I spent a weekend in Amsterdam alone on my fifth visit to the city. Here are my costs and itinerary for spending the perfect weekend in Amsterdam.

If you live in Europe or are traveling on this continent, then Amsterdam is a destination that you just shouldn’t let yourself miss. It has everything possible that you’d ever want in a travel destination.

Let’s talk about the typical European stuff, Amsterdam has it all – old buildings, churches, and whatnot. Yawn – that can get boring after a while. But Amsterdam is special because it has its own interesting spin on this. How cool is that?

Amsterdam has unique narrow buildings that look asymmetrical and are mostly red, black, and brownish-orange in color. Like little toy buildings that you might have played with as a child.

Admire Amsterdam's Narrow Houses - Amsterdam itinerary
Admire Amsterdam’s Narrow Houses – Amsterdam for a weekend itinerary

While you can find baroque architectural style in most big European cities, in Amsterdam you will find the Dutch Baroque style, which evolved differently because of the Dutch Golden Ages. Yes, the capital of the Netherlands thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries because of its trade.

As a result, the buildings are totally different and you can stare at them in wonder for long. I surely during most of my weekend in Amsterdam! 

Amsterdam has more bicycles than people - Info for Traveling to Amsterdam
Amsterdam has more bicycles than people – Info for Traveling to Amsterdam

Of course, you know that Amsterdam has beautiful canals – after all, that’s one of the things that Amsterdam is famous for.

What I love about Amsterdam’s canals is that they are close to each other and most are super narrow so it makes them fun and easy to explore. I love walking on the little bridges that go over the canals and have bright flowers on them.

What makes Amsterdam even more special are the bicycles. There are a gazillion of them everywhere.

They are parked on the bridges, along the canals, actually alongside everything you’d see a bunch of them. I never thought I’d say this about bikes but they actually do a good job of bejeweling Amsterdam. 

Flowers, canals, narrow buildings and bicycles - typical Amsterdam
Flowers, canals, narrow buildings, and bicycles – Amsterdam

Talking about the bicycles, if you have even a little bit of experience riding one then by all means rent one and ride it in Amsterdam. It is the ONE place in the world where one needs to experience riding a bicycle.

Moreover, the city is insanely bicycle-friendly so you will move around like a king. This brings me to the next point.

Oh hey, below is the structure of this Amsterdam weekend guide. If you want to jump directly to the weekend itinerary, then you can do so by clicking the link below for that section:

Table of Contents

How much does a weekend in Amsterdam cost? 

Amsterdam’s Narrow Buildings by the Water

Ahem, if it is your first time in Amsterdam then make sure you go through my essential tips for visiting Amsterdam along with this article. I have often visited Amsterdam for a weekend and most of my visits were in the summer months.

My last weekend trip to Amsterdam was in June 2023 and here’s what I spent. My Amsterdam weekend expenses will shock you, they were lower than what you’d expect because of the I Amsterdam card:

Cost of meals and drinks: EUR 160 – 190

Here’s how I spent money on food and drinks in Amsterdam during the weekend:

  • Dinner with drinks on Friday: EUR 30 (a lot of snacks and 3 beers)
  • Breakfast on Saturday: EUR 20
  • Lunch with beer on Saturday: EUR 22
  • Sunset Cocktails on Saturday: EUR 15 (two)
  • Dinner on Saturday: EUR 30 (I overate, really I did eat double)
  • 2 Drinks in a Bar after dinner: EUR 15
  • Breakfast on Sunday: EUR 15
  • Lunch with beer on Sunday: EUR 20

I could have further lowered my eating and drinking expenses if I had visited the restaurants and bars that offered a discount with the I Amsterdam city card but I didn’t. 

Moreover, your cost of eating and drinking can be cut in half if you don’t drink a cocktail or a beer with your meal. I don’t drink that much but it is more than most people do. I drank one beer or a cocktail with every lunch and two with most dinners.

Cost of Place to Stay in Amsterdam: EUR 300 for two nights

This is where most of your money will be spent. I paid EUR 300 for two nights in the summer of 2023 at PH Hotel.

For a single traveler, this isn’t cheap, but with this price, you will get one of the least fancy rooms in Amsterdam. Of course, if you are splitting with your partner, it is easier because you won’t necessarily pay double if you’re two.

