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Amsterdam City Breaks 

There’s a lot more to Amsterdam than just cheese and tulips. Whether you’re travelling by bike, on foot, or by boat along the many canals, you will discover a vibrant European city with a unique atmosphere. Known as the ‘Venice of the North', this picturesque, hip city has something for everyone, from beautiful canals and architecture to fascinating museums and galleries. If you’re after a short city break or even a longer stay, Amsterdam is the ideal city to combine cultural visits and wild nights out!

Our top city breaks in Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam

Whether you’re with friends, family or your other half, an Amsterdam city break is sure to seduce! Thanks to the efficient tram service, it’s very easy to get around different parts of the city. 

One of the things you have to do in Amsterdam is take a stroll along the canals and stop by the Bloemenmarkt, the city’s famous floating flower market. Then stop by Vondelpark, a green oasis in the heart of the city, for a picnic or free outdoor concert. 

Here are some other must-see sights for your city trip to Amsterdam: 

  • Prinsengracht: This is considered the most beautiful of Amsterdam's four main canals and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • A'DAM Lookout: This observation deck offers a 360º panoramic view of Amsterdam. 
  • De Wallen: The capital's legendary red-light district 
  • Begijnhof: A medieval courtyard that was originally built as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, who lived in a similar way to nuns. 
  • Dam Square: The main square of Amsterdam with the royal palace in the middle. 
  • Amsterdam Centraal Station: The Central Station opened in 1889, and it’s one of the most imposing buildings in the city. 
  • Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam: One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world with over 4,000 different plant species. 
  • De Oude Kerk: This Gothic church is the oldest building in the city.

Museums and Galleries

Amsterdam has an abundance of museums. At the same time, we often pass by the Amstelkring, a beautiful building that conceals a church in its… attic. For an unforgettable moment during your weekend in Amsterdam.  

  • The city has a number of important museums and galleries that are a must-see during a holiday in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum is the most visited museum in the city and contains a large amount of the artist’s paintings, including the Aardappeleters (The Potato Eaters) and Zonnebloemen (Sunflowers).
  • The Stedelijk Museum is right next door and houses the largest collection of modern art in Amsterdam by renowned artists such as Piet Mondriaan and Karel Appel.
  • The house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during the war and wrote her famous diary is now a museum dedicated to her memory. The house contains her original diary, photographs and personal possessions and attracts many visitors so be prepared to queue.

Nightlife

With more than 1,400 bars and cafes, Amsterdam is without a doubt one of Europe’s party hotspots. Trends change quickly, but some places have retained their notoriety over the generations. Amsterdam has a vibrant and eclectic nightlife, from traditional bars serving beer and snacks, to popular nightclubs such as the Escape, Club Home, and Panama. Trance music is really big here and attracts world-class DJs such as Armin van Buuren and Tiesto. The Leidseplein is one of the epicentres of Amsterdam’s nightlife, with two unmissable nightclubs, and the birthplace of its counter-culture: 

  • Paradiso for its concerts, and Melkweg (a former dairy) for its eclecticism. It is definitely worth a night out here during your weekend in Amsterdam.
  • Jazz fans will love the live performances at clubs such as Bimhuis and Café Alto.
  • The Ziggo Dome caters to pop tastes, hosting big names such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Tom Jones.

What to eat in Amsterdam

Amsterdam offers a wide variety of restaurants from all over the world. If you want to live like a local, visit one of the many cosy eetcafés, which are a bit like bistros and serve a mixture of Dutch and Mediterranean cuisine.
You will find salted herring at every turn – it’s a local institution! Try the erwtensoep (split pea soup), stamppot (a sort of hotpot), or rijsttafel (an Indonesian dish with rice and various side dishes). And then, of course, there are the old favourites, such as the Dutch beers and cheeses (gouda, edam). Bon appétit!
There are also plenty of Asian eateries in Chinatown where you can dine fairly cheaply. For brasserie-style dining, check out the city’s Grand Cafés, which offer coffee, tea, cake and light dishes. For brunch/breakfast, check out the trendy district of De Pijp.
And of course, always leave some room for dessert. Dutch pancakes are delicious, and an essential part of an Amsterdam city break – try Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs for favourites such as bacon and maple syrup. Just as tasty are stroopwafels that can be eaten fresh or bought packaged as souvenirs. Head to the vendor at Albert Cuypmarkt for fresh stroopwafels made throughout the day.  

