Our 10 favourite places in Amsterdam, a stone's throw from our shop
So, you’ve arrived in Amsterdam, checked in to your hostel, and sorted out bike rental. Where to?
The good news, is that armed with your trusty bicycle, you can get from place to place in a matter of minutes. Even biking from one side of the city to the other takes less than half an hour. The even better news, is that in this thriving global village you will have no shortage of things to experience. Here are a few of our favourites right on our doorstep
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Just outside the city centre, you cycle beneath the arch of the Rijksmuseum into the green oasis beyond. You’ll see visitors and locals alike relaxing by the fountain or picnicking on the grass. Pause. Take in the place. You’ve got some of the world’s best museums on every side. Delve back through the centuries of Dutch history and culture in the Rijks. Check out the Stedelijk’s dedication to modern art and design, and the Van Gogh for… Well, you probably know what goes on there.
Museum entry cost around €20 , and it’s important to book ahead during busy periods to secure your time slot.
The ‘Iamsterdam’ sign that used to stand by the fountain is currently on tour – see if you can spot it around the city!
A stone’s throw from the Museum Quarter is the sprawling Vondelpark. Its network of lakes criss-crossed by paths make this a place you can visit a hundred times and still discover a new spot. There’s no motorised traffic here, so it’s an ideal place if you’re still getting the hang of your bike – or if you’ve sampled some of the Amsterdam special product.
Either group might enjoy the Rose Garden or the Picasso statue. There’s plenty of shops just outside, so grab yourself a picnic and absorb the nature, or delve into one of the park’s hidden cafes and enjoy a long lunch or a beer as the sun sets.
If you would like to know more about the park, have a glance through our blog on things to do in Vondelpark.
This old Tram Station thought it could retire in peace. Fortunately for us, it was wrong. Following its renovation, De Hallen now houses a cinema, several shops, and of course its legendary food court. Choose from 21 stands, each crafting their own cuisine to perfection before your eyes. Sit back, soak up the live music, and wonder why all stations can’t be like this.
Originally built to house workers and new migrants in the seventeenth century, this quarter at the western edge of the city centre progressively grew more fashionable. Whilst there were plans to replace large parts of the district with modern blocks of flats in the 1970s, widespread resistance led to renovation projects instead. For that reason, Jordaan still retains the feel of old Amsterdam: its tangle of streets, dark cafes, and markets.
It’s a wonderful place to get lost in, and you’ll soon be discovering its secrets. A flea market runs Saturday 09:00-16:00 and Monday 09:00-13:00 at Noordermarkt which is perfect for buying Dutch antiques and vintage clothing. The canals around here are also home to many houseboats, whose history you can explore in the Houseboat Museum. A short walk will take you to the Anne Frank Museum on the Prinsengracht. But beware, a brief wander can turn into a long one in Jordaan: you’ll soon feel the pull of the old city, drawing you deeper into its past.
#5 A'DAM Lookout
Okay, so it costs a few Euro to go up, but truth be told, the highest tower in the city offers the best view of Amsterdam. Plus, if you fancy flirting with vertigo, the lookout hosts the highest swing in Europe that sends you back and forth over the edge. Be careful, they only rope you on if you buy the attendant a beer (just kidding).
Booking tickets online will save you a Euro, and there’s a bar and a restaurant at the top to enjoy with the view.
Curiously few first timers venture up to the north part of town, which is good enough reason on its own to check it out. Even the journey there is fun. Just behind Centraal Station, a number of ferries run 24/7. They’re free, and you can even take your bike with you. I’ve seen a few people really pushing their luck with this rule by driving their cars onto the boat.
We recommend the NDSM ferry: a ten-minute journey up the IJ, past an old Russian Submarine, and you find yourself in an old industrial expanse, beautiful colourful graffiti on one side, and the water stretching out on the other. Have a good loiter, and then head over to Pllek when you fancy a cold one on the beach.
#7 Maritime Museum
Housed in a seventeenth century naval storehouse, this impressive museum looks out over the calm waters of Kattenburgerplein, to the east of Centraal. Using over 400,000 objects, and interactive elements such as film and virtual reality, Het Scheepvaartmuseum takes you on a journey into the past of this sea-faring nation.
You explore the triumphs of the Dutch Golden Age: its sea battles, naval commanders, its weaponry, trade, and art, as well as its darker side, with exhibits on colonialism and slavery. There is a full-size model of the Amsterdam, an eighteenth-century VOC (Dutch East India Company) cargo ship, with guided tours to illuminate life at sea and give a profound sense of the not-so-distant past.
#8 Botanical Garden
Time for some lush green leaves and buds (of the non-smokeable variety)? Amsterdam’s Hortus Botanicus has it all. The nearly four-hundred-year-old garden was originally used as a place for Doctors to procure their herbs and tinctures – kind of like a renaissance pharmacy.
Enjoy the leafy vibes at this haven in the heart of the city.
#9 Brouwerij 't IJ
If you’ve got an Amsterdam bucket list and are either: a) efficiently minded b) short on time, or c) very lazy, then you can kill two birds with one stone – or twee vliegen in één klap slaan as the Dutch might say – and combine a brewery with a windmill. The beer they brew here is pretty special, and there’s a great atmosphere in the evening.
Short tours around the brewery run at 15:00 (English) and 16:00 (Dutch) every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It costs €6.50, and includes a beer of your choice (we suggest the Zatte). You can only book at the bar, and it’s limited to 20 people, so arrive in good time. It’s an illuminating and authentic Amsterdam experience, and a great way to get in a brewery whilst staying off the beaten track of the Heineken Brewery.
#10 De Pijp
Directly south of the city centre, is the legendary Latin quarter. De Pijp rose to prominence in the 1960s and began to collect artists, musicians, and students. Today, it continues to exude the old beatnik vibes with quirky cafes, chic terraces, and one of the largest street markets in Europe.
You can find pretty much anything at the Albert Cuypmarkt, but honourable mention goes to the street food: freshly baked stroopwaffels, raw herring, and dim sum go down a treat. It runs Monday to Saturday, 09:00-16:00.
You’re also just around the corner from Marie Heinekenplein and Eerste van der Helststraat which boasts one of the most impressive bar to person ratios of any street. Check out Het Paardje for a cosy drink, or De Tulp if you want to turn up the volume and feel some tropical vibes. Just around the corner is Sarphatipark. Right in the heart of De Pijp, this beautiful park draws in locals from far and wide on sunny day.