AM-STER-DAM: tiny for a world city, big in its diversity. As in a lot of world cities, it´s hell to conquer a permanent home. In the first 10 months I moved three times. Benefit; I’ve got to know a lot of nice places in several neighborhoods. Due to the fact that I did quite some touristic stuff in the first months, I figured out that tourists get to know so little of the place. In particular, of the authentic Amsterdam as we know it. This city has more to offer than canals, drugs, red lights, cheese, and Madame Tussaud. I tried to keep things short and sweet but got carried away by my love for the city. So it might be nice to read about one neighborhood at the time (one paragraph) and to go on a discovery day trip, if you have the time for it of course.
Anyway, here you will find the best from east to west and everything in between. For the Dutch folks, you may know a lot of these places already, but who knows, you may find your own brand new gem.
PS. I sneaked in a tiny ‘Where to Shop paragraph’ as an additional exception. (it’s nice to experience some brief moments of material happiness on rare occasions, right 😊?)
Where to sleep?
I never stayed in a hostel in Amsterdam myself but I did rent a few Airbnb’s and they were cute. The houses in Amsterdam are small and most of the time cozy furnished because we have to stay indoors most of the year due to our fantastic weather 😉.
HOSTELS Of course, there are a lot of great hostels. The Flying Pig Hostel is rated as the best Hostel in the Netherlands. If you don’t have a lot of euros to spend, this hostel is the best place to go. The Uptown hostel is the one that has the most attractive location. Within 5 minutes you’re at the major attractions and the magical Vondelpark is right outside your doorstep. (Don’t forget to buy a nice picknick blanket at discounter Action. All this without being right in the middle of the busy center (if that is what you’re after, you should choose the Downtown Hostel). The interior is basic and feels like a snug mess. A perfect place to meet new people in a clean, safe and fun setting. Have a drink from the one-of-a-kind bartenders and for all the poor backpack kids, the breakfast is free of charge.
My preference when it comes to hostels goes out to The Generator Hostel in the Oosterpark (Ams East). It is the prettiest hostel in Amsterdam. Hard evidence is brought to the table by winning the Hospitality Design Best Economy Hotel Award. It’s located in the old building of our University and the Zoological Museum, which creates a very special atmosphere. Play ping-pong in the old library, twerk till the morning light in the industrial basement (many locals involved) or enjoy your breakfast at the Nescio Café designed by Amsterdam artists that were inspired by the city culture.
Top of the bill is the new hotel kid in town; Zoku. This hidden gem is located in a re-purposed office building near Waterlooplein (East) and won’t catch your eye right away. But once you hit the 6th floor, a spectacular glasshouse (incl. breathtaking view and if you’re lucky sunrises & sunsets) will welcome you to the world of Zoku. It is not a surprise that this place was chosen as one of the 25 coolest hotels in the world, according to Forbes. The peerless concept is committed to offering the best overnight experience for global nomads. Especially when you’re in Amsterdam for business and have to stay for a longer period of time. Everything in the social spaces are arranged to connect one another; so no more sniveling about lonely business trips. In addition, you can convert your beautiful loft into a meeting or dining room in no time… that way you can introduce your new friends to your excellent cooking skills ;). The staff and chefs are super friendly and approach you like family. + they are eager to share their own Amsterdam gems. (best thing is to sit at the chef’s table and watch the magic happen)
Where to eat/drink?
Get that tummy filled!
CITY CENTRE This is one crowded place. Millions of tourists visit Amsterdam every year and for a tiny world city like ours with 850.000 inhabitants you can imagine; the streets are quite busy. Don’t get scared by the slightly annoyed Dutchies ringing their bicycle bells. Just stay on the sidewalks and watch out big time when you cross the street. If you do choose to hop on a bike, stay on the right side and cycle in front of each other instead of next to one another. Then you will be able to enjoy your bike ride through our crowded but cozy city for sure
Lavinia Good Food, is one of those comfy lunchrooms and it’s all in the name. Good, healthy food is their creed and the place is a stunner. The brand contains two lunchrooms and I prefer the one at the Kerkstraat because of its setting. A display case full of their sweet (and vegan) goodies will put a smile on your face. As for lunch, the blue corn tortillas with avocado and black bean salsa is my favorite. Although the spelt pizzettas cannot remain unmentioned.
Betty Blue is sooo cute! It is a beautiful dark pink colored lunchroom near one of my favorite places in Amsterdam; the hippie market at Waterlooplein (Waterloo square). I often start my day here if I go shopping and treat myself with their delicious homemade lemon curd cheesecake or red velvet & how does a pancake feast for Sunday’s brunch sound?
