Amsterdam city break: 3 plans for a weekend trip
Beautiful by day, crazy by night, Amsterdam has it all, making it one of the most popular destinations for a weekend city break.
And there truly is something for everyone in the Netherlands’ capital, whether you’re a die-hard party-lover looking for a wild weekend, a culture vulture seeking a glimpse of some original Dutch art, or an urban explorer, packing in all the must-sees.
Best known as a place to spend just a couple of days, the Venice of the North has plenty to keep you entertained. But with so much to see and do, it’s almost impossible to fit everything in.
So, to make it easier for you, we’ve put together three Amsterdam city break plans, one for each type of trip. All you have to do is pick one, show up and enjoy!
Plan 1: Amsterdam must-sees
Good for: Couples, groups of friends, those wanting a whistle-stop tour of the key sights
Explore the Jordaan neighbourhood
The narrow streets of the trendy Jordaan area are flanked by indie boutiques, cosy pubs, and hip eateries. Stalls at the Noordermarkt offer jewellery, clothes, antiques and organic food. You can easily lose a day here.
While you’re in the neighbourhood, grab a drink in Papeneiland, a traditional Dutch brown café (local pub).
Tip: Why not take in everything Jordaan has to offer like the locals do – on two wheels? You can hire bikes all over the city or take a bike tour.
Pay tribute at Anne Frank’s House
The 17th-century canal house in Jordaan, where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis, is now a museum and educational centre.
Much of the house has been kept as it was during Anne’s time, and serves as a poignant monument to a tragic period of history.
See the cramped secret annex they called home for two years, as well as Anne’s diary, which became an international bestseller after her death. Take tissues. It’s moving.
Shop till you drop on Kalverstraat and at Vlooienmarkt
In need of some retail therapy? Head for Kalverstraat, a popular shopping street that runs from Dam Square to Muntplein Square. Packed with boutiques, department stores and international fashion brands, you’ll be in retail heaven.
For a different shopping experience, check out Vlooienmarkt, Amsterdam’s famous flea market. With roots back to 1886, you’ll find a veritable smorgasbord of antiques, trinkets, jewellery, and clothes, both new and used.
It’s well worth a rummage.
See the tulips at the flower market
They’re as clichéd as clogs, but tulips are a symbol of Dutch culture. You can see them by the boatload (literally) at Bloemenmarkt – the world’s only floating flower market.
Comprising over a dozen flower stalls on houseboats on the Singel Canal, it’s an impressive sight. You’ll find stall after stall of fresh flowers in all sorts of seasonal varieties, along with potted plants, loose tulip bulbs, and seed packets.
Tip: Spring is the best time to take a weekend break in Amsterdam if you want to see the city in full bloom.
Take a canal cruise
There’s no better way to see Amsterdam than from the water. Cruise along the city’s UNESCO-listed canal belt and take in the sights from a different perspective.
You’ll pass lots of landmarks on the way but be sure to check out the beautiful murals under the bridges too.
Tip: Book an Amsterdam canal cruise with Norwegian Reward and earn CashPoints.
Enjoy a sweet treat
Got a sweet tooth? Make a beeline for the Original Stroopwafels stand at the Albert Cuyp street market. Stroopwafels are heavenly. Warm caramel syrup sandwiched between two wafer-thin waffles, finished off with a light dusting of cinnamon. Need we say more?
Party at Pllek
This hip restaurant and beach bar in the trendy NDSM neighbourhood attracts crowds day and night. Housed in more than 30 shipping containers on the banks of the IJ River, it boasts an open terrace and man-made beach.
Here you can catch some rays by day before dancing the night away to live bands and DJs. Organic vegetarian and wild fish dishes will do the job when hunger strikes.
Tip: To get there, take a free ferry from Centraal Station.
Plan 2: Amsterdam wild weekend
Good for: Party lovers, stag and hen parties, groups of friends looking to let their hair down
Head to the home of Heineken
Housed inside Heineken’s historic brewery in the centre of Amsterdam, the interactive Heineken museum will take you on a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of one of Europe’s most popular pilsners.
It offers four floors of multimedia exhibits, historical brewing artefacts and a tasting bar. There’s also a ‘Brew Your Ride’ exhibit, where you ‘become’ a beer by getting shaken up, sprayed with water and subjected to heat. A fun way to spend an afternoon.
Take a beerbike tour
Looking for a different way to explore the city? Book a beerbike tour. A kind of pub on wheels, propelled by pedal-power, it’s a fun way to see Amsterdam with friends.
A (sober) guide will show you the sights while you enjoy a tipple safely from your seat.
Hail a disco taxi
Want to get in the mood for your big night out? Hop in a disco taxi. Complete with flashing lights, pumping music and a beatboxing driver, the party will start before you get to the club.
The best bit? It doesn’t cost any more than a normal taxi. Bonus!
Dance past dawn
If you’re up for a big night out on your weekend in Amsterdm, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Famed for its vibrant nightlife, there are loads of cool bars and clubs to explore in this buzzing city. Some of the best, such as Shelter and RADION, even have 24-hour licenses.
Amsterdam loves the party scene so much, that it was the first city to appoint a ‘nachtburgemeester’ or Night Mayor, responsible for nurturing the Dutch city’s ever-growing night economy, while trying to keep residents and public officials satisfied.
Tip: If you’re going on a stag do in the Dam, check out our tips for things to do in our post on 10 city breaks for the ultimate lads’ trip.
Plan 3: Amsterdam art and culture
Good for: Art enthusiasts, quiet city break-ers, culture connoisseurs
Soak up some art
Head to Museumplein (the museum square) for more culture than you can shake a paintbrush at.
Start by checking out some modern art at the Stedelijk museum. Then head to the Van Gogh museum, where you’ll see over 700 pieces of original artwork, plus paintings by artists who influenced the famous Dutch post-impressionist, such as Monet and Gauguin.
Finish up at the Rijksmuseum. One of Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museums, its vast collection features pieces from the likes of Rembrandt and other Dutch greats.
Tip: If you’re hungry at the Rijksmuseum, head to the Philips Wing for a meal at Michelin star RIJKS. Anything you eat will make your stomach smile. But our vote goes to the slow-cooked short rib with violet potato, swede and tamara spices. Yum.
Treat your ears to some classical music
If you’re a music-lover, be sure to stop by the Royal Concertgebouw on your weekend in Amsterdam. Famed for its amazing acoustics, it’s one of the world’s greatest concert halls.
The Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra regularly performs here, as do some of the biggest names in classical music.
Tip: There’s a free concert every Wednesday at 12.30pm. Check the Royal Concertgebouw website for details.
Relax in Vondelpark
The largest green space in the city, Vondelpark is the place to go for picnicking, strolling, and people watching, especially if your weekend in Amsterdam falls during summer.
There’s also entertainment. From June to September, the park’s open-air theatre presents a programme packed with dance, cabaret, children’s theatre, stand-up comedy and all genres of music. Check it out!
Have a nightcap at Door74
Fancy a drink to round off the evening? Head to Door74, in the museum district. This classy, Art Deco speakeasy serves some of the best cocktails around, and their menus change regularly. Some even have themes, such as their recent series, ‘Cities Affected by Prohibition’.
Something for everyone
Beauty. Culture. A buzzing nightlife. Amsterdam has it all. Pick and choose from our suggested itineraries to create your perfect weekend.
And don’t forget: If you book your flights with Norwegian and your tours through Norwegian Reward, you’ll boost your CashPoint balance in no time.