With almost 20 million visitors per year, Amsterdam is a city people never get tired of, and rightly so. Despite being a compact metropolis, it has a lot of personality, with something new around every corner. We’re here to make sure you pack in all the good bits in a short amount of time, so you can make this first trip as calm and pleasurable as possible.
Our three-day guide shows you how to do Amsterdam right, by dodging tourist traps and discovering the local heart and soul of the city. There’s a lot more color and character to be found here beyond red lights and canal selfies, and we’re here to prove it!
Getting Around: The first step to becoming an Amsterdammer on your travels? Rent a bike. If you’re able, cycling around the city will make you feel at home and save you precious time and money. Not to mention, it’s safer than taking public transit.
Start off the first day of your long weekend in Amsterdam with a light repast by grabbing some coffee and a croissant to go at one of the many kiosks around town. This way, you don’t have to worry about social distancing rules.
After you’ve got your morning fuel, make your way to the renowned Dam Square, where you’ll find the Royal Palace, street performers and a plethora of pigeons. Packed with tony bars, restaurants and retail chains, you can stroll through without entering any businesses. It’s more for the people watching than anything else.
As the rules of holidays go, you’ll find yourself feeling hungry rather quickly. Head to the nearby Café de Tuin for Dutch finger food. Order a portion of bitterballen or kroketten—crispy, deep-fried delights with a variety of fillings.
Next stop: Anne Frank House. Although one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions, visiting the historic site is not as chaotic as you’d expect thanks to an advance-booking system (which makes social distancing even easier).
Now you can explore the Jordaan. Boasting some of the city’s most scenic streets and canals, the Jordaan neighbourhood is dotted with chic restaurants and bars that embody the Dutch phenomenon that is “gezelligheid.” Almost anything can be “gezellig”—as long as it makes you feel warm, cosy or a little bit fuzzy inside.
Time for some grub! Check out Foodhallen, the perfect remedy for those what-does-everyone-want-to-eat-for-dinner conversations. Choose from a variety of food stalls as well as glam bars specializing in gin and craft beers. We love FENTO—Mexican street food with an Asian twist—as well as the Tofu Bowl from Vietnamese vendor Vietview. The expansive space has strict safety measures in place post-COVID-19. All patrons are checked for fever upon entry and customers are kept at least six feet away from one another. To minimize contact, patrons can order food via an app with the order delivered to your table.
After dinner, take an evening stroll to Waterkant bar, enjoy a cocktail or beer and marvel at the neon lights glittering on the canal. Whatever the weather, a drink on the deck is the right way to end your first day in the Dam.
Wake up with coffee done right at Lot Sixty One. With house-roasted mocha alongside a scrumptious selection of cakes, not to mention friendly baristas and Aussie owners who love to say “g’day,” this one’s a hit with the locals.
Now onto Museumplein. Here you’ll find the capital’s best museums: The Stedelijk, which houses modern art, the Van Gogh Museum, which is dedicated to the Dutch artist and the Rijksmuseum, with art from Dutch masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. All Dutch museums have new social distancing rules, some with one-way routes in and out to keep everyone at more than arm’s length apart, which should please anyone used to elbowing tourist hoards. We love art but we value our health more.
Once you’ve spent a few hours “oohing” and “aahing” at what Museumplein has to offer, stop off at the lovely De Vier Pilaren. With a traditional, Dutch “brown café” interior, De Vier Pilaren is undeniably gezellig. Expect mini or supersized pancakes with both sweet and savory toppings at this dainty gem.
Time to walk it off in the famous Vondelpark! This green haven is a sweet escape from the city and the crowds who might be standing too close—take a breather by the water and enjoy the fresh air.
Once you’re ready to get back on it, stroll over to Foam, a photography museum situated in a serene canal house. Explore diverse exhibitions from artists all over the world and leave feeling completely rejuvenated.
Now that you’ve soaked in all of Foam, wander to the nearby Magere Brug, a picturesque drawbridge that lights up at night, making it the perfect sunset spot.
For dinner, head to LAB111, a movie theatre-cum-bar that’s surprisingly open. LAB111 oozes cool, from its stylish decor to its movie-themed menu. Order The Big Kahuna Veggie Burger with sweet potato fries, followed by Children of the Popcorn (white chocolate popcorn with raspberry coulis) for dessert.
Many of Amsterdam’s treasures are situated across the water in Amsterdam Noord, easily accessible by frequent ferries that won’t cost you a penny and have enough space to adhere to new travel guidelines. Take the 906 from Centraal to NDSM. If you can, take a bike on board—it’s the easiest way to get around Noord.
Check out Pllek for breakfast, a contemporary restaurant crafted from shipping containers with a stunning view of the city beyond the water.
When exploring the weird and wonderful NDSM area, you’ll find an old shipyard-turned-art-city with huge spaces where artists showcase their projects. Europe’s largest flea market, IJ-Hallen, also takes place at NDSM once a month, so bag a bargain if you can!
Then it’s time to explore Café de Ceuvel. Their staff has a creative approach to waste, making it one of the most sustainable urban developments in Europe. From compost toilets to an aquaponics greenhouse, Café de Ceuvel is a well-oiled, green machine. To top it all off, they offer a top-notch menu with vegan options.
After lunch, check out the Eye Film Museum, a spectacular piece of architecture packed with a collection of more than 40,000 Dutch and foreign films.
Make your last supper a memorable one. Rock up to Hotel De Goudfazant, an industrial space serving Dutch-French fusion cuisine. With an open kitchen and innovative dishes, Hotel De Goudfazant is a boujee way to end a busy trip. Have a drink for us and say “cheers” to a successful three days in magnificent Amsterdam. Goede nacht!
Looking for somewhere to stay during your long weekend in Amsterdam? The Hotel Jakarta Amsterdam is a boutique, sustainable option, with an Indonesian vibe and a friendly, accommodating staff.