Slightly skint, time-scarce, and not keen on long-haul trips? Here’s how six 20-something year-olds with similar predicaments handled a weekend in Amsterdam.
Each summer, me and my girlfriends plan and book a holiday together in order for us to get away, catch up and, of course, party. With one fearful flyer, three students and six nightlife lovers, our choice for holiday this year landed us a city break in Amsterdam. With only 45 minutes airtime (pray easyJet don’t delay!) and a half-hour taxi ride from Schipol airport to Jordaan, the Dutch city is a must visit for Britains.
Six girls sharing one apartment was great fun. Two of us immediately shot-gunned the single beds in the downstairs area, which also housed the shower room and toilet. The remaining four of us slept like princesses on the ground-floor lounge’s impressive pull-out sofa bed (super comfy, plenty of space). The ground-floor also offered us a kitchenette, dining table and large tv, so we were fully kitted out.
The area of Jordaan, now gentrified, was originally a working-class district in the early 17th Century. It’s probably for this reason that there aren’t many traditional sights, although there is a stunning canal running through its centre. Street markets (Noordmarkt) are held on Saturdays and Sundays, and I was told that, as a local area, hard-drinking goes down at the weekends too!
We were superbly located, only a five-minute stroll from buzzing bars, tapas restaurants and a well-stocked supermarket, which was perfect for our self-catering accommodation. Oh, and for pre-drinks of course ;). Grab a bottle of Jamie’s Italian wine, or (screw-top) Prosecco for a very reasonable 5 Euros. If vodka’s your drink, however, you will have to look further afield as neither the supermarkets or corner shops had such spirits on sale.
Two out of the three nights we stayed in Amsterdam were spent in the party capital known as Leidseplein. Located in the Southern Canal Ring, this area is packed with bars, clubs, food joints and organised crawls – this is the square to be in if you’re up for a night out on the town. Cocktails are around 11 Euros, with long drinks (i.e. vodka lime and lemonade) between 6 and 9 Euros.
If you’re a solo traveller/ sociable squad/ just really like drinking, may I recommend one of the bar crawls hosted in both Leidseplein and The Red Light District. For 20 Euros you get free drinks at each of the four/five bars you visit, entry into the club, technically a ‘tour’ around the streets of Amsterdam (haha!) and a free t-shirt (if you’re a lass). It’s fun, the guys who run it are brilliant and encourage various games and dancing, and its a good way to explore the streets of Amsterdam (if you can remember in the morning, that is!)
Southern Canal Ring
Leidseplein is definitely worth visiting during the daytime, with historical architecture, canals, and diverse restaurants to explore. Check out the smaller streets peeling off the main square and you’ll find rows of budget pizza/pasta/steak joints as well as Thai restaurants, pancake houses and Ben and Jerry’s cafe. A main meal with a drink will cost around 10.50 Euros from one of these places, or if you prefer something more familiar, there are many Starbucks, McDonald’s and Burger Kings around.
If you’re feeling a bit more flush, there is a Hard Rock cafe (and gift store) just a few minutes walk away. Other high street shops include H&M and the Apple Store. There’s also street artists to be found, bike hire to brave, and canal tours (14 Euros for 1 hour) to sit back and relax on.
Dam Square & the Red Light District
Dam Square is in the bustling Medieval Centre of Amsterdam. The main thing to do here is wander – there are tons of shops, restaurants and food stalls, as well as street performers and incredible buildings. Jump in a rickshaw for a speedy tour around!
Amsterdam wouldn’t be Amsterdam without its infamous Red Light District. The girls and I explored the RLD one afternoon to giggle at the obscene products in shop windows, and to wave at the working ladies in their windows. It’s a fascinating place to explore, with more to it than the explicit novelties such as other bars and canals. Not for the faint hearted, though, and undoubtedly the RLD has a different feel to it when the sun goes down.
Another quirk belonging to Amsterdam are the coffee shops. The first thing to note about coffee shops are that you’re not going to find your British afternoon tea and biscuits in one, so head back to a cafe or Starbucks for a safe beverage. The second thing is to note that the guys behind the counter will have advice for you, and if they advise you to only eat half a space cake, really, only eat half a space cake. They know what they’re talking about. Google it if you’re intrigued. If you are keen to have the coffee shop experience and are either a bit nervous or unfamiliar with their products, then head to one of the Bulldog’s coffee shops- they are an international company and own a chain of coffee shops in Amsterdam. Enjoy!
Amsterdam is a buzzing city with so much on offer it’s hard to pack it all in on one weekend, so you have to prioritise. The girls and I didn’t manage to hire bikes or pedalos, visit the museums (not that we were that keen to queue for 6 hours for Anne Frank’s House!) or ride a tram. We did so much in the time we were there, but we still left with a list of things to do on our next visit. Watch out Amsterdam, we’re coming back for you!
We found our hostel on booking.com and booked flights direct with easyJet. The city also has many hostels, hotels and AirBnB spots. https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/