Amsterdam is the city I used to live for five years. Currently, I live in a smaller town close to Amsterdam, called Bussum. Still, every week I travel to Amsterdam to see friends and go to work. My job is to sell the city to tourists so I know a loooooot about the things you will like ánd not like. Read on…
What to expect?
There’s a lot to say about tourism in Amsterdam as it has been growing exponentially over the past years. I want to warn you in the first place: some places of our lovely mokum have become an overly crowded tourist trap. Still, it remains beautiful and if you know when and where to go, you will fall in love with the city like her inhabitants.
Weather in the Netherlands is always unpredictable. Most of the days it’s cloudy and showers are no exception. Anyhow, there are also plenty of sunny days and it never gets really hot or really cold. To avoid the busiest season, I will recommend not going in the weekends and summer months.
Where to go?
There’s no need to inform you how to find the city centre or the main shopping street as everybody is heading there. Just follow the others as soon as you drop of your train at the Amsterdam Central Station. In a radius of 1 km from the Dam Square you will only find tourist stuff. Other tourist metro poles are the Rembrandtplein (plein = square) and Leidseplein. The streets Damrak, Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat connect this centres to each other. Although it is a tourist area, it’s all still very pretty and you will find beautiful buildings, museums, hotels, shops bars and restaurants here as well. Here’s a map of Amsterdam centre and the sights I recommend (continue reading for more).
What do I like about Amsterdam?
I like Amsterdam best on early mornings when I cycle next to the canals to work. With not much other people around you zip back in time and can imagine horses and carriage passing by… the atmosphere is delicious. You feel the potential sleeping energies of the city and with the canals, old trees and old buildings I always get a happy feeling.
During daytime I like the more quite and remote places as well. Everytime I wander around in such a district I’m impressed again by the beauty and welcoming vibe of the city. So where can you find these nice views and atmosphere?
– University of Amsterdam’s Oudemanhuispoort; go really back in time with the vintage book market in the tunnel
– Area around Dijkstraat; cute decorated houses with garden plants in colourful pots everywhere
– Reguliersgracht and Amstelveld; beautiful views and cosy little square
– Staalstraat; romantic street with most romantic bridge of the city (keybridge)
– Brouwersgracht; other beautiful canal site with views
– Prinseneiland; different vibe due to old warehouses turned into homes
Amsterdam grows fast. Popularity of the citycentre changes to neighbourhoods more peripheral. One of this neighbourhoods is the NDSM-warf. Once a place for maintaining big ships, now an arty upcoming spot. A lot of festivals take place on the old warf with on the background the Berlin-like abandoned buildings, crane and streetart. Next door, arty bars open where you can have organic lunch or diner while enjoying the view over the Ij-river ánd the newly build architecture of Amsterdam. Hip offices settle here same as the biggest fleemarket of the Netherlands. A lot of folks only pay attention to the old buildings in the city centre of Amsterdam, but these new buildings are also worth a look. They show the modern side of Amsterdam in a good way. The buildings do fit right in their classic surroundings but still look really fancy.
-> There’s a Free ferry ride from behind the Central Station to NDSM-warf of 15 mins including spectaculair views of Amsterdam’s skyline and the arty NDSM-warf. And that all for nop. So this is my best tip when visiting Amsterdam.
There’s a big big partyscene in Amsterdam, but I’m not into it anymore. According to me, the initiatives are great, but the right energies lack. I rather go to Berlin to party, less expensive and more satisfying. Anyhow, If you are into electronic music; check out Studio 80 or Barcode on Rembrandtsquare. Boom Chigaco Social club, Doka and Chapter 21 are locals favourites as well. Depending on the evening they play different types of music from electronic to 90’s R&B hits. During summertime there are plenty of mainly electronic music festivals going on. You can find more info about clubs, parties and festivals on Residentadvisor.
The best shops of the Netherlands are in Amsterdam, for sure. I love the vintage shops and also some more common store chains. You find the best vintage stores scattered around town. For example on the Nieuwe Hoogstraat there are a few. Among other nice shops, you will find some vintage ones in the 9 streets, Haarlemmerstraat and Jordan area as well. My commercial favourites are River Island and Monki in Kalverstraat and Brandy & Melville in the Leidsestraat.
Bars and restaurants
Plenty of nice restaurants and bars around. making a reservation on Fridays and Saturdays is wise to do. Some favourites for a drink and diner:
– Hannekes Boom, Dijksgracht 4. Unique place, feel out of town in the middle of the centre. Nice cheap foods and drinks
– Noorderlicht or Pllek, NDSM-warf. Hip and Hippie. Nice views and nice food.
– Bar Baarsch, Jan Evertsenstraat 91. nice, chill, jummie
– Mossel & Gin, Gosschalklaan 12. nice, hidden place.
– Restaurant Mazzo, Rozengracht 114, lot of nice (vegetarian) choice
– Jottum, Eerste Anjeliersdwarsstraat 17, Tapas how the Dutch like it
– La Maria, Vechtstraat 79, very cute little place with Mediterranean kitchen
– In de buurt, Lijnbaansgracht 246, an oasis between all the tourist places. nice atmosphere and good priced food
– Pasta e Basta, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 8, very nice Italian place, bit expensive but worth it. let yourself surprise!
This are just some suggestions, wander around and you will find a lot of nice places yourself as well!
check out www.yourlittleblackbook.me for all up to date information on events, newly opened bars and restaurants.
Other nice places to visit around Amsterdam
The Netherlands are full with characteristic old towns with the same kind of houses like Amsterdam. Even more special are the old defence architecture of some cities. For example Haarlem, Weesp, Leiden, Utrecht, Muiden and the king of all: Naarden. If you look this places up on the map, you will notice a star-figure around the citycentre. Not only beautiful in 2D, but also in 3D. All this towns have a really nice atmosphere with cute, different houses, small streets, watersides and nice restaurants and shops. A lot of visitors skip Hollands 3rd biggest city, Utrecht, but that’s a shame. Utrecht is really pretty and not overthrown by tourists. They even do have their own (in my opinion more beautiful) canal! In Muiden you will find the prettiest castle of the Netherlands, the Muiderslot.