I remember I paid EUR 80 for two days in 2021 and I was so happy about it. I definitely paid half than normal because the travel market was at an all-time low due to COVID-19 and was just picking up when I was there in July 2021. I stayed in a hostel called Generator Amsterdam and it was amazingly spacious.

Cost of the I Amsterdam City Card: EUR 85 for 48 hours

My I Amsterdam City card

I had the 72-hour one but if you’re in Amsterdam for 48 hours then you don’t need the 72-hour card.

This card covers the cost of museums, internal transportation (trams, buses, metros, ferries), bicycle rental, one canal cruise, attractions in 2-3 nearby towns, and many other things that you’d spend your money on in Amsterdam.

Suggested post: Is the I Amsterdam City Card worth it?

Cost of a new backpack that I bought in Amsterdam: EUR 35

I could have avoided this expense but I love the small backpack I bought in Amsterdam. I didn’t pack a smaller backpack for cycling so I had to buy one there. Of course, you will not need to spend on a small backpack unless you want to buy one in Amsterdam like I did.

Gifts for my family: EUR 30

Gouda Cheese and a bicycle - typical sight in the Netherlands
Gouda Cheese and a bicycle – typical sight in the Netherlands (CC0) via Pixabay

I bought Gouda cheese which the Netherlands is famous for and hangable 3-D butterflies from Hortus Botanicus. My husband loves Old Amsterdam, which is aged gouda so I bought that for him and also “chili cheese” for another family member.

The best gift turned out to be the 3D butterflies – there were three of them for 15 Euros. My daughter loved them because they appeared to be floating and were suspended by threads from the ceiling of her bedroom.  I hate carrying cash and prefer paying by card.

Believe it or not, I had just EUR 300 in my wallet for the Amsterdam weekend trip, and I didn’t even get a chance to spend all of it. I didn’t have to pay for the I Amsterdam card, it was a gift from the Amsterdam Tourism Board.

Itinerary for a Perfect Weekend in Amsterdam

My travel style has evolved over the years – a few years back I’d try to do as much as I could in a short time. On many occasions, I handled it pretty well but at other times it was pretty stressful.

I have learned to slow down, savor each moment, and enjoy a new destination more by not overdoing things. This itinerary is all about that – the pace of my Amsterdam weekend itinerary is relaxed and yet fun.

Out of all my Amsterdam trips, this particular one was the best one because I didn’t overpack my itinerary, left room for spontaneity and I had my own bicycle for flexibility. If you want to check out a fast-paced and packed itinerary for two days in Amsterdam, I still have one on my website and it is pretty popular.

Based on my experience, most people arrive on Friday afternoon to spend a weekend in Amsterdam. Most likely you will too. In case you are spending 3 full days, be sure to read my 3-day Amsterdam itinerary.

Friday in Amsterdam

Arrive in Amsterdam and Check-In

Arrive in Amsterdam on Friday afternoon and pick up your pre-ordered I Amsterdam card from the I Amsterdam store at Amsterdam Centraal train station (central Amsterdam). If you’re arriving by train then in all probability you will get off your train here.

If you’re like me, then you would have probably downloaded an offline version of Amsterdam’s map on Google Maps. Moreover, you would have already memorized which tram to take from Amsterdam Central Station to your hotel. I stayed in Generator Amsterdam and I took Tram 7. In 2023, I stayed in PH Hotel

Reach your hotel, shower, or change your clothes. Spend a few minutes checking out your surroundings. If you have time then walk around your hostel or your hotel area to see some interesting sights before you head out for dinner and drinks.

Quick Walk in Amsterdam Oud-West

Walk along the canals in Oud-West because this area is close to your next destination. We will do a longer walk on Saturday to explore the historical canal ring of Amsterdam so today we will take it easy to get a feeling of this Dutch Capital.

On one side of Amsterdam Oud-West is the legendary Vondelpark and on the adjacent side is the Singel canal that separates this neighborhood from the main canal ring. On one side is the P.C. Hooftstraat, which is famous for chic boutiques.

Foodhallen (DeHallen) for Dinner & Drinks

Me in De Hallen Amsterdam

I always loved Amsterdam’s food scene but this place has changed the game for me. In today’s age, all the big cities are big on the international food scene and Amsterdam is no less.

So what’s De Hallen? It was once a train station but it has a dedicated food court kind of space which is called Food Hallen (or food hall). Honestly, it is so much livelier and more fun than a food court, so let’s just use the term “food hall”. Food Hallen has loads of food and drink options.

