On our recent trip to Amsterdam, we were fortunate enough to embark on a walking tour with an Amsterdam local called Silvino. Afterwards, he sent us some recommendations for bars, cafes, restaurants, free things to do, paid things to do plus some must sees. The list was so useful, I wanted to share it with you too. So here goes…

Amsterdam Recommendations: Bars & Cafes

1. In ‘t Aepjen

Amsterdam Oldest Pub

Built in 1519, In ‘t Aepjen (“In the Monkeys”) is not only a great place for drinks, but it’s also a cool piece of history in Amsterdam.

No-one can seem to find a liquor license for In ‘t Aepjen before it reopened in 1990, yet the building dates back to 1519. In fact, it’s one of only two wooden buildings left in Amsterdam’s city centre!

Back in the olden days, you could literally pay in monkeys to have some food and drink (hence the name), which meant it was a popular spot for sailors and world travellers. But because of this and a spot of tax avoidance, the pub never actually got a liquor license until 1990.

In ‘t Aepjen
Zeedijk 1
1012 AN Amsterdam

2. De Roode Laars

Here’s another hotspot with an interesting history.

The building where De Roode Laars (The Red Boot) can now be found used to be home to a shoemaker (hence the red boot outside and the name).

Along the Zeedijk, there’s been a turbulent history and a lot of change over the years. After being a shoemaker’s, a cafe opened up called De Roode Laars, but this was changed to De Roode Baron under different ownership.

Fast forward another few years, and the cafe was given its original name again: De Roode Laars, and is once again a popular spot with the locals for food and drink.

De Roode Laars
Zeedijk 17
1012 AN Amsterdam

3. Cafe de Dokter

Founded by a surgeon (once again, hence the name), Cafe de Dokter is a cool little place to come to if you want to take a trip back into history.

Full of curios, birdcages, clocks, antiques and chandeliers, this place is seemingly frozen in time (to the end of the 18th Century to be exact).

I’m told you should either order whiskey or the ßossenworstß – a traditional rack of smoked raw beef sausage.

Cafe de Dokter
Rozenboomsteeg 4 Kalverstraat
Amsterdam

4. Eethuis Sinbad

Specializing in tasty quick-to-cook Middle Eastern dishes, Eethuis Sinbad is another popular hotspot with the locals.

This is a great place to come if you just want no-nonsense fast food with some tasty spice!

Eethuis Sinbad
Eerste Oosterparkstraat 137-139
1091 GZ Amsterdam

5. Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal

Whiskey

Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal (Dutch for tasting tavern) is a liquor store and alcohol tasting place just behind the National Monument found in Dam Square.

The distillery has actually been going since 1679 – so I guess you know you’ll be getting the best liquor around!

Like booze? Come here!

Wynand Fockink Tasting Room & Liquor store
Pijlsteeg 31
1012 HH Amsterdam

6. Cafe Brecht

Serving German beer and light bites in a charming little place complete with vintage furnishings, this is a very relaxed and comfortable place to come for lunch or some drinks.

Personally, I’d come here simply to sit in their chairs drinking a coffee. Who’s with me?

Cafe Brecht
Weteringschans 157
1017 SE Amsterdam

7. Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Dutchies appear to love their alcohol! This is another distillery and brewery specializing in organic beer.

But the best bit? It’s located next to a windmill! So with this one, you can have a few drinks and sightsee!

Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Funenkade 7
1018 AL Amsterdam

8. Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman

Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman can be found inside an old distillery, but today, they simply serve drinks and bar snacks.

They also offer drinks tastings, but are slightly different from your average bar – they don’t play any music! By taking things back to basics, they convince punters to actually talk to one another!

Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman
Kolksteeg 3
1012 PT Amsterdam

9. ‘t Arendsnest

Amsterdam Bar

Although this bar is only 5 years old, it’s been styled to evoke a bygone era. For instance, above the bar hang old ship lamps and bright chandeliers.

