Things To Do in Amsterdam

You may take a look at my personal recommendations of Amsterdam

A citywalk:

if you would do just the walk it will take you about 4 / half hours to return, but, include the museums, a lunch / coffee / snack it may become a splendid full day

Start with the RYKSMUSEUM (Of course you SHOULD run through this museum; only the highlights of the collection are on display now, the main building is closed for renovation) cross the road and bridge over this canal and continue straight on SPIEGEL GRACHT. Here all antique shops start. Turn right on KEIZERS GRACHT. Cross the busy street (Vyzelstraat) and on the right you’ll find museum HUIS VAN LOON, Keizersgracht 672.
Afterwards: turn right out of the museum and continue along the Keizers Gracht: you’ll cross the REGULIERS GRACHT, one of the most picturesque views of Amsterdam. On this canal turn right, then left, you’ll see a wooden old church with a nice square around, (the ‘Amstel veld”) there is a café and terrace (coffee, sandwiches….) Then continue on the PRINSEN GRACHT in direction to the AMSTEL river. (if you are interested to visit another wonderful rich Amsterdam canal house, then close by is the WILLET-HOLTHUYSEN museum on Keizersgracht 605 near the Amstel river ) Once at the Amstel look for the MAGERE BRUG or: MEAGER Brug. Cross this bridge and then go left to the big CITY HALL + OPERA (STOPERA) ) In the meanwhile you’ll pass the Amsterdam department of the St.Petersburg HERMITAGE museum on the Amstel river. There is always a particular exhibition going on. The museum restaurant offer good quality and is open also beyond museum opening times. If you continue to the CITYHALL / OPERA go around, cross a bridge and there look for STAAL STRAAT. On the corner of Staal Straat and a canal you’ll find café PUCCINI. Great sandwiches, cakes…and a shop next door with the BEST handmade chocolates I know ! Continue in Staal Straat, enjoy the nice view from this typical Dutch bridge, (on Groenburgwal) Cross again another bridge and turn left into NIEUWE DOELEN STRAAT. There on the left you’ll find Café Restaurant DE JAREN (“The years”) Drink, eat something on the ground floor or terrace at the water. The crowd is very mixed, young / old, a good representation of local crowd. OR: go to the second floor for some light meal. Also there you’ll enjoy a wonderful view from the terrace outside. Afterwards you may look at the famous flower market. Go outside, taking a left, cross 2 canals on your right.

Cafes: (Restaurants) nearby

Note on nearly all restaurant / bars / cafes in Amsterdam: Service is a problem in Amsterdam. Be ASSERTIVE and generally “arrange” your service right away when you enter any place. Do not make the mistake to think that people are there to “serve you” in Amsterdam. When entering, make immediately a drink order and ask immediately for a menu. If you want to pay: ask for your bill far ahead, when you are still with your last food or drinks. Be with everything you want “one step ahead”. If not: you may find yourself “lost”.

MOMO
This a recent addition to the restaurant scene. It is mostly fully booked for dinner. It got a busy hang out for people having drinks late night. Walk along for a reservation or call (+3120) 671 74 74 Food is good with theme “East meets West”. Don’t expect much from service. People go there apparently for other reasons than ‘good service’.

GEORGE
Leidsegracht 84 ( a very pretty canal by the way ! )
This is the see and be seen hip place in town. Theme French bistro food. Like with many of these hip places: you’re lucky if the food is good and even luckier to get some service. Anyway, if you’re in for trendy crowds go for it. Evenings reservations mandatory : (+31020) 626 08 02

BICKEN
Overtoom 28 This is located at the other side of the park. Overtoom is a major road with a tramway running through. The actual location is not of tourist interest. The restaurant offers real fine cuisine, good service ( for a change ). This is for a serious gourmet experience. On walking distance.(15 minutes) Reservations needed: ( +3120 ) 6893999 www.bicken.nl ( also open on Sunday’s )

