48 hours in Amsterdam
Pancakes, windmills, and contemporary design on a weekend in the Dutch capital.
Amsterdam’s central areas can fill up very quickly with tourists, so it’s a good idea to choose a hotel away from the most popular streets—the difference can be stark. A favorite of ours is Maison ELLE Amsterdam, located right next to Vondelpark and within walking distance of several famous museums and attractions.
Boutique by the park
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A sophisticated 30-room boutique hotel with a private garden and an interior that feels traditional, minimalist, contemporary, and luxurious all at once. Located on a quiet street, just a stone’s throw from the beautiful Vondelpark, it’s easy to get to nearby museums on foot or quickly into the city center from the tram stop around the corner.
Take a stroll through Vondelpark—and if you have time for lunch, it’s the perfect place for some peace and quiet after your flight. The Van Gogh Museum lies just on the other side of the park. It’s best to book a ticket in advance to see some of the most famous works in the history of art.
Also nearby is the Moco Museum, Amsterdam’s wonderful contemporary art museum. Here, you’ll find works from artists such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, KAWS, and Jeff Koons. Just a few steps away, you’ll find yourself at the Rijksmuseum, where the most famous work is Rembrandt’s Night Watch.
Tip: don’t try to squeeze all three into one afternoon—choose one or two at most.
On Friday evening, enjoy a delicious dinner at the beautifully decorated Secret Garden, featuring a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines.
Kitschy taste sensations
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This restaurant, which opened last year, specializes in Nikkei cuisine, a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian culinary traditions. The decor is unique and charming – a fanciful, eclectic mix of animal murals, hanging plants, bird cages, and checkered floors, among other things. Thanks to the finest, top-shelf ingredients, you can count on the fact that everything served here is fresh and delicious – from the tataki tuna to the grilled corn-fed chicken with a glazed miso seasoning and salsa Huancaina (a spicy cheese sauce). Whatever you do, make sure to save enough room for the incredible delicately-textured pineapple crème brulée.
End the evening at Waterkant, a “tropical oasis” with a huge terrace on the Singelgracht. Inspired by De Waterkant in Suriname, you can dance or soak in the sun (weather permitting) on the relaxed terrace.
Saturday morning starts with a delicious, relaxed breakfast. If you’re not eating at the hotel then Lova Café is a great option. The café boasts modern decoration and has large windows upstairs where you can sit and gaze out over a lush courtyard. The brunch fare is inspired by the owners’ Brazilian roots.
Morning is the perfect time for an hour-long canal boat tour. As well as getting a better feel for the layout of the city and an easy guide to Amsterdam’s sights, you’ll discover that some canal boats are wonderfully opulent luxury homes.
“Let’s get smashed,” implores Maijard Smashburgers, a relatively new burger joint with local ingredients and wonderfully tasty smashburgers (which are smashed flat against the griddle) with very tasty sides. Enjoy a simple but very typical lunch on Amsterdam’s vibrant food scene.
While Carmen does serve food and is featured in our guide to Amsterdam’s hottest restaurants, at heart, it is a store with the perfect selection of interior design, books and magazines, beauty products, and fashion from super hip brands like Eckhaus Latta and Baserange.
Lingerie and swimwear brand Love Stories is a local favorite. It has both a larger store in the city center and an archive store with past collections in De Pijp—the latter is popular with those in the know.
If you want the best in contemporary Dutch design, the concept store X Bank has smartly brought together a variety of exciting names in interior design and fashion in one place. Housed in the W Amsterdam hotel, X Bank is the perfect gauge for the local design scene.
End the day with a wonderful Italian dinner. Fiaschetteria Pistoia, which has two locations in the city, is run by a family that opened its first restaurant back in 1890 in Pistoia, Italy, and has since branched out to New York and Amsterdam. Eat their specialty tortellini in brodo (meat-filled tortellini with broth) and finish your meal off with a limoncello.
Round off the evening with some stand-up at Boom Chicago. A series of comedians improvise and encourage input from the audience (the best ones get a free shot). The show starts at 10:00 p.m. and lasts just over an hour.
Rent bikes or take a bus or train from Central Station to Zaanse Schans in Zaandam, a cultural park with a collection of windmills and traditional buildings that were relocated here beginning in 1961. Here, you can experience how people lived in the mid-19th century, learn more about Dutch history, and buy traditional crafts.
Before leaving Amsterdam, try some traditional Dutch pancakes at The Pancake Club near the Rijksmuseum. Sweet and savory varieties are on offer, as well as poffertjes, a smaller, fluffy pancake that is often eaten with strawberries and cream.
If that doesn’t float your boat, head to Coffee & Coconuts in De Pijp, a multi-story hangar-like café that really brings home how hip yet relaxed Amsterdam can be. Enjoy toast with kimchi or a fresh salad with marinated tempeh.
Van Gogh Museum
Love Stories Archive
Gerard Doustraat 95
De Zaanse Schans
The Pancake Club
Coffee & Coconuts
Text by Daniel Björk