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10 Fun Things to do for a Weekend in Amsterdam on a Netherlands Workcation

Join me on a weekend in Amsterdam as part of a workcation in the Netherlands. Discover things to do on an Amsterdam weekend.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a conference in the Netherlands for my day job. Amsterdam, with its charming canals, unique architecture, and vibrant culture, seemed like the perfect place to visit in the Netherlands for a little extra time and I decided to extend my stay and do a weekend in Amsterdam.

It's always a pleasure to add some leisure time to a business trip and explore new places. My husband was able to join me for both the weekend and the conference. I love adding on time to a work trip for what is effectively a subsidized vacation!

Canal in front of canal houses on a weekend in Amsterdam

Let's see how we got on and hopefully inspire you to spend a bleisure weekend in Amsterdam on your next business trip to Holland.

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam can be an expensive destination, especially on weekends in the Spring when the tulips are in bloom.

For my weekend in Amsterdam, we chose to stay at the Hampton by Hilton Amsterdam / Arena Boulevard, located about 6 metro stops away from Central Amsterdam. 

Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena Train and Metro Station at night

This neighborhood offered a quieter and more affordable alternative, allowing us to easily go to where the action is, but also get a quiet night's sleep. 

This was our first time staying outside of the main tourist areas in Amsterdam and I would definitely do it again.

I also had the opportunity to stay at Hotel Okura, a 5-star hotel in Amsterdam, for my conference. If you are interested in a splurge, the Okura costs up to 500 EUR per night and is conveniently located in the de Pijp neighborhood of Amsterdam. 

Room at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam

That's another thing that I like about traveling for work or speaking at conferences. Sometimes, you can stay at a hotel at a price point that you normally wouldn't choose if you were paying for it yourself.

Getting to Amsterdam

To reach Amsterdam, I flew direct from Lisbon Airport, where I grabbed a quick snack in the TAP Portugal lounge (a perk of being a frequent business flier) before boarding my flight. 

You can easily reach Amsterdam from many large and small cities across Europe. Schiphol Airport is the hub for KLM airlines but is served by all major airlines around the world as well as some low cost carriers like Ryanair.

If you are coming from further afield in Asia, why not consider taking Emirates Business Class or Emirates First Class and transiting through Dubai.

Upon arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, I was greeted by the vibrant atmosphere of the Netherlands in Spring. The airport was bustling with tulip-crazed travelers. I couldn't help but join them by admiring the beautiful flower shop near the airport entrance and setting the stage for my weekend adventure in Amsterdam.

Tram on the streets of Amsterdam

Getting Around Amsterdam

We found that Amsterdam was easy to navigate using public transportation. Amsterdam has a Metro, trams, busses, and ferries to get around. 

Instead of buying individual tickets at the ticket machine each time we wanted to ride, I discovered that tapping a European credit card at the entrance is now an option. 

The Amsterdam Metro train with doors open at the station

By tapping in and out, the fare was calculated automatically, making it convenient and hassle-free to explore the city. If you plan to ride public transportation a lot, I recommend buying a 24-hour tram, metro, and bus ticket for 9 EUR. 

You'll need to stop at one of the ticket machines in the station to purchase a day ticket.

Note that you can also access public transportation using the I Amsterdam City Card. Is the I Amsterdam Card worth it? Our friends over at Hidden Holland think it is.

Things to Do in Amsterdam

Now let's take a look at how we spent our weekend in Amsterdam with these fun things to do. Amsterdam is a city that lends itself to serendipity. I recommend not over-planning it. Pick a neighborhood or two and see where the day takes you.

1. Go for an Amsterdam Photowalk

One of my favorite activities in Amsterdam (or any European city break for that matter) is simply strolling through its streets, with only a loose destination in mind. 

