Reluctant to book a weekend in Amsterdam, thinking you won’t have enough time to enjoy it? No need to worry! The city is compact enough that 2 or 3 days in Amsterdam should be plenty – that is, if you plan well to make the most out of your stay. Like most who have adopted this city as their home, I’m used to playing tour guide for friends or relatives stopping through, so I’ve got more than enough tips for milking your Amsterdam weekend for all it’s worth!
Morning in the Haarlemmerbuurt
What do you do in Amsterdam in a weekend for starters? First, let’s get you some sustenance for the journey ahead! Two of my favorite streets, Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat are packed with enough cafes, bakeries and restaurants to please any palate. My mom and I once thawed out from a snowstorm together with chai tea and cakes at the darling little Coffee and Such. Another favorite of mine is Vinnie’s, serving both scrumptious and healthy breakfasts all day. Or if the weather is too good to stay inside, you could grab coffee and a pastry from Stach and watch boats go by on the Prinsengracht while you munch.
Afternoon in the Jordaan or Negen Straatjes
After breakfast, head out for a stroll in some of the cutest areas in Amsterdam. Try going up one side of Brouwersgracht, admiring the iconic red shutters along the way. The canals that cut across the Jordaan, like Bloemgracht, Lauriergracht, and Egelantiersgracht, have Amsterdam’s patented postcard bridge views. Why not make a lunch out of goodies you sample from the Lindenmarkt or Noordermarkt? If the weather’s not as nice, wander over to the other side of the Prinsengracht and into the Negen Straatjes, where you can pop into cute boutiques and cafés.
Tired of walking? A boat tour is a great way to maximize the sights while conserving your energy for the rest of your weekend in Amsterdam. Most big behemoth tour boats leave from around Centraal Station, but if you’re looking for something a little more special, here’s what I would suggest. Rederij Lampedusa is a relative newcomer on the tour boat scene. It has a social mission, and the guides tell you about the history of immigrants in Amsterdam.
If you’re feeling peckish and adventurous, you’re in luck. Amsterdam brunch staple, G’s Really Nice Place, has branched out what they claim is the only brunch boat in the world. It sets sail with over a dozen Bloody Mary recipes at 10 am and 12pm from the Homomonument.
Evening in de Pijp or Westerpark
De Pijp is an energetic neighborhood, perfect for spending a night eating, strolling, and bar hopping. Gerard Douplein is particularly lively, as are the streets which cross Albert Cuypmarkt perpendicularly. If you’re looking for something hearty and heartwarming for dinner, Par Hasard serves up comfort food favorites like Belgian fries, traditional Limburgs Zoervleis and more.
If you’re staying further west, the Westergasterrein in Westerpark has a city within a city vibe, with restaurants, bars and Radio Radio, a newcomer on the nightlife scene with impeccable programming. It’s also excellent during the day, with a recurring Sunday market. As I write this article, I’m currently sitting in the sun on one of its’ many terraces.
If you’re feeling peckish, book our Amsterdam at Twilight Food Tour to discover the best hidden gems in the Oud West neighborhood.
Morning filled with Dutch pancakes
Good morning and welcome to day 2 in Amsterdam! Why not start it out with the universally beloved Dutch pancakes? For a classic take, try The Pancake Bakery on Prinsengracht, which has all of the tried and true flavor combinations. For the more adventurous, Moak Pancakes (in West and in the Center) aims to surprise with toppings like pink peppercorns, baba ganoush and grilled sweetcorn. The Breakfast Club has locations throughout the city, and in addition to offering bacon syrup(!!), it has a whole host of other breakfast delights.
Afternoon at the museum
Sunday in Amsterdam is usually museum day for me, especially on a dreary weather weekend. Going for the major ones? Arrange now for Van Gogh or Anne Frank museum by booking a ticket and a time to visit online (do it early before it’s gone!). Others, like the Stedelijk modern museum and Foam photography museum, will be easy to get in to on a whim. Looking for something quirkier? Try Kattenkabinet, a small art museum dedicated to all artworks feline, or Museum het Schip, an ode to the Amsterdam School of architecture.
Early evening on a terrace
Time to relish the last few hours of your weekend in Amsterdam. If it’s a sunny day, you’ll probably have noticed half of Amsterdam’s population wiling away the hours on a terrace, jovially sharing portions of bitterballen. There are more than enough breweries in the city willing to play host to you. If Brouwerij het IJ is the granddaddy of the craft brewing scene in Amsterdam, then Oedipus is the wacky hippie uncle, and Butcher’s Tears is the surly cousin with a wicked sense of humor. They’ve all got delicious and inventive brews, and are housed next to a windmill, in a funkily painted warehouse, and in a brewpub slash killer music space respectively. The perfect way to get a view of how Amsterdammers wind down their weekends.
Bonus round: 3 days in Amsterdam!
Yay for Friday! If you’ve got an extra night here, spend it on the nightlife! The Red Light district is fun for a walkthrough, but no one who lives here actually parties there. Leidseplein is home to Melkweg and Paradiso, your go-tos for concerts of all styles, and a mix of dubious bar and surprising gems in between. If you’re looking for a club night, Shelter is usually a solid choice, and located close enough to Centraal Station to make it easy to stumble out of.
Hey – you’re in luck, because we have a whole article dedicated to Monday in Amsterdam!