De Ballenbar in De Hallen Amsterdam

Foodhallen for me was a stress-free place to visit after a 4-hour train journey because I didn’t need to pick a restaurant and then stick with the choice of cuisine there are food options from all over the world.

Dim Sum Thing in Foodhallen, De Hallen Amsterdam

If you’d like to try out different foods then you will love them because no need to restrict yourself to one cuisine. Mix and have fun.

Even though FoodHallen closes at 12 midnight, food starts to sell out by 10 pm and some restaurants start packing to close up.

My recommendations for What to Eat at Foodhallen:

  • De Ballenbar – It means “the Ball Bar” haha, and yes you will eat balls here. Bitterballen is a traditional Dutch specialty. They are fried balls and one can’t go wrong with a snack like that. This place is actually owned by the Michelin star chef Peter Gasteat. I highly recommend the Kom Kah Gai and Spinach with cheese Bitterballen.
  • Dim Sum Thing – I have a thing for dim sums. Dim sums are Cantonese dumplings – the best kind of dumplings that exist in the culinary scene. I love dim sums so much that I can eat them for every meal. I first ordered 6 and then ordered 8 more because they were so yummy.
  • Drink De Eeuwige Jeugd beer from the tap – it is super duper yum and is available in many bars in De Foodhallen
Foodhallen, De Hallen Amsterdam

I actually found Food Hallen to be affordable compared to many other good eating in Amsterdam and the vibe was excellent.

Moreover, Food Hallen is easy to reach by tram, get off at Ten Katestraat tram station – De Hallen is just there and Food Hallen is a part of it. De Hallen isn’t just for food, Apart from Foodhallen, there’s also De Filmhallen (the Film Hall), and so many other things.

If you like food, beer, and just a nice setting with a lot of people, then include Food Hallen for your epic weekend in Amsterdam.

Saturday in Amsterdam

As compared to yesterday, you’re going to be having quite an adventure today. Wake up by 8 a.m., shower, and eat breakfast at your hotel or hostel around 9 a.m. for an early start.

Eat well and get caffeinated – you’re going to need some energy for today.  As promised, we will keep the pace relaxed, so get ready to leave your hotel at 9:45 a.m. – 10 a.m. (If you don’t want to keep the pace relaxed, I have another itinerary for Amsterdam on my website that’s fast-paced).

Walk Through Albert Cuyp Market

Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam
Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam

Albert Cuyp Market is my favorite open-air market in Amsterdam. I walked through it because I had to pass Albert Cuyp street and I realized that this market is the perfect place for roadside breakfast, shopping and to get a feel of Amebrdam’s vibe.

Not just food and souvenirs, this market also has daily household items, plants, fresh produce, fish – and everything was much cheaper than the Waterlooplein Market.

Enjoy the atmosphere of a Saturday morning at this amazing market that stretches for the entire Albert Cuyp street before you start exploring other areas.

Explore Amsterdam’s Canal Ring

Amsterdam's canals, bridges, boats and narrow houses
Amsterdam’s canals, bridges, boats, and narrow houses

Amsterdam is famous for its canals and exploring the canal ring is an absolute must-do. Most likely it is your first time in Amsterdam but even if it’s your 10th, then you have to walk along the canals and then on the bridges.

The Canal ring is called the Grachtengordel – and don’t worry you don’t have to see it all because I will tell you the prettiest spots. This historical canal ring is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A bicycle isn’t a necessity because the canals are very close to each other.

Amsterdam’s Canal Ring

If you have a cycle then reach Jordaan, or else get on the tram to reach Westermarkt tram station. From here, walk to the Engelschmann Bridge, and take a right after the bridge. Continue walking straight in the direction of Bloemgracht. You will arrive at a narrower canal with tiny bridges which I think have the best views.

Amsterdam Jordaan July 2021 – Weekend in Amsterdam

The first one is right opposite Anne Frank Haus and you can see the Westerkerk (a big Church) too. Below are a few options of what you can do here: Find a nice bench to enjoy the view, or walk further in any direction from here.

If you want to visit the Anne Frank House, then you have to pre-book a time slot to avoid excessively long queues.

Alternatively, you can visit Paradox Coffeeshop to enjoy Amsterdam’s weed scene. Honestly, that isn’t something that interests me anymore but it did during my first few visits to Amsterdam.

If you want to walk further, then I recommend you head to Bridge 62 on Princengracht and enjoy more lovely sights. I also have a post with top Instagram spots in Amsterdam, and many of them are in this neighborhood.