De Drie Graefjes has several locations throughout the city. They serve the best (American) cake in town (any cake you can think of). I prefer the settling behind the Dam because of its location in the cozy Rokin alley.
Favorite In the quiet Kerkstraat you can also find Bocca Coffee Roasters. The place is quite big for Amsterdam’s concepts. Lovely high ceilings, plenty of room to curl yourself up into the big chairs, reading a book while enjoying amazing coffee from Brazil or Ethiopia. A special story comes with this place; Menno (a Dutch guy) discovered during a business trip to Ethiopia, a coffee with an aroma that he never tasted before; way more sweet and fruity than he was used to. He brought some of these Arabica beans to Amsterdam and started roasting the stuff in his little garage in the Jordaan (one of the oldest neighborhoods). Long story short; he and his brother conquered the city with their passion for the brown bean. Their coffee is produced in an honest way, freshly roasted, tempered with the right pressure and topped with latte art that you won’t forget any time soon.
RESTAURANTS A 5-minute walk away from Bocca you can find my second favorite restaurant in town; BO NAM. The Vietnamese oriented menu is surprising because they add a modern twist to the dishes. I had the Mekong Delta style stir-fried Tofu and man did I love it. My lovely friend licked her fingers as well after eating her Ham-Buh-Guh. Also, the interior is impressive; earthy tones mixed with eye-catching accessorize and yet so minimalistic. They also serve Bahn Mi (Vietnamese baguette) for lunch, which is still hard to find in Amsterdam. No Bo Nam (bullshit) to be found here.
The cozy Utrechtsestraat is a melting pot of all kind of restaurants and bars. From Spanish Tapas (Pata Negra), to an open fire cooking resto (PAZ) and from a healthy soup bar to a dozen or so of Indonesian resto’s. While I was strolling, my eye got caught by a pretty flashy looking frontage. The Golden Temple has a cushy sitting area, right in front of the window. A beautiful oriental elephant decorates the wall and all you want to do is go inside and let yourself be immersed in this Indian world. (There is so much more awesome art to discover) I went with some friends and we got seated upstairs. The menu is all vegetarian/vegan and very diverse. My favorite is the Coconut Curry; an absolute dream on a plate. Thick brown rice mixed with coconut flakes; a creamy curry sauce with just the right amount of spiciness, crispy papadum and beautiful, eatable flowers to top it off. Also the Dahl is guuuud. We finished the night with creamy banana pie and a pot of utterly good Chai. You get it, this belongs in my top 5 from now on.
BARS Looking for an easeful night of drinking beers (along with the water) and want to have a little taste of the Belgian café life? De Engelbewaarder is a cozy café with a pub-kinda feeling. Easy going, great variation of draft beers and a simple, friendly priced and tasteful menu.
If you have set your sights on a vibrant nightlife than our city is the place to be. Every night of the week you can find cool parties throughout the whole town, check Dj-guide on where to go shake it. But before hitting the dancefloor you might feel like having a cheeky cocktail or two. Tales & Spirits is my favorite cocktail bar and can be found in a narrow alley in the center. It’s an intimate, slightly dark place. The creative, good looking bartenders prepare some pretty funky cocktails. Some of them are tributes to artists like Vincent van Gogh and Roald Dahl, others tell stories about Mexican zombies and bathing Barbie’s. This place is special enough to worship with a visit.
Also, N-Joy is a cool, intimate cocktail bar. Although I don’t like their door policy; you have to get permission to get it. They serve some damn good spirits served and mixed in surprising ways. I ordered the one with Chai spices and it honestly got me thrilled.
To catch some rhythms, go to Rembrandtplein. This square is one of the most touristy places but it has some pretty good pubs & clubs. Claire is my favorite. House & Techno are played and entior is leafy and cool and there is just a good mix between locals and tourists.
De Melkweg can be found at the touristic Leidseplein. It’s a pop venue with live music and club nights. Every night of the week they offer a variety of content so you can loosen up that body. The variation is big; from techno till punk rock.
Favorite What happens at karaoke, stays at karaoke; right?! Duke of Tokyo is such a fun place to go out! It’s right in our biggest gay street, de Reguliersdwarsstraat. Flickering neon lights and private karaoke rooms (that you have to reserve up front) make you feel like you hit the streets of Tokyo for real. Choose a Sake out of their huge collection and enjoy that pure Japanese fun chaos.
Go to Club NYX after Duke of Tokyo and you’re assured of an amazing night out. (just a little bit further down the street) NYX is the chameleon in town, so it offers room to people of all walks and talks. Grinding and twerking is done and you’ll have a blast even watch people dancing ❤ (good to know: Saturday = Saturgay).
