We planned a four day leisure weekend in Amsterdam in part because we’d not been to the Netherlands and because a friend was celebrating her 60th birthday and a group of us also planned to be there.
The weather forecast left a great deal of uncertainty, apart from an assurance that it would include cold, wet and windy conditions.
So we wrapped up warm and set off in our own car to once again use the efficient Meet & Greet service at Manchester Airports Terminal 1.
Sadly, after boarding our EasyJet flight, we had to disembark for a later departure as our plane was ‘broke’ according to the Captain! (Read more about it here)
With only a one hour flight we didn’t waste much of the day by our delayed departure and on arriving at Schiphol Airport, our train journey to the centre was around 15 minutes using the NS Sprinter.
On arrival at Central Station, we collected our 72 hours I amsterdam travel/access cards (€105 each) from a really friendly bunch of people along with maps and guides. Their shop is located within the station. They offer a whole range of travel cards and have an excellent website full of where to go, what to do and what to see. Check it out here
I’d heard a lot about the I amsterdam card, and all of it seemed good. The card gives transport and access to most museums, castles, sites and much more in and around Amsterdam. It also gives discounts on many other sites.
We walked from the station to our hotel .. the Ink Hotel (read an in-depth review here), only later that day did we discover our new cards would have taken us the one-stop to the front door of the hotel with our rather unnecessarily large suitcase.
After checking in, our first stop was to visit Rembrandts House. (€14 each) the place where this Master worked lived and taught others. Its a must-visit! (Read the full review about Rembrandts house here)
To get there we used the very frequent, clean and punctual tram service by GVB. So with free access with our I amsterdam card and transport, we were off to a good start and a determination to make the most of the weekend.
To be honest the weather was really not on our side. It was wet, windy and cold, but despite this we walked a lot and jumped on and off the trams. The advantage of doing this gave us more time to do and see things that otherwise frankly would have been unlikely as we would be too tired.
I loved the I amsterdam app which together with Google maps helped us identify where to walk or which tram to take when and where.
After returning to the hotel by tram, we refreshed, changed and headed out to a rather unusual restaurant called Moeders. You can read more about it here. But the concept is quite unique providing original traditional home-cooked food served on non-matching crockery. I recommend you book when you’re next in Amsterdam.
The following morning after breakfast we strolled around the Jordaan area of the city popping in and out of the quirky shops, before visiting the Tulip Museum (€5 each with the card). Whilst a small shop and basement museum we found it really interesting. Read more about it here. You’ll only need about a half-hour, but given that when you think Amsterdam you associate tulips .. it’s a good idea to find out why.
From there we had a reserved time slot to visit the Ann Frank House just over the other side of the canal.
This was not included in the I amsterdam card but was a small price to pay to have a very moving tour with a clear understanding of how and why Ann Frank, her family and a few others hid from the Nazis when they invaded The Netherlands. This is a must-see and you can read more about my visit here.
After two hours we were ready for lunch and a drink. So together with another couple, we found a local place for lunch. Take a read of what I thought of Vlaamsch Broodhuys here.
Lunch over we jumped on the tram, which really is so frequent it felt like we never waited more than a minute or two. We got off at the much anticipated Rijksmuseum. With entrance covered again by our I amsterdam card (saving us €19 each) we were treated to the most stunning art I have ever seen. I’ll be honest and say I can get easily bored with art museums, but this was different. Read about our visit here.
Over the road we were able to get free entrance to the Royal Coster Diamonds tour. It was incredibly interesting, but you can read more here.
The tram stop was outside so once again we took the tram back to the hotel to get ready for a night out with friends.
Once changed and ready to go out we took the tram to the Central Station. We met up with all our friends and took the free ferry to NSDM. Find out where we went here.
To return from a great night out meant we again took the free ferry back to Central Station and then a tram back to our hotel.
The following morning after a much needed leisurely breakfast and rest, we headed out on the tram to another meeting spot so that we could take in the sights of Amsterdam via a Lovers Canal tour. Once again this was covered by our card saving us €16 each. You can read more about the cruise here. The canal boat allowed us time to admire the architecture and consider the brilliant engineering of the canal network.
We returned to our disembarkation point to stroll through the streets with friends to De Bakkerswinkel for a planned Dutch afternoon tea and birthday celebration for our friend Mo. Read more here.
By now we were tired and in a need of a rest so headed back to our hotel on foot.
Refreshed, we set out to see the much talked about Red light district. All I can say is that it was colourful but not for us.
From here we headed to a booked table at The Avocado Show. I highly recommend this place and you read more about it here.
A great nights sleep, hot shower and fab breakfast were the icing on the cake of an already great city break. Amsterdam offers so much to visitors. If it had not been for the cold damp windy weather we really would have gone further afield with our I amsterdam cards to Harlem, Vollerdam and Noorden to mention just a few places. All of which takes no time to get to, but alas this was our last day and there were things we still wanted to see and do before our return to Schiphol Airport for our Easyjet flight home. Who knows, when we return perhaps we will be able to focus on these surrounding areas.
So we left the luggage at the reception and headed off to the Amsterdam Dutch Verzets Resistance Museum, again free entrance with our much-loved cards. (saving €12 each). Read more about our visit here.
I wish we’d had more time because right opposite the Resistance Museum is Artis, the Amsterdam Zoo.
But we were now desperate to visit a much talked about house called The Willet-Holthuysen Museum. A place frozen in time, saving us €12.50 each because again we could use our I amsterdam cards. Read more about our visit here.
Finally, we had one last place to visit, The Amsterdam Museum, saving us €14 each with the cards. Read more about it here.
If we had not been with friends, my wife and I had not been full of cold, the weather much improved, we could have and would have done so much more! Overall though the cards were well worth the money. They cost €105 each and saved us €11.50 each … but would have been so much more.
Remember the cards cost €105 for 72 hours. This saved 3 days on the trams which would have been €24 (€8 per 24 hours). Plus the savings above.
Getting to the castles, outlying towns and markets would have saved even more… so its a definite thumbs up from me for the I Amsterdam city cards.