The Unwritten Guides…a few of my favorite places: Amsterdam

Toy town, cannabis haven, and endlessly charming with its beautiful canals and crooked buildings, Amsterdam is the place I’ve (more or less) lived for five years and a city I can come fairly close to calling home. This being the case, I’ve collected quite a few favorites from this gezellig city, and I thought it was high time I compiled my Amsterdam short-list (in no particular order) for any of you who are planning a trip there or who want to head there in the future.

I’m barely scratching the surface with this list, but it’s a good starting point for this tiny yet jam-packed city where there’s always something to do or somewhere to bike.

My recommendation: save all of these places on Google maps (I made each one a Google maps link) and then when you’re out and about in the city you can simply take a peek and see what’s close by.

Enjoy and tot ziens!

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Outside the cool magazine shop I mention below.

Vintage & Shopping

  • Wini Vintage: In my opinion, this vintage shop has the best-curated collection of items in Amsterdam, and it’s still pretty affordable (think 20-40 euro range).
  • Laura Dols: This is another extremely well-curated vintage shop with really high quality, pristine condition items. Of course, that means the price tags reflect this.
  • Bis!: two shops near Waterlooplein with an affordable selection (15-40 euro range). I often find some gems here.
  • Episode: a vintage chain with multiple locations around the city. Requires more digging but is definitely cheaper than the others if you’re looking for a bargain.
  • Kilo Shops: Another vintage shop chain that requires a bit of digging, but is usually quite affordable and fruitful as well.
  • & Other Stories: Not a one of a kind boutique, but I’m always a fan of this brand, and the store is conveniently located right off the main shopping street (Kalverstraat) with all of the big chains in case you need to pick up a few other items while you’re out.
  • Art magazine shop: Right next to the Athenaeum Boekhandel on the Spui is a cool magazine shop with tons of magazines of all genres including a lot of alternative art and fashion magazines. Can’t seem to find the name listed on Google maps but you can’t miss it if you go to Athenaeum Boekhandel.
  • Terra Shoes: A cool boutique that sells handmade leather shoes (on the pricier side but still reasonable for the quality, 100-300 euro range) alongside affordable espadrilles, cool ceramics and more. I love their whole earthy aesthetic. Plus the owner always looks very chic.

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The patio of Hannekesboom.

Bars/Clubs

  • De School: one of the best places for electronic music and good DJs in Amsterdam. A little far from the center, so plan accordingly.
  • Claire: another club that usually has good DJs and shows.
  • Cafe Schiller: a nice (non-trashy) bar on Rembrandtplein (across the street from the Claire if you want to get drinks before going there).
  • OT 301: An artist residency on Overtoom, this place has multiple levels and often holds exhibitions and music events. They also have a cafe on the ground floor.
  • Hannekes Boom: a really gezellig place for beers right on the water near the NEMO Science Museum. Perfect when the weather is nice.
  • Waterkant: another nice bar/cafe to grab some beers and hang out with friends. It’s situated underneath a parking garage and is also on the water (its name literally translates to “water side”), which gives it a nice ambiance.
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SkyLounge Amsterdam
  • SkyLounge or the W Amsterdam: both hotels have lounges and bars with great views of the city. Expect high prices and I can’t speak for the quality, but go up for a quick coffee or beer to get a nice view of the city.
  • Volkshotel: another cool hotel with a cafe at the bottom and bar/club at the top.
  • A’DAM Toren: this place recently opened and has a really cool rotating bar with a fantastic view of the city. There’s also a swing on the top floor that swings you over the edge. I’ve never been, but I hear it’s nice, but, as you’d assume, pricey.
  • House Bar: I actually haven’t made it to this one yet, but I hear it has really nice cocktails if you’re in the mood for something on the fancier side.
  • In de Olofspoort: Situated on Warmoesstraat, this is a local Dutch jenever bar that makes their own liquor. It’s a good place to go to have an authentic Dutch experience. The building itself is from the 1600s and the decor is very traditional. A quiet gem in the heart of the tourist zone.
  • Pllek: a nice cafe and restaurant on the water in Amsterdam Noord. It’s a nice place to go if you want to see Noord (which I recommend!). It’s especially nice when the sun is out as they have lots of outdoor seating in the sand.
  • Nooderlicht: another really cool cafe in Amsterdam Noord with a fire pit, trippy decorations and good shows.
  • De Ceuvel: an interesting art complex (they actually define themselves as a “clean tech playground”) that’s comprised of a collection of houseboats in Amsterdam Noord. They often hold exhibitions and events.
  • Cafe Brecht: A chill bar/cafe on Weteringschans. It reminds me of the type of bohemian style cafes you find in Berlin.
  • De Koningshut: a traditional Amsterdam “bruin cafe” where you can go for some beer and bitterballen.
  • De Staalmeesters: another traditional-type bar that’s nice for a drink. It’s at the end of Staalstraat on a really cute corner of the city as well.
  • Festina Lente: a cute and cozy bar/cafe that’s good for drinks and a simple dinner in the Jordaan.

