Tiptoe through the tulips on an Amsterdam mini break
In April this year, I was lucky enough to be able to tick something off my travel bucket list.
I have always wanted to see the tulips in Amsterdam, so for my 40th birthday, my husband booked a weekend in Amsterdam for us, without the kids (mini fist bump here!) Two glorious days, surrounded by some of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen, wandering the canals, quaint streets lined with bicycles, markets, and museums. It was heaven!
Steal my itinerary for your 2 day mini break to Amsterdam
Because we wanted to get the most out of our two days in Amsterdam, we were on a very early flight in, arriving in the city centre just after 9am. We stayed at the Ink hotel. A fabulous boutique hotel, very centrally located with easy access to the station, about a 10 minute walk away. We left our bags at the hotel, grabbed a city map and headed out.
After a very necessary coffee in a local café, take a tram across to Waterlooplein flea market. There is a beautiful bridge (The Blauwbrug or Blue Bridge) about 100m back from the tram stop for some great photos.
Waterlooplein flea market is the oldest market in Amsterdam (and in the Netherlands). It’s a great mix of old and new, selling everything from second hand clothing, bric a brac and vintage cameras to souvenirs, local artwork and music. You must try the homemade fries and mayo – definitely worth the extra steps needed to work off those calories. There is also a fabulous store just next to the market called Kiloshop, selling authentic vintage clothing, shoes and accessories, all priced by weight. Worth a browse if you’re looking for something different. And the “greenie” in me really loves this idea – just think of all those tons of discarded clothing that are not ending up in landfills!
After Waterlooplein, walk across to the Albert Cuyp market. It’s in the De Pijp area of the Oud-Zuid district of the city, about a 20 minutes away. You will pass some beautiful canals and side streets, so take some time to look down them. This route will also take you past the Heineken Experience museum, if this is something you’re interested in doing. We stopped enroute to the market for some lunch in a little burger restaurant called Thrill Grill. It’s a cosy, out of the way place, enjoyed by both locals and tourists. A limited menu, but delicious food.
Next stop is Albert Cuyp market. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for any fresh fish, fruit or flowers, and has an abundance of street food stalls making choosing a little difficult.
Hop on a tram across to the museum quarter, and spend late afternoon absorbing some culture. The Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum are across the way from each other, with a pretty park area in between. In tulip season the fountains in front of the Rijksmuseum are filled with floating baskets of tulips of every colour. This is also the spot of the famous I heart Amsterdam sign. We didn’t go into the museum, but chose to spend some time chilling in the Spring sunshine on a bench in the Rijksmuseum garden, watching the tourists jumping through the water fountain.
We had dinner reservations at Gauchos, Spuistraat. It’s an Argentinian steak restaurant, with fabulously dark and dramatic décor and cosy booth style seating. Possibly one of the best steaks I have ever had!
Now the entire reason we had come to Amsterdam was to see the tulips, so Sunday’s plan was to head out to Keukenhof. Situated in Lisse, it’s one of the world’s largest flower gardens that is only open for 8 weeks of the year. Over 800 000 visitors come through the gates to see the 7 million bulbs that are planted annually in the 32 hectare park. Words cannot describe the colourful assault on your senses.. So I am just going to get this message across in pictures
Here are some tips for visiting Keukenhof:
1. Buy your tickets online and avoid the gate queues. The ticket price include the cost of the transport there and back.
2. You can store your bags at the airport and catch a bus directly from the airport. There are special buses put on by Keukenhof, with well sign posted queues. It is very well organised, and the queues move faster than you think.
3. The weather this time of year can be quite unpredictable so rain gear is must.
4. You probably only need a half day at the venue. I could have spent a lot more time there, but my husband had seen just about all the tulips he wanted to by then.
So here's a recap of our itinerary, if you would like to escape for a weekend somewhere with your other half.
Albert Cuyp market
Dinner at Gauchos
Amsterdam Flower market (We never visited, but now I have a reason to go back!)