They sell over 150 types of bottled beer and 15 beers on tap, which means even the most fussy beer drinker will find something they like here. Oh, and the only beers they sell are strictly Dutch. So no Peroni or San Miguel for you!

You can get the usual bar snacks here, but they also offer soup with meatballs – a typical Dutch dish!

‘T Arendsnest
Herengracht 90
1015 BS Amsterdam

Amsterdam Recommendations: Eateries

1. Surinaams Chinees Restaurant Kam Yin

Specializing in delicious Chinese food, we’ve been told this is also one of the cheapest places to come for a proper meal in Amsterdam’s city centre!

Surinaams Chinees Restaurant Kam Yin
Warmoesstraat 6
1012 JD Amsterdam

2. Thaise Snackbar Bird

This restaurant serves awesome Thai food and is a great place to come if you’re also a vegetarian. Lots of locals come here as it has a super relaxed vibe, so don’t worry about coming here with your traveller hair or crumpled clothes!

Thaise Snackbar Bird
Zeedijk 77
1012 AS Amsterdam

3. World of Food

Amsterdam Cafe

This a huge place in what looks to be a converted shed or warehouse – seriously, it’s massive! It’s basically a hall full of street food dishes, so it’s a super cool place to come if you want to grab some food to take to the park with you, or before visiting one of Amsterdam’s museums during the quieter evening exhibits.

World of Food
Develstein 100
1102 AK Amsterdam-Zuidoost

4. Cafe De Pont

Although labelled as a cafe, this is definitely more of an evening or proper meal place. Their menus change weekly, so even if you come here a couple of times in a month, you will find new food on offer. It has riverside terraces, which are fantastic for sitting on during the warm summer evenings, plus it overlooks the A’DAM swing – how’s that for a unique view?

Cafe De Pont
Buiksloterweg 3-5
1031 CC Amsterdam

5. De Ballenbar

This place was opened by a Michelin-star chef, so you know it’s good. Although it’s technically classed as fast food (from a food truck), the food is seriously good quality! You can find this place in Amsterdam’s food hall.

Foodhallen
Bellamyplein 51
1053 AT Amsterdam

6. De Pannenkoekenboot

Amsterdam Pancakes

If you’re familiar with Dutch or even German, you may notice that this restaurant’s name translates into The Pancake Boat. Yep, this is an entire cruise dedicated to eating pancakes – one of Holland’s many delicacies!

De Pannenkoekenboot
Ms. van Riemsdijkweg 33
1033 RD Amsterdam

7. Loetje Centraal

This is a super popular little place as it’s conveniently located right across from Amsterdam’s main train station, plus its tables and chairs overlook the river. And the food is pretty good too! Come here for some no nonsense food that will keep everyone on your trip happy.

Loetje Centraal
Stationsplein 10
1012 AB Amsterdam

8. Sea Palace Restaurant

This Chinese inspired restaurant is a real marvel to behold. It’s essentially a 3-story floating pagoda! There are lots of tables here, although it does get popular so I’d still recommend booking ahead.

Sea Palace Restaurant
Oosterdokskade 8
1011 AE Amsterdam

Amsterdam Recommendations: Free Things To Do

1. Begijnhof

Often referred to as an oasis of calm within the city, this little green space is a lovely spot to come when you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle. There are also lots of traditional Amsterdam houses surrounding the square, so it also makes for a great photography spot too!

Begijnhof
1012 Amsterdam

2. Fo Guang Shan Holland Tempel

Amsterdam Chinatown Temple

Found within Amsterdam’s Chinatown, and unlikely to be found in many guidebooks, this temple looks unassuming from the outside. But once inside, it is a beautiful room, complete with bright flowers, golden architecture and powerful incense. And it’s certainly worth a look!

Fo Guang Shan Holland Tempel
Zeedijk 106-118
1012 BB Amsterdam

3. Hotel Sint Nicolaas

I know what you’re thinking: why would you visit a hotel you have no intention on staying at? It’s simply to admire it from both the outside and from within the lobby as it’s a stunning example of Amsterdam architecture!

