Enjoy Amsterdam Like a Local
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
I spent a week in Amsterdam last fall. I had been before for just a weekend, but had immediately fallen in love with the mixture of modern and Dutch baroque architecture. Walking around you can find the cutest, cozy restaurants and bars and everyone bikes wherever they go, rain or shine. I just loved the vibe of the city, so last fall I rented an Airbnb outside the city center for a week and experienced what it was like to just live in Amsterdam.
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Where to stay in Amsterdam
Overlooking the Prinsengracht and spanning 25 17th-century homes, this is a hotel lover’s hotel.
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The Dylan Amsterdam
A stylish Amsterdam hotel with beautifully appointed suites and a convenient location for exploring the city.
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An elegant boutique retreat in the heart of Amsterdam's historic canal district, blending classic charm with contemporary luxury.
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Things to do in Amsterdam
For the art lover, Amsterdam is a gold mine.
Visit the Rijksmuseum, which houses the Dutch masters of realism. The museum itself is a fantastic representation of renewing old buildings with modern architectural elements. For more modern and contemporary art and design, don't miss the Stedelijk museum. The Van Gogh museum takes you through the famously fanatical artist's life through his works of art. This is a must-see! All three of these museums border the Museumplein, where you can relax on the grass or grab a drink between museum hopping.
Renting a bike is the way to go in this city! It can be overwhelming at first, not knowing the rules of the path, but if you take in a busy intersection before you hop on and ride, it can help you learn how traffic flows. By the end of the week, we had the signaling and dos and don'ts under control and we're riding our bikes from one side of town to the other! Take a ride through the 120-acre Vondelpark, a lush retreat from city life.
For shopping head to De 9 Straatjes (The Nine Streets) area located among the canals in the center of the city. De Pijp is also a hip and trendy neighborhood for fun shops and they have an open-air market on the weekends.
Places to eat & drink in Amsterdam
Keep in Mind: A lot of restaurants in Amsterdam serve Prix Fixe Menus, but don't let that lead you astray, it doesn't mean they are expensive. We had many dinners that were under 100 Euros per person even with Prix fixe menu in addition to drinks.
Men Impossible - A vegan ramen experience, yep, you heard me, vegan ramen. I was skeptical at first, but we made a reservation and it was honestly such a unique experience. You are shown to your spot at a singular long, wooden table, where your courses are brought out to you. You can help yourself to some unique sake options from the little fridge at the front.
The Papeneiland Cafe - Although touristy, this cute little pastry shop with windows full of decadent treats is worth a stop. Order your coffee in the front and then head to the back and secure a spot on their small balcony overlooking a bustling canal to enjoy your drinks and treats.
Balthazar's Keuken - I have to say this was my favorite spot I ate in Amsterdam. Family run with a few seating times throughout the evening since the men and their father are the cooks and servers. The food was amazing and the vibe was cozy, casual and comfortable with an open kitchen and simple tables.
Fou Fow Ramen - A casual spot in De 9 Straatjes for a bowl of noodles and a beer.
Breda - An upscale, yet rustic restaurant with high ceilings and wooden tables, offers a modern take on southern Netherland dishes.
4850 - Take a stroll through De Pijp on your way towards Oosterpark and you'll find this quaint, minimalist restaurant full of locals. They serve chic dishes and have an extensive wine list.
De Kas - Outside the city center located in Park Frankendael, the greenhouse-style restaurant grows all their own produce to create elevated Mediterranean dishes. This is more than a meal, it's a culinary experience, I highly recommend for lunch or dinner.
Restaurant Zwaantje - Cozy, old restaurant serving traditional dutch dishes in a vibrant part of central Amsterdam.
Pulitzers Bar - Swanky, high end bar with velvet and leather seats in a beautiful hotel with fantastic cocktails.
Bar Parry - Hip, cozy bar. Great for a before or after dinner drink while wandering around town.
Cafe De Doktor - Traditional old Dutch pub that opened in the late 1700s, located down a small alley in the city center
Glouglou: Adorable natural wine bar in De Pijp, perfect for a mid day charcuterie.
Fromagerie Abraham Kef - Head to the Amsterdam North location for a cheese tasting and wine pairing! This was a really cool experience and I learned so much about cheese.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij - Stand in line to try the famous chocolate cookies.
Need to Know
For more of a tourist experience the Anne Frank House and a Canal Tour around the city are two awesome options if it's your first time there! Fun Fact: Keep an eye out for bikes decorated in flowers randomly around the city! An American man's wife had epilepsy and would often forget where she parked her bike, so her husband started decorating her bike in bright flowers so she could find it easily. He then decorated a bunch of abandoned bikes along the path to their home so she wouldn't get lost. He now makes them for fun and to bring happiness to the city, as locals have grown fond of them around town.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Your Ultimate Milos Travel Guide.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Amsterdam.