Many people associate Amsterdam with the infamous Red Light District and its unrivaled bike culture (the thousands of bikes are impressive), but it’s also charming, outrageously fun, and trendy in a wide range of scenes, whether that be culinary, fashion, or art. One visit will hook you for life.
I recently spent a short weekend in Amsterdam (an easy getaway from my home in Paris).
Friday: Shopping the 9 Streets & Michelin-Starred Dining
After arriving, head directly to one of the most desirable parts of the city, the 9 Streets, and check-in at The Pulitzer Amsterdam. Here, you are never too far from anything (especially if you rent a bike). Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast, a welcome cocktail, and a $100 food and beverage credit.
The neighborhood is one of Amsterdam’s chicest shopping and dining districts. Stop in The Otherist, a shop filled with framed curiosities of all kinds; Mendo, a bookshop focusing on fashion, design, architecture, and photography; or Love Stories, a fun Dutch lingerie brand. Grab a sandwich or salad at Pluk, one of the neighborhood’s healthy hot spots, or sit down for a three- or four-course Italian lunch at Bussia.
Spend the rest of your afternoon getting acquainted with the city by foot or bike and capture some idyllic shots of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century townhouses and romantic canals.
Make reservations ahead of time for dinner at Michelin-starred Vinkeles. The restaurant’s French menu with a contemporary twist is complemented by its setting: a sunken dining room surrounded by eighteenth-century ovens and garden views.
Saturday: Museums Galore & Gallery Hopping
Prepare yourself for a full day of art and culture. Walk or bike directly to Museumplein, a public space located in the Museumkwartier neighborhood that’s home to three major museums: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum. Spend the morning and early afternoon exploring them, and when you start to get hungry, grab lunch at Momo, a trendy Japanese-Dutch restaurant, for delicious sashimi.
Tip: Purchase the I Amsterdam city card to avoid lines (especially at the Van Gogh Museum), and for free or discounted admission, but only if you plan on visiting multiple museums.
Gallery hop from Spiegelgracht to Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. Closer to the museum, the showrooms skew more classic (specializing in Chagall and other famous artists), and as you move into Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, the galleries become much more contemporary and alternative.
Book a table at De Luwte, a well-known restaurant for creative, seasonal menus in the Jordaan neighborhood. After, take a taxi or enjoy a 25-minute walk to the old side of Amsterdam where you will find the cocktail bar, Hiding in Plain Sight. Sip on one of their award-winning craft cocktails in a speakeasy, intimate ambiance. Be sure to try their house specialty, “The Walking Dead”, which is set on fire at your table. Reservations are recommended.
Sunday: Anne Frank & Stroopwafels
To dig deeper into Amsterdam’s World War II history, book in advance online for the informative and emotional tour through Anne Frank Huis, where 12-year-old Anne Frank and her family hid during the Holocaust until they were discovered and shipped to concentration camps.
An alternative: soak up the city’s history on a down-to-earth canal ride. Garden enthusiasts should visit Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and home to a variety of greenhouses, as well as a delightful outdoor garden.
“In the hip Oud-West neighborhood, international indoor food market, Foodhallen, makes for a fun lunch. Also, make sure to try a fresh stroopwafel from Albert Cuyp Market or van Wonderen Stroopwafel.” – Cara Sharratt, Paris-based Virtuoso travel advisor
All photos by Evan Upchurch.