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about
- Canibale royale – for meat lovers – several spots in town
- Hofje van Wijs (Zeedijk) – super nice courtyard to drink tea
- Hanneke’s Boom – wine & dine along the water at this urban, industrial resto
EAST/OOST Amsterdam East is an upcoming neighborhood with a multicultural character. In the 70’s it was quite a dangerous place but now, like many ghetto’s, it turned into one of the coolest places. My favorite street is the Javastraat, as it is a huge salad bowl of cultures. The smell of fresh baked Turkish bread will welcome you and toko’s, middle eastern supermarkets and Dutch coffee bars alternate.
BREAKFAST/LUNCH/COFFEE SPOTS Favorite Had a heavenly sleep in and woke up craving an extensive (vegan) brekky? Beter & Leuk (Better & Fun) is guud! I love their banana bread, foamy coffees, and jam-packed interior. It is a nice place to get your notebook out and just linger and write a bit. Last but not least; you can order your healthy dinner at their take away shop next to the lunchroom.
Favorite During my trip to Melbourne last year I fell in love with their coffee culture. I felt that same passion and attitude when I discovered Rum Baba. Their Café is a place you want to spend basically your whole day in. The atmosphere is relaxed, there is a lot of daylight and the staff are super kind. Later on, I discovered that they have their own little roaster/bakery a little bit further down the road. These people really take care to roast the beans in a way that flatters the characteristics of their origin. + Their American style cakes and pies are sold to top catering companies throughout the whole of Amsterdam.
Hidden in what looks like a new and modern street, lies the city farm De Vergulde Eenhoorn (The Plated Unicorn). This farm from 1702 with its lush, big garden is splendid. Especially in summer, the place sweeps you right into a fairytale feeling. (f.y.i. you could turn this fairy tale into reality by getting married here!). The resto is a treat to anyone who is a fan of a Burgundian lifestyle. It’s Dutch orientated food; thick slices of dark bread with butter, high-quality cheeses with onion compote, roasted mackerel filet and organic pear cider are just a hint of their menu. Lastly, you have the opportunity to roll after dinner into one of the B&B rooms. *Deep sigh of enjoyment*
BARS Bar Bukowski, named after the famous poet, is a bar where you can find many locals. Especially on the weekends it’s packed and in summer it’s one of the nicest places to hang out till late at night. Ask for their Sir Edmond Gin, topped with a stick of cinnamon and a slice of orange. Ps. Hipster alarm dingdingding…
If you like fancy bars (think industrial meets chic) than Louie Louie is the place for you. Handsome men are sipping their I.P.A. brewed beers and good looking girls enjoy their G&T’s. Do we need to say more? And oh yeh, it’s got some great culinary skills as well.
At the beginning of the Javastraat you can find Bar Botanique, a super pretty, lush plant decorated bar with some tropical birds peeking through the green leaves. I must say I love the atmosphere more than the menu. But hey it’s a good place to give your weekend a kick start with some great cocktails and to snap some ceeewl photo’s.
Favorite At a 5-minute walk from Bar Botanique you can find Boi Boi for some delishhh Thai food. They serve the. best. satay. sauce. ever. The vibe of this place reminds me of food spots in Berlin; urban interior and just serving uncomplicated, utterly great food. It’s perfect for a quick dinner meet-up but I wouldn’t recommend it for a romantic dinner date.
Feel more like tappas? Pata Negra is a cute Spanish tappas bar. There is one in the centre (Utrechtsestraat, where you can find a big variety of various restaurants) and one in the east. It has that Barcelona kind of vibe; small, packed, tiled and jazzy. Great olives, cheese, and fried squid served with an ice cold cerveza. On the weekends, the Spanish music will be turned up to get that party started. Arrrrriba boys.
Mississippi Bar & Kitchen is one of the newest restaurants and can be found at the Beukenplein. These guys serve American soul food inspired by the towns along the famous river. The menu is very diverse, so everybody’s cravings will be fulfilled. And I love their desserts! The interior is a mix of urban jungle and colonial vibes and not many people have heard of this gem yet, so hurry!
At Beukenplein there are several nice coffee spots and restaurants. (try also Maxwell for guud coffee).
Mama Makan is perfect for a special (read romantic) night out. This Indonesian restaurant, which is also a hotel, is glammy. The dishes aren’t as big as you’re used to when it comes to Indo food but it’s all about well-proportioned beautiful plated dishes. Served with beautiful cocktails and I recommend to finish your dinner with a cup of Javanese coffee.
