On our recent city break 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… 40 Amsterdam recommendations (from a local)!
Amsterdam Recommendations: Bars & Cafes
1. In ‘t Aepjen
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
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
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
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!
Eerste Oosterparkstraat 137-139
1091 GZ Amsterdam
5. Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal
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
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?
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
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
1012 PT Amsterdam
9. ‘t Arendsnest
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!
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
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
1012 AS Amsterdam
3. World of Food
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
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
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.
1053 AT Amsterdam
6. De Pannenkoekenboot
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!
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.
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
1011 AE Amsterdam
Amsterdam Recommendations: Free Things To Do
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!
2. Fo Guang Shan Holland Tempel
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
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
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
1011 DL Amsterdam
5. Ferry to the North Side of Amsterdam
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
1073 BD Amsterdam
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!
1093 BT Amsterdam
8. Cheese Tasting at Cheese & More
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
1017 AZ Amsterdam
Amsterdam Recommendations: Paid Things To Do
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…
1074 HX Amsterdam
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…
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
1013 MM Amsterdam
4. Eat 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
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
1073 BD Amsterdam
6. Holland Casino
May the odds be forever in your favour here in Amsterdam…
Max Euweplein 62
1017 MB Amsterdam
7. A’Dam Lookout & 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).
1031 KS Amsterdam
Amsterdam Recommendations: Must Sees
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.
(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
1071 XZ Amsterdam
3. Statues of Rembrandt and the Nachtwacht
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
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
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!
1012 GX Amsterdam
7. Bloemenmarkt (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!
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
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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