Amsterdam often hailed as the “Venice of the North,” stands as one of Europe’s most enchanting cities and a must-visit destination in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most popular cities for a weekend getaway as it’s a small city, but jam-packed with cosy cafe’s, trendy stores, historical museums and art galleries and picturesque canal streets with wonky houses. And it’s a perfect destination for those looking for a winter getaway in Europe.
If you’ve been yearning to explore the eclectic charm of Amsterdam but feel a bit overwhelmed by the myriad options, look no further than this Amsterdam travel guide. We’ve curated the perfect itinerary to ensure your weekend getaway is filled with the best there is to see and do in Amsterdam as a destination for winter weekend away (but also a great guide for hotter months too!). This is your best things to do in the Amsterdam guide.
In this weekend travel guide, expect a more local perspective from the city, rather than the one-stop-shop touristic experience. We’ll guide you through hidden gems known to locals when it comes to places to visit and places to eat, along with the classic must-see attractions in Amsterdam. I’ve crafted this 3-day itinerary to help you make the most of your weekend in this incredible city and to cover the best things to do in Amsterdam.
Before we dive into the details, let’s cover some basics, such as the best time to visit Amsterdam, where to stay, and how to navigate the charming streets of this Dutch gem.
How to get to Amsterdam
Getting to Amsterdam is easy as it’s so well connected!
There are daily flights into the city’s main airport, Schipol Airport from all major European cities.
If flying from the UK, flight prices range between £56-180. It depends on the time of year flying, but the cheapest time to fly to Amsterdam is from Jan-March and October-November. Schipol Airport is a short train ride from the centre of town. Flying is a speedy and swift way to get to Amsterdam.
Arguably, the most popular way to get to Amsterdam, especially from the UK, is the Eurostar train that goes straight into Amsterdam Centraal which is bang in the middle of the city, making it super convenient!
Eurostar train prices can be as cheap as £105 return, and as the train leaves from Kings Cross, it’s a cheap tube ride to the station too. The train from London to Amsterdam is a 4-hour journey going through France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Amsterdam Centraal also has direct trains from Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Vienna.
I’ve taken both the train and a plane to Amsterdam and both were super easy. It just really depends on your budget and convenience.
Getting around Amsterdam
Amsterdam is relatively small and the public transport links in the city are exceptionally efficient making it a breeze to navigate through the city. The extensive network of trams, buses, and ferries seamlessly connects every corner of the city, ensuring quick and convenient travel for both locals and visitors. With well-marked routes and frequent services, public transport becomes a stress-free option for exploring Amsterdam’s myriad attractions.
Additionally, the city’s bike-friendly infrastructure offers another delightful and authentic way to explore at your own pace, providing an authentic and quintessentially Dutch experience.
The best time to visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of those cities that you can visit all year round, it just depends on how you want to experience it. Each season in Amsterdam brings its unique allure.
This guide focuses on the winter months, but there is a complete guide to Amsterdam on the blog that highlights all the best things to see and do in Amsterdam, all year round.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
As mentioned before Amsterdam is small and very easy to get around so as long as you choose to stay within the neighbourshoods of Jordaan, Centraal, Museumplein, De Pijp, and Oud-West, you’ll be nearby of all the things to do in Amsterdam in this travel guide.
In terms of hotels, as always, this is dependent on your budget and the vibe you want for your stay. Below is a list of budget, mid-range and boutique luxury hotels you can stay in Amsterdam within these central neighbourhoods.
That being said, Amsterdam is quite pricey when it comes to accommodation. Budget hotels range from £60-90 a night, mid-range hotels range from £100-170 per night and boutique hotels range from £200-400 per night.
- Hotel La Boheme
- The Hoxton Lloyd
- Park Plaza Vondelpark
- NH Amsterdam Leidsplein
- The Alfred Hotel
- The July 28
- The Social Hub Amsterdam
So without further ado, let’s jump into the 3-Day Itinerary for a weekend in Amsterdam!
3-day itinerary for a weekend in Amsterdam during Winter
DAY 1 (FRIDAY): De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets), Vondelpark & Dinner at Foodhallen
Welcome to your first day in Amsterdam, and what better way to kick off your trip than by immersing yourself in the city’s unique charm? Begin your day by wandering through the famous De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets), a network of quaint, picturesque lanes lined with boutique shops, vintage stores, and cosy cafes.
Runstraat is the main street for trendy clothing stores, like Ganni, Dyptique and RAILS.
It’s also famous for the long queues, (literally over the bridge) of tourists and locals alike to get a portion of the best fries in the city: Fabel Friet. If feeling peck-ish after travelling and walking around, this is the perfect pick me up. But be warned, there’s nowhere to sit and a literal security guard is patrolling the area ushering people away as French fry lovers aren’t allowed to eat standing around the streets.