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about
- Mr. & Mrs. Watson – ultimate vegan resto – even the interior is vegan!
- SLA! – salads, salads, SALADS! – organic salad bars all over town
- De Plantage – incredible beautiful building with a view on Artis Zoo, delishhh food! (arab influences) I’ve been in the mean time, it’s amazing!
THE PIPE/DE PIJP The pipe! It is the coziest part of town in my opinion. It’s a place where you can dive into every little alley and find some true gems. The famous Albert Cuyp market is situated here and our Marie Heiniken plein is a square where you can find some of the nicest restaurants.
BREAKFAST – LUNCH SPOTS FAVORITE! Slip into your flip flops and score your coconut at the bar. (with or without a shot of vodka) Coffee & Coconuts; what a blast this place is! These guys accomplished to turn the former early 2nd-century cinema into a place that breaths a relaxed beach vibe. Big white cushions, light wooden floors, and whitewashed walls provide you with an instant mini holiday. Passionate (very good looking) people run the show and the menu is absolutely on point. Rich smoothies, açaí bowls, and packed sandwiches are the reason why it’s often very busy, so go early. They serve lunch & diner as well, so you can spend all of your precious (weekend)hours in this relaxed atmosphere. 😊 (C&C reminds me so much of ‘We Are Combi’ in Byron Bay, my ultimate favorite food place ever in the world. (yeah it really is that great)
The intense aroma of good-quality coffee and thick crusted pies will lead your nose to the Van Woustraat. You will bump into the cutest looking shop window of Luza’s Caffeine Club. Lush, fresh breads, homemade pecan pie and cream cheese topped carrot cake will lure you to go inside. It is a fresh looking breakfast and lunch spot and a welcome change because it does not have that standard hipster interior. They are specialized in non-dairy, sugar free and gluten free cakes, so there is plenty of choice for everyone! This is the only place in Amsterdam where we caught the chef still wearing the classic chef’s hat, which gives the place that little extra class. Also for Açai bowls, eggs benedict or an afternoon glass of wine, this is your to-go-to gem.
Favorite Since I’ve hit the streets of Melbs and discovered their ridiculously good brunch culture, I was craving to find something similar in Amsterdam. My prayers have been answered because…. (choir singing ahhhhhh) Little Collins is here to serve! Named after the cute street in Melbourne, it is exactly the atmosphere you’re looking for. The interior is very simple which brings all the attention where it should be; to the amazing food. Most dishes are savory but I can’t handle too much of that as my first meal 😉. I choose the halloumi & brioche dish with lemon cream and berry compote. Weird combo I know, but this chef knows what he is doing. Also if you’re an egg lover, you’re all good. Staff is utterly friendly and helpful! Highly recommend this place if you have to cover an hangover (3 kinds of bloody mary’s). Honestly, thank you guys, for bringing these vibes to the other side of the world.
Oh, they also serve diner and there is a new location in West, jsyk! & reservations are needed
Who isn’t on the lookout out for that endless Sunday morning feeling? This is a place where you will find find me more often: Surf vibes all over, soft pink tones and the smell of the black gold within nose reach. Badeta is the baby of two Dutch friends who grew from coffee lovers to coffee experts. Their impressive coffee roaster is right in the middle of the café and a lust for the eye. Just the spot to be, to let that weekend feeling last until Friday afternoon. The bar is a bit hidden within a neighborhood that isn’t so well known among tourists. It’s definitely worth a visit since there are many gems to find! GlouGlou – Amsterdam’s 1st natural wine bar & shop Sir Hummus – Served just like in streets of Jerusalem: warm, fresh and fluffy Hummus De Bicker – Go home rolling after their delicious, simple cheese fondue
The Vegan Junk Food Bar; Now you may have heard of this place already. Because everybody is talking about it; how can this food be so, so good and so vegan? They are the absolute masters of vegan junk food and I assure you, even if you dislike veganism, you will absolutely love it! The taste, texture and presentation are a 10 out of 10. Always, always, ALWAYS order your burger with some sweet potato fries and truffle mayonnaise and you’ll leave the place rolling.
Hoed & Krelis can be found near the Marie Heinikenplein. A very nice place to have a romantic night out with your Mr. Lova lova. (maybe afterwards go for a hysterical karaoke session at Ginger to end the night in an unforgettable way). Also I’m a big fan of their grilled sandwich with beetroot hummus and fetta for lunch.
