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Amsterdam Bucket List: 39 Recommendations From A Local

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Are you looking for some ideas for your Amsterdam bucket list? You’re in the right place! Here are 39 Amsterdam recommendations from a local.

On our city break to Amsterdam, we were fortunate enough to head out on a walking tour with an Amsterdam local called Silvino.

The tour only lasted for a couple of hours, but we saw a lot of the city during that time. He also shared some interesting facts about the city’s history with us.

After the tour, Silvino sent us a list of recommendations for bars, cafes, restaurants, free things to do, paid things to do plus some must-sees.

His list was so useful that we wanted to share it with you (and add our own suggestions too!) So here goes… 39 recommendations for your Amsterdam bucket list (from a local)!

UPDATE: We’ve since had the pleasure of speaking to yet another Amsterdam local, so you’ll find her recommendations at the end of this blog post as well. Enjoy!

Amsterdam Bucket List Recommendations: Bars & Cafes

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

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 shop, a cafe opened up called De Roode Laars. This was later 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

Cafe de Dokter

Founded by a surgeon (once again, hence the name), Cafe de Dokter is a cool little place to visit 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

Eethuis Sinbad

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

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

Eethuis Sinbad
Eerste Oosterparkstraat 137-139
1091 GZ Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal houses

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’re getting the best liquor around!

Like booze? Come here!

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

Cafe Brecht

Serving German beer and light bites in a charming little place complete with vintage furnishings, this is a 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

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Brouwerij ‘t IJ is another distillery and brewery specialising in organic beer.

And the best bit? It’s located next to a windmill! So with this one, you can have a few drinks and tick off an Amsterdam bucket list item at the same time!

Brouwerij ‘t IJ
Funenkade 7
1018 AL Amsterdam

2 day Amsterdam itinerary

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

‘t Arendsnest

Although ‘t Arendsnest is only a few 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 fussiest 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 Bucket List Recommendations: Restaurants

Surinaams Chinees Restaurant Kam Yin

Specialising 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

Thaise Snackbar Bird

This restaurant serves awesome Thai food and is a great place to go 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

Amsterdam Cafe

World of Food

This is 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

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

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

Loetje Centraal

This is a 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

Sea Palace Restaurant

This Chinese-inspired restaurant is a real marvel to behold. It’s essentially a three-story floating pagoda!

There are lots of tables here, although it does get popular so I’d recommend booking ahead.

Sea Palace Restaurant
Oosterdokskade 8
1011 AE Amsterdam

Amsterdam Bucket List Recommendations: Free Things To Do

Walk around Begijnhof

Often referred to as an oasis of calm within the city, this little green space is a lovely spot to visit 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.

Begijnhof
1012 Amsterdam

See Amsterdam Chinatown & the Fo Guang Shan Holland Tempel

Amsterdam Chinatown Temple

If you walk along Zeedijk road in Amsterdam, you won’t believe you’re walking through Chinatown.

Most of the buildings in Amsterdam were built in the 1600s but the Chinatown wasn’t founded here until 1910. So at first glance, it looks nothing like a Chinatown at all!

Until you come across the Fo Guang Shan Holland temple.

The temple might look unassuming from the outside. But once you’re inside, you’ll find a beautiful room, complete with bright flowers, golden architecture and powerful incense. It’s well worth a look!

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

Admire the architecture at Hotel Sint Nicolaas

I know what you’re thinking: why would you visit a hotel you have no intention of 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

Check out the 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 seventh 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

On board a canal cruise in Amsterdam

Catch a 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 cool little 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 is behind Amsterdam’s Centraal Station.

Amsterdam Centraal Station
1011 AA Amsterdam

Shop at Albert Cuyp Markt

Albert Cuyp Markt is one of the most popular street markets in Amsterdam and is 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

Shop at Dappermarkt

Dappermarkt is another popular street market in Amsterdam and it’s 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

Amsterdam canal cruise

Enjoy a cheese tasting at Henri Willig

There are quite a few places in Amsterdam offering cheese tastings – I guess they’re really proud of their Edam cheese!

Henri Willig’s cheese is supposed to be particularly good and you can enjoy a cheese tasting at their purpose-built workshop.

Henri Willig
Reguliersbreestraat 24
1017 CN Amsterdam

See the floating bike park Fietsflat (aka “Bicycle Building”)

Found floating on the river near Amsterdam’s Centraal Station is a large bike parking area. Silvino told us that it can hold up to 2,500 bikes!

Lots of locals use the service, but if you also want to park your bike here, head to:

Prins Hendrikkade 20A
1012 TL Amsterdam

Sit on “The Fault in Our Stars” bench

Amsterdam Fault in Our Stars Bench

Scott and I always like visiting filming locations from our favourite films and TV shows – the most memorable being the “Lost” filming locations we saw in Hawaii.

But in Amsterdam, we had fun scouting out the famous bench from “The Fault in Our Stars”.

In fairness, there’s not all that much to see anymore as the famous graffiti from the movie has been rubbed away. But look closely, and you can just make out the quote: “Okay? Okay.” written in black ink.

