Amsterdam, 2014-08-18

Amsterdam is probably one of the most popular city trip destinations of Europe. This doesn’t mean it can’t be a relaxing weekend away. A beautiful city with a lot of water, great places to eat, still pretty green, and located in the country where riding a bike is like walking. There are plenty of guides with great tips for this gorgeous city, but we wanted to show you a more slowed down version of Amsterdam. With my Nikon I jumped on the Thalys and this is the result of 2 days of walking and biking around this inspiring city.

Travelling by train is the perfect way to start your relaxing weekend away. You don’t have to stress about getting lost, or looking for a parking spot. The Thalys to Amsterdam starts in Paris and stops in 4 stations, Brussels and Antwerp and the belgian stations on that list. From Brussels it takes 1u49 minutes to arrive in Amsterdam Central station. Depending if you travel in Comfort 1 or 2, prices go from 29 to 49 euros. With 12 trains a day, this really is the easiest way to travel to Amsterdam. Keep an eye on their website, because they have a lot of great deals. At the moment there is a summer promotion with a 60% discount for last minutes! We travelled in comfort 1, the price difference is most of the time pretty small but the comfort is higher: bigger seats and you get something to eat and drink. I also noticed that it is always a lot more quiet in Comfort 1, this makes it perfect to take a short nap and before you know it, you are in Amsterdam. I can’t wait to discover other cities with Thalys. As I was going through their website, I noticed destinations such as Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Lille, Avignon,Den Haag, Utrecht, Rotterdam and many others! To keep in mind for your next city trip, no?

I think 2 nights and 2 full days is perfect to relax in Amsterdam, of course a longer stay is better but a weekend away can do miracles for those stressful times. Here is a list of spots and activities that we tested and proved to be relaxing. Stay away from the touristic spots, get on that bike and follow us!

  • Stout & co: This green oasis in Amsterdam is absolutely perfect. A great mix between gorgeous design and great service to make you feel right at home. The owners of this B&B will welcome you with a big smile and give you a lot of tips. Enjoy your breakfast in the morning and start your day on a good note. (To be honest, I didn’t want to leave.)
  • Renting a bike: Close to the B&B you can rent a bike at Mac Bikes. Pretty red bikes are available for you for at a fair price, around 25 euros for 2 days! Riding your bike next to the water is super relaxing, also great to work on your tan. Don’t forget to put on suncreen!
  • Amsterdam Noord: You can reach this green area with the free ferry to EYE located close to the station. Crossing the river is a fun activity on it’s own but as soon as you arrive at Noord you’ll want to hop on your bike and ride it the entire day. It’s a green open space, which makes you forget for a moment that you are in Amsterdam. But there is a lot going on there, cool spots are opening and you can feel the entrepreneurial vibe of the city. The Dutchmen have a great system of bringing old forgotten places back to life. Different organisations work together and this results in a vivid environment which constantly renews itself.
  • EYE: This beautiful building is worth visiting, in the evening you can catch a movie and during the day you can enjoy a beautiful view from their breathtaking terrace. They organize four exhibitions per year, in which film is presented as the newest of all art forms.
  • Tolhuistuin: This place reminded us a lot of Berlin, a hidden space where you’ll want to hide an entire day. This is a venue where you can relax, dance, eat, drink and party. There are even DJ-sets in the afternoon. The open-air area is open during the summer.
  • Open Coöp: A beautiful house transformed into a co-working space for creative people. We had lunch there, they serve a buffet where you can choose whatever you like. You fill your plate and for around 7 euro you have a healthy and fresh lunch. They offer a lot of vegetarian options as well! Another plus is the coffee roaster located in the building, which results in a delicious espresso after your meal!
  • 3D print Canal House: If you are a bit geeky, you’ll want to have a quick look at this place. It is an exhibition, research- and building site for 3D Printing Architecture. A unique project where an international team of partners collaborate in ‘research & doing’ linking science, design, construction and community by 3D printing a canal house at this expo-site.
  • De Ceuvel: Our host Steven was part of this inspiring project, unfortunately we didn’t have the time to go there but it is worth the bike ride! De Ceuvel is a planned workplace for creative and social enterprises adjacent to the van Hasselt kanaal of the river IJ in Amsterdam North. They turned the site into a regenerative urban oasis. It’s crazy to see those boathouses on land.
  • KU: It’s the perfect address for a night out, thanks to their modern but cozy interior and great Japanese menu.
  • Vondelpark BBQ spot: I love sitting in a park and BBQ’ing with a picnic. At the most beautiful park of Amsterdam, Vondelpark, you have a few BBQ spots where it is allowed to grill your meal. You can go to Marqt for your groceries and have a great lunch or dinner in the open air. Isn’t that relaxing? Leila loves this park and went there a lot when she was still living there.
  • Prinsenstraat: Besides ‘de negen straatjes’ you also have other great shopping areas, Prinsenstraat is one of those. I bought some awesome sneakers there and saw a lot of beautiful stores. It’s still an upcoming area but it has a lot to offer. Afterwords you can walk next to the Prinsengracht
  • Sla: This healthy lunchspot has several locations in Amsterdam, one is near Prinsenstraat. It is a address for those who love salads and prefer to combine them themselves. It has a clean white interior and is probably one of the most famous salad bars of Amsterdam.
  • 3 graefkens: This establishment is known for their mouthwatering cakes. Leila took me there a year ago and I still dream about their red velvet cake. It is a great stop if you do want to go into the city centre.
  • Other tips: you can find some of our other tips here

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PS: These are some other spots we wanted to see but weren’t able to; Vengkel StachDe Vegetarische slager (vegetarian butcher), Baksels and Roest. The reviews of Sla, Open Coöp en Tolhuistuin will be online next week!
PS2: Wondering where we found the music? Well it’s by Olympic Ayers, we love them! Soon we’ll post a Q&A so you can find out more about them.