RED
This is a ‘safe place’ to go for good service and good food. Choice is simple: you either have lobster or steak or a mix of both. It is accompanied by home made fries and a salad. The interior is tasteful and a real good location on the corner of “Spiegelstraat” ( street full with art / antiques) and “Keizersgracht” –canal. Keizersgracht 594 , +31-20-3201824 www.restaurantred.nl

UMI
For Sushi / Japanese dishes. It is located in a tourist street, nevertheless, the quality is surprisingly good and prices are relatively low. They offer 50% off all prices between 12.00 – 18.30 hours. Also take away: order +31-20-7741941 ( local phone: 774-1941 )
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 71A It is off the busy Leidseplein; in the street where Mc Donalds is on the corner; go one block further to the right.
www.umisushi.nl

WALEM
Next to Metz & Co on the Keizersgracht this is a great place for light dinners, lunches, coffee etc. From the front door it is no more than a 15 minutes walk. Any sunny day: terrace ! Service is like mostly anywhere in Amsterdam left to “be desired”. 15 minutes walking distance.

THE COLLEGE HOTEL
This is a top design project ! I consider this as one of the best interior designs in The Netherlands. The hotel is run by hotel school students. The restaurant offers good quality food in design setting. ( a delightful terrace / garden / patio ) Note that due to students the service is not always professional ( but compared with “professional” restaurants ( that are not always so professional in Amsterdam ) it is “not bad” Go there for drinks in the trendy lounge / bar and have dinner there !
For dinner reservation mandatory: www.collegehotelamsterdam.com/nl/Fotos.hotels
0031-20-5711511 Roelof Hartstraat 1 Walking: 15 – 20 minutes, go to direction “Concert Hall” / Museum square and continue the large , busy road “ Van Baerlestraat”, where this street ends, you’ll find the hotel on your left. You may also take tramway number 3 ,5 or 12
ELEMENTS
Across the College Hotel is a hotel school student restaurant. The kitchen and service are run by students. The quality is not refined and surprising as in the College Hotel but good design and expect a good 4 course dinner for only 24,50 euro.
You must be there LATEST 19.00 hours. Reservation mandatory: 0031-20-6754534

MORLANG
Between WALEM and METZ & Co is MORLANG. In my opinion the perfect place for some dinner on your first day after arrival. It is like WALEM and METZ nearby from Here 15 minutes walking distance. The kitchen at MORLANG is a bit better then at WALEM.

General Shop opening hours: Normally shops close at 6 PM, except for Thursdays, then all shops are open until 9 PM. Most shops in the center are open on Sundays- daytime. Shops are closed on Monday mornings

VERTIGO (on 20 minutes from the frontdoor)
In Vondel park, in Film museum. Nice terrace and inside Typical relaxed Amsterdam atmosphere.

BLAUWE THEE HUIS (“The blue tea house )
Also in the Vondel Park, just a little further in the middle of the park. As long as it is not freezing people sit outside. A restaurant part with good / casual daily specials and upstairs a large, round terrace with nice view, on summer evenings torches are on.

JOFFERS
On corner Willems Park weg / Cornelis Schuyt straat.
Look at the shops in the Cornelis Schuytstraat. Believe it or not, this IS the posh place in Amsterdam / Holland. No Armani boys in black (like on P.C. Hooftstraat, ) but people dress down. But: don’t mistake: people you’ll see here are living in a prestigious area and they all come together in JOFFERS. Look for instance at the two gorgeous flower shops in that street as well as some Dutch fashion designer shops.

PALLADIUM
This is a popular bar right at the bustling LEIDSE PLEIN ( plein = square ) area. When crossing the first pedestrian bridge near the beginning of Vossiusstraat, you’ll enter this square with the Hard Rock Café; exit this little square on the left below a building passage. When you’ll exit this passage, PALLADIUM is right in front of you. This is typically a popular hang out for ‘guys meeting girls after work’; notably Friday’s after office hours.