Here’s where you can find the bench:

Leidsegracht 4
Amsterdam

Amsterdam Bucket List Recommendations: Paid Things To Do

Eat at Ctaste

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

Ctaste
Amsteldijk 55
1074 HX Amsterdam

Enjoy a few laughs at 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 will not only give you some laughs but also teach you about the local’s sense of humour as well.

Comedy Cafe Amsterdam
89 IJdok
1013 MM Amsterdam

Eat some 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

Eat some 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.

While we chose to give this one a miss as we’re not huge fish fans, we’re told this really is worthy of an Amsterdam bucket list. Hmm…we’ll let you be the judge.

Albert Cuyp Markt
Albert Cuypstraat
1073 BD Amsterdam

Hedge your bets at the Holland Casino

May the odds be forever in your favour at the Holland Casino in Amsterdam…

Holland Casino
Max Euweplein 62
1017 MB Amsterdam

Check out A’Dam Lookout & the 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 for entrance to the observation deck and to go on the swing itself.

A’DAM Lookout
Overhoeksplein 5
1031 KS Amsterdam

Amsterdam Bucket List Recommendations: Must-Sees

Wander around Vondelpark

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

Bridge in Vondelpark, Amsterdam

See the 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
Rembrandtplein
Amsterdam

Check out the smallest house in Amsterdam

Standing at just over two metres wide and five 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

Walk along the narrowest street in Amsterdam

If you head to Trompettersteeg, this is where you’ll 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

Closeup of pink flowers in a box on the side of an Amsterdam canal

Check out the 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

Shop at 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!

Bloemenmarkt
Singel
1012 DH Amsterdam

See the De Gooyer Windmill

You can’t possibly travel around the Netherlands without seeing 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

Why not see some windmills on a bike tour? Then you’ll really feel like you’re in the Netherlands!

More Amsterdam Recommendations From A Local

Amsterdam Houses
Photo Credit: Bruna from Maps ‘N Bags

We also had the pleasure of speaking with another Amsterdam local recently. Bruna runs the travel blog, Maps ‘N Bags and she told us what she loves about this cool Dutch city and what she thinks should be on everyone’s Amsterdam bucket list. Here’s what she said:

“Amsterdam is a hipster and open-minded city full of excellent attractions. There’s so much entertainment here! Amsterdam has countless museums for all tastes, such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Sex Museum.

The city also has several cosy cafes where people can have a delicious cup of coffee and maybe hide from the rain. And yes, I say cafe because if you ask for directions to a coffee shop in the Netherlands, they will send you to a place where you can smoke pot. A café is for coffee; a coffee shop is for something else entirely.

I love so many things about Amsterdam! Like when it’s sunny and people rent a boat to navigate through the canals or sit along these canals to drink some beers. Or the narrow and crooked houses by the waterfronts. Or the LGBT flags hanging throughout the city. Amsterdam has such an easygoing feeling. It’s a great vibe.

Amsterdam Flowers
Photo Credit: Bruna from Maps ‘N Bags

In Amsterdam, you should definitely visit the Anne Frank House, because this girl gave a face to millions of Jews who lost their lives in WW2. Anne and her family’s hiding place is a very moving museum that everyone should visit at least once.

I’d also recommend a few drinks at Amsterdam North, a ferry behind the Central Station takes you to the other side of the water where you can find Europe’s largest flea market and some hipster restaurants by the water’s edge.

The Red-Light District is obviously on this list not only because of the famous red windows but because this is the oldest part of Amsterdam and it has its charm as well. Totally worth the visit. Don’t be afraid, by the way. This area is not dangerous. Just watch out for pickpockets as usual.

I’m a big fan of Van Gogh and his museum is just amazing. It’s truly overwhelming to see his paintings there. And last, but not least the Begijnhof, this place was originally a beguinage, but today it houses historic constructions and two churches right in the heart of Amsterdam.

And regarding the Netherlands, I always recommend my friends to make some easy day trips from Amsterdam to places like:

  • Giethoorn: A car-free village straight out of a fairytale.
  • Zaanse Schans: There are still operating (and very cute) windmills in this small town and you can see everything in half a day.
  • Volendam and Marken: Fisherman’s villages just outside Amsterdam. Both are very traditional and are also a good place to experience the Dutch culture.
  • Keukenhof Gardens: The largest garden in the world is open for 2 months every year and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited! Top Tip: The last week of April is usually the best time to visit it.
Amsterdam Canal Boats
Photo Credit: Bruna from Maps ‘N Bags

Also, if you want to celebrate a Dutch national holiday, come to the Netherlands on April 27th. Don’t forget to wear the colour orange! The whole country goes to the streets no matter how the weather is, wears orange clothes and celebrates King’s Day. It’s very funny and definitely a day to avoid if you want to do touristy things.

Finally, just for fun, we asked Bruna to share her favourite Dutch word with us. She replied: “Paraplu! It means “umbrella” in Dutch. I know, there’s nothing special about it, but it sounds so funny. Dutch is a guttural language, so it sounds throaty and heavy, but paraplu sounds cute, actually.”


Well, there you have it – a local’s guide to the must-sees, things to do, cafes, bars and restaurants worth adding to your Amsterdam bucket list. What’s on your list?

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Amsterdam Bucket List: 39 Recommendations From A Local
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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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