A Weekend In Amsterdam

Amsterdam

A Weekend In Amsterdam – How to explore like a pro

What’s the perfect way to get over the January blues? A city break in Amsterdam!

A lot of my friends often ask me why i travel to Amsterdam so often and just can’t seem to see past the crazy side of this city. There’s a lot more to Amsterdam than just sex and drugs, although, you CAN explore these areas without getting too involved in the wildness.

Last weekend we visited Amsterdam in Holland. We took a coach from London to Duivendrecht and met up with friends in central Amsterdam, before staying overnight in the city and flying back to Gatwick the next day.

This wasn’t exactly a low cost trip as we decided to go pretty last minute but you can get great deals on hotels and transportation if you book well in advance.

Totals Spent for 2 people :

Coach from London Victoria to Duivenrecht : £44 – Eurolines through National express

1 Night at the NH Carlton Hotel : £137 Booking.com

Spending money : 170 Euros

Amsterdam lookout and over the edge for 4 people £60.95

Return Flights : £164.84

Gatwick Express tickets to Victoria : £35.90

Amsterdam

The Journey There

We met the coach at London Victoria at 9pm on the Friday and the journey to Duivendrect Holland was so much better than i expected. I’d booked the Eurolines coach online, through the National Express website for £44. With a 12 hour coach ride ahead of us i made sure i was fully equipped as always. Sandwiches and snacks and Stranger Things downloaded and ready to go on Netflix. We also had Eastenders to catch up on 🙂

The coach was comfortable. With a decent toilet and roomy seats. The drive to Dover took around 2.5 hours.

I really like that the first part of the journey is broken up with a ride on the ferry. The coach parks up and passengers are asked to leave the coach. Theres somewhere to get food and drinks on board although we usually take the opportunity to nap!

The ferry over the English channel takes another 2.5 hours and we arrived at Eindhoven in Holland around 2am. Amsterdam is an hour ahead of London so this automatically became 3am. We slept through the 2 or 3 different drop offs and arrived at Duivendrect at 9am on Saturday morning.

Although i can’t say i had a good nights sleep on the bus, over the 6 hours i had managed to get some shut-eye and believe the £120 saved on flights was truly worth it.

Amsterdam

The coach stops right at Duivendrect train station.

Amsterdam train ticket

You can get train tickets from the yellow ticket machines outside the station. Tickets cost around 3 Euro each.

Once inside the station you’ll be looking for trains to Amsterdam C (Amsterdam central) and the journey takes around 10 minutes.

Amsterdam Central station

Accommodation

Our hotel of choice was the NH Carlton in Amsterdam. This trip was a last-minute decision and this usually means a hike in prices. Booking in advance really pays off as I’ve previously booked a really nice hotel room for 2 people in Amsterdam for £36 a night. Our night at the NH Carlton cost $137!

If you’re planning on booking a trip later this year, check the prices now. Especially in Europe! Flights and hotels can often be so much cheaper 6 months+ before.

 

I’d called ahead and asked for an early check in as the hotel only provided rooms from 3pm. We arrived at 10am but no rooms were ready. Luckily for us we were meeting up with other people and a friend left us their room key so we could freshen up. (Thanks Holly!)

The hotel was decent (3.5 on Trip advisor and 7.1 on Booking.com) but not outstanding.

Our friends room had a balcony which was a nice touch but ours did not.

The bed however was huuuuge! (these photos do not do its size justice) And so so comfy. The bathroom was equipped with everything you’d need (Good hairdryer, shower gel, shampoo, body lotion, a kettle and assortment of teas and a mini bar) and the entire room was clean excusing a stain or two on the ceiling. There is also free WiFi available throughout the hotel and the rooms.

I wouldn’t pay £137 to stay here again. I much prefer my regular spot at the hotel Cordial. You can check it out here.

For a last-minute booking it was fine. We didn’t end up spending much time in our room. We got in around 10pm and were checking out at 12pm the next day.  All in all, it served its purpose.

The hotels location was good with lots of restaurants and coffee shops nearby. There’s no food or drink available after 11pm but there is a Macdonald’s opposite. If you’re a sports fan avoid the sports bar opposite and continue down the road to the right of it. A little further on there’s an Irish bar on the left that serves great food and have better positioned TV’s.

Bulldog Cafe Mack

Lunch at The Bulldog Cafe Mack

We met up with our friends and headed to the Bulldog Coffee shop in the Red Light District. More specifically; the Cafe Mack Coffee shop.

