How lucky we are in London to be so close to some of the world’s coolest cities, and be able to set up time away, like a weekend in Amsterdam, just across the water.
We’ve discovered some of the very best experiences in Amsterdam that you can take advantage of on a weekend city break – have a read for our itinerary.
A weekend in Amsterdam for couples
Amsterdam is a city with a reputation.
While we did discover the best place to get high (above the city, you cheeky things), on our recent winter weekend in Amsterdam for couples city-break, we fell a little more in love … with the city, too.
Winter in Amsterdam can be a little harsh, as we experienced in the pitch black at 6pm on Saturday night.
We pushed slowly against the wind, hail slapping us hard in the face as we pressed one slow step at a time forward along the side of a bicycle highway towards our hotel.
There was a very real concern that someone wouldn’t see us among the construction and the weather and knock us down.
At the end of the shortcut we’d naively taken along the waterfront towards Aitana Amsterdam, I felt quite exhilarated about surviving. I couldn’t help but relate to the scene in Clueless where Cher, Dion and Murray are able to pull over safely after a brush with death-by-Californian-highway.
To be honest though, the weather was about the same as London in terms of chill factor, and if you’re rugged-up, winter in Amsterdam for a traveller is just fine!
The other bonus about this time of year is that you can secure lovely accommodation for a fraction of the price it is in summer, and the city isn’t as busy either (although I wouldn’t say it was quiet).
A weekend in Amsterdam for couples: best travel experiences (especially in the winter)
I’ll address the elephant in the room now – yes, you can buy weed here, it’s well-known for that.
But, Amsterdam is so much more than some of it’s seedier (sorry…) areas, although no judgement there!
Amsterdam is full of all sorts of fun – and it’s just so beautiful, interesting, chic, delicious, as you’ll see in our vlog below…
In the first instance, we can’t recommend highly enough the I Amsterdam City Card – we have used it twice on visits to the city and it’s excellent value for money, including transport and entry to most attractions, a free canal ride and discounts in many stores.
Learn about Amsterdam’s interesting history through its national drink, Genever, and a cool sensory experience at the House of Bols (with free cocktail!)
Step back in time to discover how the wealthy set lived (this was an incredibly rich city and important trading port just a few centuries ago) by exploring one of the mansions open to the public with the past on display. We enjoyed Museum Van Loon
A canal cruise, included with your I Amsterdam City Card, or hop on board one of the many options available when you arrive in town – day, evening, dining – whatever takes your pleasure. But do definitely see Amsterdam from the water!
Then see the city from the opposite perspective at A’DAM Lookout, which features restaurants, bars, a panoramic sky deck and Europe’s highest swing (and a disco elevator to the heavens, that’s fun!).
Do you have questions or tips of your own? Do let us know in the comments.
Amsterdam is one of our very favourite cities so we’d love to have a conversation with you about it… you can find us on social media too.
On the weekend we took a day tour / road-trip across the Cairns Highlands in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. One of the highlights was tasting a little selection from Golden Drop Mango Winery (and I mean ‘a little’ as it was only 9am).
You can order online at www.goldendrop.com.au and set yourself up for creating one of these delicious cocktails (more on their website).
Sparkling Mango Cocktail
1.7L mango nectar
1-2 tablespoons Golden Mango Cello
1 1/2 cup frozen mango pulp
750ml Sparkling Mango Wine
In a large jug, combine all ingredients. Add ice and serve immediately before bubbles subside.
Orange Blossom Cocktail
10ml Mandarin Cello
Dash of Bitters
Tonic Water, Soda or Lemonade (optional, to make a long drink).
1 small ripe mango
45ml White run, Vodka or Gin (optional)
45ml Golden Mango Cello
Sugar or caster sugar to taste
1/2 cup of ice cubes
15ml lemon or lime juice
Strawberry for garnish
Peel and slice the mango flesh from the stone and place in blender with all ingredients except the strawberry and blend until smooth. Garnish and serve in a chilled glass.
The weather has been so perfect here that I decided to take the chopper out for a spin …
Oh wait, that’s not mine – I get so easily confused these days. Alas, I was on foot on Friday, headed firstly towards Canopy Arts Space on Grafton Street to find out all about Inkfest initiatives (awesome!) + Inkmasters as part of Festival Cairns.
Inkfest is an innovative addition to Cairns Festival showcasing the fascinating and diverse artform of printmaking 17 August – 2 September, 2012. The Inkfest program includes a number of inter-related printmaking activities, for indigenous and non-indigenous artists, emerging and experienced professional artists, and community engagement. It includes two exhibitions, at the Tanks Arts Centre and Canopy Artspace (pictured below), where some of the best local print media artists will be showing works alongside Australia’s most celebrated printmakers.
Visitors are welcome to drop by the gallery on Grafton Street – it’s huge, interesting and informative. Well worth it!