Amsterdam's floating flower market - Bloemenmarkt_
Amsterdam’s floating flower market – Bloemenmarkt

Another option would be to walk towards the Singel Canal and walk along Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market. It is open on Saturdays but not on Sundays. 

Saturday Lunch at Fow Fow Ramen

My ramen bowl at Fow Fow Ramen Amsterdam
My ramen bowl at Fou Fow Ramen Amsterdam

To truly experience the international culture of Amsterdam, you can’t just eat Dutch food all the time but you have to try the city’s international food scene. Fou Fow Ramen is an amazing restaurant that I have tried and tested. I had an amazing lunch here and I highly recommend this place.

Arrive by 11:45 – 12 at your desired lunch place because most of the places fill up on Saturday. If you want to sit and eat comfortably then you have to arrive before most people do.

Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum (before 4:30 pm)

The Famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

From Jordan, cycle to the Museum Quarter or catch a tram that stops at Museumplein station. Even if you don’t want to visit the museums, I still recommend you walk (or cycle) through the museum quarter’s entry passage, it is lovely.

It is a very high arched ceiling and it is the prettiest passage in Amsterdam where I cycled. I did mention it in my post about top Instagram spots in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam Museumplein entry tunnel copy

You may think that the museums are crowded at this time. Nope, Well things work a little differently post Covid-19. One must book a spot in advance and there’s no other way to enter. 

So only a limited amount of people can enter at one point. Even if people don’t know this and start queuing up, museum staff members walk around to see people’s booking spot email confirmations and send those who don’t have it.

Rijksmuseum Research Library - Amsterdam museums
Rijksmuseum Research Library – Amsterdam museums

The Rijksmuseum closes at 5 p.m. and the Van Gogh museum closes at 6 p.m. The last entry at Rijksmuseum is at 4:30 pm, so make sure you book a slot for that time or before, and then another slot for the Van Gogh Museum just an hour after. (Both are free to visit with the I Amsterdam Card)

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam - Amsterdam museums
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – Amsterdam museums

It is pretty easy to book a spot. If you have the I Amsterdam app installed on your smartphone then you can go to the option of booking a spot, and the app will directly take you to the museum’s webpage. See the list of available time slots and reserve one.

I reserved my spot the night before for the visit to Rijksmuseum and got it. But I still suggest you do it at least a week in advance for both museums. With your I Amsterdam card, you can visit almost all the museums except the Ann Frank Haus (because that’s privately owned).

Thankfully most of the museums are in the Museumplein – the Museum Quarter. They are right next to each other so you can get out of one and get into the next one.

Arrive at Amsterdam-Noord and see A’Dam Lookout

View of Amsterdam from A'Dam Tower - how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam
View of Amsterdam from A’Dam Tower – how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

From the Museumplein, get on a tram that will leave you at Amsterdam Centraal station. If you have a bicycle, then you can just ride it to that point, it is a fun cycling route. From here we will make our way to Amsterdam-Noord – the hipster district which is on the other side of the IJ River.

There is a free public ferry that goes on the IJ river that’s right behind the Amsterdam Centraal train station. It is called the “Amsterdam Centraal Ferry Terminal”. Here is a location link, click on it and Google Maps will take you there. 

You can take your cycle on the ferry and it will leave you close to the A’Dam lookout tower on the other side, a slightly different side of Amsterdam – welcome to Amsterdam-Noord (everything is cooler here because it isn’t so mainstream like Amsterdam city center, hehe.)

Extreme Swing on A'Dam Tower - 2 Days in Amsterdam
Extreme Swing on A’Dam Tower – 2 Days in Amsterdam

If you have time, you can go to the top of the A’Dam lookout for the view – it is free to visit with the I Amsterdam Card. A’Dam tower is more than just the lookout, there’s a lot more here. The lift that takes you up is super psychedelic, in terms of both visuals and sound. It is an experience.

Go to the top of the A’Dam Tower to A’Dam lookout and click a few photos. If you want, then you can try the extreme swing. San and I rode the extreme swing together. It was adventurous yet romantic because we did it together.

NDSM Werf for Street Art and Installations

Amsterdam-Noord is way more relaxed and open as compared to the centrum and you’re going to enjoy cycling here. From A’Dam tower to NDSM Werf is around 2 km, so this is where you’re going to thank yourself for renting a bicycle.

