Weekend in Amsterdam in the beginning of Summer 2017 was the third time when I visited the city, so I wanted to spend it in a unique way and go to some places, where I haven’t been before.
Well, Amsterdam has a lot of attractions to offer, so that you won’t have enough time to visit all of them in just 3 days, but you can spend your weekend in Amsterdam in a great way. Here is how you can do it.
Even if it was my first time in the city, I wouldn’t go to all of the typical tourist attractions. After 3 times in Amsterdam, I haven’t visited any of the city’s museums. What for? The city is beautiful by itself.
As the motto of my blog is “Travel Better”, I will tell you lots of tips, about hidden spots and unknown places in Amsterdam to visit within 3 days, while you can also check the article about top free things to do in Amsterdam.
Unusual things to do during a weekend in Amsterdam
So, the less known and not typical things I recommend you to do within a weekend in Amsterdam would be:
- Amsterdam Parks
- Walking around the city center
- Northern Amsterdam
- De Pijp District
- Riding a bike
- Trying some local food
- Walk along the canals
- And more Amsterdam weekend attractions…
Usually, parks are not on the list of places to visit in a new city of any tourist, same about me. But, Amsterdam is a special city with really great and beautiful parks, where you just want to spend time. It seems that the city parks are the favorite places of locals to spend time on a weekend in Amsterdam. Well, some bars and cafes on the canals could compete with them for the weekend time of the Amsterdamers .
My favorite park is Vondelpark, while some other parks like Amstelpark, Westerpark, Oesterpark and Rembrandtpark are also pretty good. Apart from a good place to relax and lay on the grass, there are numerous festivals and performances organized in Amsterdam city parks, usually on the weekends.
Walking Around the City Center
Amsterdam is one of the few cities, which can be regarded an open-air museum, as you don’t need to plan to go to some particular place to enjoy the architecture and city beauty. It is beautiful all around the Amsterdam city center. Well, many tourists already realized that, so visiting Amsterdam on a weekend, you will be walking in crowds of tourists if you don’t follow some of my tips.
Most of the tourists walk along the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and Damrak streets, the area around the Bloemenmarkt (floating flower market) is also very crowded. Just try to avoid them or spend the least time there. As I said, the whole Amsterdam city center is beautiful, so if you go to the parallel streets, it won’t be less beautiful. If you want to visit the Red Light District at night, you won’t avoid the crowds, as the whole district is full of people. In the daytime, there are almost no people, but if you come to the Red Light District not just for the canals and narrow buildings, you won’t see anything before 10 pm.
If you want to feel like a local in Amsterdam, I recommend you visiting De Pijp district that I will talk about later.
Another less known place in Amsterdam is the Northern part of the city. There, you will not see crowds of tourists roaming from one attraction to another, but locals relaxing on the pier or in one of authentic cafes. You can also stay at one of the best Amsterdam hostels called ClinkNoord.
There is also the EYE film museum, Tolhuistuin cultural center and Amsterdam Lookout panoramic point, where you can see a view of the old Amsterdam through the biggest canal of the city. To cross the canal, you just have to take a free ferry from the back of the Amsterdam central train station, which will take you to the northern side in just 5 minutes.
De Pijp District
De Pijp district is one of the most vibrant districts of Amsterdam, which is beloved by locals. You can also visit one of the district’s bars and cafes to feel like a local. At night, it is a very lively and lovely area. The district is also a good place to stay, if you don’t like the city center hustle and bustle, but prefer something authentic.
Riding a bike
Riding a bike is not an unusual thing to do in Amsterdam. In the city of bikes with 500 km of bike paths, 800 000 bikes on about 1 mln. citizens, which make 32% of the city traffic, and around 250 000 bike parking places near the Amsterdam Central Station, there is no wonder that tourists also want to rent a bike here.
And, it is a good idea, while you need some time to get used to the city traffic. Here, riding on your narrow bike path, you need to pay attention on pedestrians, trams, cars, other cyclists and many more, so first time it might seem very dangerous. But, you get used fast. If you don’t want to or just cannot get used to it, go to the Northern part of the city that I mentioned above – it will be more safe there.
