Ah Amsterdam, the land of pancakes, great cheese, naughty red rooms and a lady called Anne. I’ve wanted to visit this little Dutch city for years so when we found out Cirque Du Soleil were flying over there for their latest show Amaluna, and the flights would cost us less than a train fair to London we hopped onto Sky Scanner and got ready for a whistle stop tour of Amsterdam with some acrobats thrown in for good measure! Come with me for 48 Hours in Amsterdam with recommendations of the best places to stay, eat and visit!
WHERE TO STAY: Citizen M Schipol Airport
As we were only in Amsterdam for one night we wanted somewhere easy to get to, super comfy to sleep in and simple enough for a whistle stop tour – welcome to Citizen M at Schipol Airport*. I stayed in my first Citizen M hotel last year in London (deets right here) and absolutely loved it! With a seriously comfy giant corner bed, quirky accessories and everything controlled by an iPad I was sold on the Citizen M concept and knew it was the place to stay for our Amsterdam trip.
There’s actually two Citizen M hotels in Amsterdam but ours at Schipol Airport could not have been any easier – simply turn right out of the airport and a short 2 minute walk away there’s your hotel! We dumped our bags, admired the space-age shower pod, played around with the mood lighting for a while and made a b-line for the city!
The Citizen M at Schipol Airport has a bar, a place to grab food and lots of areas to chill out, read or work in it’s super chic lobby. The bed was so comfortable, the movies were all free and the rooms are extremely sound proof so there’s no need to worry about planes keeping you up at night. We had breakfast the next day in with our room which was great – hot and cold selections with yummy pastries, local delicacies and good coffee. I really can’t say enough great things about Citizen M, they certainly get my seal of travel approval.
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WHERE TO EAT: Breakfast/Brunch – Kessens
First stop, food and a beer…the best way to explore! Our flight into Amsterdam called for a 6am start so by the time we made it into the centre it was about 11am and we were pretty hungry so we went on a mission for the famous Dutch pancakes everyone had told me about. It turns out pancakes are pretty popular at 11am in Amsterdam so after trying two places with queues out the door (never fear, we got our pancakes…more on this later!) we ended up on Foursquare and found Kessens a great little spot for breakfast or brunch!
I had their Welsh Rarebit and Joe the Salted Beef open sandwich with an obligatory Vedett (incidentally a lovely smooth blonde lager) and it was all delicious. It came to around 25euros and the staff were incredibly friendly. Very much recommended!
HOW TO TRAVEL: Train & Metro Links
I’ll hold my hands up and say that when Joe and I have gone on city breaks before we’ve usually had a personal driver or just hit the pavements with our trusty google maps, but this time we braved the public transport…in Dutch! The train from Schipol airport (and our hotel) cost around 9 euros return and you can buy tickets from the yellow machines near the airport exits. Super simple and it only takes about 15 minutes to get into the centre.
All the travel sites recommend you buy a map of the city or an iamsterdam card which can work out pretty good value if you plan on taking in a lot of museums during your trip and moving around a lot. Because of our visit to Cirque Du Soleil on the Saturday afternoon we opted not to get a card as we didn’t have time to fit in a lot of what was included on the card but it’s definitely worth looking into.
When we were in the city centre we downloaded a great app called Triposo which got us round the streets on foot and also recommended places to eat – you can even download the maps when you’re on wifi to view offline so you don’t eat up a load of data when on the go. The metro was pretty easy to figure out too, just like the tube in London, and it has little lights that show you exactly where you are on the line which makes finding your stop super easy.
WHAT TO DO: Cirque Du Soleil – Amaluna
Ok, so Cirque Du Soleil is a pretty niche thing to do while you’re in Amsterdam as they only flew in with their big top for a few weeks but it’s worth mentioning that you can find out all sorts of events and attractions that are around when you come to stay. Check out What’s On in Amsterdam during your visit here!