Cycling in NDSM Werf Amsterdam

Arrive in NDSM Werf (or NDSM Wharf) and enter the complex. You can take your bicycle inside with you and explore the art installations inside.

It is free to enter this area. You did spend some time before this in the museums to see the work of some of the most famous artists in the world. Now it’s time to admire a different kind of art, in a very different kind of setting.

Cycling inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam
Cycling inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

NDSM isn’t really just street art, it is full of interactive art installations. Honestly, if I call it a place of street art, that’s like calling a campervan a van – because it is a van but it is so much more than that. (Haha)

If you like creating interesting photos, then you will be happy to know that NDSM Werf is actually very Instagram-worthy. Spend around 15-20 minutes looking at the art installations before you head to your next destination, which is literally just 1 minute away.

Pllek for Beach Sunset, Dinner and Drinks

Sipping Beer on the beach in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

Pllek is my favorite bar in Amsterdam and it is on the beach! From NDSM Werf, it will just take you a minute to reach here.

Park your bicycle outside Pllek and make sure you lock it. Click a picture of where you have parked it so that you can identify it amongst 1000s others when it is time to leave.

Pllek by the IJ in Amsterdam-Noord

Pllek has an amazing restaurant and a beach bar. Not just Amsterdam but it may just be the most amazing place to chill in entire Europe.

If you arrive early then you can find a place to sit on the beach. If not then the extremely nice staff members here will most likely arrange a beanbag for you to chill on the beach but you may have to share a table.

Beach bar at Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

I visited Pllek the first time in 2017 and then again in 2021 and 2023. I do remember when I was sitting on the beach outside with a drink in my hand, it finally started to feel like a holiday. On most of the hours of the weekends, they have live music at Pllek.

Amsterdam Centrum may be unbelievably pretty but one definitely needs a place like Pllek to relax the mind and loosen up.

Sitting by the water in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

I highly recommend the veggie burger here with portobello mushrooms. If you are happily eating a burger or a sandwich for dinner then Pllek isn’t expensive. I didn’t order the avocado toast but it looked very interesting because it also has pine nuts on top. YUM.

Sunset in this part of Europe is usually pretty late in mid-summer (10 PM in June) but around 8-9 PM in August. Stay here for the sunset and you will thank me.

Once you have had enough, then get ready to cycle back to the ferry point. It is just 2 km away from Pllek. Get on the ferry to go back to the center and do something very touristy. 🙂 Your ferry will leave you back to Amsterdam Centraal.

Walk Through the Red-Light District (skip if you’re with kids)

Walking around in the Red light district at night - Amsterdam Itinerary
Walking around in the Red light district at night – Amsterdam Itinerary

From Amsterdam Centraal, the Red-Light district is just a quick cycle ride away. You can also just walk from the Centraal station, it isn’t far. Or just hop on to a tram and get off after one station at Dam Square – the most touristy part of Amsterdam.

Dam Square is where you will see the national monument, the royal palace of Amsterdam, and many people sitting around it and chilling. From Dam Square tram station, you need to walk for 3 minutes to De Wallen– that’s the Red Light District of Amsterdam. Get ready to walk through or cycle through it.

The Netherlands is pretty liberal and I like the fact that many things that should be legal are legal. So is prostitution in the Netherlands. If you are visiting Amsterdam with children then skip this part.

Red Light District in Amsterdam - Travel Tips for Amsterdam
Red Light District in Amsterdam – Travel Tips for Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Red Light is famous all over the world and while you’re here, you should experience walking through it once. What appears to be a pretty normal neighborhood during the day, turns into a completely different place when it’s dark. 

The narrow buildings along the canals are all studio apartments that sex workers rent. When it’s dark, then the red light shines on all the windows where the available sex workers stand. 

Respect the sex workers and don’t try to photograph them. Photographing a sex worker is a criminal offense and you can get heavily fined by the cops that walk around in this area. I went on one of the bridges and clicked a photo of the red light area in general, without photographic any sex workers.

De Sluyswacht Bar

Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night - the BEST 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam
Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night – the BEST 2-day itinerary for Amsterdam

Now that you’re in Amsterdam’s naughtiest neighborhoods – it is your choice if you want to continue here or go elsewhere. De Wallen or the Red Light District has a lot of bars and coffee shops where one can drink or smoke a joint.

