Even with all of the competition from the up and coming weekend break destinations in Eastern Europe I still think Amsterdam is hard to beat for a short break away. The flight from the UK is less than an hour in duration and you can catch one from pretty much any airport in the country making it one of the easiest places to get too in Europe.
Last weekend the Post Office sent me over to Amsterdam to explore the city and seek out some cool things to do that won’t break the bank. In their recently published 2017 City Costs Barometer, Amsterdam came out as one of the pricier places to visit in Western Europe so I wanted to see how far my Euro would go in reality.
Where to stay
After you land at Schipol the train to the city takes less than 30 minutes and only costs €5 (much better than our rail ticket prices here in the UK). The city centre is fairly compact so once you get off the train at Central Station there is a good chance you will be able to walk it to your hotel.
I stayed at The Hoxton, which may not be the cheapest place to crash for the weekend, but it definitely comes with my recommendation. Just like the London properties The Hox Amsterdam is like a magnet for milllenials and the lobby is rammed full of freelancers and general cool types handing out from the afternoon until the night. Location wise it is perfect as it it’s right round the corner from Dam Square but located on a quite little canal in a rather hip little neighbourhood. Right at the end of the street was a nice selection of independent clothing and homeware shops.
The best way to explore Amsterdam is definetely by foot or on bike. It’s worth asking at your hotel if they have any bikes for hire (most do) but if they don’t, there are plenty of places where you can hire one for the day or just for a few hours. The locals are really friendly and all speak perfect English so if you do get lost as you wander don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions.
Amsterdam has loads of great museums and galleries so you are bound to find one that fits your taste. Handily the main ones are all right next to each other so no matter if your taste is more Banksy than Van Gogh you are spoiled for choice.
The Stedelijk is the modern art gallery and was my favourite, it is home to some great work by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein and Jordan Wolfson.
If you plan on doing a few galleries over the weekend it is worth getting yourself an I amsterdam city card. A 48 hour card will cost you €67, this might seem a little steep but the card includes entry to all of the main galleries and museums as well as a canal cruise, unlimited access to public transport (bus, tram & metro) and a whole host of exclusive city discounts. When you consider that entry to the Stedelijk museum alone costs €15 you realise that this is a great way to save a few quid.
Where to eat + drink
Like any big city there is no shortage of fantastic places to grab dinner or a drink. II would say that it’s worth having a look online before you go and trying to book somewhere decent for dinner or you may end up being disappointed at the last minute. De Bajes is a pretty new spot and is cool for dinner on the weekend, it’s a bit of a restaurant come bar with a DJ after 10pm. When I went it seemed to be mainly locals but I think is a good sign.
For weekend brunch you need to check out Bakers + Roasters. A New Zealand style cafe that serves up a variety of colourful and tasty brunch classics with a twist. They don’t take bookings though and it does get busy so it is worth getting up a little bit earlier to save having to wait.
I also recommend heading to the Ma’dam bar at the top of the A’dam tower to take in the views across the city without having to pay the entrance fee to visit the actual viewing platform just one floor up!
Amsterdam is a such great city, I could literally go on all day suggesting places and things to do but I think that if you go it is best that you do some exploring on your own and seek out some quirky places for yourself – it’s more exciting that way.
Drop a comment below if you have any top Amsterdam suggestions of your own that you would like to share though!