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Finding Hidden Gems in Amsterdam

Where to Find Hidden Gems in Amsterdam

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A few weeks before our Amsterdam city break, I was asked by Local Guddy (since acquired by Triple) if my other half and I would be interested in having a tour of the city with a local. As you can imagine, we jumped at the chance!

Being able to follow a local around the city for a couple of hours, learning more about the history of Amsterdam and all the hidden gems you can find here sounded like a fantastic addition to our trip.

I’m so pleased we did it as we learned a lot from our tour guide, Silvino and saw some awesome things that we never would have found or known about on our own.

And now here I am. Back home in the UK, ready to tell you all about our local’s tour and what hidden gems can be found in Amsterdam…

A’DAM Lookout & Over the Edge Swing

If you decide to cross IJ (Amsterdam’s Waterfront) to the North side of Amsterdam, then this will be your best chance of getting off the beaten track a little bit. On your way, you’ll be able to see a large red swing from on top of one of the skyscrapers.

Amsterdam Over the Edge Swing

This is the “A’DAM Over the Edge” swing and is the highest swing in all of Europe! This is most definitely something daring for the adrenaline hunters among you!

Personally, I chose to admire the swing from down below, but if you wish to have a go on it then you would need to pay a total of €17,50 (€12,50 for entrance to the observation deck plus €5 for the swing itself).

The ferry to cross the river is free and only takes a few minutes. And with the ferries running frequently day and night, you’ll find it easy to get to this part of the city.

A’DAM Lookout
Overhoeksplein 5
1031 KS Amsterdam

Floating Bike Park: Fietsflat (Bicycle Building)

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

Lots of locals use the service – you know Dutchies are mad about biking! If you also want to park your bike here, head to:

Prins Hendrikkade 20A
1012 TL Amsterdam

Official vs Unofficial Oldest Pub in Amsterdam

Now this is where things really get interesting…

Found a few hundred yards apart, there are two pubs claiming to be “the oldest pub in Amsterdam”.

Cafe Karpershoek was built in: 1606.
Whilst, In ‘t Aepjen (“In the Monkeys”) was built in: 1519.

Clearly someone is lying. But who?

Our tour guide believes it to be In ‘t Aepjen, which is actually the oldest pub. He told us an interesting story about monkeys and payments…

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!

Amsterdam Oldest Pub

Back in the olden days, you could literally pay in monkeys to have some food and drink, 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. So although it’s technically the oldest pub, it’s not official…

Cafe Karpershoek
Martelaarsgracht 2
1012 TP Amsterdam

In ‘t Aepjen
Zeedijk 1
1012 AN Amsterdam

Amsterdam Chinatown & Fo Guang Shan Holland Temple

Wherever I go travelling, there always seems to be a Chinatown to be found. Some are more famous than others – San Francisco Chinatown anyone? Whilst others are a little less known, with Amsterdam’s Chinatown being one of them.

In fact, if you walk along Zeedijk road, you won’t believe you’re walking through a Chinatown at all!

Most of the buildings in Amsterdam were built in the 1600’s 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.

Amsterdam Chinatown Temple

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

Red-light District, A Condom Shop & Amsterdam’s Oldest Church

Although the Red-light District itself is very well known, both in Amsterdam and across the world, there are a couple of lesser known highlights I want to mention here.

Amsterdam Red-Light District

The first is an unusual souvenir shop called Condomerie selling… condoms.

Yes, you read me right.

Apparently, a trip to the Red-light District doesn’t mean you’ll be hunting for magnets or keyrings as souvenirs.

Instead, you can purchase extravagant condoms that come in all manner of shapes and styles! In fact, this is the world’s FIRST specialty condom shop – need I say more?

The second spot I want to mention is along Oudezijds Voorburgwal road.

Here, you will be able to see a small number of Red-light “windows”. But the interesting part is what’s next to those: a church and a day nursery! In fact, the Oudekerk Church is one of the oldest buildings in all of Amsterdam!

For me, seeing this very different selection of buildings in just one place was the moment I truly knew I was in a very unique city!

Warmoesstraat 141
1012 JB Amsterdam

Oudekerk Church
Oudekerksplein 23
1012 GX Amsterdam

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!” I suppose the Dutch don’t like to mince their words too much. But seriously. Don’t be that person who clogs up this tiny street by stopping to take photos!

Oh! And if you’re wondering why it’s called a street and not an alleyway, then that’s simply because there are a few red-light windows down here. Apparently, that makes it a street and not an alleyway, although I’m still struggling to understand why.

The Narrowest Street in Amsterdam
1012 HB Amsterdam

As you can see, we had the chance to see some fantastic hidden gems during our short walking tour. But we did also find some on our own by just getting lost in side streets and along the 31 miles of canals.

Here are a few bonus hidden gems worth making an effort to see:

The Tree on a Hand in Vondelpark

Near to the well-known Joost van den Vondel statue in Vondelpark, there is an unusually carved tree. At first, you won’t notice anything different about it at all – you may even walk by without a backwards glance.

But look closely and you will spot that the trunk has been carved into a giant hand, holding the rest of the tree. Unique, eh?

Vondelpark Hand Tree

The Tree on a Hand
Vondelpark (East Side)

The Fault in Our Stars Bench

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

But in Amsterdam, I 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.

Amsterdam Fault in Our Stars Bench

Here’s where you can find the bench too:

Leidsegracht 4

Het Rijk van de Keizer (The Empire of the Emperor)

This is a creative event space in Amsterdam, which has incredible gardens attached to it. Just think soft luxurious pillows, hanging lanterns, leather sofas outside, plants all around… heaven!

If you manage to sneak inside or receive an invitation for an event here, then you definitely won’t be disappointed!

Het Rijk van de Keizer (The Empire of the Emperor)
Joris van Den Berghweg 109
1067 HP Amsterdam

Have you found any hidden gems in Amsterdam? What did you find? Let me know in the comments…

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Amsterdam: Where to Find Hidden Gems

A huge thanks to Local Guddy for offering us a free tour in return for some feedback. Genuinely, this tour was excellent and worth the 5 stars I gave it online!
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