Bicycle world capital
If you’re looking for a chilled-out city break, then look no further than Amsterdam. With sun-dappled canals and a lively bar and club scene, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Europe. Discover the city’s history at the Rijksmuseum, browse the canal-side shops and markets, and then round your day off in a cosy brown café.
With sun-dappled canals and a lively bar and club scene, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Europe. If you’re looking for a chilled-out city break, then look no further than Amsterdam.
- Duration: 3 days
- Language: Dutch
- Currency: Euros (€)
- Local time: CET
Day 1: Districts in Amsterdam
The old centre
As the name suggests, this charming part of the city is part of Amsterdam’s original settlement. Perfect for those in search of history and culture, you’ll find traditional architecture and iconic monuments dotted around this area. Remembering your camera is a must.
With plenty of hustle and bustle, this vast square is located in the city’s Chinatown, adjacent to the infamous Red Light District. Popular with tourists, there are a number of coffee shops and cafés to dip into, as well as spectacular architecture surrounding the area.
This part of the city is particularly charming, harking back to the 17th century. While it might serve as the ideal place for a leisurely walk, there are a number of art galleries and museums to visit. When you’re done there, make sure to browse the many vintage and antique shops found in the area.
Day 2: Things to Do in Amsterdam City
Visit the Rijksmuseum
While Amsterdam offers plenty of museums worth uncovering, the Rijksmuseum is one of the most iconic. Its stunning exterior is matched by the many exhibits found inside, with art from the middle ages right through to the present day. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous Rembrandt paintings that are displayed here.
Amsterdam is home to a range of retail outlets, meaning you’ll be well-catered to, whether you fancy shopping in high-end boutiques or charming vintage haunts. Immerse yourself in the real spirit of the city with a visit to the Ij Hallen flea market in the centre of the city. The ideal place to find a hidden gem or antique artefact, it’s well worth a trip if only for the atmosphere.
Enjoy a picnic in the Vondelpark
The Vondelpark should be top of your to-visit list on a visit to Amsterdam, especially if you’re visiting in spring. The largest green space in the city, it is often found jam-packed with locals eating, drinking and socialising. There are also some particularly beautiful monuments here, with a number of sculptures including one designed by Picasso. Visit in summer and you might be lucky enough to experience one of the free outdoor shows too.
Go cycling around the city
While the image of tourists biking their way around Amsterdam is somewhat of an iconic one, it’s also the best way to travel around the city. Quintessentially Dutch in style and a cheap way to traverse its cobbled streets, you can pick up a bicycle in any of the rental shops in the area. If you fancy, you can even take a guided tour with other cyclists.
Sightseeing in Amsterdam
There’s plenty to keep you occupied in Amsterdam, whether you’re seeking fascinating history or captivating culture. The canal network has led the city to be referred to as the Venice of the North and no getaway to Amsterdam is complete without a trip on the waterways.
If you’d rather immerse yourself in the authentic side of the city, nothing beats a visit to Amsterdam’s vast squares. Filled with character, the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are tourist hubs and offer the ideal spot to linger over a coffee or do some people-watching. Nieuwmarkt, Westermarkt and Noordermarkt are old markets and offer a great setting for a leisurely walk as you explore ancient monuments and iconic sculptures.
Day 3: Food and drink in Amsterdam
Cuisine in Amsterdam
While Holland isn’t renowned for its haute cuisine, you’ll find a number of treats to indulge in on your next getaway. For a hearty street food that features on many menus around the city, try bitterballen. Resembling meatballs, they are traditionally covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried, making a tasty snack. Usually served with hot mustard, it is certainly an authentic way to experience Dutch cuisine.
Of course, Amsterdam is famed for its sweet treats. Stroopwaffels are a favourite of many – a sweet, buttery caramel sandwiched between cinnamon-baked waffles. You’ll find them in any supermarket or café in the city, best served slightly melted over a steaming hot cup of coffee. Delicious.
Restaurants in Amsterdam
You’ll find an endless number of restaurants in Amsterdam, but it’s the cafés that tend to serve up the most delicious dishes. Brunch is big in this capital city, and favourite dishes are hot buttered toast with chocolate sprinkles and hearty oatmeal with fruit. For a real tasty treat when on your getaway, make the most of moreish poffertjes. These small pieces of batter are served up in pancake houses across Amsterdam, and heavily dusted with icing sugar.
Light Festival in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light art festival in Amsterdam. Artists, architects and (light) designers from all over the world bring their light artworks and installations alive during the festival every winter. The artworks are placed alongside two routes. Each route has their own theme, set of artworks and visitor experience. Water Colors, the boat rout, displays big monumental objects and offers visitors the chance to experience the art from a water perspective. Illuminade, the walking route, shows interactive and innovative installations from upcoming designers in the Plantage neighborhood.
Light art is a relatively young art form that offers artists -because of the LED revolution- completely new expression possibilities, on the intersection of art and technology. The festival aims to stimulate the development of light art and light artists. The festival also aims to bring light art and light artist to a broader audience, by presenting light art in a relatively approachable setting in the public sphere. Every year Amsterdam Light Festival invites artists to contribute to the festival though a Call for Concepts. 1800 artists from 93 different artists were interested in 2016. This led to 500 concrete submissions from artists from 45 different countries. Read more about light art and the selection process here.