So, Amsterdam: the city of freedom, marijuana coffee shops and love in the Red Lights District. I did not know much about it, I heard only about Vondelpark, its famous district and Keukenhof. After doing our diligent research on top things to do in the city, me and my friend decided to give it a try and spend a weekend in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam was partly a disappointment to me, so I made a list of places to see and things to do and what to skip. Now, prepare your eggs and rotten tomatoes because I am sure I will shake someone with my opinions on places to visit in Amsterdam 🙂
Some of the links below may be affiliate links, meaning that I will get a small commission (it won’t cost you anything!) if you click and book tours or accommodation.
NB: I have recently come across an option of buying Amsterdam public transport card on GetYourGuide. I think it is very convenient: you book it online and collect the card when you arrive to the city. They have collection points at Schiphol Airport and central station (and many others), and the card is valid on GVB (the municipal public transport operator) trams, buses, metros and ferries in Amsterdam.
So, let’s start with the negative part.
Amsterdam weekend getaway: places to skip
This was a real disappointment! You know, it is just a park, quite an ordinary one: you see parks like this in every city. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of it. I thought there must be something special about it, if it is so famous, but there was nothing that wowed me. Well, there is something special about it: visitors are officially allowed to have sex in the park as long as no one sees them. And that’s all, I am afraid. Anyway, I didn’t find it worth a visit, especially if you come for 2-3 days only. It is better to have a stroll around the area as there some really amazing canals and buildings around.
Flower market – Bloemenmarkt
We went to Amsterdam in the beginning of June, so it was late for Keukenhof, but we hoped to see a part of its grandeur in the flower market. In my country a flower market is a place to sell flowers but it is not the case of Amsterdam. First of all, the market is very small: just several shops. And they sell seeds and bulbs! In every shop! And there are no actual flowers! Just the last shop in the row sold flowers. I don’t know if it is always like this, and probably shops in the market are not supposed to sell flowers, but I was disappointed. So, unless you want to buy bulbs, there is no much sense in going there.
The Nine Streets
These are the streets with fancy shops that sell books, jewelry, antiquities, vintage things, and are just perfect for window shopping: if you are like me and don’t have money 🙂 Well, hear me now: the pavements are narrow, and there always are people on bicycles so you can’t just stay outside and glance at windows: you will most likely be hit by a bicycle. Of course, you can go inside, but it is very tiring to enter every shop you liked.
Do you still have those rotten tomatoes? 🙂 Throw them now, because I am finished with the places to skip 🙂 Let’s get to the positive part.
Amsterdam in a weekend: top things to do
Before I start with the things to do in Amsterdam I really liked I want to mention something else: people seems to love Heineken 🙂 I am not a beer lover, but in case you like it, here is a Heineken Experience tour and a Heineken tour with a canal cruise.
This one is a must! Actually, I try to get a boat tour in every place where it is possible: after all, this is the best way to see the city from the water. You will see the bridges, dancing houses, some really amazing buildings. The tours are guided, so you can combine the pleasant with the useful and learn something about the history of Amsterdam. A tip: choose a longer tour which includes smaller canals.
Red Lights District
Of course, this one isn’t to miss. The area is very pleasant, the canals are very picturesque and just wait to be photographed. The district itself is mainly around the church De Oude Kerk (a paradox to me), so wander around and have a look at the ladies. The red curtains go away closer to the evening, so you might want to stay till late, if you want to see the real Red Lights District.
Well, you can’t come to Amsterdam without visiting one of its sex museums. We went to the one on Damrak close to the station, and it was a lot of fun. Well, I would have skipped some parts of it: there are some things I don’t really want to know 🙂
Have a stroll around the Central station area: this is the place to get some amazing views of the waterfront and one of the most beautiful churches – St. Nicholas’s – in Amsterdam.
My opinion: instead of going to Vondelpark better spend several hours at the zoo. I know what lots of people think: don’t encourage it, it is bad for animals, but a visit to the zoo for me is like becoming a child again and I always enjoy it. In many cases animals aren’t in cages in this zoo, they wander in open space. In addition, the zoo is full of lush greenery and there is a small aquarium as well.
People come here to try all cuisines in one place. There are all kinds of food and juices everywhere. Japanese was extremely popular: people were queuing for sushi. While you can eat sushi everywhere these days, I advice you to taste the dutch meatballs, which come with 5 different fillings: order a set and enjoy it!
While the museum is smaller than the one in London and offers less than expected to see, I really enjoyed our visit there! At least, I got a picture of myself with Thor, James Bond and Dali, so I can’t really complain 🙂
I will be honest here: we didn’t visit any except the one I mentioned above, but I heard some nice reviews of Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum and Allard Pierson Museum, so you might want to give them a try.
I thought I should put it to places to skip, but it was a great experience even if it was crowded and we didn’t get a chance to come closer to the letters. But the atmosphere of happiness is worth it.
That’s it! I just want to point out that it is my opinion only and you might still enjoy the places I put to skip.
Anyway, what are the places you liked and didn’t like? What would you prefer to do during your weekend in Amsterdam?
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Frankly, I would not call Amsterdam a cheap place, especially, when it comes accommodation. When I search for a place to stay, I always use two options: it is either AirBnB (click here for a discount on your first booking with AirBnB) or Booking.com.
Airbnb has many options that are much cheaper than hotels and even hostels. Here below are some options if you prefer hotels to apartments:
Hostelle is a female only hostel near Amsterdam Arena. The price range is 25-40 EUR per night depending on the room.
Stayokay is hostel not far from Vondelpark. The price range is 30-35 EUR per night. In addition, they offer double and family rooms.
Amsterdam Wiechmann Hotel is right in the city center. The price range is 70-175 EUR depending on the room.
WestCord City Centre is another hotel right in the center of Amsterdam. The price here is higher, between 135-200 EUR depending on the room.
Hotel Sebastians, located right in the city center, has exceptional reviews. The price range is 135-300 EUR.
Choose Hotel TwentySeven in case you want to pamper yourself. It is centrally located, has exceptional reviews, spacious rooms, some of them with views, and it comes at a price, of course.
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