My drink in De Sluyswacht, Amsterdam
My drink in De Sluyswacht, Amsterdam

I love De Sluyswacht bar, which is a super short walk from De Wallen and has an amazing atmosphere. It is one of those lopsided bars on a slanted street that’s visited by not just tourists but also locals. Moreover, you have water on three sides, so it is easy to get a table outside with a nice view.

I love De Sluyswacht so much that I make it a point to visit it on every single visit to Amsterdam. It is actually a great spot for watching the sunset and enjoying the vibe of Amsterdam’s nightlife. My last visit to De Sluyswacht was in 2023 and I had a few Aperol Spritzes.

To be honest, De Wallen isn’t my kind of neighborhood to party (anymore). There are too many extremely wasted tourists here and too many pissed-off bartenders (I don’t blame them). But the good thing is, that Amsterdam has some really good nightlife options (and of course, I have a separate post about it).

If De Wallen is too much for you, then head to the Rembrandtplein or Leidseplein. Rembrandtplein is closer. Both these areas have a lot of amazing bars that stay open till late.

You can reach here pretty easily by bicycle or tram. Walking is also possible since Rembrandtplein is a kilometer away and Leidseplein is 1.5 – 2 km away, depending on where exactly you are in De Wallen.

If I were you, I’d pick a bar that’s closer to my hotel or hostel. I’d go back, park my bicycle, maybe freshen up, and then walk to the bar to drink a few beers. That’s why when I was in Amsterdam alone for a weekend, I chose Bar Bukowski because it was just 2 minute walk away from my hostel – Generator Amsterdam.

Sunday in Amsterdam

After yesterday’s excitement, today will be a lot more relaxed and slow. Most of the weekend travelers leave Amsterdam on Sunday evenings or afternoons, most likely that’s what you’re going to do too.

Wake up between 8 am to 9 am, shower, and pack your bags so that you are ready to check out after breakfast.

If your hotel lets you check out by 12, then it is amazing. As per my experience, many hotels in Amsterdam stated that my check-out time was 10 a.m. – ouch. So I had to check out literally right after my breakfast. 

Check-Out and Return your rented bike

If you can check out late, then it is amazing. If not, then eat your breakfast, and most likely you will need to return your bike as soon as the rental shops open, which is 9 – 10 am. If you have to check out by 10, then see if your hotel or hostel lets you store the luggage for a few hours.

In my case, I didn’t need to store my luggage in the hotel after checking out because I could just carry it with me on the bicycle (Yay for packing light). 

Oude Kerk & De Koffieschenkerij (Breakfast)

Oude Kerk in the background in Amsterdam Centrum
Oude Kerk in the background in Amsterdam Centrum

Oude Kerk is one of the oldest churches in Amsterdam. The building is iconic and it is worth noticing at least once. You don’t have to go inside the church if you don’t want to but there’s a very cool cafe that’s inside the complex – De Koffieschenkerij.

De Koffieschenkerij window view
De Koffieschenkerij window view

When you arrive at De Koffieschenkerij, you can get a table outside and order something online as per the QR Code that’s displayed on the table. I had an iced coffee and a dessert that was made with dates and dark chocolate.

Canal Cruise on a Boat

Canal Cruise in Amsterdam on a private open boat by Pure Amsterdam
Canal Cruise in Amsterdam

If you visit Amsterdam then you have got to experience how it looks from the canals. It is very interesting to sit in a boat that cruises over the narrow canals under the pretty bridges.

A canal cruise is a perfect way to enjoy your last day in Amsterdam after the excitement of the day before. Sit back and enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam’s canals one last time. Click photos of all the stunning places that you weren’t able to capture while you were on the boat.

Canal View of Amsterdam from the edge of a boat under the bridge

If you did buy the I Amsterdam card as I had earlier suggested, then you get a free canal cruise with it. During Covid times, you just need to book a slot a few hours in advance.

Canal cruises leave every 10 minutes from many different operators so don’t worry, you should be still able to get a spot.

Most canal cruises are for 45-60 minutes long and they start and end at the same spot. My tip is to find a cruise that leaves from near your hotel or hostel.

The canal cruises that are covered under the I Amsterdam city card are:

  • The 100 Highlights Cruise by Stromma 
  • Canal Cruise by Amsterdam Circle Line 
  • City Canal Cruise Blue Boat Company 

Hortus Botanicus, Lunch in the Oranjerie

Butterfly Garden in Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

It took me my fifth visit to Amsterdam to finally get to Hortus Botanicus – Amsterdam’s Botanical Garden. It wasn’t possible before because it’s something I could do only on a solo trip since not many people who visited Amsterdam with me ever had an interest in a place like this. It is free to visit it with the I Amsterdam City card.

