Amsterdam is the perfect city for a weekend getaway. And because it’s a hub for many major airlines, there are a lot of opportunities for layovers in the city. Even if you only have a few hours to explore Amsterdam, it is absolutely worth it. The culture, the sites, and the food are all so unique and incredible. It’s super easy to hop on the train from the airport, and it will drop you off right in the middle of the city. Whether you’re looking for what to do in Amsterdam or the best places to eat in the city, here is a list of our favorite things.
Also, if you’re in the city for a day or the weekend, grab an iamsterdam city card. It gives you unlimited access to public transportation, free entry to a number of museums, and other discounts in the city. But be sure to check out everything it offers and make sure it’ll be worth it for your itinerary.
Bike Around the City:
We love biking around new cities, because you get to see the whole city faster than walking or waiting for public transportation. And you can easily get lost in the back streets and hop off and explore whenever you want. Plus, it’s a great way to stay active while you’re traveling! Amsterdam is the perfect place to bike in, because it’s incredibly bike-friendly. There are more bikes than people in the city, so you will feel just like a local biking around. It’s super easy to rent bikes for a few hours or a day from Mac Bike, and there is no easier way to explore the canals of Amsterdam than on a bike.
Visit the Museums:
From the Anne Frank House to the Van Gogh Museum to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam is the perfect place for anyone who loves art. Personally, I could spend an entire weekend just going from one museum to the next and staring at all the art for hours, but these are the three museums on our list of “must-sees.” For the Anne Frank House, it’s best to get your ticket online ahead of time, because if you don’t get a ticket, you can only go from 3:30 pm until closing, and you’ll likely have to wait in a long line. The Van Gogh Museum is a must for anyone who loves impressionist art, and the Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum that is dedicated to the arts and history of Amsterdam. On your way out of the Rijksmuseum, hop on top of the I amsterdam letters and snap a classic “I’m in Amsterdam” pic.
Amsterdam has the only floating flower market in the world. So make sure you don’t miss it. The market is located on the Singel canal, and all of the flower stands are in these adorable little floating house boats. Not only are they the perfect place to pick up classic Amsterdam tulips, but they smell divine. Also, if you’re in Amsterdam in the spring, be sure to go to Bollenstreek, just 20 minutes outside of the city, for the world famous tulip fields.
Zaanse Schans Windmills:
Hop on the train for a short 30 minute ride outside of the city to spend the morning exploring the quaint little town of Zaanse Schans. Enjoy the goats, museums, and iconic Dutch windmills. Also be sure to try the cheese and chocolate, because there’s nothing else quite like it. Visit the shop where the adorable and classic clogs are made and try some on for yourself. Zaanse Schans is also the perfect place to pick up a souvenir made by local artists.
Explore the Canals:
Take a ride through the canals on a Canal Tour, or rent a boat for the night and wake up to the fairytale-like Dutch architecture. Wander along canals, walk over the bridges, and go shopping in the Jordaan. The canals are the essence of Amsterdam, so they’re the best place to get a picture-perfect view of the city. And at night, the bridges light up, so you’ll feel like you’re in your very own magical land. Also, if you visit the city in winter, you can ice-skate on the frozen canals! If that doesn’t make you feel like you’re living your own romantic comedy, then we’re not sure what will.
We don’t have many pictures of food during our travels, because well we’re always too hungry to wait. And the food is just always so good. We believe that eating is a pretty essential part of traveling, and it’s probably our favorite way to truly experience a new culture. So here’s our quick-little guide to eating in Amsterdam:
For the best frites: Go to Vlaamse Frites. Seriously, they are probably the best fries we have ever eaten in our lives.
For bunch: Go to Really Nice Place (and get the Challah Cinnamon French Toast) or Omelegg.
For lunch: Try Kantjil & The Tiger for delicious Indonesion food.
For stroop waffles: The Pancake Bakery or Lanskroon.
For Dutch pancakes (or dinner. We won’t judge.): Pancakes!
Get Lost in the Streets:
Honestly, this is one of our absolute favorite things to do. Don’t worry about making an itinerary. Or, just pick two or three things you know you want to do, and then be spontaneous! Hop off your bike wherever you feel like it. Grab a stroop waffle and some frites and sit down and have a picnic in Vondelpark. Treat yourself to some flowers, and then, when you realize you’re on vacation and don’t actually have any place to put them, pass them out to strangers as you walk down the street. Run around and dance in the streets, because you’re in Amsterdam!
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