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As a former resident of Amsterdam, I made this itinerary for a perfect weekend in Amsterdam as a way of showing friends the best of Amsterdam. Although two days in Amsterdam isn’t enough, it’s a good taste of what the city has to offer. I include some local secrets along with the best things to do over a weekend in Amsterdam. Enjoy Amsterdam no matter how brief!
Amsterdam has great public transit and it’s actually a very walkable city (beyond the aggressive bikers). This itinerary is meant to be done on foot,
I’ve optimized this itinerary to take advantage of the best of Amsterdam over a weekend, including my favorite weekend markets and things that are worth a visit. If you only have two days in Amsterdam (not on a weekend), this itinerary is still very possible!
For a perfect stay, consider staying at Max Brown Canal District for a reasonable boutique hotel with a beautiful location and all the amenities that you could want. It’s a favorite of friends visiting although the Student Hotel and StayOkay Vondelpark are good choices for those on a budget that friends have really liked.
Day 1: Saturday in Amsterdam
Breakfast in the Jordaan
As a note, Amsterdam doesn’t do early morning so well, so if you typically have breakfast as of
I really like PIQNIQ, which is vegan-friendly and has organic options. This cozy breakfast place has friendly staff, a cute house cat, and great coffee. Of course, if you rather have cake for breakfast (you’re on vacation after all), you can head to Winkel43, Amsterdam’s most famous spot for apple pie. It’s really that good.
For something more unique, head to Gs jordaan while making a reservation. This innovative brunch place is one of my favorite weekend secrets for crazy breakfast surprises and mimosas. For something more typically Dutch, you can always head to Pancakes Bakery Amsterdam.
Jordaan market: Noordermarkt & Lindenmarkt
One of my highlights of any weekend in Amsterdam is browsing the Noordermarkt and Lindenmarkt in the Jordaan. These two street markets in the Jordaan is full of goodies, so be sure to bring a reusable bag for souvenirs, food, and cheeses. You might also find some clothing.
Most vendors only accept Maestro, which is not compatible with foreign credit cards generally, so some cash might be necessary. I always love to pick up some fresh bread from one of the bakeries, which just tastes better as you eat it with some dip (or cheese bought at the market!)
One of the best foods to try on your weekend in Amsterdam is a stroopwafel. This freshly made waffle made with caramel
De Jordaan & 9 Streets
I always love walking through the Jordaan. There are so many beautiful classic houses, beautiful ivy-covered wells, and hidden courtyards. The Jordaan was once a mostly working-class area, however gentrification has not-so-subtly been changing the dynamic of this charming Amsterdam neighborhood. You can follow my ~
After you’re done exploring the Jordaan, cross Prinsengracht to enter the Nine Streets. This neighborhood of Amsterdam known as Negen Straten refers to the grid of the nine streets. This is one of the best neighborhoods for vintage and boutique shopping. I recommend popping into Things I Like, Things I Love, a popular Amsterdam boutique! There are lots of great lunch places in The Negen Streets.
A canal cruise
Seeing Amsterdam by boat is such a classic activity. If you’re short on time, at least take one boat right through Amsterdam. It’s truly a different way of seeing Amsterdam and I always melt a bit as we dip underneath a bridge. You can easily book your canal cruise ahead.
Red Light District
A lot of people can’t resist getting a small taste of the Red Light District. It’s just off Dam Square close to the Oude Kerk, but it has expanded over time. I personally am a bit uncomfortable there and I recommend using some caution as it’s a favorite spot for pickpockets. The nearby canals are lovely, but you’ll find many more peaceful spots along the canals.
Optional: Jenever tasting (or a coffee)
If you’re the middle of Dam square, you’ll want to turn off onto a small side street to find Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal. This cozy jenever producer dates back to the 1600s and it’s the perfect place to learn about Dutch jenever. Samples are free and the experience is fantastic as it’s generally not too crowded in here in the afternoons.
If you’re looking for a less boozy experience for an Amsterdam pick-me-up, you’ll want to look out for cafes, not
Book browsing (if you’re not too late)*
One of my favorite hidden markets in Amsterdam is the book market along Oudemanhuispoort, which is generally open until
After walking through, you’ll find numerous books, so carry a little cash with you if you intend on buying something. (If you prefer new books, one of my favorite bookshops for English language books is right along Spui: The American Book Center.)
