What to do in a weekend in Amsterdam
There is a saying in the Netherlands: money is made in Rotterdam, taxed in The Hague and spent in Amsterdam. There are many reasons why the cultural (and official) capital of the Netherlands is also the most popular tourist destination.
One of the greatest things about the city, though, is its size. With a population of around 780.000 people, it is extremely compact, well serviced by local transport and the most bike-friendly city in the world, meaning that you can fit in a lot within a short period of time.
If you are an art buff, then Amsterdam is rivalled only by London and New York when it comes to world-class art museums. The stunningly refurbished Rijksmuseum is the diamond in the crown of Museumplein, the square where you can also find the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum (modern art), as well as the beautiful Concertgebouw, Amsterdam's gorgeous classical music venue.
Museums in Amsterdam
If art is not your bag but you still want to spend a little time in a museum, then there is a host of other options, ranging from the famous Anne Frank House to the Amsterdam Museum, the Hermitage, Jewish Historical Museum or even the Museum of Bags and Purses, should that take your fancy. For a list of museums in Amsterdam, click here.
If the weather holds up, (over which you shouldn't hold your breath...) there are a number of green spaces where you can bask in the sun alongside a picnic or a barbeque. The Vondelpark, located in the south of the city, is the most famous park in the capital, often functioning as back garden for the entire city.
The smaller but often underrated Sarphatipark is located in De Pijp, an area where you can also take a long stroll down the most famous street market in the city, the Albert Cuyp Market, where a large proportion of the locals go to stock up on everything from Dutch cheese to toothpaste.
The Westerpark is another green option for a slightly calmer experience and, when the greenery has lost its allure, you can take a short walk to the Westergasfabriek to enjoy a whole host of bars and restaurants and mingle with the more "hip" locals.
For some boutique shopping in Amsterdam, look no further than the Negen Straatjes, or nine little streets, strewn across the famous Grachtengordel (canal belt).
It's the perfect excuse to visit each of the UNESCO-protected Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht while engaging in a little retail therapy courtesy of some of Amsterdam's most exclusive shops.
If you haven't cleaned out your bank account by that stage, then you can also take a short walk west into the beautiful Jordaan. While in previous centuries it housed working-class Amsterdammers, it has now become increasingly gentrified. However, this has allowed a number of vintage and boutique stores to pop up alongside typically Dutch brown bars and some gezellig restaurants.
If there is one thing the Dutch are not particularly proud about it is their cuisine, but thanks to Amsterdam's cosmopolitan make-up, the city is blessed with a number of restaurants boasting a range of cuisines from all over the world.
The centre of the city often has the most expensive fare and it is often not always the best quality either, although the canal district and the Jordaan have some good options. De Pijp is always a good location for both price and an eclectic selection of cuisines, while you could always pay a visit to one of the ubiquitous doner kebab shops should the notion take you.
Nightlife in Amsterdam
Amsterdam's "entertainment area" (as the local transport system has dubbed it) Leidseplein is the one area of the city, apart from the Red Light District, which stays open until the early hours. It's a boisterous mix of tourists and locals and boasts the city's two premier music venues, Melkweg and Paradiso, as well as an array of pubs and clubs.
De Pijp is known for its bars, both classic Dutch brown bars and more upmarket places for a tipple or two.