Weekend break in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, (photo by Kasia Mijakowska)

It would seem that a few days to explore Amsterdam is definitely not enough. For those who prefer intense, attraction-filled trips to lying on the beach or just hanging out in the park, it’s the place go.

This Dutch city gives you the sense that it is extraordinary from the very beginning; from the various souvenir shops (Russian treats and surreal porcelain figurines are not surprising finds at all) to tons of bikes and beautiful churches in the Red Light District, exquisite works of art, dozens of types of cheese, excellent restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.


A definite must-see are of course the museums – the traditional Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, the Diamond Museum and Anne Frank's House. If you don’t want to spend the whole day in the Rijksmuseum (and you can, given the sheer volume of works), head to the Gallery of Honour where a long hall is filled to the brim with paintings by renowned artists - Rembrandt, Vermeer, de Hooch are just a few of the names encouraging you to explore. Note: if you have read The Miniaturist you will definitely want to see the giant dollhouses and their miniatures made with incredible precision.

A stone's throw away from the Rijskmuseum is the Van Gogh museum, which turns out to be an excellent example of how to sell art to the youngsters. Well laid out, interesting stories and anecdotes describing the life of the painter, and of course the amazing works ensure no one will leave disappointed. Self-portraits, Sunflowers and Potatoes Eaters in the flesh are much more impressive than even the best reproduction. In the gift shop you can buy mugs, calendars and t-shirts featuring reproductions, and if you really want to, even an artificial silicone ear!

Don’t worry if you get hungry - Amsterdam is a foodie’s paradise. Some broodje or Gouda with pesto or lavender in one of the many cafes in the center will help you to explore a taste of the real Netherlands. If you are looking for something more modern, like a mango quesadilla with smoked salmon then go to the Bar Mustache or Bakers and Roasters. Another great place to fill your stomach is Ron Gastrobar – a Michelin starred restaurant turned gastro bar with such excellent tapas that they allowed the chef to keep one star. And if after dining and a day full of sightseeing, you're still tempted to explore the nightlife, head to Jimmy Woo and try one of their delicious cocktails such as the Porn Star Martini or Lychee Delight.

Exploring the city, it is impossible not to notice that pedestrians and cars are in the minority on the roads - almost everybody cycles! From college kids, construction workers, nurses to lawyers – bikes are everywhere. Many of them have been decorated by their owners with great care, and they even have special parking lots.

Another symbol of a Dutch city - clogs - are also visible at every step and at the Blumenmarkt you will be dazed by dozens of tulips and roses. In this part of the city it’s also easy to spot an integral part of the Amsterdam canals - charming bridges, anchored boats and long alleys along the shore.


To sum it up, Amsterdam’s greatest offering is its incredible atmosphere. It’s this mix that makes the city so unique, with its bicycles, canals, water taxis, people from all over the world, the mix of cultures and their influence, tourists and locals, freedom and understanding, beautiful architecture, museums and open-minded people… This amazing and surreal atmosphere makes it worth staying here just a while longer.