Hotel Sint Nicolaas
Spuistraat 1A
1012 SG Amsterdam

4. Skyline View from the Public Library

There are lots of places to go in Amsterdam if you want excellent views of the city’s skyline. Located on the 7th floor of the library, you can pop out onto the cafe’s terrace and just marvel at the views. Why not stick around for a coffee afterwards?

Public Library of Amsterdam
Oosterdokskade 143
1011 DL Amsterdam

5. Ferry to the North Side of Amsterdam

Amsterdam Ferry

Running every few minutes from dawn through dusk, the pedestrian and cyclist ferry is an awesome feature of this city. In just a few minutes, you can cross to the other side of the IJ canal for free, and find some lesser known secrets in Amsterdam (away from all the crowds). The port can be found behind Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.

Amsterdam Centraal Station
1011 AA Amsterdam

6. Albert Cuyp Markt

Albert Cuyp Markt is one of the most popular street markets in Amsterdam, and is actually the biggest market in Europe as well! You can find all sorts here, from local fruit and veg, to clothing and accessories, to Danish pastries and desserts.

Albert Cuyp Markt
Albert Cuypstraat
1073 BD Amsterdam

7. Dappermarkt

Another popular street market in Amsterdam, perfect for finding bargains and goods brought in from regions like Suriname, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. This market is particularly special at Christmas-time!

Dappermarkt
Dapperstraat
1093 BT Amsterdam

8. Cheese Tasting at Cheese & More

Amsterdam Cheese

There are quite a few places in Amsterdam offering free cheese tastings – I guess they’re really proud of their Edam cheese! Cheese & More at Amsterdam’s flower market is supposed to be particularly good. Plus you can take a look around Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market whilst tasting cheese!

Cheese & More
Singel 540
1017 AZ Amsterdam

Amsterdam Recommendations: Paid Things To Do

1. Ctaste

This is most definitely a different thing to do in Amsterdam. Ctaste is a restaurant with a difference: you must eat in the total pitch blackness, which they say helps to bring out the flavours of the food. Weird…

Ctaste
Amsteldijk 55
1074 HX Amsterdam

2. CTheCity

This is a walking tour with a difference: you’re guided around Amsterdam with your eyes closed. Not only do they say this helps to awaken your other senses, but it also helps to heighten awareness about those who are unable to see. Only in Amsterdam…

CTheCity
Amsteldijk 52
1074 HX Amsterdam

3. Comedy Cafe Amsterdam

Who doesn’t like watching stand up comedy whilst eating dinner? This is where the best Dutch stand up acts come, which can not only give you some laughs but also teach you about the Dutchie sense of humour too.

Comedy Cafe Amsterdam
89 IJdok
1013 MM Amsterdam

4. Eat Stroopwafel

Amsterdam Stroopwafel

There are lots of places in Amsterdam serving delicious stroopwafel, which is a Dutch delicacy. Warm, sweet and with plenty of caramel is the only way to eat one of these! Some great places to get a stroopwafel include van Wonderen Stroopwafels at the flower market.

Van Wonderen Stroopwafels
Kalverstraat 190
1012 XH Amsterdam

5. Eat Haring (Raw Herring)

Haring (raw herring) is apparently supposed to be a great food option when in Amsterdam, particularly when bought at markets like Albert Cuyp Markt. Personally, I chose to give this one a miss as I’m not a huge fan of fish, but I’m told this really is one of those things you must do here. Hmm…

Albert Cuyp Markt
Albert Cuypstraat
1073 BD Amsterdam

6. Holland Casino

May the odds be forever in your favour here in Amsterdam…

Holland Casino
Max Euweplein 62
1017 MB Amsterdam

7. A’Dam Lookout & Over the Edge Swing

Amsterdam Over the Edge Swing

The “A’DAM Over the Edge” swing is the highest swing in all of Europe! This is most definitely something daring for the adrenaline hunters among you! If you wish to have a go on it then you will need to pay a total of €17,50 (€12,50 for entrance to the observation deck plus €5 for the swing itself).