Always popular / crowded cafes nearby: WEBER and LUX, If you want to find a bustling atmosphere with young trendy crowd also on “off” days like beginning of the week, try these two cafes next to one another nearby on MARNIXSTRAAT. Look at the big American Hotel and go into the street on the right of it. You’ll find these 2 cafes on the right. It’s only a 20 minute walk from the front door.

For live JAZZ go to ALTO on the nearby Leidseplein ( Leidse square ) ; it is number 10 Leidseplein. Or trem 5 and 2 It starts around 10 PM. Or if you like a bit more “rusty” than try BOURBON STREET also nearby Leidseplein on Leidsekruisstraat 6 It is a “late place” starting from 11 PM ( Go to where Bulldog is on Leidseplein, then turn into the busy restaurant street on the right, take the first ‘cross street’ to the left in direction of Prinsengracht / canal.

BEER CAFÉ ‘T ARENDSNEST. Find 160 varieties of beers in this cosy café on Herengracht 90. This may be a nice walk along canals, roughly in direction Central Station about 20 – 25 minutes walking distance.

What to eat in Amsterdam :

1. A “KROKET” ( a crisp fried meat ‘ragout’ ) available nearest by at the FEBO on the busy commercial LEIDSE STRAAT , right near LEIDSE PLEIN. there you eat “out of the wall” from dispensers. Don’t forget to ask mustard at the counter and add this to your kroket. This is the most typical Dutch fast food.
2. A fresh HERRING. This is the most traditional Dutch “sushi” since hundreds of years. Personally I consider the best from a fishmonger at “1 Constantijn Huygensraat”. You may also find herring at any fish “kiosk” on the street. Eat it at the spot with onions and gherkins.
3. PANNEKOEK or POFFERTJES. These are Pancakes and poffertjes are the very small version; a sort of ‘blinis’ Pancakes you’ll get in any variety; salty or sweet. Personally I recommend a combination with apple / raisins / bacon. Poffertjes are mostly served with powder sugar and butter. Depending where you are, there are several places in town. In doubt; just ask a local if he/she knows a nearby place.

Museums:

HUIS VAN LOON (as described before) It is on the Keizersgracht 672 between Vijzel straat and Reguliers gracht. I think this is definitively worth spending one hour. It is a House Museum; a 17th century Canal House just the way it always was. I consider this little museum as a MUST SEE. Closed on Tuesdays.

Museum WILLET HOLTHUYSEN is about the same idea. Located a little further at HERENGRACHT 605 near the Amstel river ( between Utrechtse straat and Amstel river)
Personally I think this also comes close to a “MUST SEE”

THE ROYAL PALACE
On Dam square is this magnificent ‘Dutch Classical Style’ building; at the time of building called the “8th world wonder” and when completed it was the largest public building in the world. It always served as town hall until it got a “Royal Palace” in the 19th century. The interiors are impressive !

The HERMITAGE. The Amsterdam department of this St. Petersburg museum has recently been enlarged. There is always an exhibition going on. The building is from architectural point of view quite spectacular. It offers a very good restaurant called “NEVA” that is open also beyond museum opening hours. Cross the Amstel river either on the “meager bridge” ( magere brug ) or on the larger bridge near City Hall / Opera : Stopera. TIP: on Wednesday evenings it is open till 8PM; it would be no more than logic to have dinner afterwards in their top quality restaurant. Note: top quality has a price; it is fairly high priced. Look at pictures of the stylish design via : http://www.neva.nl
Reservations recommended: +31(0)20-5307483

RYKS museum 20 minutes walking distance, ( the mainbuilding is closed for renovation, but the top pieces of the collection are exhibited)

VAN GOGH museum
also 20 minutes walking distance. Both these museums are opened during FRIDAY EVENINGS.

