Your weekend in Amsterdam starts here
Weekend in Amsterdam: If ever there was a cycle friendly city it’s Amsterdam, so think about hiring a bike when you get here, to get you from one amazing place to the next.
On Saturday morning you can park the bike and take a stroll around the bohemian Jordaan area (marked on your free map). This was created in the 1600s as a hive of alleyways and overcrowded houses – 80,000 people lived here at one time – today that’s more like 20,000 so it must have been extremely crowded, and in those days they had open sewers. Mmm.
Weekend in Amsterdam: Luckily things have changed a lot since then and on Saturdays there’s a wonderful general market here called the Lindenmarkt. It has food tastings and it’s possible to eat your way from one end of the market to the other, or to buy some local bread, cheeses and chocolate and have a picnic later. As well as food, flowers and general stuff it has great vintage clothes.
Nearby is the Noordermarkt which is a little less funky, but is full of curiosities and antiques as well as earrings, rugs, art, records – you name it.
Then go to Winkel 33, a cosy and atmospheric café famous for its apple pie and cream (there’s no getting away from food in Amsterdam). With its green and white striped awning, it’s an Amsterdam institution.
While you’re on foot, walk the Nine Streets, Dutch name -De Negen Straatjes. This is a grid of picturesque streets which cross the canals and are full of interesting little shops and great cafes.
If you want to visit the house where Anne Frank hid during the war and wrote her famous diary, you’ll need to get organised in advance, so visit their website to get tickets.
Amsterdam has two fantastic art galleries – the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum which has fascinating items such as incredibly elaborate dolls houses.
And while you’re here, take the free ferry ride across the river and explore the Amsterdam the tourists don’t see. There are three ferries, no payment required.
For an evening meal, there’s an unrivalled selection of food experiences. You can find raw, organic, vegetarian and vegan food. Or you can eat authentic pizza, street food, pasta, tons of different kinds of savoury pancakes. You could try squeezing into Broodje Bert, almost as small as a hole in the wall.
For a completely different experience, there’s the Golden Temple vegetarian restaurant, founded by a group of Sikhs. You sit on floor cushions and drink chai tea, while they serve you with a vegetarian meal.
If you really need to chill out, there’s a beach on the outskirts of the city! Use your bike to get to Blijburg Beach which has an almost zen-like atmosphere of relaxation, and a friendly crowd.
Amsterdam has a great selection of evening entertainment, from clubs to culture but because it’s such a buzzy place, things do close down often, while new places open.
The Shelter club has a 24-hour licence at weekends, so if that’s your bag, check it out. You’ll need to take the ferry and go down to the basement dance floor (described as “industrial chic” whatever that is).
There’s so much to do in Amsterdam, that we haven’t even touched the surface. The important thing is that because of its diversity as a city, you can discover your own Amsterdam. For a scrupulously clean, safe and very good value hostel to make your base, try the Sarphati 2. It’s no-frills but is family run and very popular.