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Vondelpark, Amsterdam
Photograph: Z. Jacobs /

A weekend in Amsterdam: the ultimate itinerary

Heading to the Dutch capital for a weekend? Here’s the best way to spend a perfect 48 hours in Amsterdam

Callum Booth
Written by
Callum Booth

Amsterdam is a city of dualities. Postcard-perfect canals coexist with renovated industrial parks; innovative international cuisine is served alongside local classics like stamppot; and centuries-old buildings contain smoke-filled marijuana stores.

It’s also one of Europe’s most popular cities for a weekend break – which is no surprise, given the staggering amount of restaurants, bars and things to do here. And while the Dutch capital is known to many visitors as either ‘the Venice of the North’ or ‘the City of Sin,’ the reality is altogether different. Take a step away from the traditional tourist beat and you’ll discover a place that exudes both a stylish modernity and a sense of cosiness the locals call gezellig.

So how about a weekend itinerary that captures all the best sides of the city? From cultural institutions and cool boutiques to big nights out and canalside brunch, Amsterdam local Callum Booth tells us how to spend the perfect two (or three) days in ‘Dam.


🍽 The best restaurants in Amsterdam
🪩 The best clubs in Amsterdam
🖼 The best galleries and museums in Amsterdam
🍃 The best coffeeshops in Amsterdam
🍸 The best bars in Amsterdam

Planning your next trip? Check out our latest travel guides, written by local experts.

A weekend in Amsterdam

How to get there
Photograph: JJFarq /

How to get there

Amsterdam Centraal – the city’s main station – has direct trains from London (via Eurostar), Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Zurich and Vienna. As always, book ahead as far as possible for the cheapest tickets.

If you’re flying in, trains from Schiphol Airport run directly into Centraal station every few minutes. A one-way ticket from the airport to the city centre costs around €5.80 (£5.16, $6.11) if you book in advance.

Getting around Amsterdam is easy. The city is known for its bike lanes, so cycling is always a great (and green) option if you want to feel like a proper local. The Amsterdam metro will get you from A to B, and there are also buses, trams, and ferries. Saying that, Amsterdam is an easily walkable city, and you’ll certainly get a better feel for the Dutch capital when exploring by two feet.

Amsterdam practically overflows with wonderful neighbourhoods, but the Oud-West offers an unbeatable combination of stellar location, affordability and a shedload of great things to do. This area contains trendy bars, plenty of restaurants, and thriving cultural hotspots — all while being a stone’s throw from the gorgeous Jordaan and bustling Centrum.

For an affordable stay, try Hotel Alp, built into a traditional Amsterdam house with a small outdoor courtyard. Or there’s Hotel de Hallen, a design hotel in a renovated tram depot that now operates as a cultural hub, housing both a food hall and cinema.

READ MORE: The best hotels in Amsterdam

Friday: Go Dutch
Photograph: Z. Jacobs /

Friday: Go Dutch

Arriving in the early afternoon, the first thing on the agenda is hitting some cultural highlights.

Van Gogh and Vondelpark

Begin with a stroll down the Bilderdijkstraat, a bustling street filled with independent restaurants and boutiques. Grab a coffee and snack from Uncommon Amsterdam, before heading to the Van Gogh Museum. Housing the world’s largest collection of the artist’s paintings, the gallery tells the story of Van Gogh’s life through his iconic works.

Once you’ve had your fill of the Netherlands’ most famous painter, go for an afternoon stroll around the sprawling, leafy Vondelpark. Done? Then it’s time to head to the romantic Jordaan for dinner. If you’re after a pre-meal tipple, Bar Mimi and Cafe L'Affiche are charming spots you can stop at on your way to Men Impossible. Serving a delectable plant-based ramen menu, this is one of the city’s most unique restaurants — just make sure to book ahead.

Drink like the locals

It's time to explore some of Amsterdam’s bruin cafés. These gezellig bars are the heartbeat of the Jordaan, and walking between Cafe de Laurierboom, Cafe Chris, Cafe de Nieuwe Lelie, Cafe 't Smalle, Cafe de Tuin, and Cafe Tabac is the perfect way to explore the area’s winding, narrow streets.

Ready for a big night? Head to De School, an electronic music club set in — you guessed it — a former school. A more lowkey option is De Nieuwe Anita, a community-focused venue that hosts an eclectic mix of evening events, from movie screenings to ska nights.

Saturday: See the other side of the city
Photograph: Picture Partners /

Saturday: See the other side of the city

Snack and shop

Begin your day at the west side of Haarlemmerdijk (near Haarlemmerplein) and browse the chic shops on your walk to Amsterdam Centraal, grabbing a coffee and a snack at Toki along the way. And, if you’re interested in the greener side of the city, drop into Coffeeshop Siberië to get some… supplies.

Take the (free!) ferry from Centraal across the IJ to NDSM. This former shipyard now houses a thriving artist community and is well worth a wander. Depending on the dates, you may also be able to visit
IJ-hallen, Europe’s largest flea market.

Industrial levels of fun

Hit up STRAAT Museum, a gallery brimming with gargantuan pieces of graffiti and street art. Once you’ve finished, head to Pllek for lunch on a faux-beach with a view of the river.

Now, a choice. Are you a gaming fan? Then you’ll want to head to Blast Galaxy. This warehouse contains over 100 free-to-play arcade machines — once you shell out the reasonable entrance fee of course. If gaming isn’t your thing, take a trip to the Nxt Museum, a gallery that fuses technology with visual art.

For dinner, chow down on some otherworldly tacos at the delightfully vibey Coba, or get a slice from the hip EUROPIZZA. Again, make sure to book in advance.

Around the corner from the restaurants are two excellent breweries: Walhalla and Oedipus, with the latter in particular having a large seating capacity. To continue your night, head to Skatecafe, one of Amsterdam’s best party spots. Another option is to get the ferry back into town and visit the Red Light District (De Wallen). Rammed with inebriated tourists, it’s not a pleasant part of the city, but it’s an experience you’re unlikely to forget.

Sunday: A picture-perfect finish
Photograph: Shutterstock

Sunday: A picture-perfect finish

Shop the Nine Streets

Begin your morning with a bite at Greenwoods on Keizersgracht, an enchanting canalside restaurant serving traditional breakfast fare suitable for any diet.

From here, a little retail therapy. Head to the Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes in Dutch) to explore an array of boutiques situated in one of the most gorgeous parts of the city. Whether it’s vintage clothes from Episode, a cookie from the famous Het Koekemannetje, or a new board game from The Gamekeeper, there’s something here for everyone.

For a taste of culture, head to Foam, Amsterdam’s leading photography museum. This gallery sits in a modernised canal house and displays an ever-changing set of intriguing exhibitions.

Sail along the canals

To finish off your Amsterdam trip in style, hit the water. Choose a guided canal tour with the traditional Captain Jack or try something a bit edgier with Those Dam Boat Guys. You can also rent your own boat — with or without a driver — from Mokumboot. Whatever you choose, it’s a perfect way to see the city from another perspective, quite literally.

And if you’re staying one more night...

Refuel with some Korean street food at The Bab Oud West. When you’re done, head to Lab111. This cinema shows a revolving mix of classic, contemporary, and cult movies — plus its bar is an excellent place to sit with a drink and discuss what you’ve seen, both on the screen and in the city.

For a nightcap, pop to Gebrouwen door Vrouwen. This flagship bar of the women-owned brewery of the same name makes some of the finest beer in Amsterdam. It’s an ideal place to soak in the surroundings and reflect on a weekend well-lived.

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