Well, with all that traffic, I was riding a bike with another person on the trunk (had no choice), still taking pictures on my phone with one hand 🙂 . I was twice renting a bike in Amsterdam. First time, it was a small place near my hostel, second time, it was Green City Bikes. The prices are relatively similar in different bike rentals, so there is no need to search for the best one. I just recommend you not to rent a bike in very touristic spots. The prices might be higher there.
Another tip I want to give you is try not to be late returning your bike. We mixed up the time, so we had to pay for the next 3 hours of rental, while if we were late a bit more, we would pay for the entire day. They are very strict about it, so keep track of the time.
Here is the list of best bike rentals in Amsterdam:
- Bike City – privately owned small business that rents out inconspicuous rental bikes, without logos or advertisements. Being a small business, they are able to give a more personal service to visitors of Amsterdam, concerning personal safety and on how-to-lock-your –rental-bike instructions. Apart from rental hosts, the company has qualified bike mechanics. So, the bikes you get, are always in good shape.
- MacBike – MacBike has been renting out bikes for almost 30 years, and with 2,000 bikes and five branches in Amsterdam city centre it is almost the oldest and biggest bike rental shop of the city. Here, you can rent out sturdy city bikes, child seats, children bikes, touring bikes, electric bikes, children and adult tandems, wheelchair bike and cargo bikes. Every year about 150,000 tourists use services of MacBike to explore the city.
- Holland-Cycling.com – internet guide to cycling in Holland. It organizes free Amsterdam day trips, guided bike tours, long-distance cycle routes, help with finding the most suitable bike rental, bike parking, public transportation and places to stay.
- Mike’s Bike Rentals is another option in town. They have undercover rental bikes, which means no big signs on the front of the bikes advertising that you are a tourist. Their bikes are also in many different colors and they have competitive rates and friendly staff.
- Damstraat Rent A Bike – the oldest bike rental of Amsterdam and located right in the heart of the city centre next to Dam square. They aim at giving their customers the best possible service and biking experience, providing with all kinds of tips, route suggestions, free maps and free bike accessories.
- A-bike Rental & Tours distinguish themselves by 5-star customer reviews (on google and tripadvisor). A-Bike Rental & Tours has multiple central locations where free wifi, coffee and tea is provided. Instead of bright colored bikes, the bikes are normal looking. So you can enjoy the city like a local instead of being recognized as a tourist.
- Starbikes Amsterdam has granny bikes from 5 Euros for 3 hours, 1 day for 7 and special bikes for persons with different handicaps. They have a funky cafe with smoothies, fresh juices and great coffee and delicious sandwwiches.
- Black Bikes – ride and explore like a local. They offer black (no signs) bicycles that are handbuilt in the Netherlands.The only hop on drop off rental with 13 stations in Amsterdam. Their shops have the longest opening hours.
Trying Some Local Food
Visiting Amsterdam on a weekend, you need to try some local food the city has to offer. While there is a very wide range of different fast-foods and restaurants of cuisines from all over the world, you need to try something genuinely Dutch.
Some of the traditional dishes include raw herring, thick Dutch fries with different sauces that will quickly make you full. Try some local cheeses like Gouda and Maasdammer that you can find in the cheese museum and many cheese shops around the city, where you can try samples for free. Some desserts include my favorite stroopwafel, ontbijtkoek ginger cake and the pancakes.
Walk Along the Canals
A great and very pleasant thing to do in Amsterdam is to walk along the city canals and sitting near them. Water, but especially the canals make any city beautiful. Just think of Venice or Stockholm (city on the islands). Would they be so beautiful without any canals and rivers?
Other things to do in Amsterdam on a weekend
Other things to do in Amsterdam within 3 days are to visit some of the coffee shops (well, Amsterdam is famous for its freedom), go to some museums, but take into account that the city museums have about 15-20-euro entrance prices, riding on the canals in one of the tour boats and visiting the city markets. Read about the top budget travel tips from 14 experienced travel bloggers and 10 things to do in Valencia for 9 euro in total and have a great weekend in Amsterdam!