Now you’d say – why visit Amsterdam’s botanical garden, aren’t there enough botanical gardens all over the world? But did you know that Dutch garners and botanists are famous all over the world? Plants are a big part of their culture as much as gouda cheese is. 

A visit to Hortus Botanicus worked out perfectly as my last stop in Amsterdam with my luggage right after returning my bicycle, because I could store my luggage here in their gift shop. 

Hortus Botanicus is a place where I could spend hours but I had just 1.5 hours with me. There are many themed greenhouses inside.

All of the greenhouses were interesting but I specifically remember a few. One was a cactus greenhouse that had insanely beautiful cactuses. There was a tropical forest one which was massive and actually felt like a forest.

My favorite greenhouse in Hortus Botanicus was a very small one that I had almost missed. It was the butterfly garden and thousands of orange butterflies were flying everywhere in slow motion. At one time only 6 people could step inside this greenhouse, but that wasn’t a problem when I went in because apart from me, there were just other two girls.

There is also a pond outside with a beautiful water lily. I also saw the biggest Bird of Paradise plant (or a tree) which was taller than many houses.

After you’re done exploring Hortus Botanicus, I highly recommend you eat or drink something in Orangery – the in-house Hortus cafe. If you’re hungry then order something from their specials. I had my lunch and coffee here.

I ate pasta with green asparagus, artichoke, pine nuts, green pesto, and cherry tomatoes – it was exceptional. I liked that the vegetables weren’t cooked in the sauce but were separately baked or charred and thrown on top for extra crunchiness. I didn’t order any desserts but their cheesecake looks delicious.

How to Move Around in Amsterdam

No matter how good you are with directions if it is your first time in Amsterdam then you will definitely get lost. It happens because for a first-timer all the canals and bridges look the same.

Do yourself a favor and please download an offline version of Amsterdam on Google Maps. It will help you not just with cycling or walking but also with getting an idea about which tram or train to get on. 

Walking in Amsterdam 

It is very easy to walk from one place to another in Amsterdam and you can totally do this. You won’t get to do much if you’re only walking. I did this when I first visited in 2014.  Honestly, I just remember walking the whole time and not doing a lot more than visiting coffee shops and bars. I knew much better when I visited the next few times.

Trams + Metros in Amsterdam (inc in I Amsterdam City Card)

Inside Amsterdam tram – read about Amsterdam Covid Restrictions for travelers in my travel tips post – July 2021

Amsterdam’s public transportation is amazing and you can reach almost everywhere with a combination of tram, metro, and a short walk.

Amsterdam has an amazingly good network of trams and metros. There are buses too but I never needed to take one because I could get anywhere in the city on the tram, and on the metro to some out-of-the-city places.

The only mistake that you may end up making would be getting on to the tram that’s going in the opposite direction. I have done it many times and it happened when I didn’t read the map carefully and hopped on too quickly.

If you keep your eyes open then you will realize your mistake as soon as you hop on, because there’s a screen that tells you about the next upcoming tram stops. No biggie, get off at the next top and take the tram from the opposite side. 

Cycling in Amsterdam (Free Rental with I Amsterdam City Card)

Rent a cycle in Amsterdam with your I Amsterdam City Card – Amsterdam weekend guide

I have said it before and I will reiterate – cycling is the best way to get around in Amsterdam. Rent a cycle if you think you can do this, follow the rules, and cycle on the bicycle lane.

The bike lanes are easy to find in Amsterdam because they are usually red, there are signs, and of course many other cyclists. Make sure you lock your bicycle because there are a lot of bicycle thefts in Amsterdam.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam for the Weekend?

I stayed in five different places during my numerous visits to Amsterdam, but I’m only recommending two that I loved.

PH Hotel Oosteinde

On my recent trip to Amsterdam, I stayed in PH Hotel Oosteinde and loved the comfortable bed, spacious room, and the location. It was close to the Skinny Bridge and all the cool bars and restaurants of De Pijp were just a short walk away.

PH Hotel was earlier known as a “boutique hotel” but the name was later changed.

NH Collection (Near Flower Market)

I stayed in the NH Collection chain with a friend during one of my visits to Amsterdam and I was impressed by how luxurious this hotel is. The bed was massive, I think 4 people could have slept on it, haha. This chain has hotels all over Amsterdam but I like this particular location.