The Gerard Douplein is a super cozy square located behind the Albert Cuyp market and very close to the Sarphatipark. In summer it’s the perfect spot to sit in the sun and to have the enjoyment of watching people. Bar Mash has a big terrace and a tiny restaurant with an even tinier kitchen. Their flavorful Thai food is served in cute blue and white porcelain bowls. Chef Air, who comes from the North-East of Thailand runs the kitchen together with his family. All your favorite Thai dishes are on the menu and can be extinguished with a wide assortment or beers. Lunch & Diner!
Favorite After you stroll across the Albert Cuyp market, have a peek into the little gem Mastino. You will find a charming, curled mustache Italian smiling behind the counter. The family who runs the place know how to bake spelt, soya and multigrain pizzas without losing the glory of the authentic southern Italian flavors and crust. It’s the most beautiful and cozy pizzeria of Amsterdam with its rough brick walls and soft details of the Frida Kahlo art. While waiting for your slices of (vegan) heaven you can pet the pizzeria cat named… Frida or hang at the bar with a Frida beer. Oh and also Parma ham, tuna, and Nutella lovers can gorge to their heart’s content.
In the fantastic alley where you can find Mastino there is also ‘t Ijscuypje (many more locations throughout the city) This is the most delicious ice cream in town. (Go try coconut & ‘Boerenjongens’ flavors (raisins soaked in rum).
FAVORITE! I recently discovered Mana Mana and it is my favorite place to eat for now. It is a tiny Israeli restaurant with the smallest kitchen you have ever seen. Two chefs have only enough space to turn their butts but they work in perfect harmony and with big smiles on their faces. (They even do the dishes in between). The smooth service is provided by girls in funky dresses and the food, oh the food… creamy hummus, lemony olive oil, smoked eggplant, and crispy bread. + the dishes are like colorful (floral) paintings.
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about
- De taarten van mijn tante – ‘the pies of my aunty’ huge verity of good cakes
- Temakery – for take away poke bowls and other healthy dishes
- Ferdinand Bowls – new kid in town – smoothies & bowls
- Pho 91 – Vietnamese eatery – very good Ramen
(OLD-)SOUTH/(OUD-)ZUID This is the place where my Amsterdam adventure started. It is the ‘posh’ area of the city. I lived in a 9 square meter room with a high sleeper and paid of course still way too much. But it was just a 1-minute walk from the greatest park in Town; the Vondelpark. So I did have that grandeur backyard after all. In this area, you can find a lot of boutiques and the PC Hooftstraat, which is the shopping street with the most exclusive brands.
BREAKFAST/LUNCH/COFFEE SPOTS Dignita is one of those typical breakfast/lunch spots that make Amsterdam, in my opinion, one of the capitals that is leading when it comes to breakfast concepts. The one in Oud-Zuid has a relaxed atmosphere and their venue in East is a green oasis with a glass façade around the whole building. (it’s across Zoku!) Love their big portions!
The familiar Joe & the Juice bar can be found in this area for your daily shot of vitamins. How great is it to be able to order your same beloved smoothie all over the world?
Favorite Corner bakery; have a look at their Instagram account and you’ll see that their product range is quite hysterical, in a very good way. Unicorn, glittery freak shakes accompanied with bright colored cupcakes, pancakes and lush fruit bowls. These people just know how to throw a breakfast party. Also, they serve the extraordinary colorful cakes of Life of pie Amsterdam which is the top of the list cake bakery in Amsterdam. (They are just to-die- for-pretty.) Don’t think you will dislike this place for all you savory kids; there is enough for you to dive into. Be early on the weekends or you have to join the queue.
RESTAURANTS Any chance you like the color pink? Mama Kelly would fit you like a glove then! This place is glamorous and just a whole lot of girly fun. It’s situated in the Olympic Stadium and is well known for their pretty good chicken & lobster. The intimate, seating areas are one of their unique selling points. They are almost fully booked every night but every Monday morning at 9 o’clock sharp they open up the reservation possibilities for that week.
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about;
- Brasserie van Dam – nice typical Dutch bistro
- George – fancy bistro – try the artichoke with dips
- Strand Zuid – sunbathing with a beer in your hand – surf & turf experts
WEST The west is quite a hipster place. It’s a fun area where not many tourists will be found. So if you want to blend in; go and find out! I’m not very familiar yet in this area but my favorite neighborhood is ‘De Baarsjes’ with its snug streets. Old West is famous for its food halls and Bos & Lommer has a more multicultural character.
BREAKFAST/LUNCH/COFFEE SPOTS Bartack is located in the Baarsjes. Pop down on their vintage leather sofa and let the hours of your slow Sunday fade into each other as these guys serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is mostly vegetarian but you can order fish or meat as a side dish (cool approach!) Wood, steal, plants, and bamboo form the base of the interior.