If you’re looking for a good souvenir, you might want to visit the Bloemenmarkt. This famous flower market is touristy, but it’s still always fun to browse the various assortments of tulips, especially in spring. If you visit during the rest of the year, you can buy tulip bulbs to bring home with you!
There are lots of great eateries in this area. My favorite for a reasonable Dutch meal is the cozy cafe Eetcafé ‘t Pakhuis. It will take you back in time and it has a great atmosphere. For something a bit nicer, I recommend Cafe de Jaren on a nice day/night to enjoy the view of the boats passing by along the canal in front or a tasteful meal at Guts & Glory.
Anne Frank House
On Saturday nights, the Anne Frank House is generally open late. Most people don’t know this, so I recommend coming here directly after dinner, which is when the lines are finally reasonable if you were unable to get tickets online. The museum closes at 10pm and takes about 1-2 hours to go through. (More if it’s crowded.) Bring tissues.
A cozy drink out
One of my favorite spots in the Jordaan for a nice cocktail is Vesper. This tiny cocktail bar has fantastic bartenders, an amazing drink selection, and some crazy tricks up their sleeve. It can get quite crowded around 10-11 as it’s a popular date spot, but it’s worth stopping in if it’s not too crowded.
My favorite cozy bar is Het Papeneiland. This beautiful brown bar has stunning views of Amsterdam from its two-story bar, which has a great selection of local beers (including beers from Brouwerij ‘t IJ) and other non-alcoholic options.
Sunday in Amsterdam
Depending on how Saturday night was for you, you might want to take it a bit easy on Sunday morning! Amsterdam can be sleepy on weekends. (My parents were surprised at how hard it was to find an open cafe for an early cup of coffee around 6-7am!) Take this chance as a good chance to take
Be sure to have a hearty breakfast as you might need to wait a bit to get lunch as Sunday involves quite a bit of art. For a nice breakfast spot near Vondelpark, I like Staring at Jacob. Otherwise, you can stop at Lunchroom Wilhelmina for a nicer sit-down brunch or Albert Heijn for something quick to-go to eat in the park.
Vondelpark is one of my favorite places to go for a long stroll on a nice day. Be aware of the bikers, which often include tourists who might hit you… If you want a coffee, stop off at Vondelpark3 for a drink or coffee. From the terrace, you have incredible views over Vondelpark.
You don’t need to walk the entirety of Vondelpark if you’re not keen as even a twenty-minute walk is enough to get a feeling of this park, especially in summer. Brouwerij ‘t IJ will have a bar within de Blauwe Theehuis soon
if you’re looking to day drink.
Most people who visit Amsterdam want to visit one of Amsterdam’s famous museums. Depending on how what kind of art you light, you might want to consider visiting the Rijksmuseum to see the Dutch Masters and the Night’s Watch, the Van Gogh Museum to see Van Gogh’s most famous works, the Stedelijk for modern art, or the Moco Museum if you love street art.
It’s best to buy tickets ahead of time for the Rijksmuseum, Moco Museum, and Van Gogh Museum as the lines can be long, especially on weekends in spring and summer. Most of these museums (besides the Moco Museum) are included in the iAmsterdam card, which also includes a canal cruise and public transportation!
Late lunch in De Pijp
You’re spoiled by choice in De Pijp, one of Amsterdam’s coolest neighborhoods. I always love having lunch at Coffee & Coconuts, which is vegan-friendly and sits within a former theatre. For a quick and healthy lunch, Sir Hummus is always great. Of course, you can always try your luck at infamous The Avocado Show if the line isn’t too bad.
Seven bridges point
One of the most beautiful spots in Amsterdam is the seven bridges, sometimes called the fourteen bridges point. This stunning point along Reguliersgracht gives you scenic views of Herengracht, Keizersgracht, and Prinsengracht, and other bridges in the distance. There’s a bench and I always love to stop for a moment here to sit enjoying the sunset.
Sunset by the Amstel
Especially in spring in summer, be sure to stop by the Amstel for a scenic stroll and a place to sit to enjoy the sunset. It’s a great reminder of how magical Amsterdam can be. I assume that you’ll be on your way already, but there’s definitely plenty of options within Amsterdam Centraal en route to your next destination/Schiphol Airport.