Next to the Palace on Dam-square is the NIEUWE KERK. There is always an exhibition going on; about always worth walking in, except for this exhibition you’ll have a chance to see the rather impressive typical Protestant Dutch Reformed Church interior

Walk:

Walk in the evening (when it get’s dark a bit) along the LEIDSE GRACHT and other canals. Do WATCH in people’s houses ! Look at their kitchens, rooms…

PRIVATE CANAL TOUR:
Ask Rob. He’s got this large aluminum open boat. He is mostly flexible and modest in his price: 75 euro per hour. He may take you on a private canal tour. You may speak out your preference where to go or Rob will tour you around himself. He may get as near as on the Kiezergracht ,Prinsenstraat corner, right nearby. Call me if you want 0031-0-643064652
Go to the FLOWER AUCTION in AALSMEER. (get a from central station. that takes you in 50 minutes to the auctions )
Be there no later than 9.00 AM. The biggest flower auction – event in the world.
You’ll be amazed ! See train-wagons full of flowers passing for auction, many football fields wide, see the amazing logistics processing easily 30,000 cars of flowers from producer to buyer.
If you make it to get up early: to me a MUST SEE !

See of course: ( though touristy and nowadays more a “souvenir market” ) THE FLOWER MARKET at SINGEL between KONINGS PLEIN and MUNT (Mint) PLEIN

WALK in Vondel park and see the gardens of private houses located at KONINGS LAAN. (from this house to the end of the park and south part of the park)
Also WALK through the KONINGS LAAN. After doing this you know where you want to live….

CONCERTGEBOUW.
USE IT ! There are all wonderful concerts going on. For good reasons this is one of the most famous Concert halls in the world. It’s acoustics are phenomenal. It has recently been refurnished and includes even a champagne bar. Buy tickets at the last moment around 19.00. Get a program ! Go to the “UITBURO” on the Leidse plein nearby on the groundfloor of the Theatre. There you can see day by day programms of ALL activities in the whole city.
My tip: go there for non-collected tickets around 7 PM. A good chance you’ll get better seats than in pre-sales reservation. Also people may sell there tickets at the entrance. My experience is that you’ve always got a good chance.
The CAFE is good ! go at any time for a soup, cold meat or cheese platter, a salad and great cakes. It’s nicely located on a corner behind large windows.

LIBRARY
This new building is interesting to see from architectural point of view. On the top floor is a café-restaurant with self service and a great view of town from the terrace ! The self service food is prepared a la minute but may take some time because of inefficient students working there. Anyway; it’s worth enjoying the view and building. It’s easy to reach from Central Station. When in looking at the station turn right, pass the temporary bus station and walk on. You’ll see in the water a large Chinese restaurant, walk past it and you’re there.

THE BEGYN HOF
This is a marvelous hidden place in the center of town. A large courtyard with individual houses. Among them the oldest in Amsterdam dating to the 15th century and made of wood. In the middle the English Church, founded in 1606. You’ll enter via a door right of the American Bookstore ( when walking towards the Esperit fashion store café ) The entrance door is on a square called SPUI. ( frequently there’s a book / art market going on )

Restaurants / Clubs / Lounges

Herengracht
This is hot / happening for food / drinks. As the name implies it is located at Herengracht, ( Next to “Konings plein” and flowermarket.

Bar Italia
It is a big cafe / restaurant, new / hot and happening. It is close to Dam square and there are 2 entrances; one on: Rokin 81-83 and the other one on the narrow street behind: Nes 96
T: +31 20 620 2442 www.bar-italia.nl

Lola’s
A trendy restaurant on the First floor and a bar on the ground floor. After 23.00 the bar ‘takes over’ and is filled with youngish crowd. This place is in the department “hot and happening” Kerkstraat 23 ( this is near Leidseplein ) www.lolas.nl +3120 3204336

Lounge / club / dinner:

Supper Club,
Jonge Roelensteeg 21
For years already: a very fashionable crowd
on 15 min. walking distance from here. In Summer there are Supper Club Boat cruises Call ( +31) 06-50900899 . Full menus and entertainment. Depart behind Central Station.