A’DAM Lookout
Overhoeksplein 5
1031 KS Amsterdam

Amsterdam Recommendations: Must Sees

1. Vondelpark

Vondelpark Hand Tree

The largest and most famous park in the centre, Vondelpark is most definitely a must see in Amsterdam. Keep an eye out for the Joost van den Vondel statue as well as the tree that looks like it’s been carved onto a giant’s hand.

Vondelpark
Amsterdam
(so cool it doesn’t need a postcode)

2. I Amsterdam Sign

With the Rijks Museum as a backdrop, the I Amsterdam sign is undoubtedly a must see. Admittedly, it’s just a bunch of letters, but it’s an iconic sight in Amsterdam and makes for a cute photo if you can climb on or inside the letters.

I Amsterdam Sign
Hobbemastraat 19
1071 XZ Amsterdam

3. Statues of Rembrandt and the Nachtwacht

Amsterdam Statues

Found in Rembrandtplein, the statues of Rembrandt and the Night Watch is an interesting piece of history to uncover in Amsterdam. Plus there are lots of traditional Amsterdam houses surrounding the square, making for yet more perfect photo opportunities.

Statues of Rembrandt and the Nachtwacht
Rembrandtplein
Amsterdam

4. The Smallest House in Amsterdam

Standing at just over 2 metres wide and 5 metres deep, the smallest house in Amsterdam is also often labelled as the smallest house in Europe. This is definitely an interesting building to see and represents a miniature version of a typical Amsterdam canal house.  

The Smallest House in Amsterdam
Oude Hoogstraat 22
1012 CE Amsterdam

5. The Narrowest Street in Amsterdam

If you head to Trompettersteeg, this is where you will find the narrowest street in Amsterdam. Barely 100 centimetres wide, expect to get very up close and personal with anyone you meet coming the other way.

But don’t even think about stopping for photos!

Throughout the alleyway, in striking white letters are the words: “NO F**CKING PHOTOS!” Don’t be that person who clogs up this tiny street by stopping to take photos!

The Narrowest Street in Amsterdam
Trompettersteeg
1012 HB Amsterdam

6. Oude Kerk

Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building – a church dating back over 800 years! Personally, I found this building rather interesting as it also happens to be located in the Red-Light District opposite ‘windows’. Imagine that: religion and debauchery in one place!

Oude Kerk
Oudekerksplein 23
1012 GX Amsterdam

7. Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)

Amsterdam Flower Market

One of the best places to buy souvenirs, traditional tulips and street food, Amsterdam’s floating flower market is a super cool place to do some shopping and take some photos. You can’t miss it!

Bloemenmarkt
Singel
1012 DH Amsterdam

8. De Gooyer Windmill

You can’t possibly travel around the Netherlands without trying to see at least one windmill. The De Gooyer is the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands, located on a canal front; making this a historic and picturesque windmill to photograph!

Dee Gooyer Windmill
Funenkade 5
1018 AL Amsterdam

Well, there you have it – a local’s guide to the must sees, things to do, cafes, bars and restaurants worth your time in Amsterdam. There’s loads more to see than what’s on this list though, so keep an eye out for lots more recommendations coming soon!

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40 Amsterdam Recommendations from a Local

4 thoughts on “40 Awesome Amsterdam Recommendations from a Local

  1. There are some outstanding places recommended here. I will be back there next week and look forward to visiting some of those I don’t already know and maybe returning to the brewery in the windmill by the River Ij.

    1. Excellent, I’m glad you like the recommendations Stuart! Enjoy Amsterdam next week! 🙂

  2. janinebeynon says:

    Thanks so much for the tips! I have been to Amsterdam a couple of times but planning to go back next year. Will definitely check out these less touristy things then and some of the eateries 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment Janine! I’m pleased you liked this!
      I hope you have an awesome time in Amsterdam when you next go 😀

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