15 Jan 48 Hours In: Amsterdam
With its charming canals and tight knit streets, Amsterdam is one of the most walkable (and bikeable!) places in the world. Since it’s easy to get around, most of the city can be covered in a weekend – especially on a cruiser.
Rent a bike. Designated bike lanes make it safe and easy for even those who don’t bike often to get around in Amsterdam. Bike 4 U has multiple locations (Oud West and the Red Light District) and advertises themselves as “the cheapest bike rental in Amsterdam”. Hand brake bike rentals are €13 for 24 hours, and €9 for an additional day.
Fuel up for the day. The abundance of coffee shops, each more unique than the next, makes it easy to stay heavily caffeinated throughout your visit to Amsterdam. Started your first morning off at Coffee and Coconuts, a lofty three storey cafe and restaurant housed in a former cinema located in the De Pijp neighbourhood. A hearty breakfast of shakshuka followed by a cappuccino (and a croissant to go, just in case) is the perfect way to energize for a day of biking. Other notable cafes include Lot Sixty One, Coffee Room and Koffee Academie, all scattered through Oud West.
Bike the canals. Through both research and personal recommendations, Jordaan and Oud West seem to be the most happening neighbourhoods both day and night. The Amsterdam Cheese Museum on Prinsengracht is worth a pit stop, as the samples are abundant and all cheeses are packaged to be flight ready!
Window shop or treat yourself. P.C. Hooftstraat is THE destination for luxury shopping in Amsterdam. Whether you’ve come to splurge or simply admire, the storefronts alone are worth a stroll down this street. The recently renovated Chanel flagship store features a stunning glass brick facade designed by the world renowned MVRDV – the result is truly jaw dropping.
Take in some history. One of the most well known historical and cultural icons of her time, Anne Frank’s home has been preserved as a museum and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The line ups are long, so booking a time slot a day or two ahead is recommend. A ten minute bike ride down the same street will take you to Museum Square, home to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Moco Museum and more. The green space and gardens make this a great impromptu picnic spot as well. And yes, go ahead and take a photo next to the iconic Iamsterdam letters.
Try one of EVERYTHING. Amsterdam is a culturally diverse city, and there is no exception when it comes to food. If there’s a line, it’s usually worth the wait. Personal favourites include Moroccan bakeries – try the savoury spinach and cheese pastry from Croissanterie Marco on Jan Pieter Heijestraat. If you have the luxury of kitchen access at your AirBNB, pick up some fresh meats, cheeses and produce at the Ten Katemarkt (it runs Monday to Saturday).
Embrace your inner cocktail snob. Don’t be fooled by the more residential location of Hiding in Plain Sight, the libations at this spot are anything but low key. Cheeky cocktail names presented in what looks like an antique book feature classic (mezcal and whiskey) and experimental (pop rocks and bone marrow) ingredients with everything in between. Adorned with floral wallpaper and vintage furniture, the small capacity of this bar makes for an intimate setting but it can be difficult to snag a seat – get there before 11!
Dessert for breakfast. You’re on vacation, indulgence is always encouraged. Head to Winkel 43 in Jordaan and order grilled sausage and eggs (protein for all a day full of walking!) and a slice of apple pie. You’ll soon understand why no matter what time of day you’re here, there’s one on almost every table.
Park yourself. If you’re lucky enough to get sunny weather, an afternoon in Vondelpark is a must. Armed with Dutch gouda, a baguette and a discreet bottle of wine (this is where the many Albert Heijn locations come in handy), this is one of the best places to people watch and relax in the city.
Don’t let the rain get you down. If the weather is dreary, you’re STILL lucky because there are plenty of indoor places to explore. If you need a break from museums, take a tour of the Heineken Brewery – or for something more local, one of Amsterdam’s many craft breweries should do the trick.
Shop, eat and explore. The city of Amsterdam does an incredible job of repurposing buildings and preserving their architecture. Once you’ve shopped and strolled the market along Oud West’s Kinkerstraat, make a stop at De Hallen. The converted train station now holds a cinema, library, numerous independent shops, and Foodhallen (an indoor food market with both prepared and take away meals). Browse records and vintage bicycles, then stop for a round of oysters, sushi and G&Ts. If you’re lucky to be here on a game night (especially during the World Cup), stick around for a beer on the bleachers.
Tapas galore. With two locations, happyhappyjoyjoy specializes in a variety of tapas style dishes from all over Asia. 3-4 dishes are recommended for a full meal, but save room for dessert! The Banana Fritters are not to be missed. The menu is divided by dish (meat, fish, noodles, curry etc.) and features Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese and Korean specialties. Most items are meant to be split but order a Crispy Chicken Bao for yourself – you won’t want to share.
Splurge on a cocktail, then head to a pub. Door 74 takes their cocktails VERY seriously. Completely hidden on a busy street, this speakeasy stays true to tradition and doesn’t list their address on their website – it’s a “need to know” basis (lack of wifi had us relying on the help of a friendly local, but we’ll save you the trouble; it’s here). After you’ve had your cocktail fix, a quick wander south toward Central Amsterdam will provide an abundance places to stop for a pint (or four). Check out Caffe Gollem or the small but mighty Café Belgique, which serves over 50 types of Belgian beer.