There is a coffee machine in the hotel room so you can stay caffeinated. They also have a tablet in their suits for the guests to use, but we didn’t.

Click here to book NH Hotel on the Booking.com website. Or, you can read the reviews about it on TripAdvisor.

Generator Amsterdam (Hostel)

Generator Amsterdam was my second hostel experience in Amsterdam and it was fantastic. I stayed in a 4-bed dormitory and it was super spacious plus clean. I think the days of dirty backpacker hostels are over and now the new-age hostels are fancy.

I ate my breakfast here on all the days. They have a complete set that you can order with four choices: vegan, healthy, English, and Dutch. I tried the vegan and the healthy ones and loved them. I also added mini pancakes to my order and they were fantastic.

I loved how convenient the hostel’s location is. It is close to everything and yet it is in a calmer area right next to Amsterdam’s Oostpark. It was my first time staying in this neighborhood and I think it’s my new favorite.

Click here to book the Generator hostel on the Booking.com website. 

Is it Possible to Explore Amsterdam in a Weekend?

Not really. Yes, Amsterdam is a small city but there’s still a lot to see here. If you try to do it all, then you won’t be able to enjoy your time here. I highly recommend spending 3 – 5 days here. But I understand that not everyone has so much time to spend. So what to do when you just have a weekend to spend in Amsterdam? Read on.

If you want to get a glimpse of Amsterdam and fall in love with it during that time, then yes, a weekend in Amsterdam can be just enough. Plan your trip well and don’t spend all your time stuck in Dam Square like most tourists do, explore the real beauty of the city and make your quick trip to Amsterdam worthwhile.

Don’t try to do EVERYTHING that you read in guides about things to do in Amsterdam, instead pick a handful of nice things and enjoy them. This is exactly what this post is about – letting you get a taste of Amsterdam in a weekend at a fun pace.

Hotels in Amsterdam are super expensive. This is also one reason why most people prefer a weekend stay in Amsterdam and then they get out of there.

If you can travel on a long weekend to Amsterdam, then that’s awesome. If not, then just try your best to arrive early on Friday and leave late on Sunday. This way you can take things slow on Friday and check in. You can also check out from your hotel on Sunday and carry your bag (like I did) and store it in a locker at the attraction.

What’s Closed on the Weekends in Amsterdam?

Literally, nothing is closed on a Sunday in Amsterdam, except the flea markets like Waterlooplein are closed on Sundays. Amsterdam’s flea markets are a lot of fun to explore even for the non-shoppers. There are loads of interesting sights and amazing history. 

Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam
Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam – Closed on Sundays

Are Museums in Amsterdam Closed on the Weekend?

Amsterdam’s museums are open on all days throughout the year. In my experience, the best time to visit a museum is right before they close. Unlike Germany where everything is closed on Sundays, none of the museums and tourist attractions are closed in Amsterdam on Sundays. (It was a big Yay for me because I live in Germany)

Are Supermarkets in Amsterdam Closed on Sundays?

No, they aren’t. Yay!

Check my Amsterdam Tips post to read about Amsterdam’s supermarkets vs Kiosks. Kiosks are obviously more expensive.

Which Supermarkets to visit in Amsterdam?

If it is your first time in Amsterdam or this part of Europe in general, then take note of a supermarket (supermarkt) versus a kiosk. Everything is cheaper in a supermarket but not in kiosks, but kiosks are open till very late. Most supermarkets are closed on Sundays.

I normally visit the below-mentioned supermarkets that you can find all over the city:

  • Dirk Supermarkt
  • Albert Heijn
  • Jumbo
  • Vomar
  • Marqt

Are Weekends Crowded in Amsterdam?

Weekends in Amsterdam can get insanely crowded in the summer months. It is the time when some hotels and hostels increase their prices. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid visiting. 

I did say in my earlier post about Amsterdam to completely avoid the weekends but now I change my words. Even if Amsterdam is full on the weekends it is still awesome. And yes, I didn’t follow my own tip and ended up revisiting Amsterdam on many weekends after writing that post.

How to spend the perfect Weekend in Amsterdam – Save this Pin for the ultimate Amsterdam Weekend Guide

Disclosure: I collaborated with the I Amsterdam (Amsterdam city tourism board) for a part of my trip in 2017 and 2021. However, all opinions expressed in this article are definitely my own.

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