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Short breaks in Amsterdam – canalside bike rides, world-class art and café culture

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A short break in Amsterdam might not seem enough, but our diverse 48-hour itinerary will help you make the most of your stay in an Amsterdam hotel.

Amsterdam short break day one, morning

Bike hire is easy in this cycle-friendly city, particularly around Centraal Station and Dam Square. But even if you want to explore the city on foot, the best place to start a short break in Amsterdam is along the concentric 17th-century canals that ripple out from the centre.

From the Royal Palace in Dam Square, follow Damstraat towards Waterlooplein’s flea market in the old Jewish quarter. Afterwards, visit the Rembrandt House Museum before heading along the Singel canal, passing possibly the world’s narrowest house at no. 7 near Westermarkt Church in Jordaan. Alternatively, head directly to Westermarkt and beat the afternoon crowds at Anne Frank’s House.

Start: Neuwe Kerk (New Church).
Nearest tram stop: Dam Square


Afternoon

Refuel over lunch in one of Jordaan’s numerous cafés. The Art Deco-inspired interior of Café Thijssen on Brouwersgracht is a local treasure. For retail therapy, Amsterdam’s 9 Streets between Leidsestraat and Raadhuisstraat south of Jordaan are crammed with unique Dutch designs and curious shops like dental boutique Witte Tanden Winkel which stocks over 500 types of toothbrushes.

Start: Brouwersgracht, Jordaan.
Nearest tram stop: Noodermarkt


Evening

Many visitors can’t resist a look around the Red Light District (Rossebuurt) to observe its infamous legalised sex trade. Early evening is the best time to stroll through this picturesque quarter’s cobbled streets near gothic Oude Kerk or Old Church. Note that it is forbidden to photograph any occupied windows.

Later, sample the area’s South-east Asian cuisine – the Nieuwmarkt square teems with Indonesian, Malaysian and Thai eateries like Tujuh Maret.

Start: Oude Kerk (Old Church).
Nearest tram stop: Dam Square


 

Amsterdam short break day two, morning

Enjoy the colours of Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) between Dam Square and lively Rembrandtplein before a culture fix in the Museum Quarter. The Van Gogh Museum on Museumplein has the world’s largest Van Gogh collection and Rijksmuseum houses Holland’s largest art collection. 

If art isn’t your thing, try the Heineken Experience, a tour of the original brewery and home to Heineken shire horses, in nearby De Pijp neighbourhood.

Start: Bloemenmarkt, Singel canal. 
Nearest tram stop: Museumplein


Afternoon

Multicultural De Pijp hides a treasure trove of eateries for lunch. On Frans Halsstraat, there’s fine dining vegetarian-style at De Waaghals or traditional haunts like Café Kale on Weteringschans.

Explore the green spaces of Vondelpark, west of the Museum Quarter, crammed with cyclists, street performers and in-line skaters. Back towards the centre, the terrace-lined Leidseplein square is the spot to people watch over coffee or a cool Dutch beer.

Start: Frans Halsstraat, De Pijp. 
Nearest tram stop: Stadhouderskade/Heineken Brewery


Evening

End your Amsterdam short break with a relaxing canal-boat dinner cruise along the River Amstel and canals, flanked at night by illuminated houses and bridges. For an alternative dining experience, the globally renowned Supperclub’s blend of cabaret, dancing and performance makes for a mesmerising evening near Dam Square.

Start: Dam Square. 
Nearest tram stop: Dam Square