Destinations Europe

Our Top 5 Things To Do On An Amsterdam City Break

Amsterdam Weekend Trip

Only an hour from the UK and with flights from many regional airports, Amsterdam is a perfect city break destination. As well as the frequent flights there is now a direct Eurostar service to Amsterdam from London.

Although there are a few remnants of Amsterdam’s druggy and sleazy past close to Dam Square this is a far-removed from the relaxed, picturesque and cultural city Amsterdam is today.

Amsterdam is actually one of our favourite cities in Europe if not THE favourite.

Getting to Amsterdam is quick, cheap and easy, staying there is not the cheapest. The hotel rooms in those pretty canal houses can be quite small and the prices have increased steadily over the years. On the plus side, this has helped reduce the number of stag and hen do’s. One of our favourite hotels is the Hotel Pulitzer as seen in the film ‘Ocean’s Twelve’

Visit The Museums

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

For the culture lovers, Amsterdam has an excellent variety of museums and galleries. We highly recommend a visit to The Van Gogh Museum. It houses the world’s largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s work and features many of the artist’s most famous pieces such as the Sunflowers.

Next to the Van Gogh museum is the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum which features an eclectic collection from a range of artists such as Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso.

The Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

In the same Museumplein area is the impressive Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum dedicated to the arts and history of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. They have a useful and informative App which helps guide you through the collections.

For children, the Nemo Museum is an excellent science museum and for the grown-ups, visit the Heineken Experience where you can find out about the history of the drink and also try a sample or two.

Take A Canal Cruise

Damrak Canal

Damrak Canal, Amsterdam

One of the best ways to get a feel of Amsterdam and orientate yourselves without getting run over by a bike or tram is to take a canal cruise. From the viewpoint of a canal boat, you can clearly see the beautiful architecture of the bridges and narrow canal houses and often, their strange angles and ‘wonkiness‘.

It is also a great way to just relax and watch the world go by.

Amsterdam Canal Cruise

Take an Amsterdam canal cruise

The canals are also home to the many pretty houseboats. In days gone by the poorest people used to live on the houseboats as they transported goods up and down the rivers and canals. Now, these trendy boats are very desirable and home to a hipster or two. They are also now worth as much as some of the local flats and houses.

Amsterdam Food

Febo Food

Febo and their automatic fast food machines

You must experience the Febo vending machines. Looking like they’ve come straight out of a 1950’s sci-fi film as a bizarre vision of the future these machines dispense Dutch fast food best enjoyed when heavily intoxicated.

But don’t worry there’s more to Amsterdam food than greasy chips with mayonnaise. There are a number of cool organic cafes which sell delicious salads, juices, cakes and sandwiches. Why not try a piece of warm apple pie with ‘slagroom’ (whipped cream) whilst people watching in a pavement cafe.

Amsterdam Food

There’s more to Amsterdam food than just Febo

Amsterdam is famous for Indonesian food due to their former link with the country, try an Indonesian rice table or Rijsttafel whilst visiting the city.

There is also a great sophisticated food scene in Amsterdam, with a number of upmarket and Michelin starred restaurants, for those who like their food stylish and refined.

Amsterdam At Night

Amsterdam at Night

Amsterdam at night

Despite commenting on Amsterdam’s former reputation for drugs and sleaziness you still must take a walk around the famous The Red Light District known as ‘de Wallen’.

Although relatively safe during the day, watch out if you are going at night for the usual drunks and pickpockets.

Once you’ve got de Wallen with its stag and hen parties out of the way there are plenty of really good pubs and cocktail bars around the city where you can get a decent drink in relaxed surroundings.

Amsterdam Shopping


It’s not all just cheese

It’s not all cheese and clogs although there are plenty of places to get these if you want.

Take a walk around the historic Negen Straatjes canal district, the area of the Nine Streets. This area of nine narrow streets has an interesting array of trendy independent shops and cafés.

Visit the floating flower market the Bloemenmarkt on the Singel Canal. Despite the increasing presence of ‘touristy souvenir tat’, there are still plenty of flower-covered stalls selling colourful bunches of tulips and bulbs. If time allows, visit on a sunny day to really appreciate the colours and the scent.