Three old timey white sculptures on a balcony spotted on a weekend in Amsterdam

Street art bird on a garage door in AmsterdamCollage of a cat and a dog in shop windows in Amsterdam

By "loose destination", I often mean turning to walk down streets that look like they have fabulous doors (or at least better doors than the street I'm currently on). In fact, I spotted many great Amsterdam doors covered in wisteria on our Spring walk in Amsterdam!

Pair of doors surrounded by wisteria in Amsterdam

I enjoyed marveling at the unique architecture, capturing photographs, and imagining what it would be like to live in one of the picturesque canal houses. 

Purple bicycle covered in flowers next to De Slutyswacht in Amsterdam

The late afternoon treated us to breathtaking views near De Slutyswacht, a unique crooked lock keepers house from the late 17th century, designed to protect the city against enemy ships. It was a fantastic spot to admire the surroundings and soak in the atmosphere. 

Wandering around the canals in the vicinity of Jordaan, we couldn't help but notice the charming Art Deco font used to label the bridges. It added a touch of elegance to the already picturesque scene. 

Art Deco sign on Ritsaert Ten Catebrug in Amsterdam

I love mindfully noticing and capturing quirky urban sights that catch my attention. 

2. Snack Outside

Amsterdam offers a delightful array of outdoor cafes where you can relax and indulge in local snacks. 

Bar Bouche near Wibautstraat Metro was a perfect spot to enjoy craft beer and try both meat and vegetarian bitterballen. The mustard served with the bitterballen had a potent horseradish kick so beware if you are sensitive to the taste of horseradish like I am. 

Collage of snacks and craft beers at Bar Bouche on a weekend in Amsterdam

Tisfris, overlooking De Slutyswacht, was a lovely spot to sip a Dutch beer, drink in the views, and people watch, especially when rowdy boats cruised along the adjacent canal.

3. Pay Your Respects at the Dutch National Holocaust Memorial

While exploring Amsterdam, we unexpectedly stumbled upon the Dutch National Holocaust Memorial. It was a poignant moment that called for quiet reflection. 

The Dutch National Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam

Each brick in the memorial represented the name of a Jew murdered during World War II, serving as a powerful reminder of the past and the importance of remembrance. The memorial is comprised of 102,000 bricks. The scale of this tragedy is hard to fathom.

4. Try Amsterdam Specialty Coffee (Actual Coffee, Not "Coffee")

Amsterdam is known for "coffee shops" that mainly serve cannabis. This can make it tricky when you are searching for actual coffee. To find real coffee in Amsterdam, try searching Google Maps for "Specialty Coffee". 

Coffee Company is a local chain and provided a cozy atmosphere to savor a cup of batch brew and indulge in a slice of delicious vegan mocha loaf.

Collage of cake and specialty coffee around Amsterdam

One of our favorite weekend city break pastimes is to sample local coffee roasts. In Amsterdam, head to Jordaan where you'll find a few different specialty coffee roasters in the neighborhood. 

Monk's, located near Jordaan, offered single-origin filter coffee paired with a scrumptious cinnamon bun. We also stopped at Cafecito for a second round of coffee. We needed plenty of caffeine to fuel our Amsterdam weekend!

5. Dine on International Cuisine

Amsterdam's diverse culinary scene offers a wide variety of options. We made a reservation at Tashi Deleg, a unique restaurant that offers two distinct menus: Indonesian and Tibetan. 

We opted for the Nasi Rames, a variant of the Indonesian rice table that Amsterdam is famous for, but served on a single plate. We also ordered the Tibetan equivalent of a rice table on a single plate and the flavors were a real treat. 

Collage of dishes we tried at Tashi Deleg, an Indonesian and Tibetan Restaurant in Amsterdam

You can make a reservation at Tashi Deleg using The Fork. This restaurant is popular so it's important to book ahead.

Axum, an Ethiopian restaurant near Wibautstraat, served a mouthwatering vegetarian platter which we paired with a spicy lamb dish, all accompanied by a refreshing Eritrean coconut beer.