Next on Friday’s adventure …
It’s not as scary as it looks. A bunch of travel journalists and I visited James Cook University’s Cairns campus to explore some uniquely ‘Tropical North Queensland’ areas of education.
Baby Nemo! :-)
We went behind the scenes of a marine research centre that is used to film nature docos including the BBC’s The Great Barrier Reef that aired internationally earlier this year. And we discovered impressive research into the Eliminate Dengue project.
It was actually really interesting to hear about this research, and we did learn that mozzies are attracted to those of us who have ‘hotter body temperatures’ or people wearing dark clothes – so be warned.
The aim of the experiment is to breed the dengue gene out of the mozzies that have it, then all these new mozzies are released into the ‘wild’ to hopefully breed with the other evil mozzies. Such amazing stuff – but we don’t envy the poor guys at JCU who are continually getting bitten!
All this talk of mosquitoes made me thirsty, so we decided to nip out for a quiet Friday afternoon drink at The Pier Bar. A few champers later and it was time to dance, so we visited one of my fave clubs in town, The Attic. Even discovered an awesome new mix of Super Bass mixed by Liam Keegan (love it).
Attic DJ you *rock* for sharing Liam’s details with us! Cheers to you :-)
OMG… empty much?
Panic over… thank you kind lady. BTW these fab cocktails (think Appletinis, Cosmos, Martinis) are all just $6 at The Attic on Friday nights – they have a new menu and are testing it out. Bargain!
We’re looking to reno our bathroom soon (too much The Block for us, methinks) so paid a visit to Status Plus‘ fabulous showroom in Cairns on Saturday morning. Good timing too – they were hosting an outdoor broadcast with Zinc FM, there were cook-offs, demonstrations and much more. Big thanks to Shar’ron for all her knowledge and help during the morning. One such delight we discovered was this magic tap – the stream is blue when it’s cold, and red when … you guessed it, hot.
Beer o’clock (actually, we were waiting for Cooper’s mum who got lost among the Cairns shops – as you do), so we decided to take a quick pit stop at The Courthouse, sipping on $4 Coronas under the winter sunshine. .
On Sunday, after a little morning clean up and walk with the dog, we took a drive to stunning Paradise Palms Resort & Country Club for a catch-up with some friends and family. Nice day for it too.
There’s a beautiful under cover dining area, and Sunday was blissful here. We ate, drank and were merry.
In our experience Steamworks offers by far the best service, value and cocktail selection. The food here is delicious, the atmosphere vibrant and we’ve enjoyed a great experience every time.
We met popular Bar Manager, Josh Taylor (pictured), who is evidently well-liked by patrons. He serves up a mean cocktail – all with a friendly smile and helpful service.
We discovered Steamworks has not only the cheapest cocktails in Gastown but possibly the most innovative selection (the menu was redesigned recently, and Josh along with some other staff have carefully created bespoke options like the fab Nothing Rhymes with Orange).
We also tried the delicious Bellinias well as one of their famous locally brewed beers. There are daily drink specials on offer at Steamworks, as well as a ‘Brewer’s Choice Beer of the Day’.
Drinking for a good cause. Back in 2011, Josh designed a special cocktail for the month of Movember, kind of an offshoot of the Dark & Stormy – totally delicious, and a percentage of proceeds from the sale of each was put towards fundraising for Steamworks’ very own Movember crew, Team Happy Fun Ball. Cheers!
With its comfy, chic interior this place is easy to spend time in. It’s renowned as being the number 1. seller of Guinness in the city (about $7/pint). There’s also fine coffees, cocktails and dining on offer.
A favourite local haunt – this place is typically ‘Vancouver cool’ – kick your morning off with a delicious coffee and a quirky quote that is posted on a board outside the store daily.
CHILL WINSTON RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
3 Alexander Street
This gorgeous venue always captures our attention when we’re walking through Gastown. It’s as cool inside as it looks from the outside. Don’t envy those sitting under the (occasional) sun in the street sipping on their cocktails – drop in and enjoy your own, and ask about one of Chill Winston’s signature drinks such as the Spooning Jesus…
Set within the quaint courtyard of 12 Water Street, Boneta boasts a chic environment, divine yet reasonably priced menu and a selection of delicious coffees and classic cocktails. The open kitchen means you can even watch the chefs do their thang while you sit back and enjoy the surroundings.
MILANO BOUTIQUE COFFEE ROASTERS 36 Powell Street
Fabulous interior and delightful drinks, this coffee house offers a unique concept for enjoying your daily brew.
Have we missed your favourite Gastown coffee and/or cocktails hotspot, or would you like to give a shout-out to your fave that’s listed above? Feel free to share as a ‘comment’ below…
If you’re interested in more stories from this divine part of the world, you might also enjoy:
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.