Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world; picturesque bridges over canals, beautiful parks with uncontaminated nature spots and lakes, and colourful streets lined with quirky architecture. It’s stunning beauty make it a favourite tourist spot both for world travellers and for those seeking a long weekend in a place filled with historical landmarks that have played a part in the evolution of western civilisation and art. Here are some tips to make the most out of your weekend trip to ‘The Venice of the north’!
This is the best way to enjoy what you most want to see in Amsterdam, as there are plenty of things to see and do. Amsterdam is full of tourists in the summer months, and though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s really important to book things early (including flight tickets and accommodation). Most museums and galleries require tickets to enter, which can, more often than not, mean long queues and restricted entry.
Things to see
Here are the three ticketed attractions I would describe as un-missable on a trip to Amsterdam. The first would be the Rijksmuseum, which is a museum of the Netherlands from the middle ages to the 20th century and full of incredible works from one of Holland’s most famous artists- Rembrandt.
Then, of course, there is Anne Frank House, in which you can visit the hiding place where Anne wrote her famous diary during the horrors of the Second World War. A very sombre, but fascinating and important insight into the life of Jews in the Netherlands during this period.
Finally, who could visit Amsterdam without going to the Van Gogh Museum? Here you can find the word’s largest collection of the famous Dutch painter’s work. A stunning building filled with incredible art, including Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ -which may look beautiful in pictures, but is truly breathtaking in person.
If you are visiting the city for a short time, I’d highly recommend pre-booking for all the major attractions, so you can already have your Van Gogh museum tickets when you arrive and can spend more time enjoying the artwork rather than the external architecture as you stand in line.
Forget about your car, this is the city of cyclists! The locals live a healthy and sport-filled lifestyle, so grab a bike when you are there as this is the best way to experience the life and scenery of this lovely city. Holland is famously flat, and there are cycle paths on all the main roads meaning you can feel a little more secure on your bike. Indeed, if cycling is your thing, and the weather is fine I’d recommend going on a cycling tour of the city to hear from an experienced guide all about the history of Amsterdam, you will certainly notice things you never would have done if you simply stroll through the streets on foot.
However, is this just isn’t for you, there are also the electric bus and tram systems which are excellent; with 16 tram lines, 55 bus lines, 5 free ferry connections and 4 metro lines you can get anywhere you want—another reason why the air is fresh and reinvigorating for newcomers. While walking will also take you anywhere in this small city, you may still feel fatigued after a while which will take away from your sightseeing experience.
If you plan on starting your trip around the city as soon as you step off the plane you might be wondering -What is the fastest way to get to Amsterdam from the Schipol Airport? Thankfully you won’t have to jump hoops with different modes of transportation and waste half your day once your plane lands because the train will take you directly to the city centre (Amsterdam Centraal) after a 20 mins ride and cost you only €5.10! Trains are regular and comfortable and the 20 minutes will give you enough time to decide where you’d like to visit first.
Make a packed lunch so you can save time on your trip and see more of the city! Maybe you could go to a supermarket and grab some sandwiches for a light lunch, or go for a nice picnic at one of the many parks so you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything in your list. And best of all, you can save money for an extravagant gastronomic experience later on at dinner! There are some incredible restaurants in Amsterdam to have a really special dinner, and a lot of choices depending on your personal taste. Personally, I can’t visit the Netherlands without having at least one delicious Dutch pancake!
If you love shopping and also don’t want to miss out on the designer shops on your visit through the historic neighbourhoods, why not head to the Dam Square– the historic 17th Century city center also has a fantastic Food Court on the fifth floor of DE Bijenkorf Department store, a large mall which holds a wide number of high end luxury and designer brands along with a splendid houseware department.
Lastly, enjoy your time there and allow plans to change; recognising that a weekend trip just won’t give you time to see everything will save you a lot of stress once you are there and give you peace of mind. It is, after all, supposed to be a vacation, not a job! You will find that the Dutch are very relaxed and open-minded people, with a generally very high level of English- so don’t be afraid to ask a local if you’re stuck.