Looking for a place to score your daily shot of ginger or wheatgrass? Then tiny lunchroom Samen (together in Dutch) is your place to be. You can find it in the BoLo neighborhood (Bos and Lommer) and it’s a simple concept where uncomplicated and honest food is served. For the hearts that are always longing for art; the beautiful illustrations of Tinda Rusconi can be found here and yes, they are for sale.
If you have the time and you’re not sure what you want to bite into; go to de Foodhallen. This old tram parking structure was abandoned for many years but is now one of the coolest places in Amsterdam. As many food halls in the capitals of Europe, you can find all kind of (street)food stalls under one roof. I love The Yoghurt Barn for breakfast; they promote the Dutch dairy industry in all thinkable varieties of yoghurt but also the vegan options are amazing. Coco yoghurt topped with big chunks of chocolate, caramel, and walnuts. Do I need to say more?
VietView serves delicious Vietnamese street food for lunch. Goi Cuon and Bahn mi, shuff that stuff in! Fento and Maza are my very good options for din dins. Fento is famous for its vegan nacho’s; Mexican flavors, enriched by south Asian flavors and gluten free hah! Mazo serves Mediterranean food like falafel but if you just want a little bit of everything; order the Mezze plates.
BARS Cafe Thuys is a typical ‘brown café’ which means it’s not fancy at aaaall. But amazing for a night of drinking beers and singing along with some classics. Brown cafés are quite dark and Persian rugs are covering the tables. Try some ‘bitterballen’ or one of their other great pub food dishes. You won’t find any tourists here, so go mingle and have an authentic ‘ouderwets gezellige’ night out.
RESTAURANTS Meatless district Hallelujah, veganism is what these guys preach! How does jackfruit-sate sound to you? But veggies are not the only thing that is served; they also know how to work their way around vegan cheese and plant based meat.
An easy going atmosphere is what you get at Bar Spek; industrial meets snuggle up café. As the name suggests, spek (bacon) is not the only thing they offer. Surprisingly healthy meals are served but luckily the baked beans, homemade bread and spek are there too. A little secret to share; they have an extended Bloody Mary menu.
Your mom is a hero, am I right? That’s what the guys of Restaurant Moeders (Mothers) think as well. Their concept is a tribute to the woman that raised us. And you can stick a picture of your mom on one of their walls. The resto is specialized in typical Dutch food, which is overall pretty heavy. But by ordering the Dutch rice table you can taste a little bit of all the dishes. Lekker man!
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about;
Rainarai – Algerian atmosphere – wonderful interior – low tables and soft pillows – only had drinks and snacks but heard that the food is super tasty – caterer in city centre
9 STRAATJES/9 STREETS These 9 alleys are made for shopping, so that is what we’ll do. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to fuel up with some coffee & calories to keep that up. Many cool, little boutiques are what you will find here (check the where to shop list, where to go).
BREAKFAST/LUNCH/COFFEE SPOTS Pluk Amsterdam is as fun as a place that serves mermaid and unicorn bowls can be. The boys are equally well catered by serving scrambled eggs and excellent grilled chicken sandwiches. It does mean there are Instagram kids all over the place. Also, they have an amazing collection of cute home goodies and jewelry. Don’t say I didn’t warn you
RESTAURANTS If you’re a big fan of Asian cuisine then Nooch is for you. You can be the rebel and combine Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indo and Thai dishes just the way you like them. My standard order is (the best) Pad Thai with a refreshing Tiger beer along the side, finishing with black sesame ice cream and an Indo pandan pancake filled with shredded coconut.
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about
- Fou Fow Ramen (just have a look at their website anyway, I love their humor)
JORDAN/JORDAAN Both the Jordaan and the city centre are the oldest part of town. I love the Westerstraat market on Monday mornings; curiosities and a colorful variation of fabrics. Also, the Haarlemmerstraat is a street to not miss out on; many cute stores, the most beautiful cinema in town, and lots of good food.
COFFEE & CAKE Strolling around on an ice-cold January morning me and my shivering friend from Melbourne decided to get in line (30 min!) to taste, as we were told, the best Dutch apple pie ever. Freshly baked, still hot from the oven. Winkel 43 serves it with a humongous amount of sugared whip cream that is doubled on the hot coco. It was absolutely worth it.
RESTAURANTS The Movies is the oldest cinema in Amsterdam and was founded in 1912. As it also happens to be the prettiest one; the movie chambers are small and decorated in Art Déco style. A lovely meal can be enjoyed up front in their Asian/Indonesian resto Tavenu. The absolute old fashioned night out; gentleman, please hold the door for your ladies.
