It doesn’t get much better than Amsterdam in the summer. Bars and restaurants fling open their doors and spill out onto the cobbled streets, the parks are full of people (and perfumed by the beautiful smell of skunk smoke) and there are tons of free parties popping up all over town. Plus, pretty much everywhere has a garden or terrace for al fresco dining or drinking in the sun.
Forget what your mate told you about getting high and having his wallet stolen by a hooker – that’s so passé. Summer in Amsterdam has a whole lot more to offer. Whether you’re just passing through or have a whole weekend to kill, our quick fire guide will help you make the most of every minute in this one-of-a-kind city.
if you've got four hours: Even if you’re rushing between meetings or going pedal to the metal trying to hit that deadline, we’ve all gotta eat, right? We’ve got just the thing for you. Restaurant As is a four minute stroll away, serving up seasonal plates with an emphasis on local ingredients, and a set menu dinner that won’t break the bank. For a quick lunchtime bite, try Sla (a seven minute walk) for super-healthy salads, soups and vegan protein bowls that will bring you back to life if last night involved an Amstel or two too many.
Want to head for a drink but don’t fancy getting lost in the Red Light District and inadvertently ending up at a peep show? Try Butcher’s Tears – a cool little craft brewery and beer garden just eight minutes on bike from the hotel.
And even if it’s a whistlestop trip, it would be rude not to pick up a souvenir for your loved ones back home. Lucky for you (or them, depending how you look at it), Beethovenstraat is right on our doorstep with chic stores like PAUW and Groven+.
if you have four hours: Need a culture fix? Bike to Museumplein, where you’ll find some of Europe’s best galleries: the Stedelijk, the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Bonus, you can get the must-have Insta shot of the two metre high Iamsterdam sign. After your museum blitz, grab a beer at T Blauwe Theehuis in neighbouring Vondelpark. The 1930s cafe-bar is one of the the city’s most loved spots and its enormous terrace is always lively.
If you’d rather soak up the city than explore the museums, the vibrant De Pijp neighbourhood is also just a short cycle away. There’s no better place to sample Amsterdam’s foodie scene than hipster cafe CT Coffee & Coconuts and Desa, where you can get your hands on some of Amsterdam’s famed Indonesian cuisine. And don’t miss a wander Albert Cuypstraat street market. The authentic stroopwafel (waffle cookies) are sure to make your mouth water
If you have eight hours: Even if you’re working most of the day, you can still see plenty of the city in an evening. Sunny afternoons in Vondelpark can’t be beaten – sink a couple beers on the grass or enjoy one of the free summer concerts at the Open Air Theatre. It’s less ten minutes by bike from citizenM and cycling round the lake should be on every Amsterdam bucket list.
After, you might want to try out one of Amsterdam’s “cultural drinking attractions”. At the House of Bols Cocktail Experience you can learn about the traditional Dutch spirit genever and how to shake your own drinks. Now that’s our kind of culture!
Staying central for dinner means you can walk across Museumplein and sneak a peek at the incredible Rijksmuseum en route to De Pijp – which has everything from street food stalls to Michelin starred meals. For a really special evening, twice Michelin starred Ciel Bleu – on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura – is just the ticket. If you’d prefer something a little less grand, we love Spaghetteria, a few minutes further walk east on Van Woustraat.
if you have 24 hours: We think the perfect day in ‘Dam starts with a 20 minute cycle to the Jordaan. It’s got bikes, bars and boats, what more could you want? Stop en route at Lavinia on Kerkstraat for breakfast where ou’ll find open baked eggs and smoothie bowls – a nice break from all the pancakes.
When you get to the Jordaan, the Nine Streets shopping district is historic, beautiful and brimming with independent boutiques like Mini Mint Mall. You'll even find our favourite bookstore, MENDO, there, whose books you'll find in our hotesl, plus tons of little cafes if you feel like taking a load off. Don’t miss cute canalside De Laatste Kruimel for a cheeky midday sweet treat.
After a bit of retail therapy, an afternoon boat tour is the perfect way to see plenty of the city. Catch Stromma’s 100 Highlights Cruise from Central Station – kick back for the hour long trip as you glide across the canals seeing some of Amsterdam’s proudest buildings. Whether you stroll, cycle or jump in a cab back to citizenM, you’ll pass some top notch restaurants for dinner on your way, just in time for those evening hanger pains. If you’re pushing the boat out, it has to be MOMO, a super-fashionable spot serving up Asian fusion to die for. For something a bit more affordable, we’d pick The Seafood Bar, a bustling family-run spot with a fresh, locally sourced menu.
If you’re up for a big night out, it’s just a hop over the Singelgracht to a hub of bars and clubs: try Suzy Wong, where you can sip mouthwatering cocktails in a chic setting, or Bar Lux, where the party keeps bumping right through to the early hours.
if you have 48 hours: Hopefully you didn’t party too hard after your first 24 hours (see above), because you’ve got no time to make the most of our XL beds on this trip. Grab a coffee at canteenM and cure your hangover at the chic Scandinavian Embassy in De Pijp, whose Instagrammable breakfast plates will get you moving again – if you can survive the 10 minute bike ride.
Afterwards, head east to the beautiful De Hortus botanical gardens – they’ve been open for over 100 years and even have a Butterfly House. If you prefer your animals a bit more ferocious, you’ll also be right by ARTIS, Amsterdam’s zoo.
Heading back west towards the IJ river, stop into super cute Betty Blue for a light lunch, some of the best sweet treats in town and an Instagram-worthy interior. Afternoon is the time to make the most of the sunshine, so make for Blijburg Beach, an artificial stretch of sand on a reclaimed island. On a hot day it’s almost tropical: top up your tan, have a dip in the water or see how many pina coladas you can get through. Just don’t forget the cocktail umbrellas.
Stroll back towards the ferry port and you can take advantage of the newly renovated A’DAM Lookout, where the observation deck offers up a bird’s eye view of the canalways. If you’re brave, you can even swing out over the edge, but we won’t judge if you’d rather just grab a drink and enjoy the views before catching the ferry back to Central Station.
Back on the south side of the river IJ, you’ll be right by Hannekes Boom – THE place to be when the sun comes out in Amsterdam. The brightly coloured benches are packed with locals and tourists alike, and the vibe is super laid back – people even pull up in their own boats to grab a beer. Just try not to fall in the water after one too many, though you wouldn’t be the first.
Got even more time to spend in Amsterdam? See what else you can get up to here.