Don't Get Caught in Coffee Shops
If you’re planning on InterRailing round Europe this summer you’ve got a lot to fit in! It’s the perfect way to see a lot of the continent in a short amount of time, so of course you want to get as much as possible from your time in each city.
Amsterdam is brilliant. I’d definitely recommend you make it part of your InterRailing itinerary. But I’d also recommend you be careful not to get lost in those ‘coffee’ shops. There’s a lot more to the city than the drugs and nightlife.
Arrive into Amsterdam Centraal Station by train and you’re right in the centre already. Just walk the same way as everyone else and you’ll soon find yourself at the waterways that have made Amsterdam so famous.
Coincidentally, you’ll probably walk past the Amsterdam Sex Museum – the ‘freaks of sexual nature’ exhibition might be a little too much at this time in the morning, but at least you know where it is for when the time is right.
First stop, an authentic Dutch breakfast. You’ll find no shortage of coffee and traditional hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles served on bread) in Amsterdam. Expect to pay just a few euros. Or you could try FEBO – machines in the wall that dispense a whole range of bad-for-you delights. And of course, there’s always the shop croissant trick if you’re saving your pennies.
Time to discover some of the city’s museums! Yes, you could go back to that Sex Museum, or you could get a little cultural on this trip to Amsterdam. There’s always the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh, but top of the list is the Anne Frank House. Here you’ll find that famous secret annex and learn about the Frank family, and Amsterdam’s role in World War II.
Be warned: you might end up queuing for hours if you just turn up on the day to any of these museums. Going online and booking in advance can save you a lot of time.
Amsterdam is known as being one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe. It’d be rude not to rent a bike and go off and explore – it’s the best way to get around. This is also the perfect opportunity to visit the Rijksmuseum if you couldn’t get a ticket. A passage runs right through its centre, so you can just cycle right through it and say you’ve been.
I’d nap if I were you. You’ve got a full on night ahead of you.
Party time! Get on it. For dinner it’s all about secrets and speakeasies. The Butcher is a retro bar in the De Pjip area that looks like just another burger joint. However, once inside, say the right password – you need to email ahead and try your luck - and you’ll be whisked into the back-room bar where you can munch on some of the best burgers in town (around €10) and sip your way through a creative list of cocktails (around €16). Think dark wood, chesterfields and a bluesy vibe in one of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets. It’s open til 3am.
If you’ve got a good spot and you’re having a good time then yeah, there’s not really any reason to move. But if you want to make the most of your night out in Amsterdam you could check out any of the following awesome clubs: Trouw – in an old printing warehouse – Studio 80 for electro lovers, or Canvas for hip hop junkies.
On the way there’s no doubt you’ll see those famous ‘shop windows’ Amsterdam is known for, but don’t get involved, unless you want the drama, the heavy conscience of what the ‘woman in the window’ has been through and continues to go through, and the expense.
Time to wake up and make the most of the day with a walk along the Singel to Vondelpark, the Netherlands’ most famous park. Walking along the riverways you can stop in at one of the Koffie Salons to get a coffee – good coffee at a relatively cheap price. Then meander along the rustic avenues and take a look at Bloemenmarkt, the world’s most famous flower market, before making your way to Vondelpark. Go on, it might seem like something your parents would make you do, but I swear it’ll be worth it for the Instagram pics.
A picnic in the park means it’s cheap and you can lie down in the sun. Probably just what you need after last night, right? There are plenty of shops around to get supplies, but if you can’t be bothered to go too far after you’ve managed to make it all that way to the park then you could just get a take out pizza from Da Portare Via and enjoy it on the grass. The perfect hangover food.
If you’re still feeling rough it’s time to sweat it out at the retro spa Sauna Deco. Here you’ll find the best in heated rooms and steamy chambers to relax before you board your train to the next destination. Located in Gratchengorden it sits amongst the canals and costs €23.50 for a standard entry. It’ll be worth it to detoxify your system.
Time to fill up before your next destination, or you go to bed. Tomaz in the medieval district will give you a large helping of Dutch cuisine to bid you farewell. Nestled between the quaint and quirky streets of the Old Town, Tomaz is cosy and cute, offering Dutch delights such as stamppot, parelgort and Terschellingse. It’s a 15-minute walk to the Amsterdam Centraal Station, making it the perfect stop before you board the train.
Visiting Amsterdam for 48 hours-ish
Home to some of the world’s best art and most elaborate waterways, Amsterdam is a city of quaint cobbled street beauty and fascinating culture. The city combines an interesting nightlife with historical landmarks all wrapped up into a Dutch storybook landscape, making Amsterdam the ideal place for a weekend away.