Taka Zoku Shou is great for Ramen. It is a small, simple place with the loveliest waiter ever; Guillaume, a former colleague of mine. He is running the show with his French charms and love for Japan like only he can. Together with two wonderful chefs, he gives you a great Ramen experience. I love their Miso based soup and definitely ask for the Kimchi veggies. Also, the Tweede Egelandtiersdwarstraat where the place is located is one of those typical cozy Jordanese streets. Worth a visit!
BARS If you can’t choose what to do on a party night; karaoke, arcade games, diner, Ping-Pong or clubbing, you’re lucky; the Chin-Chin Club has it all. So while you’re having confused dim sums, singing along with the Spice Girls and pin ponging your way through the night, you’re ensured with a whole lotta fun. The age of the clubbers is around 21+, just so you know.
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about
- –Waterkant – enjoy Surinam food and vibes along the waterside
- –Pesca – great fish – next to the Chinchin club
NORTH/NOORD Behind the Central Station across the IJ lake lies the far, far North. It’s actually super close by, but it’s a short (and free) ferry trip away from the center and many Amsterdammers find it therefore preeetty far. This industrial area hides several marvelous gems and after waiting for 10 years you are also able now to take the new metro to get there. Bike right into nature behind the new housing estates or enjoy a tasty drink along the waterside; North is all that you decide it to be.
RESTURANTS / BARS Do you see the one and only big tower on the left? A’DAM Lookout, at your service. After taking the cool elevator ride (I won’t spoil it) you have the best view on the city. (incl. interactive info about what neighborhoods you see in front of you) At the rooftop you can swing over the edge in the highest swing of Europe. I’m not afraid of heights, but I will be honest, I asked the guy to stop it hehe. Luckily there is the Rooftop bar on the 20th floor for a calming drink and Madam Amsterdam on the 21st floor to provide you with a great lunch or dinner. The 19th floor is reserved for (very) fine dining with gorgeous plated dishes at restaurant Moon. This is the ultimate place in the city to celebrate the most festive moments in life.
North is well known for its NDSM-Werf which has been one of the world’s biggest shipyards in the 20th century. After closing up this business the NDSM became a huge industrial playground for artists, musicians, and other creatives.
Pllek is a creative hangout in one of the pilots along the IJ and right now the most popular place to have a good time. Pllek serves us great (mostly vegetarian) food, live music from all over the world, (outdoor) movie nights, yoga classes and many arty events. + Beach vibes all over. So I could not be bothered to move one bit after putting my buttocks on one of those fine bean bags along the water. Check the agenda for their events.
For concert nights and nicely priced lunches & dinners go to the Tolhuistuin. This formal canteen of Shell houses now has a simple but delishhh concept. I had a great quick bite perfect for a night of dancing on the tunes of wonder child Petit Biscuit. In summer it’s nice to enjoy the view on the IJ from their gravel balcony.
Places that I haven’t visited yet but I heard great things about
- –Noorderlicht – an interior made of reusable stuff and a sustainable menu
- –FC Hyena – tiny film house with petit resto, Arabic orientated menu & they serve Dutch Wentelteefjes (cinnamon/sugar toasted bread, must taste!)
- –Hangar – Raw industrial interior meets the warmth of South-European dishes
Where to zen?
Amsterdam is crowded & loud. So it’s often time to give those brain waves some well-deserved rest.
CITY CENTRE One of my favorite parks is the small Sarphati park. It has a bit of a bohemian vibe due to the overhanging trees along the water. It is a perfect place for meditation. Because usually, it’s not that busy. Afterwards, you can fuel your daily recommended amount of cuddles because half of the park is allowed for dogs, awww yes!!
Confirming we are still in Amsterdam, I will recommend you my favorite coffee shop (even though I don’t smoke, it’s still a nice place to hang out). Abraxas is one of the most chill places in the city center. The walls are tiled with pretty mosaic and it’s a good place to meet people from all over the world. From what I have heard, the quality of the stuff is great.
My personal spot to escape from the crowd is the Rialto cinema near de Pijp. This 100-year-old cinema shows amazing cult movies and also beautiful classics on Tuesday nights. A very nice place, also to go just by yourself and sink into the comfy plush seats.
EAST/OOSTFAVORITE! The best (and kindest) yoga teacher of Amsterdam teaches 3 times a week at the supercool Volkshotel. Mareille Outshoorn supervises you at her ‘Volksyoga’ classes and it’s just 75 min of pure bliss. Beginner or advanced, you will enjoy it. The room is bright and spacious and the best, best thing; afterward you can relax in the hot tub and sauna on the rooftop terrace. I’m absolutely in love with her special Yin classes that she organizes once every two months. These classes are 90 minutes, themed and accompanied by special instruments. A very special experience.
