Amsterdam in 36 Hours

Whether you have the opportunity for a weekend layover in Amsterdam in between travels (I highly recommend flying into Schiphol from the USA -- super cheap flights via WowAir) or are there for just a few hours, there is so much to see and do.  Today I am sharing with you a few of my favorite spots and "must-sees" of Amsterdam.  Hope you enjoy!

1. Stay

Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam

Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam

There are so many hotels to choose from in Amsterdam, but I can't recommend enough staying in a space that is near a tram or train stop. What a difference it makes! We stayed at the Mövenpick Hotel just an 8 minute walk from the Central Station and next to a tram stop -- win, win!  Not only was the hotel in a convenient spot, but the space was gorgeous with amazing amenities (bio sauna, restaurant, fitness room, and amazing views).  We were greeted by lovely staff members and it was so nice to settle into our suite after a long day of travels. So cozy! Also, when checking in we were given a plethora of ideas on things to do, places to eat, and ways to best navigate the city.  I've said this so many times on my blog, but getting advice from a local is always a good idea.  Oh, and the breakfast was top notch.  I'm talking fresh meats and fish, made-to-order omelets, fruit, and delicious bread.  Europeans know how to make a killa breakfast and I am not sure why America hasn't started replicating this. 

2. Cafés & Restaurants

Coffee & Coconuts || Amsterdam

Coffee & Coconuts || Amsterdam

For me, one of my favorite parts of visiting a new city is trying new food and stopping for a cappuccino as many times in a day as possible.  Luckily, there is no shortage of delicious spots in Amsterdam and we ate so well during our time there.  

For lunch on Saturday we couldn't resist trying out the Ramen & Pho at NOOCH Asian Kitchen, and it was absolutely delicious.  Super fresh ingredients with a hearty serving, which is always a plus in my book.  Plus, the service was extremely quick.  Granted, it was pouring down rain so I was in no rush to brave the cold and wet.  Thankfully, Europeans know how to sit, relax, and stay while more than anyone else I know and we were not rushed out of the restaurant.  Giving us the opportunity to watch the city move and take a break from all of the walking.

Next stop was Coffee & Coconuts in the South of the city.  I cannot rave enough about this hidden gem.  Yes, it's a bit out of the way, but with tram stops all over the city it's easy enough to get to.  We could have spent 5 hours on the cozy bean bags sipping on our cappuccinos and eating the tasty Dutch Pancakes.  The music was upbeat and just loud enough that you didn't feel like the people next to you could hear you speaking and the decor was earthy and inviting.  Also, the menu offered an array of options like breakfast sandwiches, fresh salads, and smoothies.  We will definitely  be back to C&C upon our next trip to Amsterdam.

On Sunday, we had lunch at Blushing Holland and it's oh so conveniently located next to the Art District and Museums.  It was packed, but they still managed to serve us super quickly.  If you have a chance to eat there, I highly recommend saving room for dessert and going for the cheesecake -- so tasty!  We were able to fill up on coffee and food before spending the rest of the afternoon at the Van Gogh Museum. 

3. things to do

Canal in The 9 Streets

Canal in The 9 Streets

As you can imagine, there are so many things to do in Amsterdam.  From the Anne Frank Museum to China Town and The Red Light District, cramming every thing in during 36 hours can be hard.  For us, we stuck with a few things we really wanted to see and do, and plan to see more upon our next visit.  

Visiting the Van Gogh Museum topped my list and to my surprise Monet's work was being exhibited as a feature at the exhibit the weekend we were there.  Seeing so much of Van Gogh's work was absolutely amazing, but I have to admit it was even more special seeing Monet's work and learning a bit more about my favorite artist.  If you plan to see the exhibit, I suggest paying for you ticket online and scheduling a time to go -- the lines can be very long and with the predictable, rainy Amsterdam weather it's best not to stand outside in the cold and wet longer than need be.

When in Amsterdam wander.  Wander through streets, canals, and alleys.  You really can't make a wrong turn.  Okay, I am sure you could, but if I didn't (and I have no sense of direction) than I am confident your wandering will get you somewhere magical.  For us, wandering led us to pretty streets filled with holiday spirit, local shops, and historical sites.  Starting in late November the Christmas Markets come in full swing all across Europe.  We were lucky enough to be in Amsterdam during this Holiday time and it was magical seeing the lights, decorations, and Christmas spirit on every corner.  

Although I am not one to visit a new city and spend my time shopping, I imagine if I had a bit more time I could have done some serious shopping at a few of the local stores.  We wandered into the neatest, little shops full of unique gifts like handmade handkerchiefs, vintage furniture and clothes, and other knick knacks.  We had so much fun walking around and making small talk with the shop owners.  One of my favorite areas we walked through was The 9 Streets, it was full of cozy cafés and quaint shops.  Plus, it's near the Anne Frank Museum and the popular neighborhood, Jordaan, where you can find art galleries, shopping, and a huge Farmer's Market (open on Saturdays).

One thing I had on our weekend agenda was to take a canal cruise through the city.  Typically, I am not one to hop on a guided tour, but I hear it's nice to see the city and architecture from a different perspective.  Definitely will be at the top of my list upon our next weekend trip!


Our trip was short, but definitely worth it.  Fortunately, Amsterdam is a quick, 3 hour train ride away from our home in Germany so we plan to take many more trips.

Quick Tip: if you're flying in from the USA and headed to Europe, I cannot say enough good things about Schippol Airport -- it's easy enough to fly into then make a transfer to your final European destination.  So why not make the layover a day or two and explore the lively city of Amsterdam? Checkout WOW Airlines cheap flights to Amsterdam -- we've found some pretty spectacular bargains through their site.

Hope you enjoyed!