Ethiopian platter at Axum in Amsterdam

6. Shop and Eat at De Hallen

De Hallen's Sunday Market provided an excellent opportunity to explore local crafts and support talented Dutch artisans. We spent time browsing through the market, discovering unique handmade products. I picked up a pair of colorful socks. 

Collage of photos of food and shops at De Hallen in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Food Hallen, located within the same complex, offered a diverse range of high-end fast food. We couldn't resist trying the steamed pork buns, which reminded us of the famous TimeOut Market (one of our favorite European food markets) in Lisbon.

7. Take the Amsterdam Ferry to STRAAT

To experience Amsterdam's vibrant street art scene, we hopped on the ferry to NDSM and visited STRAAT, the city's street art museum. The public ferry is free for pedestrians and cyclists. You can catch the ferry at Pontsteiger or behind Amsterdam Centraal. 

Queue for the ferry at Pontsteiger on a weekend in Amsterdam

The ride from Pontsteiger is shorter (about 10 minutes), but the ferries don't run as often (every 20 min or so). Expect a 15-20 minute ride from Amsterdam Centraal, but the ferries come more frequently (perhaps every 10 minutes) 

Street art at STRAAT in Amsterdam

This innovative museum showcased stunning works by street artists from around the world, with the pieces commissioned and then created on-site. The museum was a feast for the eyes and the works were often thought-provoking. 

My favorite piece was actually just pure fun and nostalgia. I spotted a 3D pixelated Donkey Kong sitting among the rafters of the warehouse that is home to STRAAT. I could almost feel Donkey Kong poised to throw a barrel down upon us!

Street art dragon with Donkey Kong in the background at Straat in Amsterdam

8. Loiter Around Dam Square

Returning to Amsterdam Centraal via ferry, we made our way to Dam Square, Amsterdam's central hub filled with tourist attractions. We were specifically looking for a cone of frites and mayonaise. 

Cone of frites with mayonnaise in Amsterdam

After we paid an eye-popping price, we realized that we probably should have done this in a less touristy area to save a bit of money. Nonetheless, the fries were delicious, offering a satisfying treat after a day of exploration.

9. Try Amsterdam Craft Beer and a Veggie Burger

After a long day at the Tech conference I was speaking at, we headed to Troost in de Pijp to relax and recharge. This craft beer bar offered a variety of refreshing brews, and their meatless burgers, while surprising to find a totally vegetarian menu at a brew pub, were a nice accompaniment.

Two glasses of Dutch craft beer at Troost in AmsterdamMeatless burger at Troost Gastropub in Amsterdam

10. Grab a Drink with a View

Although my work conference limited my leisure time during the week, we did manage to find a moment to unwind and enjoy a cocktail at the bar near the top of the Okura Hotel. 

Lemon cocktail and glass of wine at the Okura rooftop bar in Amsterdam

The panoramic views of Amsterdam provided a fantastic backdrop as the sun set on our bleisure weekend in the Netherlands.

View from the top floor bar at the Okura Hotel in Amsterdam

Is it Worth Spending a Weekend in Amsterdam Before or After a Business Trip?

Yes, a weekend in Amsterdam is always a good idea and when you have the opportunity to add on a city break to a business trip, you save time and money as well. If you can spare a little more time, I also recommend a visit to Rotterdam or The Hague to see a different side of the Netherlands.

Canal boat covered with potted plants with Dutch canal houses in the background in Amsterdam

My weekend in Amsterdam was the perfect add-on to my work trip, allowing me to explore the city and indulge in its vibrant culture. From photowalks along iconic canals to sampling international cuisines and discovering unique street art, I had an amazing time and I hope you do too on your next bleisure trip!

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 10 Fun Things to do for a Weekend in Amsterdam on a Netherlands Workcation
10 Fun Things to do for a Weekend in Amsterdam on a Netherlands Workcation
Join me on a weekend in Amsterdam as part of a workcation in the Netherlands. Discover things to do on an Amsterdam weekend.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog