48 Hours in... Wham, bam, Amsterdam

 Julia Hanley-Gordon spends a weekend away in the outstandingly alternative Dutch city

If you want a weekend break somewhere close but feels like you’re far away, there is only one place. Amsterdam. 

The city known for its red lights and things that go up in smoke, is much more than those stereotypes. With celebrated restaurants, unique cocktail bars and art exhibits aplenty there is enough to keep all walks of life busy. Here’s why it should be on the top of your bucket list for a weekend away….


When flying to Amsterdam from London (easyjet.com), as soon as you are up in the air at the highest point you are then descending back down to earth. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get to Amsterdam city centre from Schiphol airport is to pick up one of the frequent trains to Centraal station (€3.90 each way). You can find the entrance to the station when you exit Schiphol (while still inside the building), just take the down escalator. You can buy tickets from the machines right near them. Centraal station will be clearly indicated on the TV monitors showing the platform for the next departure. The journey is about 20 minutes.

Alternatively, you can also reach Amsterdam in four hours from London St Pancras via Brussels with Eurostar (eurostar.com).


Terpentijn  www.terpen-tijn.nl/en/

The food at Terpentijn is delicious and different. Inspired by French and Asian dishes, it’s hard to choose what to order because you’ll want it all. If you are looking for a quick bite and some drinks, the basement is perfect with its huge bar and street food menu. For more of a dining experience the upstairs restaurant will fit the bill. The entire place has a very cool, relaxed ambiance which will leave you wanting to come back.

Febo multiple locations

If you want your fast food without any human contact, then Febo is a great bet. Febo is an Automat, which if you’ve never heard of that, is essentially a wall of little glass doors that has food behind them. You put money into the corresponding slot to take out the food you want. Food from a wall! It’s as fast as fast food can get. It’s great for a quick snack or an intoxicated end-of-night feast. My personal favourites are the Veal Croquette and the Cheese Soufflé! 

Lion Noir www.lionnoir.nl 

When you need a great cocktail place and a cool dinner spot in one, look no further than Lion Noir. The menu is seasonal and sourced locally so it is always changing but it’s always a crowd pleaser. They take reservations online so you can book ahead, and I recommend you do. The trendy bar is fun to drink at all year-round but if you’re lucky enough to be there in warm weather, there is a huge outdoor terrace. 



Brouwerij 't IJ www.brouwerijhetij.nl/?lang=en 

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the Netherlands, windmills come to mind and that’s exactly where you will be drinking at this Dutch Brewery. The largest windmill in Amsterdam is frequented by tourists and locals alike because Brouwerij 't IJ has some of the best beers in all of Amsterdam. You can order each 250ml beer for about three Euros or get a flight of beers to try them all. 

Once you know your favourite, you can find this beer sold all over the city. If you start to feel buzzed faster than normal there’s a reason, some of the beers are over 6.5% ABV. There is seating inside and out but it’s usually very crowded so try to come early. For a tourist this place checks a lot of boxes – windmill selfie and amazing beer. Done.

Tales and Spirits www.talesandspirits.com 

This centrally located bar has the best cocktails in the city. Not only are they unique and fun but they’re truly delicious. The uber cool staff really know their stuff and are super helpful even on busy nights (of which there are many). The atmosphere is relaxed but cool and the excellent posh food will line your stomach pre or post cocktails.

Cut Throat www.cutthroatbarber.nl 

It’s a bar, it’s a barber shop, it’s a restaurant – it’s Cut Throat. The drinks are great all-rounders, an excellent local and international beer selection, fun and tasty cocktails and good old coffee made however you like. The bar is busy all day but at night it really comes to life. If you feel peckish, the menu is based on American classics and so-far I haven’t had anything that I didn’t like (and I’m American). Attached to the bar is a barber shop which is as good as Canterbury’s own Fella, so if you need a spruce up away, they are the ones to keep you handsome. Start your night there and you will be on to great things in Amsterdam. 


Go Gallery www.gogallery.nl 

There is plenty of good street art around Amsterdam but if you want to find it curated in one place then a stop at Go Gallery is essential. They have exhibitions based on different themes from street artists all over the world. All are welcome to pop in and have a look but if you have euros burning in your pocket a lot of the art is for sale too. 

Foam www.foam.org 

If photography is more your thing, Foam is one of the best I’ve ever been to. They usually have four exhibitions on, which change every three months and they cover all styles of photography so you are bound to find one that interests you. The documentary style exhibitions are by far my favourite but the fashion and art shows are excellent as well. 

Coffee Shops

Dampkring www.dampkring-coffeeshop-amsterdam.nl 

Not far from the Amsterdam Flower Market is a coffee shop which was made famous when a scene from Oceans 12 was filmed there and it has stayed famous because of the friendly atmosphere. Dampkring’s menu is huge and very detailed. This is a great first stop for the seasoned smokers and newbies alike. Brad Pitt and George Clooney can’t be wrong.

Barney’s www.barneysamsterdam.com 

There are four locations to Barney’s: Uptown, The Farm, Coffee Shop and The Lounge. You can smoke at all four locations but each one will give you something different such as nice food, beer and souvenir shopping. If you had to pick one, I would go with Barney’s Lounge which has a great atmosphere and even better people working there.

Where to stay

Hoxton Hotel https://thehoxton.com/holland/amsterdam/hotels 

Stylish, well located and at a decent price, the Hoxton is a great option for anyone traveling to Amsterdam. The lobby is buzzing from the bar and restaurant. The rooms are decorated in a modern/bohemian feel which is how I want my bedroom to be at home. 

Coho Apartment Suites http://www.cohosuites.com 

The best way to really feel like a local, is to stay in an apartment. You get more of an experience of how it is to live there. Coho Apartments is exactly where you would want to live if you were from Amsterdam. There are two apartments in a beautiful building next to the canal. The apartments are close enough to walk to anywhere you want but far enough out of the tourist spots to give you that real neighbourhood feel.