Traveling to Amsterdam for the weekend may seem silly, but it actually was the perfect amount of time to experience the highlights of this incredible city. I actually like traveling for short trips for a few reasons: 1. It’s cheaper (less hotel nights, less meals, etc.) 2. Knowing you only have a short amount of time is motivation to go out and experience as much as you can and 3. You don’t experience jetlag or anything like that because aint no one got time for that! Although there was plenty that I didn’t do, I actually managed to do and see a lot in the short time I was there since I planned and researched ahead of time so when I landed, I could hit the ground running!
Landed at Schiphol Airport and took the train into Centraal Station. Amsterdam’s public transportation is very user friendly and a lot easier than trying to rent a car and all that annoying fluff that comes with it.
The first thing you notice when you get off the train and step outdoors is the number of bikes EVERYWHERE- Apparently there are 2 million bikes in Amsterdam and only 900,000 people. They have multi-level bike parking garages instead of parking garages. Bikes are key to getting around Amsterdam (but more on that later).
Since my bike tour was rescheduled due to weather, decided to head to my hotel, drop my stuff off, and go explore. One of the main streets in Amsterdam is Damrak- think a Hollywood Blvd. or 3rd Street Promenade- it is lined with touristy shops and restaurants on one side, and canal boats and office buildings on the other. Wandering around, I quickly started getting hungry once I started noticing everyone eating French fries so decided to track some down at one of the storefronts and they did not disappoint… but then again, a city that is all about French fries to go is my kind of place! Since I felt like I needed to then burn off all the French fries, spent the rest of the day just wandering around the city and getting to know the ins-and-outs of the city’s layout.
One of the reasons I am ok traveling by myself is because it means I can do whatever I want so that night, I ended the day back in my hotel room in a bathrobe with some room service for dinner because why not?!? Haha… Also wanted to make sure I caught up on sleep from the flight and be ready for Day 2!
For my first full day, I woke up early and hit the ground running! I hopped on a tram from Centraal Station and headed to the Museum Quarter, home to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, MOCO (Contemporary Museum) and the Instagram-famous I AmSterdam installation. Sine I pre-booked a ticket for MOCO (highly recommend) and didn’t have to worry about getting in line before the crowds, I took my time and sat and had coffee in the park before heading in. I am not usually a contemporary art kind of person but the MOCO currently has a Banksy and Lichtenstein exhibit so I decided to check it out. The Museum itself is quite small and I was able to go through the whole thing in about 30 minutes (also very disappointed the exit was not through the gift shop haha). I highly recommend checking it out if you have a chance because the exhibits let you get up close and personal with a lot of the art.
Once I got my fair share of Instagram pics, hopped back on the tram (Amsterdam Public Transport FTW!) and headed back to Centraal Station to walk over to the meeting point for my 3 hour city bike tour. Since I was still recovering from my half marathon and my knees were killing me, I was kinda nervous about the bike ride, but the tour guide was super helpful with adjusting the bike so it wouldn’t hurt my knees (the knee brace I bought at a pharmacy there def helped too haha).
I am really glad that riding a bike really is just like riding a bike because I am use to spinning and stationary bikes haha; Fear of falling over on bike was real but once we started out, I was totally comfortable. Amsterdam, being the city of bikes, takes biker safety very seriously- There are dedicated bike lanes in the street and bikers, not pedestrians, have the right of way! Once we learned about the rules of the road, we set off for an 11 mile ride through the city, stopping off at the major landmarks and riding along all of the canals. This tour would be my NUMBER ONE recommendation for first-time visitors to Amsterdam. I turned my Apple Watch to track our route and we really did go everywhere and see a lot of things!
While it was a comfortable ride, it was still enough to exhaust me (and my knees) so headed back to the hotel for another round of room service. While I do wish I would have gone out more to experience the nightlight, I played it safe since I was solo and didn’t want to end up in an unsafe or uncomfortable situation (#Safetyfirst).
Started Day three with sleeping in late since my other bike tour was canceled because of weather… once I did finally decide to get up, had to grab a glass of champagne with my morning coffee and get Sunday Funday started! Having no tours or plans scheduled, I spent hours just wandering around the city and experiencing the culture. I love days like that- when you have no plans and can just be present in the moment. Although it rained in the morning, by the afternoon the skies opened up and the sun was shining and it was just beautiful.
As the sun started to set, I headed back to Damrak for a Pizza Canal Cruise! What better way to experience the canals than by eating pizza, drinking wine and watching the sunset? The canal cruise allows you to experience Amsterdam from a whole new perspective and gives you a chance to appreciate the history and need of the now gorgeous architecture that line the canals. The pizza was also REALLLY good! There are a lot of different canal cruise options ranging from an hour highlights tour to a 3-hour formal dinner cruise, but my pizza cruise was perfect. Once we docked, I headed out into the city to find some dessert and once again, Amsterdam’s “fast food” mentality did not fail because THEY HAVE PIE TO-GO! Seriously America, we need to get on that level! Ended my last night in Amsterdam fat, (a ‘lil) wine drunk and very happy!
Time to go home… Took my time getting back to Centraal Station before hoping on the train to go back to the airport. The airport is only like 10 miles outside central Amsterdam so it’s a short and easy train ride and it literally takes you underneath the airport so it is super easy. If you want to be extra touristy, there is another IAMsterdam sign right when you step out of the airport so you can get your basic insta-game on haha. The airport is also fairly easy to navigate but give yourself plenty of time for customs and to walk to your gate since it might take a while… had to stop in the Premiere Lounge to get my mini-muffins (they seriously are the best) and a glass of rosé to toast to a fabulous weekend and get ready for the 12 hour flight home.
Well, that’s it! How to do Amsterdam in 72 hours if you’re by yourself and want to do things but also be lazy haha. I’m going to try and be better about sharing my travel hacks and advice since I know a lot of you still think it’s crazy to go to Amsterdam for the weekend… but it can be done!!!