It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like Amsterdam, especially a gay man.
The capital of the Netherlands is internationally recognized for its tolerant views of the LGBT community, being the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage back in 2001. The place is filled with quaint houses, vibrant art and lively locals; it certainly screams camp!
Here’s my lowdown on the sights and smells you should experience on a weekend break in the city:
Great connections: Like most weekend breaks, you should arrive on Friday afternoon to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy all that Amsterdam has to offer. Amsterdam Schiphol is a big international airport, well connected to the world, and the Amsterdam Central train station also links up to many neighbouring countries.
Relaxing hotels: Avoid the busy tourist areas and opt for a hotel near the Rembrandt Square, which fortunately happens to be the location for the city’s main gay district. The Hampshire Hotel – Eden Amsterdam is our favourite.
Oriental delights: Take a walk towards the red light district (avoid the girls in the windows, unless you’re into that) and dine in one of the many oriental restaurants of Chinatown. Vietnamese or Thai cuisine is popular, but there’s plenty to choose from.
Historic gay scene: Visit the legendary Café ‘t Mandje after your meal. This was the very first gay & lesbian bar in Netherlands, and the atmosphere is always animated.
Pick your favourite bar: Finally, spend your evening strutting between the various gay bars of the Rembrandt Square. If you’re young, the house music blaring out of Exit Apres Chique will tick all your boxes. For the more mature gent, Amstel Fifty Four or Queers Amsterdam are still lively but attract an older crowd.
All aboard: Amsterdam is famous for its many canals and it’s certainly the easiest way to view the city. (Unless you fancy hopping on a bike instead.) A canal tour is therefore the perfect morning activity. Hop on and off from near the Hard Rock Café and spend an hour or so viewing this stunning city from the water.
Tasty lunch: Once you’ve finished the tour, head to Café Mankind, a cosy café which serves fresh sandwiches and snacks. The owner, a nice chap called Frank, has been working here for 25 years and has plenty of tips for sightseeing and exploring should you need them.
Dutch speciality: A trip to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without a cheese and wine tasting tour, so head to Reypenaer Proeflokaal in the early afternoon where you’ll try 6 different cheeses accompanied with different wines; a truly authentic experience.
A moment of reflection: Let your stomach settle by paying a visit to the nearby Homomonument, a memorial to gay men and lesbians who have been subject to persecution. The staff in the adjoining Pink Point kiosk can tell you more about it.
Shop or sauna: For the late afternoon, you have two options; you could head to the Dam, the main central square of Amsterdam, and partake in some Saturday shopping, or you could unwind and have fun in one of Amsterdam’s best gay saunas, Sauna Nieuwezijds. Of course, you’re going to choose this option!
Pass the soap: Complete with a steam room, Finnish sauna and jacuzzi, unwind and soak up the atmosphere before grabbing dinner at trendy Anna on Warmoesstraat 111, a stylish restaurant serving delicious European food.
Take it easy: It’s likely you’ll be feeling slightly hungover by Sunday, so contemplate your life choices in one of Amsterdam’s many splendid museums.
Art lovers: Take the tram to the museum quarter and check out the Van Gogh Gallery or Rijksmuseum, making sure to stop off to take a photo by the iconic I Amsterdam sign on your way.
History buffs: The moving Ann Frank House or the insightful Amsterdam Museum are a must For some museums it’s worth booking before to avoid long queues, so research online before you arrive.
Cafe culture: Head back to the main city centre, stopping off at The Otherside café for a coffee and a ‘space cake’. The Netherlands’ lax rule on smoking cannabis means it’s the perfect opportunity to try it should you wish to.
Last-minute buys: The Amsterdam Flower Market is in close proximity to the coffee shop, the perfect place to buy gifts for family before you bid farewell to the quirky, eccentric city that is loved by all.
You’ll certainly struggle to hate it! Check out our Amsterdam hotel deals and full list of gay venues through our city page.
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