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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

This past weekend, flights were cheap and Monday classes nonexistent, so a friend and I packed our backpacks with a change of clothes and a toothbrush and headed to Amsterdam. With no real plans, we approached our trip to the Netherlands with a sort of spontaneity that was slightly foreign to us, being seasoned planners, but it ended up being the perfect way to explore the city without being tied down by reservations or a suitcase. Based on our trip and a few recommendations we didn’t quite fulfil, here follows a definitive guide to spending 72 hours in Amsterdam.

Day One

5 AM: Rise and shine! Your flight will inevitably be at an ungodly hour, so make sure you’re on the first train to the airport.

7 AM: While waiting for your boarding group to be called (there is a high chance you’ll be last), read up on some of the history of Amsterdam, as well as sift through various must-sees and their accompanying essays in guidebooks, like the Monocle Guide.

8AM: Perhaps your takeoff song is ‘Amsterdam’ by Coldplay.

11 AM: Now that you have passed through customs (‘just visiting for the weekend!’), take the train from the airport to the Amsterdam Centraal Station (only €4!) and find yourself in a bustling city centre. It’s time to get your priorities straight, so naturally, your first stop is for stroopwafels. Try shops like Melly’s, Hans Egstorf, or the ever-popular Van Wondren, though be prepared to stand in a long line of tourists for the latter.

1 PM: Now that you’ve experienced the art of the stroopwafel and been ruined on grocery-store brands for life, continue to make your way south, stopping for a snack and a beer at a cafe. Take advantage of the sun and the signs of spring: buds on the trees, and more bikes than you’ve ever seen in your life.

3 PM: Now would be a great time to drop your bags off if you have that luxury, or if not, head to a museum like the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, or Rijksmuseum to marvel at seventeenth-century Dutch art or paintings of sunflowers and starry nights. A word to the wise: book tickets for any museum you want to visit well in advance. Perhaps not as applicable for a spontaneous weekend jaunt, but don’t expect to be able to snag tickets day of!

6 PM: For dinner, there are so many wonderful options that there’s no definitive best, but try restaurants like Hap-Hmm for classic Dutch food, Wilde Zwijnen for a cool interior, Stork for seafood, or Restaurant de Plantage for a really neat outdoor space.

9 PM: Head to a bar to chill out and play cards while you wait for the night to begin, and try some bitterballen while you’re at it. They’re fried Dutch meatballs, but the jury’s still out on what exactly they contain.

12 AM-Late: Amsterdam is known for its nightlife, so find a club and get dancing. Most won’t even be open until 1-2 AM, so try to forget you were up at 5 AM to catch a flight.

day Two

9AM-12PM: Depending on when you got home the night before (likely as the sun was coming up, but I won’t make assumptions), it’s time to caffeinate and rehydrate. Head to a cafe like the Scandinavian Embassy where you can eat the best cardamom bun in the world, or local favorites like Bocca Coffee, Uncommon Amsterdam, or LOT61 Roasters.

1 PM: Take a boat tour through the canals, where you can learn more about the city planning and unique layout of their canal system. Most of the iconic canal houses were designed in the Dutch Baroque style, featuring narrow structures and tall gable roofs.

3 PM: Pop into some concept stores and bookshops—Athenaeum Boekhandel is a mecca for magazines and books, with an expansive English language section, Kramer Kunst & Antiek is an established antique store selling iconic Dutch tiles, Rika Studios is a clean concept store with unique fashion, Misc is a simple but sophisticated stationary store, and Architectura & Natura is a beautiful modern bookstore. 

6 PM: Make drinks reservations at bars like The Flying Dutchman, which is known for having the largest bar back in the Netherlands, The Pulitzer Bar, a chic hotel bar, or W Lounge, a rooftop bar with lovely views.

8 PM: Find something simple for dinner, like pizza from Sotto Pizza or Indonesian from Resturaunt Blauw. Many of the streets alongside the canals have trees which are lit up by fairy lights, the bridges too. Wander around and watch the animated conversations through cafe windows.

10 PM: Going out again? Good for you. Still tuckered out from last night? I understand.

Day Three

9 AM: It wouldn’t be a proper weekend trip without brunch. Greenwoods has two locations and boasts the best brioche French toast and a shakshuka to die for. It’s worth the wait. If you’re not in the area, try Oeuf Amsterdam or Locals All Day Brunch.

12 PM: If you haven’t made time for them already, you need to make your way to a fry shop. Forget lunch, because each serving is practically a meal. Fabel Frites always has a line, but it moves quickly and it’s worth it for parmesan fries with truffle mayo. These also double as the ultimate hangover meal.

2 PM: What’s a trip to Amsterdam without the consumption of Heineken? Take a tour of the brewery at the Heineken Experience and learn all about the history of the beer, and don’t neglect your drink tokens, which allow you to enjoy two glasses of the most refreshing beer in the world.

4 PM: It’s almost time to head back to the airport, but not yet—for an early dinner, get loaded paninis at Zero Zero. If you go late enough (and not on a Saturday) the line won’t be out the door. Or, grab a pre-travel coffee at Blue Amsterdam, located on the top floor of a shopping centre. Take in your last view of the city with panoramic, 360-degree views.

5 PM: On your way back to the train station, take the long way and wander through the quieter neighbourhoods. Indulge in a final goodbye stroopwafel. It’s been a good weekend!

Grace Roberts

St. Andrews '24

Grace is a fourth-year at the University of St Andrews, studying English and Comparative Literature. She's from New Jersey and loves to travel (the more mountainous, the better), talk all things design and lifestyle, and give unsolicited skincare recommendations. She can usually be found practicing restraint in bookstores, using the em dash to excess, or perfecting her french toast recipe in the free time she actually doesn't have.