Events & activities in Amsterdam 

Why not plan your city trip to Amsterdam alongside one of the city’s exciting events? Here are some of our favourite celebrations taking place throughout the year: 
  • National Tulip Day: Pick tulips in Dam Square for free (January) 
  • Holland Festival: Attend concerts, theatre, dance and opera across the city (June/July) 
  • Amsterdam Roots Festival: Music from all over the world in Frankendael Park (June/July) 
  • Amsterdam Pride: LGBT festival with parties and parade (July/August) 
  • Amsterdam Canal Festival (Grachtenfestival): Enjoy classical and jazz music in the city centre (mid-August) 
  • Prinsengrachtconcert: Free open-air classical music concert (August) 
  • Jordaan Festival: Annual cultural festival and street party taking place in the historic Jordaan district (August/September) 
  • Uitmarkt: Amsterdam's largest cultural event with exhibitions, concerts, theatre and workshops (last weekend in August) 
  • Open Monument Day: Fee admission to thousands of monuments across the country (mid-September) 
  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA): Open-air film screenings in the city (November) 
  • Christmas markets (late November to early January)

Where to stay in Amsterdam? 

The city of Amsterdam offers a wide range of areas to stay – here’s a lowdown of where to stay according to your needs:
  • Oude Centrum for those who want to be in the middle of the action 
  • Canal belt for romantics 
  • Jordaan area for families 
  • De Pijp for young travellers 
  • Museum district for art and culture lovers 

How long should you stay in Amsterdam?

The centre of Amsterdam has many attractions that are close together, some of which are easily accessible on foot. You can also easily travel from one part of the city to another by tram, metro or bus, so it’s possible to fit a lot in a short amount of time. However, if you also want to spend a lot of time in the museums and get to know the surroundings of the Dutch capital, a week is ideal! 
If you’re looking for a day trip from Amsterdam, head to Zaanse Schans, 20km north of the city. Here you admire the famous Dutch windmills and while away the hours in cosy cafés. Not far from the capital, the well-preserved Muiden Castle is also worth a visit. This romantic castle is surrounded by an idyllic castle garden and now also houses a museum.
Shopping in Amsterdam 
Albert Cuypmarkt is Amsterdam’s oldest market and popular with the locals for its tasty snacks, such as doughnuts, egg rolls, and stroopwafels. 
For souvenirs, Bloemenmarkt, covers all your tulips needs, and Delftware, the famous blue and white Dutch pottery, can be bought at Jorrit Heinen Royal Gifts and Collectables in the Munt Tower. 
Here are some other must-visit shopping spots: 
  • Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat: the capital's two main shopping streets 
  • De Bijenkorf department store on Dam Square 
  • De Negen Straatjes: Galleries, jewelry stores and vintage shops 
  • Waterlooplein flea market 
  • Oudemanhuis book market 
  • PC Hooftstraat: high-end designer boutiques 
  • Langebrugsteeg: Jewellers 
  • Nieuwe Spiegelstraat: antique dealer 
  • Kalvertoren shopping centre 
  • Magna Plaza shopping mall 

Best time of the year to visit Amsterdam 

The climate in Amsterdam is influenced by the North Sea. This results in moderately warm summers and mild winters. The weather is often changeable and after short showers the sun quickly comes out again. 

The best time to travel is the summer months, from the end of May to the beginning of September. During this period, the temperatures are very pleasant and numerous open-air events take place. This is also the best time to enjoy the city’s parks and street cafés. Nevertheless, it is much quieter in the winter months and thanks to the many museums, Amsterdam also offers a varied cultural program on cold/rainy days.