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Food from Thaise Snackbar Bird. Photo via @ilovecheshirecat.

Food

  • Kartika: a really good Indonesian food restaurant, good for a nice dinner. It’s a small restaurant and usually quite popular so make reservations to be safe.
  • Thaise Snackbar Bird: a little hole in the wall that has amazing Thai food. Good for lunch or dinner, but be warned it is superrr small. Order takeout or wait to cram yourself in next to strangers (don’t worry it’s not as bad as it sounds).
  • Kam Yin: a delicious and affordable Chinese/Surinaam place in the heart of the center. Try their Roti Kip.
  • Ali Ocakbaşı: an upscale Turkish restaurant in Amsterdam with delicious meat and mezze.
  • Bir tat: a cheaper Turkish restaurant that’s equally delicious a little further from the center, but good if you are staying in the West.
  • Sir Hummus: A delicious hummus shop by Sarphati park. Run by Israelis so you know it’s authentic.
  • Cafe Kadijk: A tasty Indonesian place that’s good for a quick and affordable dinner or sit out on their patio when the weather is nice for some beers. Limited options but they are all very good.
  • Betty Blue: A good lunch spot or a place to go in the afternoon for coffee and cake. They have burgers, salads, flatbreads and other lunch/dinner offerings.
  • Eatmosfera: Delicious pizza off of Rembrandtplein. Introduced to me by an Italian so you can trust it’s good.
  • Fuoco Vivo: Another delicious pizza place approved by Italians.
  • Los Pilones: the most authentic Mexican food you’re gonna find in Amsterdam. Also introduced to me by a Mexican friend.
  • Kilimanjaro Restaurant: really tasty Ethiopian food on Kadijkplein.
  • Bazar: good Turkish/Persian/Moroccan food and the space is quite big (for Amsterdam standards) so it’s good for larger parties.
  • Sumo: If you want some quick and decent sushi, Sumo (which has a few locations around the city) has all you can eat sushi for around 30 euros.
  • Soup en Zo: A local chain with a few locations around the city, this is a good place to go for a quick and healthy lunch. It offers different kinds of soups and salads that are usually fairly veggie heavy and fresh.
  • Dignita: A good lunch/brunch spot for egg dishes and good coffee. It has two locations now I believe.
  • Van Stapele Koekmakerij: a tiny, tucked away cookie shop that only sells one type of cookie. Chocolate with white chocolate filling. A little on the pricey side but they really are good.
  • Lavinia Good Food: another good lunch/brunch place with vegetarian options and cutesy decor. A little pricey though and smaller portions.
  • Cora Delicatessen & Sandwich: I discovered this place as I was heading to the tram one day and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their sandwiches. It’s just a sandwich shop but it has higher quality ingredients and they offer unique combinations (like mango habanero mayo with turkey). Good for grab and go.
  • Food Hallen: An indoor market with lots of different food stalls and a movie theater next door which plays blockbuster and alternative movies. It’s always very crowded but has a nice ambiance if you want to enjoy a few drinks or a bite to eat.

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Coffee at De Koffieschenkerij.

Coffee

  • See this post on the top ten best specialty coffee shops in Amsterdam I wrote a while back.
  • New ones I need to add to the list: Toki (an adorable Japanese place that serves good matcha as well if that’s your thing), Black Gold, The Hoxton (a great place to work or enjoy some drinks as well), Bocca Coffee, Zoku (go for the views as it’s on the top floor and has some pretty nice garden areas), Monks Coffee Roasters (they also have nice lunch options), The Coffee Virus.

