Alternative Amsterdam in 48 Hours
Amsterdam’s winding canals and leafy streets weave you aimlessly round a city that varies from fun and seedy to cool and quirky with every turn. What doesn’t change is the buzz created by the Dutch who cycle, eat and flirt on these cobbles. This city is lively, and it’s catching.
Day One: Biking, secret spice houses, and crime…
Lunch: If you get peckish during the day, snack on the golden chips flaked with salt and dipped in thick creamy mayonnaise that can be bought from any of the outdoor stands dotting the city.
Or if you fancy some cozy Dutch home-cooking, let Bistro Bij Ons envelop you into its bosom for a few hours. Right by the canal on Prinsengracht, this kooky bistro is stuffed with pictures of Elvis and ceramic pigs, which perfectly suits cozy dishes like stew with potatoes and cabbage.
Afternoon: Take a food walking tour of Amsterdam, trying salt edam and smoky gouda cheeses as you go. Learn about the city’s spice trade at a spice house, and visit a 17th-century distillery to get a taste for hard liquor. Yum.
Evening: Visiting the famous crime scenes of Amsterdam’s Red Light District may sound a little tawdry, but going with a crime journalist will give you a greater insight into the neighborhood’s history of organized crime. You’ll see the spot where the liquidation war started in the ’90s, hear the story of the Heineken kidnap, and learn how one of its organizers became Holland’s most notorious criminal.
Day Two: Paint, photograph, and discover your inner Van Gogh
Morning: One of the best ways to see a city from a new perspective is on a photography workshop. You’ll learn techniques from a professional photographer as you gain inspiration from Amsterdam’s cultural sights and buzzing street scenes.
Brunch: Head to Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs in the Red Light District. Up the steepest stairs is just about the loveliest, tiniest little restaurant in the whole of Amsterdam, serving up proper, fluffy Dutch pancakes. We’re in love with every combination, especially the bacon, apple, and syrup version. With just four tables, book in advance.
Afternoon: Get an inside look at Amsterdam’s street and urban art on a 2-hour walking tour of the city. Led by a resident street artist, you will learn about the history of street art and about some of today’s leading practitioners, all from an insider perspective.
Evening: Fancy yourself as the next Van Gogh? Take a painting workshop in the heart of Amsterdam. Learn from a local Dutch painter, and relax in a bohemian lounge while you paint. The best bit? You can take your canvas home with you. Now that’s what we call a souvenir.
P.S. Take a free ferry from the back of Central Station to Amsterdam North, which is a couple of minutes across the water, and head out in search of NDSM (TT Neveritaweg 15), a former shipyard that facilitates creatives with workshops so that they can create great art. To reach this bohemian utopia, take the ferry that goes to your left. Take the ferry that goes straight ahead, and you’ll end up in an area that feels like a sleepy Dutch town. Which actually, is quite lovely.
Get around: Rent a bike!
Getting into town: Make life easy with a private transfer from Schiphol Airport to your hotel.