Cirque has moved on to it’s next destination but if you can grab tickets (I think it’s coming to Manchester in September and usually makes a trip to the Royal Albert Hall most Januarys) then 100% do. Amaluna was the third time we’ve seen Cirque Du Soliel (did you know they had a residency in Mexico?!) and it was simply magical. Incredible feats of strength, acrobatics and as always a killer live band with great singers to boot. Highlight of the show for us is the lady who balances bamboo sticks…it sounds about as impressive as a slice of bread but trust me, it’s unbelievable!
WHERE TO EAT: Dinner – The Pancake Bakery
Pancakes for dinner? Are you 5? After our pancake hunting fail in the morning we decided chance our arm back at The Pancake Bakery for dinner and we were in luck! A few minute wait and we were in and staring at the biggest pancake menu I’ve ever seen. Savoury and sweet in an underground restaurant that felt like a secret pancake club. We each ordered a savoury pancake – mine with cream cheese and fresh smoked salmon, Joe with lamb koftas and tzatziki – and decided to finish ourselves off with an epic sweet plate to share.
PANCAKE OVERLOAD! But well worth the wait.
WHAT TO DO: At Night – The Red Light District
There’s something so bizarre about walking passed a bunch of scantily ladies standing around in shop windows but it has to been seen….unless you’re with little ones! No photos in the red light district please, the security won’t think twice about taking your phone or camera off you and throwing it in the river – but this area is something that needs to be seen to be believed and makes for an interesting bucket list tick off at least! I was surprised at how clinical it all looked, you’re literally looking right into the bedrooms of the girls just waiting to be picked. So strange but interesting at the same time.
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WHAT TO DO: The Heineken Experience
Being the beer lovers we are we couldnt come to Amsterdam and not visit The Heineken Experience! I’ve been around a lot of beer and whiskey museums in my time but this was honestly one of the best! Loads to learn, loads to do and so much to interact with. I didn’t realise how many awards Mr Heineken has picked up along the way with his special A yeast and what a lovely company it seems to be.
See how it’s all made, learn how to properly drink a Heineken, take a look at their shire horses, be bottled on their virtual reality ride and of course pick up your two schooners of the good stuff at the end – the best part! It was around 18 euros each to get in and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for about two hours.
Learning how to properly drink a Heineken!
One happy beer loving bearded man!
WHERE TO EAT: Lunch – Proust
After our Heineken Experience we fancied another pint and some food so we took a walk around and found Proust a cool little pub tucked away round the back streets. By night a trendy shabby chic bar, by day a relaxed placed to grab a burger or a club sandwich and enjoy a tipple. Pretty good value and just what the doctor ordered!
WHAT TO DO: The Amsterdam Cheese Museum
Ok, ok, I know what you’re all thinking “But Amelia, how can you come to Amsterdam and not visit Anne Frank’s House?!” Well, being all a bit last minute after getting hold of our Cirque Du Soleil tickets Anne Frank was fully booked for the whole of April! Between 9-3:30pm is the pre-booked ticket entrance and after 3:30pm until about 9pm is a queue up and chance your luck jobby. With the timings of Cirque and our flight home on the Sunday we couldn’t get in – that queue gets biiiiiig so if you can book then definitely do!
So what else do you do with an hour to kill in Amsterdam? Why you visit the Amsterdam Cheese Museum of course! I feel that the word museum is a bit strong here as it’s quite literally a basement under a cheese shop(!) but we certainly enjoyed learning about Dutch cheese, taking cheesy selfies in the photo booth and tasting quite a few varieties along the way which resulted in us lugging a load home with us through customs – try their cumin and truffle variety and the green pesto one, yum!
We had such a great time in Amsterdam and will certainly be back to visit Anne and grab another pancake or four! It’s such a beautiful city and we spent so many hours simply walking around the dainty streets hand in hand taking in our surroundings. I think Amsterdam is a great place for couples and friends alike and you can make it as educational or as chilled out as you like…just don’t forget to try a giant Stroopwafel with your coffee, oh my goodness. Heaven.
We got flights for £70 return so what are you waiting for – get looking on Skyscanner and see if you can bag a deal!
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