Lounge / dinner:
HarkemaDe Nes (alley parallel between “Rokin and Oudezijds Voorburgwal”)
Large open space, attractive new design, fashionable crowd.
25 min. walking distance from Vossiusstraat

ENVY
Prinsengracht 381 ( www.envy.nl )
This is a new, hot / happening trendy tapas-style bar / restaurant. Right in the “9-little-streets-area” and near the famous ‘Westerkerk” (Wester church) Avoid disappointment by making a reservation on (+31-20) 344-6407
If this place it “too international fancy” to you: next door is the old and good café/restaurant “VAN PUFFELEN” ( that has a nice terrace )

Lounge / dinner:
Finch and Prost
– In the popular “Noorder Markt “ area
Walking distance from here just across canal. Definitively young (trendy) crowd.

Chocolate Bar
Eerste van der Helstraat 62
Right near ‘Helden”. For drinks. Young crowd.
It is at the corner of this famous typical Amsterdam market “Albert Cuyp” It is said to be the longest market in the world.
Go there on daytime. This street “Eerste van der Helstraat” crosses this “Albert Cuyp” market and is perfect for finding good Dutch herring at the fishmonger, a Dutch pancake house (opposite of the fishmonger) trendy cafes, cute shops, terraces and who knows the best “Fallafel” in town….

Club:
Jimmie Woo
Exclusive, hot/happening now. On a stone’s throw off the Leidseplein. Minor: it has a very limited / strict doorpolicy. It seems you’ve got to be on a guestlist to enter. But: as long as it is so nearby: try !

Beddington's Restaurant
Utrechtsedwarsstraat 141
(+31-20) 6207393
This place of lady Chef Jean Beddington, is to go for if you’re really and particular into fine but adventurous food. 20 min. walking or short taxi ride. Do make reservations as long before as you can ! ( this place is small and filled up soon )

Near to Beddington’s is INDONESIAN RESTAURAN TEMPO DOELOE on Utrechtsestraat 75 http://www.tempodoeloerestaurant.nl/ This is about the best and renowned Indonesian restaurants in Amsterdam. It is small and reservations are needed: +31-20 625 6718

( Mind: also on Utrechtsestraat the BEST Patisserie: KUYT and the best cheese store, best butcher’s and fishmonger all near / opposite from each others. )

De Engelbewaarder
Kloveniersburgwal 59
If you are tired of ‘trendy / hot places’ then try this relaxed down to earth – student style cafe with surprisingly imaginative food. Location is great on one of the widest canals in town and if you have a chance to get the window table; you’re lucky ! You may even try to reserve this table : ( +31-20) 625 37 72 It is in the same area near Town hall / Opera ( Stopera ) / Puccini Café / De Jaren café restaurant and popular Nieuwmarkt ( New Market )

Design - Boutique Hotel / fusion kitchen top cuisine
The Dylan
Keizersgracht 384
(+31-20) 5302010 15 min. walking distance from here This is one of the ‘temples of design’ by Anoushka Hempel, alias Lady Weinberg. The restaurant offers top level food “East meets West”. This place is high profile.

2 Restaurants for DUTCH food:

Haesje Claes
Spuistraat 273, near “Spui”, in the center, in between Dam square and the Flower market.
Tel: (+ 31-20-) 6249998 This restaurant is has ‘democratic’ prices. It is popular and reservations recommended.

De Vijff Vlieghen

Spuistraat 294, near restaurant Haesje Claes. Upscale food / service. Tel: ( +31-20 ) 6236404


ideal places to enjoy a sunset in Amsterdam, either inside or on the terrace:

PONT 13
This former ferry is now a unique restaurant. Located in the industrial port between ships and wide views across water. Experience the contrast with the old “touristy city”. For a change, service and food are good ! J Because it is not easy to find; go there by taxi. Make a reservation: +31-20-7702722 www.pont13.nl Haparandadam 50
Mo-Sat : kitchen opens at 18.30 on Sunday is from 12.00 “Bruschetta with Italian wines”.

Starferry
This is my opinion one of THE BEST places to enjoy extensive views and good food. Located at the harbour water front, it’s like boats come right into the café… In the new “Muziekgebouw” (Music building) at the large “IJ” harbour. The seaport-terminal is next to it.
Ideal to visit by bike. If not, then to Central Station, go to the water-side exit and turn right; about 15 minute walk.