The Bulldog chain has at least 3 different locations within 5 minutes of each other. You can buy weed, stay at the Bulldog Hotel, AND grab something to eat and drink whilst having a smoke at one or more of these locations. The Bulldog Mack serves food and drink, which, by chance, was just what we were looking for.

I can vouch for the Hotdog and burger combos (God i love a hot dog!), also the bulldogs own brand of iced coffee was really good. The setting is pub like and you’re able to order alcohol as well as smoke weed freely.

If you chose to experience any Amsterdam Coffee shop be prepared to part with a little cash regardless of whether weed is on your agenda or not.

Most coffee shops offer a table service and will expect you to order a round of drinks. Coffees and hot chocolates are fine, not everyone wants to get wasted.

Not everywhere serves alcohol. Generally a ‘Coffee shop’ will either sell weed OR alcohol. Also have some change to hand as the bathroom will cost you 50 cent a time.

Amsterdam is a wild but honest city. Don’t be afraid to experience it. The people are generally friendly and helpful.

If you need more help with recommendations for anything in this post just ask!

The Red light District

After lunch we took a stroll through Amsterdam’s notorious Red Light District. This place scares me.

 It’s busy, and rowdy and has a lot going on, especially of an evening. If you’re visiting for the first time i always recommend visiting during the day before going at night (you can always come back). For starters there are a lot fewer people. I mean a difference of 10-15 people in plain sight during the day, verses hundreds at night.

Red Light Alley

I’d always wanted to experience the Red Light District more than just strolling around and in 2016 i found something i could do that didn’t make me nervous as hell….

The Sex Palace

Trying to build up the courage to attend a sex show just wasn’t happening so when i discovered the Sex Palace i was eager to share it with my friend. She too wasn’t too keen on the whole prostitution to your left and full-blown erotica to your right.

Amsterdam’s Sex Palace is a peep show. It’s not creepy or sordid. I’m not saying it’s somewhere i want to spend a lot of time but please remember I’m speaking from a females point of view. Some people may find the red Light District degrading.

Sex Palace

You enter through the open main entrance and to your left there’s a bunch of doors. A red light above the door means the booth is occupied. Green means its vacant.

Signs outside the booth doors say only one person can enter at a time; I’m not telling you to break the law here but i have always gone in with someone else and never had a problem.

To the right of the doors there’s a plastic screen with a guy sitting behind it. He’ll change-up a note for you if you don’t have any. 2 Euros will get you 2 minutes in a booth and you need either 1 or 2 Euro coins.

Grab a friend and find a door with a green light. Behind the door you’ll find a tiny room that looks like the inside of a photo booth (the kind you get your passport photo taken in) and to your right a slot to put your coins into. The window in front of you will remain frosted until you enter your first 2 Euros. As soon as you put 2 Euros in, the window will clear and you’ll see a lovely lady being somewhat entertaining, on the other side.

The more money you put in the longer you can stay. I’ve never stayed in longer than 2 minutes (as a straight female it’s not the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen).

Do not expect big things from this encounter. It’s a great way to privately experience a part of this wild district especially during the day (before 5pm) when you’ll share the palace with no more than 15 people. At 8pm there will be people crowding around outside waiting to get in.

We did come back to the red light District in the evening. We were at Amsterdam central station so walked from there back to our hotel in the South of the city and it really is beautiful.

Amsterdam Red light

The Red Lights illuminate the streets and canals. There’s plenty to see but please be careful when taking photos. Tourists are not expected to take photos of the girls in the windows.

Before our evening stroll we’d taken a FREE ferry from Amsterdam central station over to Buiksloterweg (You can board the ferry just behind the station, the ferry ride takes 2 minutes). Here we visited The A’dam Lookout.

A'Dam lookout

Over The Edge

The A’dam lookout is an observation tower behind Amsterdam central train station. It costs 12 Euros to go up to the viewing platform at the top of the tower and the views at the top are spectacular.

We arrived at the lookout at 4.30pm and enjoyed the beautiful sunset at 5pm.

Amsterdam City Sunset

For an extra 5 Euros we then took a ride on the highest swing in Europe. Over the edge is located at the top of the tower  and is one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced.

I looooove rollercoasters and with a speed similar to a snail and the entire ride only lasting 3 minutes i thought it would be a piece of cake. Oh how wrong i was.

It was freezing by the time we’d got on the swing and as soon as it started my palms were super sweaty. The ride IS scary and certainly not for the faint hearted! It was however, such a fun experience to have with our friends and one that we won’t forget in a hurry

Over the edge

Side note : If i could do anything differently i would have planned to arrive earlier at around 3.30pm and do the swing first, as everyone had had a similar idea to us and had arrived to see the sunset. It wasn’t too busy but as soon as the sun went it got so so cold and everyone started lining up for the swing. We were lining up for an hour in the cold! So as a word of advice; arrive at 3.30pm, have your ride on the swing (there’s a bar to grab drinks if you have time) and then catch the sunset just before leaving.

