Amsterdam, Blog

How To Spend A Weekend In Amsterdam

How to spend a weekend in Amsterdam

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

1 Night at the NH Carlton Hotel : £137

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.

Amsterdam train ticket

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.

Amsterdam Central station


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 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.

Bulldog Cafe Mack

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).

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 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.

Sex Palace

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.

Amsterdam Red light

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.

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.

Amsterdam City Sunset

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.

Over the edge

A'Dam lookout


Recommendations in the area :

Amsterdam Houses

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 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.

58 thoughts on “How To Spend A Weekend In Amsterdam

  1. 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. 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

    1. 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!

    1. 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

    1. 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!

    1. 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 😉

    1. 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

  2. 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. 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?

    1. 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!

  3. 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 😀

  4. 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!

  5. 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. 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!

  6. 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. 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

  7. 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. 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!

  8. 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. 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.

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