Best apple cake in Amsterdam:

De Jaren
Has a renowned apple cake ( surely ask whipped cream with it )
As described above in the city walk. It offers a full menu on the higher floor and 2 great terraces on the water / Amstel river. Located not far from the flower market at Singel, go to the wellknown hotel “De l’Europe” and continue in this narrow “Nieuwe Doelenstraat”.

Café Winkel
A very cosy place at the corner of Westerstraat ( across the canal ).Best apple cake in the town ( with cream ! ) Also a good place for lunch and light dinners. Attn: small and therefore often crowded.

With KIDS:

Eating: DE JAREN and to this “marketstyle” self service restaurant called LA PLACE. It is located on the ground floor of a department store “V&D”, at the end of KALVERSTRAAT. This is near the Flowermarket. Look for this tower, the “Munt ( Mint) tower, enter this busy shopping street Kalverstraat and you’ll find it directly on your right hand. Perfect for easy bites on mezzanine level and also very good ready made foods to take away on the ground floor.

NEMO museum. This is a sort of technology / new developments museum designed for kids ( and also fun for grownups ) The building itself is quite spectacular. Go to the outside terrace / lookout point on the roof ! You’ll find this place on the “Museummap” that is in the apartment. Roughly, it’s close to the Central Station and connected with a bridge to the museum of Contemporary Art ( Stedelijk Museum ) ( Where is this fun café with great views on the 11th floor )

The ZOO; ARTIS. A real good zoo in “East” part of town. Historic older buildings but with updated fun things for kids. Easy to reach with tramline number 10 from Leidseplein. Ask the tram driver where to step out.

SAUNA
The interior of this neat sauna is taken from an Art-Deco department store in Paris. Whenever the weather is dull or cold; you may take advantage of this very good place. Book a massage in advance if you wish. It is on walking distance on HERENGRACHT 115 and open until 11 PM.
http://www.saunadeco.nl/
(+31-20) 6238215

Around Amsterdam

Flowerauction:
I strongly recommend going to see the flower auction in Aalsmeer. It’s just outside Amsterdam, the largest flowerauction in the whole world. What me concerns one of the most impressive places to visit in this country.
You’d like to be there early morning. (no later then 9.00 ) Then the actual auction is still in full swing. You can simply take a bus, near central station, line 172. It goes every 20 minutes. For instance one goes at 7.19 hours and arrives at 8.00 right in front of where you want to be. Keukenhof. (impressive large flower / tulip / gardens / greenhouses / landscapes )
Open springtime until end May. From Central Station go to the airport (platform 13/14) From the airport take the special “Keukenhof bus” line number 58. If you take a train from Central Station at 32 minutes pas the hour, then upon arrival at the airport, 3 minutes later departs this bus. IDEAL ! way to go: all together it only takes 40 minutes.

Zaanse Schans.
This is the place where several authentic windmills and old wooden houses are preserved. You may take an organised tour from “VVV”/ Tourist information right across the Central Station ( in the white wooden building) Tours leave at 9.30 AM and at 2.30 PM
You may go there individually as well:
From Central Station take a train to:
Koog Zaandijk, from there walk for about 15 minutes.


HAARLEM.
This old city nearby Amsterdam may be much worth to visit. It is only 20 minutes by train. The square with church very much still looks like the 17th century paintings made of it. Naturally, the famous FRANS HALS museum (top collection Dutch 17th cent.) is a must-see as are the small authentic streets around the museum.

DEN HAAG / The Hague
On 45 minutes by train is the Governmental capital of the Netherlands. Here the parliament and queen reside. The formal parliament building dates from 12th ( !) century. Next to it this stunning MAURITSHUIS ( Maurits House) with an absolute top collection of Dutch 17th cent art including great Vermeer paintings. The World Court of Justice ( the Peace Palace ) is another striking building that may be visited. ( by tramway ) One may take a tramway to the “Kurhaus” at the beach and get some sea breeze.