A'Dam lookout

Drinks

We spent our evening in Bar regular and Jack which was opposite our hotel. Our friend supports Tottenham Hotspur (Booooo!) and this place has Tv’s showing the game. The cocktails here were amazing! Although the setting let it down a little as we were unable to order any food and were squashed into a corner by the door.

Once again, if i could go back i would have continued down the side street that this bar is on and gone to the Irish Pub. St James Gate as the TVs are so much bigger and the environment is just more welcoming

Amsterdam Houses

The Morning After

The next morning we actually had breakfast at the Irish pub which was delicious!

Coffeeshop smokeys

There’s a coffee shop nearby that is really chill and great to gather yourselves before your flight home. After breakfast we spent an hour in Smokeys (they sell brownies ♥) before requesting an uber and heading to the airport.

Amsterdam

The Journey home

We flew home with British Airways (a budget airline will do just fine as the flight is so short) at 5pm Dutch time and arrived and London Gatwick at 5pm London time. Time Travel!

We took the Gatwick express train straight into London Victoria. This journey only takes 30 minutes and is so convenient for us as we only live 10 minutes from Victoria Coach station

Google maps and Uber

Before heading to Amsterdam i recommend you have access to the following:

  • Google Maps – Amsterdam is the most confusing city I’ve ever visited. There are canals everywhere! It’s really beneficial to have google maps on your phone before you go. There is WiFi available everywhere so its easy to stay connected. As a rule the canals really help with navigation. When pin pointing where you are and where you need to get to on the map, count the number of canals you need to cross and this will really help keep you on route.
  • Uber – I use Uber most places i go but Uber in Amsterdam is great. Don’t get me wrong, you do not need to get taxis in the city. I always walk, I’ve never even been on a tram! Everything is easily accessible. If you do however wish to venture outside the city, UBER is your best option. We paid only 25 Euros to get to Schipol airport from our hotel and it only took 16 minutes!

If you’ve not used UBER before here’s my code : rebeccar174ue

Use it and get £15 off your first ride!

If you have any questions about this post get in touch or leave your best Amsterdam Tip in the comments below.



Booking.com

58 Comment

  1. Amber says: Reply

    Thank you for this! I was in Amsterdam YEARS ago so I don’t remember much of it. I do remember being in the Red Light District and being a tad freaked out. There were people everywhere and I felt sorry for the women in the windows. I was only a teenager at the time and I was thinking, “Why is she doing that?”

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      A lot of people feel this way and think they can’t explore the area. Going during the day is the best thing as it’s just so much quieter. To be fair though I’ve never seen any trouble in the red light district which is saying something lol

  2. Beth Shankle Anderson says: Reply

    This is a great overall overview of a terrific city! I love the photography as well! I hope that you had a fabulous time!

    Beth || http://www.TheStyleBouquet.com

  3. I have a wanderlust bug so bad. I enjoyed this very much. It felt like I was there with you!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Thanks so much! I feel like my job is done! Go to Amsterdam. You won’t be disappointed 🙂

  4. I’ve always want to visit Amsterdam, but haven’t made it there yet! Thank you for sharing your trip.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Make sure you add it to your list! It’s such a great place to explore!

  5. I can’t wait to visit Amsterdam. Thanks for giving a great breakdown.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Do you have a trip lined up?

  6. I had heard some crazy things about Amsterdam. Thanks for opening the “curtain” and giving some behind the scenes insight into the country.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It’s so hard to find posts that actually let you know what it’s like to experience certain things so I hope this encourages people to explore!

  7. You took the most amazing pictures. The streets looked packed at night?! Looks like you had fun. Thanks for sharing.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Thanks so much! It can get really busy. We went on a particularly busy weekend as it was national tulip day AND the end of the light festival. During the day is a lot easier to navigate

  8. One day I will eventually visit that place. I always wanted to travel Amsterdam, thank you for this great post.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      You’re very welcome! Now you can visit with ease knowing what’s behind the window lol

  9. The trip itself seems interesting. I would not attend the sex palace or anything like it. But I like the details of the steps you took to get there.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It was such an adventure. You can do as much or as little as you like in the city. I’ve spent the whole weekend having picnics in the park and visiting museums before now!

