72 Hours in Amsterdam: A Perfect Weekend
I wanted to find an awesome place to take Oren for his birthday. I kept it secret from him until right before we went to the airport (and right after he forgot his passport). While he’s had some great birthday celebrations, I don’t think he’ll ever forget this one. It was the perfect weekend getaway, with 72 hours in Amsterdam.
Fall is a great time to visit Amsterdam. With the city’s winding canals and the leaves changing colors, if you’re willing to put up with a little rain, the city becomes picture perfect this time of year. The good news is if it IS raining, there’s just as much to do inside as outside.
A friend suggested we look into getting an I Amsterdam City Card. We used a 72-hour pass and we are so glad we did. This card has so may discounts and freebies attached to it – even our public transportation was free with the card. Here’s how we spent 72 Hours in Amsterdam:
DAY ONE: CANALS AND MUSEUMS
Canal Cruise: Amsterdam is all about water. This was a great introduction to the city. Our I Amsterdam card gave us a free 1-hour cruise with Holland International. Did you know that Amsterdam has 2,500 houseboats in the city? We floated by many of them during the tour.
Rijksmuseum: With over 8,000 objects related to art and history, this museum is the perfect place to spend your afternoon (and it’s a great rainy-day option). It looks almost brand new because of the recent 10-year renovation project. Outside the museum, we stopped to listen to the street performers. They weren’t just any street performers – they were an orchestra. It was beautiful.
I Amsterdam Sculpture: This is an Amsterdam classic. Everyone has to take his or her photo next to this iconic, picture-perfect display. But, good luck being the only one in the photo. The place is always filled with people.
Van Gogh Museum: If you have an interest in art and Vincent Van Gogh in particular, this museum houses the largest collection of his works. Another great rainy-day option, expect to spend about 2-3 hours at this museum.
Heineken Experience: This was the perfect way to finish our first day in Amsterdam. We’ve been on a lot of tours that involved alcohol (distilleries, breweries and vineyards) and this was one of our favorite self-guided tours. It’s very interactive and there’s plenty of beer on the way…we even received gifts at the end. Added bonus: Our I Amsterdam card got us 25% off each ticket.
DAY TWO: ANNE FRANK AND CHEESE
Anne Frank House: This was on our “must-see” Amsterdam list. Both Oren and I read The Diary of Anne Frank in school when we were younger and this is very serious subject matter for Oren, who lost family at Auschwitz. But, this place is on everybody’s else list as well. The line is REALLY long. Best suggestion we have? If you plan your trip in advance, book the tickets online. You get to skip the queue and go right in at your assigned time. Definitely worth the visit.
Brown Cafes: Bruin cafes are at the heart of Amsterdam’s drinking culture. Some of them are hundreds of years old. We enjoyed a few hours at Café ‘t Smalle, which is very close to the Anne Frank House. It’s right on the canal, so it combines great personality with a fantastic view.
De Kaaskamer cheese: Amsterdam is all about cheese. It is one of our favorite foods, so we knew we’d have a fantastic time eating our way through this city. Tight on money? Buy a loaf of bread and head here to pick up any cheese you’d like! This store literally has a floor to ceiling display of cheese. Then, sit along the canal and snack.
Red Light District: While a walk through this infamous quarter in Amsterdam may not be for everyone, we decided to check it out on Saturday night. Needless to say, there were a lot of window-shopping tourists walking around. If you’re going to go, don’t take photos of the ladies. Your camera will end up in the water… and so will you.
Oren’s camera visited an Amsterdam coffee house before taking this picture.
DAY THREE: FLOWERS AND PANCAKES
Flower Market: Maybe I’m just a woman and a sucker for flowers. But an early morning stroll along the city’s flower market is a fabulous experience.
Frens Haringhandel: I think Oren tolerated the flower market because right next to it was a food stand serving fresh herring. For only 3 euro, he got a taste of Dutch street cuisine.
Pancakes! Amsterdam: …And the food continues. Ever had Dutch pancakes?! You must try them while you’re here. There are several restaurants that offer them, and we chose this one. There is almost always a wait, but it’s totally worth it. I had a goat cheese, spinach and pine nut pancake. Oren went with the special – Pear with chocolate sauce. Yum!
Vondelpark: We wanted our getaway to be exciting and relaxing. This is Amsterdam’s most popular park, and it’s very pretty. The park was right next to our apartment, so we actually made excuses to stroll through several times. The park has an interesting mix of tourists and locals. While it’s a pleasure to walk around, there were plenty of people biking through the green space.
Brouwerij ‘t IJ: It’s not like we came to Amsterdam to drink or anything. But, when we found out that Amsterdam has its own microbrewery that is housed in an old windmill, we had to check it out. We ended up meeting up with two guys we met in Nepal during our Himalayas trek. It was a fantastic afternoon of catching up and the beer garden was very relaxing.
How did you spend 72 hours in Amsterdam? Any sights you would recommend to other travelers (or to us when we return?!)?