Let’s face it – there are few places that hold greater allure when it comes to a weekend city-break than Amsterdam. The Dutch city is unique in many respects – not least in the way it is organized in concentric circles around the canal network – and there are more things to do than can be crammed into a weekend in all honesty.
In this article, we aim to give you a few pointers on fun activities to fill your trip with, but first, we would like to draw your attention to an important change in the tourist visa process. From January 2021, visitors to the EU will need to apply for the new ETIAS visa waiver scheme before they travel. If you would like more information, feel free to check out this handy ETIAS visa guide!
Now that the housekeeping is out of the way, here are a few things that nobody should miss out on when in Amsterdam for the weekend.
- Check Out a Coffee Shop
If there is one thing that Amsterdam is famous for above all else, it is the coffee shops. If you are not familiar with them, you should know that “coffee shop” is really just a euphemism for “cannabis bar”. Yes, that is right – in Amsterdam, weed is legal if you smoke it in designated places, and what could be better to get you in the mood to do the other activities on this list than smoking a joint of high-grade?
Do not worry if smoking is not your bag – it is still pretty entertaining to soak up the atmosphere in one of these establishments while you drink a normal coffee.
- Take a Boat Trip on the Canal
Amsterdam was built to accommodate the traders that used to bring their wares from afar via Europe’s extensive network of canals. While waterborne trade may have died down somewhat these days, the canals remain a central facet of town planning as well as everyday life in Amsterdam.
One of the best ways to see the city is from the deck of a canal boat. You really get a feel for the soul of the city as you wind through the waterways, passing under the city’s iconic bridges.
- Visit Some Museums
If you want a taste of Dutch culture, art and history, the best place to go is the Museumplein district. There you will be able to find the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the largest Van Gogh collection in the world and some of the Dutch master’s best-known work.
It is here that you will also find the Rijksmuseum, which houses a cornucopia of classic Dutch art, and the Stedelijk Museum, which contains some more modern offerings.
- Peruse the Red-Light District
Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam, although it requires a license and is heavily regulated. Walking through the city’s Red-Light District can be quite an experience, even if you are not on the lookout for anything in particular. Women rent cubicles that face out into the alleyways and will do their best to entice you or engage you in conversation as you walk past.
- Visit the Anne Frank House
During the Second World War, Amsterdam was occupied by the Nazis. It was at this time that a little girl by the name of Anne Frank wrote her diary in hiding from a house facing out on one of the city’s canals. Her incredible yet harrowing story is told through a museum housed in the same building today.
Make sure you book well in advance if you want to get in – you cannot enter by lining up on the day.
- Have a Drink at Xtracold Icebar
If you like a cold drink, a visit to this bar will more than suffice. Bringing a whole new meaning to “chilling out”, the Xtracold Icebar is exactly what its name suggests – a bar made from ice! You can enjoy a cold beer or cocktail while sitting on blocks of ice at a bar which is made entirely from frozen water.
Make sure you wrap up warm before you head out as the indoor temperature in the bar is minus 10 degrees Celsius.
A weekend in Amsterdam is full of limitless possibility. The activities listed above are a good start, but they really represent just the tip of the iceberg (excuse the pun!). Getting to know the real Amsterdam may take a lifetime, so you may as well start as soon as possible.