  10. Rose says: Reply

    What a great through trip you gave. You seemed to explore alot which was nice to hear considering your trip there was so long.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      I make the most of the time each time we go. It’s important to see as much as possible whilst still taking the time to relax 😉

  11. Thanks for sharing us some of your adventures in Amsterdam. How’s the nightlife / social life in the city?

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      I’ve only ever been out out once, at the supper club which was very garish and similar to Londons west end. The Irish bar was so friendly and welcoming. I wish we’d gone there the Saturday night for a better feel of the night life

  12. Amsterdam is on my list of places to go in Europe! This looks so much fun and the overnight bus looks like a good idea. I love your price breakdown as it’s always good to get a feel for how much to spend for a trip.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Thanks so much! I like sharing costs for comparison. This was by no means a budget trip but it’s always handy to know. Make sure you go! Any plans for Europe coming up?

  13. I adore Amsterdam. It sounds like you guys had a great time! I’ hoping to visit this summer! Nikki x

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      You will have the best time Nikki! I’ll make sure to post some more before then 😜

  14. uk8971 says: Reply

    Beautifully describe and well elaborated post. Loved to see the pics and the small description which followed. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    UK
    http://fashionablefoodz.com

  15. Sonam says: Reply

    Hi!
    I’ve been to Amsterdam recently and can totally relate to your post. It is so helpful!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it x

    2. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      You’re very welcome! Glad I could help! I hope you enjoyed your trip there

  16. I am really surprised that there’s a Red light coffee bar !Don’t think I will enjoy this .Thanks for the heads up!
    It’s a sad life when people have to sell sex

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      There’s lots more to do in the city. A lot of people dislike the red light district. I’m glad I could help you steer clear!

  17. Danik says: Reply

    I love Amsterdam, been there a few times and love walking along the canals. Even cycled there in 2015 from my home town in Stevenage, UK and took under 4 days as I wanted to see friends for a drink 😀

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Wow! So crazy. My old boss used to cycle from Stevenage to Kensington , London everyday!

  18. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but I wanted to go forever. So this post is really useful. And I loved the part about the coach, I’m sure now that is how I’m gonna go 🙂

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      You’ll love it! The coach is such a great way to travel. And it’s so cheap!

  19. Sounds like a great trip. Never done Amsterdam so thanks for taking us along for the ride.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It’s defo worth a weekend trip there!

  20. Sam says: Reply

    Netflix is a MUST for long travels! Visiting the Red Light District is on my bucket list too, I appreciate your point of view and suggestions for it!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Any Netflix recommendations??

  21. This was nice to see other parts of Amsterdam than the usual pictures you see on Instagram!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Thanks so much for the compliment!

  22. Oh it sounds like you guys had an awesome quick trip to Amsterdam! Good for you for going into the red district peep show! I feel like that is just something I would have to do if I went, sort of live up the classic American teen movie, Eurotrip. ha!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Yes! I just wanted to see for myself! Everything else scares me so much lol. I’m glad I’ve been and can share it with everyone!

  23. mackinawroad says: Reply

    Haven’t been to Amsterdam in forever but would love to go back! Thanks for the suggestions 🙂

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      I hope you get there soon!

  24. I am glad you brought up the Red Light District. I think it is part of the culture and shouldn’t be frowned upon by tourists. People do this line of work out of choice not force. When I was in Amsterdam last year I was going to skip it and then decided not to for those reasons.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      I love this! Thank you. It’s an actual career choice for many that do it for their entire lives. It’s part of Amsterdam and I hate that people look down their noses yet still want to experience this area. Thanks again! X

  25. Amsterdam is one of those places you have to check out. The architecture and the Red Light District. What’s not to love.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      There’s so much to do!

  26. Dave says: Reply

    Amsterdam is a great weekend getaway! I’d never heard of the swing before. I have a lot flights with overnight layovers in Schipol (sp?) i will need to hit up some of your spots!

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      Yes! I love that you can et to the city so quickly even if you only have a couple of hours to spare! The swing is amazing!

  27. I would love to visit the red Light District, which I don’t find degrading at all! We definitely should not look down to their culture – something on which their lives thrive. Would absolutely plan a visit to Amsterdam.

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this! It’s the coolest place I’ve spent a weekend.

  28. amazing post…i liked the way you presented the spots along with the cost for the reader to plan accordingly..

    1. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      It’s always handy to know what things add up to. It can be done cheaper though so make sure you’re looking as far in advance as poss.

  29. Amsterdam always sounds so amazing. We’re headed this year and couldn’t be more excited!

    1. I need to experience those brownies first hand 😉

    2. LondonToEverywhere says: Reply

      You’ll have the best time! Let me know how you get on!

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