have a special atmosphere, when stately homes shine with lights, and are in particular demand among lovers. Whichever way you choose, boat tours remain one of the best ways to see Amsterdam's main sights and enjoy the city's atmosphere.

Where to eat and drink in Amsterdam

The best weekend in Amsterdam: what to see, what to do and where to go in the Dutch capital to make your trip special
Restaurants and bars in Amsterdam have their own special charm. Source: https://queenshead.nl/

Deciding to organize an exciting weekend in Amsterdam, have fun with your friends with a "drunken" tour of the local pubs. Explore a neighborhood by visiting its pubs and bars and drinking half a pint of beer in them. This way you can see a lot of interesting places, have fun wandering the city streets, chat with locals and tourists from other countries, but you won't get too stoned to ruin the vacation for yourself and others. For example, you can choose the old center of Amsterdam for your revelry, as there are many charming pubs with red leather bar stools, wood paneling, gold stained glass windows and wooden tables. They were called "brown cafes" because of the predominance of dark brown wood in the pub. The first brown cafes were opened by proprietors in their homes who wanted to make money, and the homey style with old photographs and quirky décor is followed by many of them to this day.

Places that many guidebooks recommend visiting in Amsterdam include one of the oldest pubs in the city, Het Aepjen, which has been serving visitors since 1544, and perhaps the smallest bar in Amsterdam, Louis Bar, where you should try the homemade vanilla spirit. Also check out gay bar The Queen's Head for one of the famous drag shows.

For travelers who crave something a little more glamorous, the LuminAir Bar on the rooftop of the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel is worth recommending. It serves truly original cocktails and delicious appetizers. It's one of the most popular places according to locals, and the stunning terrace with a magnificent view of the city will only enhance the best weekend in Amsterdam.

As you stroll through the museums, make a stop for lunch at TOZI Restaurant, which is within walking distance of the city's largest park, Vondelpark, and the main museums. It serves Italian cuisine, but you can save yourself the trouble of choosing and grab a 9-course tasting menu.

Across the canal from the DoubleTree is the interesting Café de Schreierstoren, where you should try the traditional pancakes. In addition to great taste, this place will delight you with an interesting history: it is located inside an old defense tower, where, according to legend, women used to say goodbye to their husbands when they went to sea. That's why the café has such an eloquent name: de Schreierstoren translates as "the weeping tower".

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