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The deck of the NEMO Science Museum.

Random Fun Things to Do

  • Hotel Droog: This is a quirky art hotel and shop on Staalstraat, one of my favorite streets in Amsterdam. It’s a great place to walk around and take some Instagram pics.
  • Mezrab: This cultural organization is known for its storytelling nights where they also sell homemade Iranian soup (originally made my the founder’s mother). It’s a nice, gezellig experience and now they offer other types of concerts and events as well.
  • Febo: if you want a realllly Dutch experience, do as the drunk (and sober) locals do and eat some fried yet (arguably) tasty Dutch snacks at Febo (think croquettes, fries, etc.) Half the fun is in the vending machine like wall you get your food from (Google it).
  • Visit the public librarythe public library in Amsterdam is a beautiful glass building with multiple floors and wonderful views of the city. It’s a great place to chill for awhile with a good book, or go to the cafe on the top floor and get an overview of the city.
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The view looking up inside the Amrath Hotel.
  • Walk through the Amrath Hotel: The Amrath Hotel is a gorgeous and grand old hotel near the heart of the Amsterdam center. If you’re in the area, I suggest simply walking in and taking a wander. The interior is seriously impressive.
  • Sit on the deck of NEMO: NEMO is Amsterdam’s science museum. The museum itself is kind of fun to go through, but a little more kid-focused; however, I recommend heading to the deck to sit and catch some sun on a nice day. The building itself is in the shape of a huge ship and the front side is essentially a big deck with tons of stairs and many different levels of seating.
  • Check out this post from Wanderlustingk where she lists little-known Amsterdam spots. She mentions quite a few places I’d never heard about and are now on my list to visit!

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Inside the Van Gogh Museum.

Touristy Fun Things to Do

  • Go on a canal cruise: It’s definitely worth it to see this city from its famous canals. If you can swing it, get a few friends to join and rent out a private boat for a few hours. The captain will take you wherever you want to go and load the boat with drinks as well. Worth every penny. Tours leave from the dock at Amsterdam Centraal (Central Station).
  • Museums: Van Gogh, Stedelijk, the Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House are Amsterdam’s most well-known museums. They are all worth visiting if museums are your thing. If you’re into photography, Foam sometimes has cool exhibits. If you’re more into anthropology and culture, check out the Tropenmuseum.Word to the wise: if you want to go to the Anne Frank House, you should book tickets months in advance otherwise you’ll have to wait in line for a couple of hours to get in.

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    Vondelpark
  • Go to Vondelpark: Perfect in the spring or summertime. Take an hour or two and walk around Amsterdam’s most famous park. It’s an oasis of green in the center of the city and perfect for a picnic.
  • Visit Hortus Botanicus: This is Amsterdam’s botanical garden. It’s a nice place to wander around for an afternoon.
  • Visit the Albert Cuyp Markt: This is Amsterdam’s biggest market and the best place to try some traditional Dutch specialties, aka: poffertjes, stroopwaffels, and of course, frites met mayo. It’s also in the heart of the Pijp, a really cute area of town full of boutiques and bars for exploring afterward.

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Tula Yoga Studio. Photo via @amsterdive, captured by @bianca.alexiuc.

Yoga

  • Delight Yoga: this is a big studio with a few locations around the city. They usually have a wide selection of class types and times. Sometimes not as strong or invigorating for my taste, but a good bet nonetheless.
  • Equal Yoga: a hot yoga studio with two locations and strong flows. A mix of traditional Bikram postures and vinyasa flows.
  • De Nieuwe Yogaschool: a nice studio in the center with a mix of styles and classes.
  • Yagoy: a studio with a nice mix of classes, mostly Vinyasa from my memory, and a more relaxed vibe.
  • Movements Yoga: A hot yoga studio with a variety of times and class types. They also offer Pilates.
  • Tula Yoga: I haven’t actually been to this one yet, but my friend is doing a teacher training there and really loves it!

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Another great resource for Amsterdam hotspots and favorites is my friend, Amsterdive. She puts out weekly cultural agendas with fun, interesting, and in-the-know things to do in the city. Take a look!

 

Amsterdammers! Are there any glaring holes in my list? Tell me what I should add!

Check out more Unwritten Guides and feel free to comment if you are coming to Amsterdam and have any questions!

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