Old cobbled streets, colorful and slightly wonky houses, a walk-able city centre, great variety of cafe's & shopping and the never ending smell of hot stroopwafel, all make Amsterdam a great European weekend destination. And not just for those looking for a party. Although plenty of that available too.
Here's our full guide to everything you need to know when planning your weekend in Amsterdam.
Have hot stroopwafel!
Amsterdam in the winter can be a bit cold & gloomy. But let me tell you - there is nothing better than warming up with a cup of great coffee (that is plentiful here) & freshly baked Stroopwafel. Many shops in the centre will make this waffle filled w/ honey and caramel right in front of you! (4 EUR per waffle, good to share for 2)
Get lost in de Bijenkorf
If you're looking for one-stop shopping and a large variety of brands to choose from - this place is for you. End of January brings after Christmas sales which means great deals all round, and their food court & cafe on the top floor will give you energy in the midst of your shopping experience.
Have some of the best Thai food in Europe
Top found dinner spot (in the 3 dinner's we had on our weekend in Amsterdam we went here twice) Thaise Snackbird Bar, right near the red light district in the city's Chinatown.
It's cash only, you'll have to wait at least 30 minutes for a table, once you get the table you most definitely won't have enough room - but it's worth it!
Dinner for two with 2 soft drinks: 35 EUR
Walk around the red light district
All political & ethical opinions aside, Amsterdam stands out for it's iconic red-light district, where a different form of late-night entertainment is visible and completely legal. We'll leave it at that for this post, but seeing it for yourself is still an experience.
Culture yourself in the Museum quarter
Much like Berlin's museum island, no weekend in Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to one of the world renowned culture & history institutions.
Van Gogh museum - the famous artist was Dutch after all, which makes sense why his best known work hangs here, in Amsterdam
Anne Frank's House - an interesting aspect of history from the Jewish war time.
Rijksmuseum - something resembling a national history type museum, if you're into that sort of thing
Top tip for all of these: book tickets in advance in order to plan your time properly. We waited in line to buy a ticket only to learn that tickets have special time slots of entry on them :)
And if you plan to visit multiple museums - look into getting an Amsterdam tourist card as 1 ticket to a museum will set you back around 20 EUR.
Taste & buy Dutch cheese at a speciality Henri Willig cheese shop
The Dutch are known for their cheese - and for good reason, it's delicious! There are tons of speciality cheese shops around the city centre that will let you taste & choose the right cheese for your table at home. Try and scout out small local shops where Dutch people go, but if in doubt - the Henri Willig brand should not disappoint.
Brunch, brunch & brunch again
Not entirely sure how & why, but the city is plentiful of breakfast & brunch places that will make your weekend in Amsterdam filled with delicious choices.
Keep in mind that these are full meals where the portions are large, but you should plan to spend 12-20 EUR per person for a main & coffee drink
Here are our top choices serving breakfast faves & more:
The Avocado Show
So.. accommodation, even for a weekend in Amsterdam is expensive! Booking in advance will definitely give you more options, but unless you want to stay in a party hostel - budget 70-120 EUR per night.
We recommend staying a little bit "outside the centre" in West, Zuid, Oost neighbourhoods, which are actually a lot nicer/cleaner/quieter, have great cafes locally & you'll still be able to reach the centre by foot in 10-20 minutes.
We stayed at the Apollo Hotel, which as part of the Marriot Group, allows Marriot Bonvoy members stay at a lower rate if you pre-pay in advance. (More info on why you should become a member free of charge here!)
The hotel had great service, allowed us to check-in early which was great right after travelling, & this was a great choice location wise. The museum quarter where you find main attractions is only 15 minutes walking distance, there are some great cafe's nearby & we ended up saving money & walking the whole weekend as opposed to using public transport.
And did I mention the design & canal views? Perfect for your morning cup of coffee &Dutch cheese breakfast.
Travel & Logistics
Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centre
Buy an IAmsterdam card especially made for tourists (which includes transport & entrance to museums & attractions) prices starting from 65 EUR for a 24 hour card.
Public transport: get an NS (Dutch Railways) train into the city and then use metro/bus or walk to your accommodation.
Using public transport to go one way from the airport will cost you around 8-10 EUR p/person and take around 30 minutes. (For example: 4 EUR for the train to Amsterdam Zuid station & 3,60 for the bus to our hotel)
Taking a taxi is the fastest way to get to the airport, takes 15-20 minutes, but will set you back anywhere from 30-60 EUR.
Getting around the city
Walking! Amsterdam is surprisingly walk able, especially it's city centre. If you stay somewhere roughly inside the marked area, you will be able to reach the picturesque streets with cafe's, canals and shops within 15-20 minutes walking.
Traveling on the GVB (Amsterdam's public transport system, incl. metro, tram, & bus), you can buy multi-day tickets for 1 day or anything up to 5/7 days. An unlimited travel ticket for 48 hours will set you back 13,50 EUR per person.
And for those late nights, when you've been on your feet all day - Uber is widely used.
Pro tip: use google maps to find the best route from where you are in the centre & your accommodation. Amsterdam is filled with one-way roads, so walk to a location that has the straightest driving route to where you need to go & your taxi ride will be cheaper!
Best way to get from Vilnius to Amsterdam right now - AirBaltic's new direct & nearly daily morning flights that you can easily get for 120-130 EUR per person return.