What’s the perfect way to get over your holiday blues? A city break in Amsterdam!
Here i show you how to do just that in this HOW TO SPEND A WEEKEND IN AMSTERDAM post!
It’s a beautiful city, i’ll give it that and there’s a lot more to Amsterdam than just sex and drugs. However, you CAN explore the wilder areas without getting too involved.
It’s not hard to get to Amsterdam in Holland from London, UK. 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.
Totals Spent for 2 people : £589.79
Coach from London Victoria to Duivenrecht : £44 – Eurolines through National express
Spending money : 170 Euros
Amsterdam lookout and over the edge for 4 people £60.95
Return Flights : £164.84
Train tickets to Victoria : £13.00
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 booked the Eurolines coach online, through the National Express website for £44. The coach journey is 12 hours total so make sure you stock up on snacks.
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 get off. Theres somewhere to get food and drinks on board although its also a great opportunity to nap!
The ferry over the English channel takes 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 did manage to get some shut-eye and believe i the £120 saved on flights was truly worth it.
The coach stops right at Duivendrect train station.
Get tickets for the train from the yellow ticket machines outside the station. Tickets cost around 3 Euro each.
Once inside the station catch a train to Amsterdam C (Amsterdam central), the journey takes 10-15 minutes.
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 £120!
The hotel was decent (3.5 on Trip advisor and 7.1 on Booking.com) but not outstanding.
Our friends room had a balcony.
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 £120 to stay here again. I much prefer the options at the hotel Cordial. You can check it out here.
The hotels location is 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 out of options. If you’re a sports fan avoid the sports bar opposite. Take the road to the right of it and a little further on there’s an Irish bar on the left that serves great food and has better positioned TV’s.
Lunch at The Bulldog Cafe Mack
More specifically; the Cafe Mack Coffee shop.
The Bulldog chain has at least 3 different locations within 5 minutes of each other.
I can vouch for the Hotdog and burger combos and 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 usually 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.
The Red light District
After lunch is a perfect time to take a stroll through Amsterdam’s notorious Red Light District. This place scares me.
It’s busy 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).
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 happy to try it out.
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 unsettling.
You enter through the open main entrance and to your left there’s a bunch of booths. 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 do as i do 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 who will give you change for the slots. 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 or couple 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.
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.
The Red Light District is beautiful. The Red Lights illuminate the streets and canals. There’s plenty to see but please be careful when taking photos. Tourists are expected not to take photos of the girls in the windows.
During the day you can take a FREE ferry over to Buiksloterweg from Amsterdam central station (You can board the ferry just behind the station, the ferry ride takes 2 minutes). Here you can visit The 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 4.30pm and enjoyed this sunset at 5pm.
For an extra 5 Euros each 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.
Recommendations in the area :
- Bar regular and Jack which is opposite the hotel. The cocktails here were amazing!
- St James Gate for food and sports.
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 for £17 and heading to the airport.
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!
The cheapest and easiest route from the airport into Central London : Gatwick to Victoria station. South eastern trains (over ground) costing £6.50pp
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 the google maps app 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, its easy to walk everywhere. 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 some money towards your first ride £££
Use it and get £15 off !
If you have any questions about this post get in touch or leave your best Amsterdam Tip in the comments below.