You’ve got to wonder, do locals in Amsterdam get annoyed with all the tourists flocking to smoke marijuana and oggle at the Red Light District? While definitely a distinctive aspect, there is so much more to Amsterdam than that! The city is a unique place that finds a way to balance and blend the old and new. During our study abroad in Paris, three friends and I spent a wonderful weekend there exploring the marvelous city!
Tip: stay in a hostel. They’re much cheaper than hotels, and super clean. You’ll also have the chance to meet a number of cool travelers along the way! Use this website to help you find one.
Read on for a list of what to do for a weekend in Amsterdam!
Ride a bike
Amsterdam is perfect for exploring on foot, but better yet, on a bike! Rent one at the numerous stores dotting the city and pedal your way through town.
I highly recommend packing up some food and biking through Vondelpark for a picnic — perfect for a summer day (though I will never forget the experience of biking in the pouring rain!)
Visit Anne Frank House
A quintessential part of the Amsterdam experience, and a must see for any history buff, visit the Prinsengracht house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II for two years. There’s often an incredibly long line snaking its way around the entrance, and I wholly recommend reserving online beforehand or going early in the morning!
Get lost in the Jordaan
Once a working class zone, the Jordaan is now a quaint district with little streets and interesting stores. Walk (or bike) through, and stop by the multitude of shops selling antiques and artwork, or grab something to eat at one of the cute cafes dotting the area.
See / smell / buy tulips
A visit to the Netherlands wouldn’t be complete without tulips! A symbol of Dutch culture, make sure to do at least one of the following:
- Buy tulips at Bloemnmarkt, the world’s sole floating flower market
- During springtime, see the famous field of tulips at Bollenstreek, a mere 20 minutes away from Amsterdam
- Visit the Amsterdam Tulip Museum in Jordaan
Cheap wooden tulips are also available as souvenirs to take back home!
Check out Amsterdam’s museums
Explore the nightlife
With numerous bars and clubs, this city also has a throbbing nightlife scene. The vibrant collection of tourists and locals mingle in one of Europe’s most progressive and diverse places.
Whether the Red Light District is your thing or not, a walk through this famed zone is definitely a unique experience, and a big tourist draw to Amsterdam. There are sex shops around every corner selling trinkets and souvenirs, a variety of shows, and open windows filled with red lights.
If anything, I recommend visiting the Red Light Secrets, or commonly known as the Museum of Prostitution, for an eye opening and thought provoking study into the controversial industry. One of the most interesting parts of the museum is a chair (pictured below) where you can sit, bathed in red lights, and momentarily see the city through the eyes of a sex worker.
If it’s your thing, go to a ‘coffeeshop’
Don’t be fooled by the signs — these stores don’t sell coffee! There is no better place to smoke pot / eat edibles than at an authentic coffeeshop in Amsterdam.
Know the law: technically, marijuana is not legal, but smoking it isn’t punishable as long as you acquire it from licensed coffeeshops. For a more detailed breakdown of the laws, read more here.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Let me know some of your favorite things to do below!