What to do and see on a weekend break in Amsterdam!

Not much time this summer? Even a couple of days in Amsterdam are enough to see the city!

Amsterdam is a surreal city, where legal prostitution and cannabis smoking exists hand in hand with family friendly museums with some of the cleanest and safest streets in Europe (and some might even say, the world).

"Venice of the North" might seem to be a bit overwhelming if you just visit it for a short time, but we've created a quick guide with the best things to see and do whist in the amazing city! And best of all, everything here can be done within a short weekend break!


How to get around Amsterdam-by bike, tram or boat!

First things first, the best way to get around the city is the Dutch way - by bike! You can find a reasonably priced Bicycle rental, or visit outlets like Bike City and Mac Bike.

Get around by bike!

You can also use the various boats that travel through the canals of the city. The boats pass various routes with a number of stops near the main attractions of the city. Trams are also an option; the tram network consists of several lines, most of which start at the Centraal station, extending East, South and West.

What to see in Amsterdam at the weekend: visit historical sites in the morning

Amsterdam is a major cultural centre: events, festivals and exhibitions happen all year round, so you will be spoilt for choice! If you only have a weekend, we suggest you book in advance and choose several places to visit. However, if you're too spoilt for choice then head to the the Museumplein Area, which is a magnet for museum lovers. Many famous museums can be found just a few meters from each other here, including the Van Gogh Museum; the Rijksmuseum, with the national art collection; and the Stedelijk Museum of Arts.

You should definitely visit the Anne Frank house, where the young Jewish girl hid from the Nazis and described her family's terrors in her famous diary. Make sure you book the tickets before you arrive, as all tickets must now be purchased online in advance. If you are looking for something is a little more light-hearted, then you can check out the fascinating Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum.

On the second morning, make sure you visit the city's 3 key squares - Dam Square, which has seen numerous uprisings, riots, shooting and demonstrations against the Vietnam war (you can also check off the Royal Palace on your list here too) along with the Leidseplein square and Rembrandtplein Square which boast with clubs, cinemas, bars, theatres, performers, musicians, casinos and even a skating rink during winter.

Leidseplein Square

If the tourist centers and busy squares are not for you, and you want to get off the beaten route, then you head to the Jordaan area, where you can get lost in the 17th century maze of old lanes and streets (just don't get lost , remember, we only have the wekeend!). While there you can also visit the Wester Tower, one of the most famous churches in Amsterdam, the name of which comes from it's location, rather than the name of a saint.

(If you plan to stay a little more than a weekend, then we suggest you buy an Amsterdam Pass that will give you free entry to more than 30 major attractions and free bus and boat tours - it will you save a lot of money!)

What to do in Amsterdam: in the afternoon, go shopping!

In the afternoon, you can leave the historical sights behind and visit the Albert Cuyp Market, the largest and busiest open market in Europe, located in the heart of the 19th century de Piip area. Founded in 1905 and still offering hundres of stalls, you can spend a couple of hours there, having a look of what is on offer. From fish and coffee, flowers and fabrics and jewelry, the Albert Cuyp Market really have it all.

Albert Cuyp Market

The Red light district and coffee shops: best visited in the evening

Not for the faint hearted or those who are easily offended, the very typical, notorious part of the city is of course, is the red light district. This is a lively part of the city that is home to the oldest proffession in the world. Some of the most beautiful buildings and canals of Amsterdam can be found here; and it's also a great place for fancy shops and interesting pubs and restaurants.

The Red Light District

Of course, many tourists are attracted to the city due to it's relaxed attitudute to smoking cannabis. Smoking in the city is legal, and we suggest (if you prefer, of course) to enjoy this new found freedom in one of the city coffee shops. After a long day, you can enjoy a cup of coffee and relax.

Budget hostels in Amsterdam

Feel inspired? Take a look at our ultra cool and low cost hostels in Amsterdam, to make sure you make the most of your stay!