- Mondays @ 7 PM
- Wednesday’s @ 7 PM
- Saturday’s @ 10 AM
It’s so healthy to get a massage on a regular base for both your body and brain. While you’re having a massage the hormone Oxytocin is released which decreases your stress and blood pressure. As well as also improving your digestion and concentration ability. I love the massages in the treatment room at the Zoku hotel and the holistic massages of Lizanne.
The botanical garden Hortus Botanicus is small but oh so beautiful and oh so quiet. (mostly during the weekdays). You can discover the tropical plants and beautiful imitated environments. I can sit for hours in their very pretty lunchroom, drinking tea, reading a book. Lately, they also started with some yoga classes in the amazingly pretty glasshouse. I can imagine that would be a wonderful experience. Check their website if there are any upcoming events. Ps. Yes it’s possible to get married here.
(OLD-)SOUTH/(OUD-)ZUID Hidden in our beautiful and large Amsterdam forest lies the beautiful Goat Farm Ridammerhoeve. It’s one of my favorite places to unwind, especially when there are baby goats or pigs. You can just hop into their barn and go lie in the straw. (ignore the weird looks from parents who are convinced that this is only allowed for children, It. Is. Not.). The little creatures will sniffle on you and if you’re lucky lie beside you and you can even feed them a bottle of milk awwww. On Saturday and Sunday mornings there is even a Goat Yoga Class (option to book a goat dairy breakfast).
FAVORITE! The bos (forest) hides even more beautiful gems within it. At Kanoverhuur Amsterdamse Bos you can rent a canoe and float into, what we call, the Amsterdam Amazon. Low hanging trees above the water, sparkles of warm sunlight and ducks that fly low above the water, almost touching it with their soft wings. And the silence, being far away from the center, is invaluable. It’s a beautiful activity to do with your beloved one, sharing a canoe and sliding in a bag of picnic supplies (incl. a bottle of good rosé of course).
If you head to the Amstelpark, which is not the prettiest park but OK for a chill day, you can head out at the spot I marked on the map below. Here you can walk along the Amstel, heading out of the city. So no more houseboats and bridges, only nature and some benches and a big windmill, if you can’t suppress your touristy needs. The benches along the water are perfect for meditation.
If you want to be your own sailor, then of course that’s possible. Mokumboot rents out all kinds of small and big boats. It’s up to you if you want a skipper or not. Perfect for a day full of friendship, wine, and food along our cozy canals. There are 6 spots throughout the city to hop on board.
NORTH/NOORD In North you can find one of the best beauticians; Desiree of Pura Vida. She focusses on the improvement of the skin by treatments, massages and nutritional advice. Also, her house is a-ma-zing and is located directly at the IJ lake; a good opportunity to discover this brand new neighborhood afterward.
If you cross the lake, bringing your bike on the fairy, you can head out into nature behind the industrial buildings of North. Following this route, you will bike in 50 minutes to Monnickendam, which is a picturesque village with cute little houses. Prepare for a lot of meadows, cows, birds, and brooks.
Thanks for reading!
And yes, you’ll find the shopping list below!
Where to shop?
- Het Faire Oosten – beautiful big shop – books-home accessories – clothing – jewelry – everything they offer is fair-trade
- All the luck in the World – very beautiful shop – also to drink coffee – home accessories, colorful crockery & cool jewelry (there is one more in the Pipe)
- We are Vintage – very cool fashion and rugs
- Lucies Amsterdam – very cool jewelry for fantastic prices
- Kok Antiquariaat – very old, beautiful books and city maps. Just even worth a visit to only see the shop
THE PIPE/DE PIJP
- Anna + Nina – very pretty jewelry & home accessories (multiple locations in the city)
- Things I like, Things I love cool fashion and crockery
- Marbles – vintage clothing
9 STRAATJES/9 STREETS
- It’s a present – cool-weird presents for all ages – amazing postcards
- Beadies – beads, handmade jewelry
- Episode – coolest vintage clothing (multiple locations in the city)
- Boabab – incredible ethnic jewelry
- Westermarkt – antiques – fabrics – every Monday
- Albert Cuyp – most well known tourist market – every day except for Sunday’s
- Waterlooplein – hippie stuff – every day except for Sunday’s
- Bloemenmarkt – flower market – every day
- Dappermarket – fruits & veggies – clothing – every day except for Sunday’s
- Northern market – beautiful organic products – only on Saturday’s
- IJhallen Flea market at Amsterdam North – it’s huge – check the website for the dates