Mr. Bug and I decided to take a weekend layover in Amsterdam on our way to Denmark for a work trip. After much in-depth research, we decided to purchase the Holland Pass prior to travel rather than the Amsterdam Card. The Holland Pass was a better deal in comparison for the places we wanted to go. The Pass we chose was the Holland Pass 7 which gives you seven total tickets to a variety of locations plus 48 hours of free public transportation and discounts to additional attractions. We arrived in Amsterdam Friday afternoon around 1 PM and took the train from the airport to Central Station (one-way train ticket was available for free when purchasing Holland Pass online) and then walked over to our cute B&B hotel (Barangay B&B), about 2 blocks from the Central Station.
After check-in, we freshened up and decided to walk around the canals and Central Station to get an overall feel of the area where we would be staying. We were extremely jet-lagged so the goal was simply to keep moving and not fall asleep. A lovely tour on the canals to get an oversight of the city is a must.
After the canal tour we were starving so we set out to find some dinner. Upon stumbling across a grocery store, we decided to pick up dinner there, grabbing some fresh meats, cheese, bread, and a lovely bottle of wine and then headed back to our B&B to enjoy our fresh meal on the outside patio. The perfect ending to our first night in Amsterdam!
The next morning began with breakfast delivered to our room; a wonderfully filling meal of omelet, cereal, toast, fruit, and yogurt. My personal favorite was the chocolate sprinkles to put on the cereal! It was raining and was supposed to rain all day so we decided to make Saturday a museum day. First stop was the Van Gogh museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh. This was by far my favorite stop in Amsterdam and my favorite museum anywhere to date. It was wonderful to see so many pieces of Van Gogh work in one location, along with a detailed timeline of his life. After the Van Gogh museum we walked to the Rijksmuseum and stumbled upon a festival along the way!
Of course we MUST check it out. Turns out, this was the Uitmarkt, a vibrant three-day celebration of the Netherland’s cultural scene that just happens to be the largest annual festival in the country.
There were stages with live music, arts, crafts, and numerous food and beverage stands. It stopped raining and we took full advantage of the opportunity to sample some of the local specialty foods such as pofferjes (small, fluffy pancakes made with yeast and buckwheat flour), patat (French fries dipped in mayonnaise).
I highly recommend both! After the festival we headed over to the Rijksmuseum. It has recently been reopened after being closed 10 years for renovations. This is a lovely building with lots of history. If you are a fan of Rembrandt, then definitely do not miss this museum.
It was gorgeous weather so we decided to take a canal bike tour, which offers great views of the canals. I highly recommend this to get a different view of the canals, very beautiful!
The weather took a turn for the worst after the canal bike tour so we decided that was a perfect time for some beer education at the Heineken Experience. Mr. Bug, being German and a lover of beer, was very excited for this next stop! When you enter, there is a museum type area that has the history of the company, advertisements throughout the years, and the holding tanks.
After this you enter a room where you get the 4D experience of being made into a Heineken beer bottle. After this we entered the tasting room and then on to the final stop which was a club-like room with two beers each. Me being a non-beer drinker, I figured I had to at least try it while we were there. I think it is safe to say that I am still not a beer drinker but at least I tried it!
After filling our bellies with meat and cheese leftovers and giving our feet a much needed break, we were off again to explore by night, deciding to take another canal ride in order to get different shots and views in the evening versus during the day. We hopped on and got some quite stunning views and a beautiful sunset, when halfway through the tour the boat broke down! No big deal, we weren’t in any rush and enjoyed the time to sit on the canal.
After about 20 minutes a different tour company approached and saw us stuck and tried to see if he could get us running again but to no avail. Forty five minutes later another captain showed up with an empty boat that we all hopped on to finish the tour. After this it was quite late so we decided it was a perfect time to check out the Red Light District. If you’re not exactly sure where this is located, just follow the streams of drunken foreigners. It was very busy and we were pretty tired so we definitely weren’t planning to make a night of it, but we did want to see what all the fuss was about. I will admit it was a bit odd to see girls in bikinis and lingerie dancing in windows with red lights shining on them. The other thing I learned was that coffeeshops in Amsterdam are NOT coffeeshops! They are for that “other” thing that Amsterdam is so well known for. We headed back to our B&B around 2 AM.
The next morning, we slept in, had breakfast in our room (crepes), packed up, and checked out. We had tickets to the Anne Frank House at noon so we slowly made our way towards the Anne Frank House, enjoying the views and canals along the way. Upon our arrival, we saw that a large lined had already started forming outside for entrance to the Anne Frank House.
Best piece of advice? Buy tickets in advance online! This allows you to bypass the line completely and walk straight in at your reserved time. We walked right past the giant line, went to the side door, rang the doorbell, and immediately were able to enter. We chose the 30 minute presentation prior to the tour that includes a Q&A about the Secret Annex, the families that lived, and about the war. This was very informative and I definitely recommend doing this if you can. After the presentation we went up to tour the Secret Annex. It is hard to imagine that people lived in this tiny area for over two years! It really gives you a true grasp of what it was like during WWII.
Next up after the Anne Frank House was a FREE Sandemans Walking Tour. The meeting place was at Dam Square and we had the pleasure of getting Onno as our tour guide. He was a native of Amsterdam and very knowledgeable.
Mr. Bug and I love to take the Sandemans Walking Tour in cities that offer it. The tour is three hours long with a break in the middle and is a great way to get information about the city you are in while walking around seeing the sites. The tour cost is free, and at the end you tip whatever you think the tour guide deserves.
After the walking tour we decided to relax a bit before heading to the airport so we found a restaurant and café near our B&B where we grabbed an outdoor table and a drink and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
With only 48 hours in Amsterdam, we weren’t able to see and do everything so we are very much looking forward to our next trip to Amsterdam to check out even more of the city!
Breakdown of Costs
|Accommodations at Barangay Bed & Breakfast||Lovely B&B approximately 2 blocks walk from the Central Station||$396 for 2 nights- breakfast included|
|Tickets- Holland Pass||Included 7 tickets to variety of different museums, tours etc: we used this pass for Rijksmuseum,Van Gogh Museum, canal tour (2 times), canal bike tour, Heineken Experience, one way train ticket from airport to Central Station, and metro tram access for 72 hours||$192.87 for 2 people|
|Tickets- Anne Frank House||Tour of Anne Frank House including 30 minute presentation prior to the tour||$37.60 for 2 people|
|Ticket- train to airport||One-way train ticket to Schiphol Airport from Central Station||$10 for 2 people|
|Walking tour||Tipped Onno, the best tour guide we’ve ever had on a tour||$20|
|Total costs||Weekend in Amsterdam||$656.47|