So these are our top 5 things to do in Amsterdam. Do you fancy visiting Amsterdam or if you have been, what are your recommendations?

Top 5 Things To Do On An Amsterdam City Break

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  • Medha Verma
    April 30, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I’d have to agree with the selection of the top 5 things you’ve put here. Amsterdam is such a beautiful city, I’d recommend to rent a bike and explore it! Also, I loved the visit to Anne Frank’s home 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      April 30, 2018 at 7:55 am

      In the warmer weather renting a bike is a great way to get around. Anne Frank’s house is also worth a visit but be prepared to wait.

  • Indrani
    April 30, 2018 at 7:20 am

    I did something similar and added visit to Anne Frank’s house too. The Canal cruise was worth the time and money. Loved these pics.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      April 30, 2018 at 7:57 am

      We still try and do a canal cruise each time we visit even though we’ve done it so many times before.

  • Kathleen
    April 30, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    We visited Amsterdam once for 4 or 5 days. We took our 12 year old daughter and 15 year old son. There were some things we really loved, like Nemo, the Anne Frank house and the Vasa ship. We loved all of those things. We booked a hotel that caused us to walk through the red light district to get places, even though I checked to make sure that wasn’t the case. That was a lot for a 15 year old boy. Amsterdam and the surrounding area have some really beautiful places. I’d like to go back to visit some of the museums you talked about. No one else was interested in those. Bummer.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      April 30, 2018 at 9:08 pm

      When we there last time we noticed there is actually a primary school in the red light area. There are a lot of museums to visit, you must definitely try and go back.

  • Janna
    April 30, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Amsterdam is so pretty! I really want to go next year during spring time and see the beautiful flowers. I would totally do the canal cruise. It looks so much fun!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      It is a beautiful city, especially in the Springtime.

  • Karla
    May 1, 2018 at 7:13 am

    I also loved the park and the museums and Anne Frank. I also enjoyed the day trips from Amsterdam. I really loved amsterdam. I could easily fill up 2 weeks, It’s nice there.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:23 pm

      We tend to go for a couple of days so haven’t really ventured out of the city, although we are going to Rotterdam at the end of the month.

  • Jayce Cairo
    May 1, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Aww, I was just there in Amsterdam and your list makes me miss it even more! I’d just like to add that it’s very important to avail online tickets for the Van Gogh Museum as slots run out! Aside from missing the Van Gogh Museum when I was there, I didn’t get the chance to try the vendo restos either, even if one was beside our hotel. I must not miss this when I go back – because I will!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:28 pm

      Yes, good tip. You need to get tickets online to make sure you get into the Van Gogh museum.

  • Claire
    May 1, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Its funny I’ve always been put off Amsterdam by the sleazy parts, but there really is so many wonderful things to do that I need to go asap! I love Van Gogh so the Van Gogh Museum would be my first stop!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:29 pm

      The Red Light area is very small and even that is now a bit of tourist attraction and a shadow of its former self.

  • Suruchi
    May 1, 2018 at 6:43 pm

    Amsterdam is really high on our list and these looks like the 5 perfect things to do. Canal cruising will be our favourite, good food and shopping will be on the list too. Great pictures

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:30 pm

      It’s a great little city and very easy to get around, especially if the weather is nice.

  • Linda de Beer
    May 1, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    I remember visiting Amsterdam in 1990 when it still “had a reputation for drugs and sleaziness”. But then you could also get into Anne Frank House without standing in a queue. Would love to visit the Rijksmuseum if I visit again and to explore the Negen Straatjes canal district.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      Yes, it’s very busy during peak season. We’ve been in Spring and the Autumn which we’ve found to be a great time to go.

  • Punita Malhotra
    May 2, 2018 at 4:52 am

    These are the same things we indulged ourselves with while in Amsterdam. Its such a vibrant and lively city. I’m sure one can find much more to do during a second visit too.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 4, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      Yes, there’s a lot to do. We try and get there at least once a year although we have seen the price of accommodation going up quite a lot recently.