Weather permitting, spend the rest of the afternoon strolling through Vondelpark. As one of the city’s most beloved parks, Vondelpark provides a tranquil escape from the urban hustle and the perfect way to seal the afternoon.
Knowing Amsterdam though, the weather might not be dry so an alternative is visiting Foam, a small photography museum or the unforgettable Anne Frank House. Even in the winter months, book this early. Tickets are available online here.
Wrap up the day by having dinner at Foodhallen. Dinner at Foodhallen in Amsterdam is like stepping into a foodie wonderland – casual, cool, and delicious. Imagine a buzzing indoor market with stalls serving up a bit of everything – from mouthwatering burgers to fresh sushi. The vibe is laid-back, the décor is chic, and you’re surrounded by fellow food enthusiasts. It’s not just a meal; it’s a whole experience that kicks off your weekend in Amsterdam just right.
DAY 2 (SATURDAY): The West (Haarlemmerdijk), Noord & The Red Light District
Begin your day with a leisurely brunch at Café Thijssen, a cafe that is loved by locals with a cosy atmosphere. Take a stroll through Haarlemmerdijk, a lesser-known neighbourhood of Amsterdam but up and coming with all the vintage and trendy design stores popping up there. The canal views from there are stunning, so take a camera with you.
Afterwards, make your way to Toki for a coffee break and be sure to indulge in their renowned sesame seed cookie.
As the afternoon unfolds, venture to the “other side of Amsterdam” in Noord, accessible by a quick (free!) ferry ride across the canal from Amsterdam Centraal. The ferry port is on the other side of the station so either walk around or through the station.
Noord, Amsterdam’s eclectic neighbourhood located just across the canal, is a vibrant and dynamic area characterized by its contemporary art scene, trendy eateries, and a unique blend of industrial and artistic landscapes. There are many cool museums and attractions here, but the ones worth going to in my (humble) opinion are:
- The Eye Film Museum is a striking architectural gem dedicated to the world of cinema. It houses a diverse collection of films, exhibitions, and screenings, offering a captivating experience for movie enthusiasts.
- The Straat Museum, also known as Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA), is an open-air art space showcasing vibrant street art in Amsterdam-Noord. Visitors can explore an ever-evolving outdoor gallery, where urban artists from around the world contribute to the colourful narrative of this dynamic neighborhood.
- The Nxt Museum is an immersive experience that blends art and technology. This innovative museum showcases digital and interactive art installations, providing visitors with a unique and futuristic exploration of the intersection between art and technology
In-between museum hopping, grab a bite at Eye Film’s restaurant or Pllek. Both have gorgeous views of the river. On a sunny day, it looks gorgeous!
On your way back, if you’re curious, pop over to the infamous Red Light District and have a walk around. It’s definitely something to experience whilst in Amsterdam, even if just by foot.
For dinner, get dressed up to hit up Bar Botanique, a trendy restaurant and cocktail bar. Like most brunch and dinner places in Amsterdam, book ahead to snag a table and not be disappointed. Most restaurants take bookings via their website or on the OpenTable app.
This place is as cool as it sounds. Picture this: trendy restaurant meets lively cocktail bar, with the bonus of lush botanical décor that sets the mood just right.
Other trendy restaurants I’d recommend are:
DAY 3 (SUNDAY): De Pijp & Albert Cuypstraat Market, Canal Cruise & Mueumplein
Start off the day with brunch in De Pijp. My favourite is Benji’s but there are many other places to choose from that are in the area, you’ll find them below. The brunch scene in Amsterdam is amazing, honestly!
Other brunch places in De Pijp:
After brunch, wander down to Albert Cuypstraat Market, the largest outdoor market in Amsterdam. Here you’ll find stalls of all kinds: fresh food stalls, vintage clothing and most importantly stroopwafles from one of the best makers in town: Rudi’s Stroopwafles. Freshly made, these irresistible Dutch treats consist of two thin waffle layers with a gooey caramel filling.
Last but certainly not least, spend the early afternoon taking a canal cruise. There are plenty to choose from! Captain Jack offers small group tours from 40 euros, whereas the bigger companies like Blue Boat and Stroma canal cruise tours start at 18 euros per person. If you’re looking for a private boat, Pure Boats offer more boutiques cruise tours. With Locals is also a great place to find a private canal cruise, offered by locals!
Sunday’s itinerary assumes you’ll need to be back at the airport in the afternoon but if you’re taking a later flight or train out, there’s definitely time to squeeze in a museum on Sunday too! The Rijksmuseum is epic, but to fully enjoy it, you’d need to set aside 3 hours – so if you are rushing, I’d pick either Stadelijk or the Van Gogh museum. Both are almost equally as iconic.
Staying an extra day? Add a day trip to Rotterdam or the Hague into the itinerary.
Have you been to Amsterdam?
What are your top things to do in Amsterdam? Anything you’d add to this Amsterdam bucket list?
Love as always and happy adventuring…