Amsterdam airport is about 30 minutes from the central station in the city, making it one of the best cities in Europe to enjoy a simple and fun stopover. There are a lot of things you can do on an Amsterdam stopover that’s at least 6 or 7 hours. Amsterdam has a lot of art, a lot of history, adorable sights, and you know, sex, drugs, and Heineken.
Sure, you can go to the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum, but these attractions are busy and sometimes impossible to see if you didn’t book tickets in advance, which is a risk if your flight is delayed in any way. And the last thing you want to do is spend your Amsterdam stopover waiting in line to cry about the Holocaust. A stopover should be relaxed, fun, and put a little bit of energy and excitement into your exhausting travel day. So I have a better idea.
I smoke marijuana about once every four years, but visiting Amsterdam is as good an occasion as any to light up. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 am. Get a croissant and go to town. You can buy marijuana or hash anywhere in the city that’s a coffeeshop. Not a cafe or even a coffee shop. One word: coffeeshop. You can buy it loose or pre-rolled, pure or mixed with tobacco or even as an edible. It’s not a bad idea to have a coffee with it because you’re probably tired and you don’t want the weed to drain you of your energy. Coffeeshop Siberie is right next to the central station and is a reputable one. If you’re looking for something even fancier, try Boerejongens which looks like they’d sell high-end watches and jewelry if they weren’t slinging bud.
I don’t know much (read: anything) about marijuana but asking for Sativa will probably give you a more energetic high to allow you to enjoy the rest of your day. Important note: don’t make the mistake of thinking you can take some with you on your ongoing flight just because it’s legal to buy there. Whatever you have, you need to consume before you return to the airport.
Go to a cheese tasting
Maybe it’s the marijuana, but there’s nothing better than cheese in Amsterdam. There are cheese stores full of incredible local goudas, flavored and aged, lined with giant wheels. Many of these stores also offer cheese tastings so you can get a sampling of their finest cheeses along with wines to pair with them. The only downside to the tastings is that they’re scheduled and usually an hour long so it’s not something you can rush or do at any time of day. Reypenaer Proeflokaal has several tastings throughout the day. The popular Old Amsterdam has daily tastings at 5 pm. In my opinion, this is also the best cheese in town. The cheese and wine tastings are guided and are held like a class so you learn a bit about the flavor combinations and the cheese production.
An alternative for a scheduled tasting is to hit up three or four cheese stores and enjoy their free samples. They’re every two feet and they sometimes offer a decent selection to try. You can also buy a small set of flavored snack cheeses and take them on the go to your favorite spot. Sitting by a canal eating a snakc container of cheese is a pretty sweet way to enjoy your stopover high.
Check out the Red Light District
On an Amsterdam stopover, you’ll probably want to get a good sampling of all the best things it has to offer. Aside from cheese and weed, Amsterdam’s most profitable business is sex. When you’re walking through the Red Light District, you’ll see all kinds of girls showing off their goods behind the lit up windows, ready to pick up a customer off the street. If you’re really wild, you can actually stop by for some afternoon delight. But an alternative is to go to the Red Light Secrets museum which is inside a former brothel so you can see what life is like on the other side of the windows and in the brothel’s kinkier rooms. The audio guide is narrated by sex workers and tell the story of their trade along with an unsolved murder that took place in the brothel.
If you happen to be in the red light district and time permits, you can also catch a sex show. They’re not as disgusting as they sound. The only problem with this is timing, because these are usually scheduled only in the evenings, so it wouldn’t be an option if you’re in Amsterdam during the day.
Read more about an Amsterdam sex show and the Red Light District here.
Amsterdam’s concentric canals make it a gorgeous place to stroll around. Aside from the Red Light District, you’ll want to pass by Dam Square, where you’ll find the Royal Palace and the New Church along with the National Monument that commemorates WWII. Just a few blocks away, you’ll find the Oude Church, which is the oldest church in Amsterdam. The floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt, which sits on one of the canals, has a variety of flowers and seeds for sale as a unique souvenir.
If time permits and you can go a bit further from center, you can also swing by Museumplein, which is a massive square where many of the city’s largest and most popular museums are. This is also the place where the Iamsterdam sign used to be before the city decided to get rid of it. Near that is the spacious Vondelpark, where you can easily spend an entire afternoon. Just a quick note of safety: watch out for hordes of bikers as you enjoy your leisurely walk.
A good thing to do on a stopover is to enjoy a nice meal. Amsterdam has really great burgers, which is a perfect thing to have as a quick bite. At Burger Bar or Lombardo’s, you can try interesting and yummy burger combinations. If you want a nicer sit-down experience, you can stop at one of the dozens of Argentenian stakehouses in the city for lunch or dinner. As an alternative to the Disney ride that is the Heineken Experience, you can grab a draft Heineken wherever you have lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to make room for dessert. You’ll want to stop by a bakery like De Laatste Kruimel (The Last Crumb) to pick up some great Dutch cakes or strudel.
If you do it right, a stopover in Amsterdam can be even more fun than your actual vacation.
Get the GPS-guided version of this and other Amsterdam guides on GPSmyCity here.