Start the day right with a fresh coffee and a big breakfast – you’re going to need it. De Bakkerswinkel, Vinnies, and Two for Joy are all centrally located cafes where you’ll find a great breakfast and lovingly roasted coffee to set you up for the day ahead. Or take a look at some more of Amsterdam’s best breakfast spots here.
10.00: Canal cruise
A quick one-hour canal cruise is one of the best ways to acquaint yourself with the city, and the light on the canals is especially beautiful at this time of the morning. During your trip, you can also jot down a few places that you might want to visit later. A few of the most notable canal cruise operators include Lovers, Canal and Holland International – or you can find out more about canal cruises in Amsterdam here.
11.00: Get on your bike
If the weather is dry, hire a bike! Cycling is the quickest, easiest and most fun way to get around Amsterdam, and allows you to cover much more ground than walking. There are loads of places to hire a bike in Amsterdam, including Macbike which offer 25% discount with the I amsterdam City Card.
11.15: Cycle around the park
Now that you have your bike, it’s time to start exploring. Meander through the canal ring to Amsterdam’s most famous park, Vondelpark. This beautiful green oasis is a joy to explore by bike or foot, with 47 hectares of landscaped parkland, wildlife, sculptures and attractions to discover. Look out for the green parakeets fluttering between the trees, and don’t forget to stop off for a coffee at the 1930s modernist Blauwe Theehuis or Vondelpark3 in the former film museum.
13.00: Lunch in De Pijp
Five minutes away from Vondelpark is the vibrant De Pijp district, where you’ll find an overwhelming selection of fantastic lunch spots. Try Coffee & Coconuts for fresh coconut water and delicious sandwiches in converted art deco cinema, or the Scandinavian Embassy on Sarphatipark for serious coffee and Scandi-inspired bites. Bakers & Roasters is another lunchtime favourite with a menu of fresh sandwiches, salads and pies, fantastic coffee and arty décor.
14.00: Soak up some culture
Amsterdam is world famous for its museums and galleries, and even a short trip is enough to get a taste of the wealth of culture on offer here. After lunch, amble westwards from De Pijp to Museumplein where you’ll find yourself surrounded by global beacons of art and culture – the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum. Each offers a world-class range of permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, so take a look at the cultural calendar to see what’s on. Be sure to cycle through the Rijksmuseum underpass, which takes you right through the heart of the building and attracts regular buskers due to its magical acoustics.
16.00: Explore the real Amsterdam
Now that you’ve fed both your body and your mind, hop back onto your bike and weave your way up through the canals to the Jordaan. If you only have a few hours to get a taste of the real Amsterdam, then this historic neighbourhood is the place to go. Often cited as Amsterdam’s most charming neighbourhood, wandering into the Jordaan feels like stepping back in time. Originally a working class area, the Jordaan’s narrow streets and quaint buildings now make up one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, dotted with independent art galleries, antiques shops, courtyard gardens and atmospheric bars and restaurants. Ditch the map and lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow lanes that sprawl eastwards from Prinsengracht canal, making time for a quick pit stop at Headfirst Coffee Roasters on Westerstraat.
19.00: Cocktail time
All that wandering around is thirsty work, so now’s the time to find a local bar for some liquid refreshment. The Bond themed Vesper Bar is a great place for killer cocktails in the Jordaan, or head across Stationsplein to the Skybar at Double Tree by Hilton for rooftop drinks with a view over Amsterdam’s skyline.
20.00: Stylish street food
Now that you've worked up an appetite,it's time for dinner. Amsterdam is truly a dining out paradise, with something on the menu for everyone. If you’re struggling to choose, then somewhere that really does have something on the menu for everyone is Foodhallen at De Hallen – a former tram depot in the newly hip Oud West neighbourhood now converted into a cultural centre and food and drink haven. Reminiscent of London’s Borough Market, this bustling, artisan food hall serves up a great selection of drinks and street food from some of Amsterdam’s best loved independent establishments. It’s well worth spending a few hours here trying out bites from different vendors. If you’ve returned your bike by this point (which would be a good idea if you’re having a few drinks) then jump on the 7 or 17 tram and get off at Ten Katestraat.
22.00: Hit the town!
Now that your stomach is sufficiently lined, it’s time to head out into Amsterdam’s nightlife. With a global reputation for partying, there’s always something great going on somewhere in the city. If live music’s your thing, then Paradiso, Melkweg or Bitterzoet are good shouts. Clubs like Escape, Sugarfactory and Studio 80 have a strong DJ line-up at weekends, and the city’s brilliant LGBT scene always makes for a colourful night out. Browse the What’s on guide for inspiration, or check out our clubbing and nightlife tips.