It’s finally time to share my Amsterdam city guide with you all!
Back in July I headed there with my best friends to celebrate Lee’s 26th birthday. We went for a long weekend Friday – Sunday and managed to fit quite a bit in. I love to write long posts like this, full of images and tips, so please let me know if you enjoy these kind of ‘city guide’ and if you do I’ll try and document more of my city breaks and holidays for you guys to look at. So let’s get started but before I do – it’s a long one so be sure to grab yourself a brew, maybe a snack or two, sit back and read away.
Amsterdam, what a trip you were (in more ways than one)…
Where to stay: Amsterdam is such a lovely and inspiring city, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be returning for trip number two in no time. It’s the kind of place that as soon as I arrived, I wanted to relocate and live there forever. The Netherlands is actually surprisingly hot during the summer, the three days we were there we had temperatures of up to 28 degrees. Sun, clear blue skies, we really couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit. We stayed in Amsterdam’s City Centre district ‘Centrum‘ an area where you are surrounded by bars, cafes, markets and bustling restaurants with tables outside which stayed open until late into the night with people hanging out enjoying the atmosphere!
Barbizon Palace hotel – Prins Hendrikkade 59-72, 1012 AD Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Barbizon is located just a 3-minute walk from Amsterdam Central train station. Right next to the canal, it has a minimal and modern interior and although we didn’t drink or dine there, the restaurants and bars looked lovely and the staff, incredibly helpful. It ended up being cheaper than an Air BNB and as the location was so central it seemed like the perfect choice.
Where to eat: As a group we know how to eat (and drink.) From brunch to brownies, we visited some of the best eateries Amsterdam has to offer. I love to try new dishes, for me trying the local cuisine is a huge part of the cultural experience. We tried a whole heap of different foods, some photographed some sadly not – when you gotta eat there ain’t no time for a picture!
Cafe Brix – Wolvenstraat 16, 1016 EP Amsterdam, Netherlands
Modern interior, with some seriously hip staff and waiters. The food was amazing and dare I say it… really ‘instagrammable.’ The price was fair, the atmosphere super cool and sleek. Great cocktails, cool vibe, the perfect spot for brunch.
Hannekes Boom – Dijksgracht 4, 1019 BS Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hannekes Boom is only a 5-10 minute walk from Amsterdam Central and right on the waterway. It has been in existence since 1662! As the sun was out in all it’s glory we chose to sit outside. Salvaged & recycled furniture adorns the shack-style bar/restaurant with live music playing all day long. It’s a great place to chill, drink and tend to those munchies… we had several servings of nachos.
The Pancake Bakery – Prinsengracht 191, 1015 DS Amsterdam, Netherlands
The world famous and tasty traditional Dutch delicacy. We couldn’t not go! Situated on the
Prinsengracht (Prince’s canal) the 17th century warehouse which used to belong to the Dutch East India Company (VOC), serves heavenly pancakes, varying from a traditional Dutch pancake topped with syrup or powdered sugar, to our world favourites such as the Caprese with tomato and pesto….drool!
Bakers and Roasters – Kadijksplein 16, 1018 AC Amsterdam, Netherlands
A New Zealand style café served with a heavy dose of Brazil. The open kitchen produces some seriously good brunch! We had pretty much everything on the menu but the banana nut bread french toast was definitely the top dish. It was insanely good!
The centre: We walked a lot in the short time we were there, in all honesty Amsterdam is actually quite small so everything we wanted to see and do was within walking distance. It’s the best way to get around because it allows you to really soak in your surroundings and see as much as possible. In the centre you will find the most outstanding historical architecture alongside modern buildings, churches, and big markets full of everything from sausages, fruit, flowers and much much more.
It’s quite easy to lose yourself in a canal maze, window-shopping along the way. Heading to the red light district where the ‘live merchandise’ is lit with red neon or discovering a smoky little ‘coffeeshop’ selling substances not available over the counter elsewhere… Amsterdam is eclectic to say the least.
Coffee shops: For those who want to experience all Amsterdam can offer you may want to divulge in the local delicacy…
The Jolly Joker – Nieuwmarkt 4-A, 1012 CR Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Jolly Joker coffee shop is apparently one of the best in the Red Light District.
The staff are really nice and very helpful, assisting us with what to choose from the vast menu. We sat upstairs, people watching from the balcony. In this area of Amsterdam’s Red Light District there’s always something happening, so it’s a great spot if you want to experience something a little different.
The Bulldog – Oudezijds Voorburgwal 90, 1012 GJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
From a underground smokers-den to a coffeeshop empire. The Bulldog No. 90 was the first coffeeshop in Amsterdam and laid the benchmark for the contemporary coffeeshop.
The legacy started in 1975, in a sex-shop located in the cellar of house number 90. It started out as a living room for friends to smoke, but soon tourists knew to find the place and ‘The Bulldog’ was born. In the shop you can see and learn its history and discover some of the many hiding places for cannabis during the early days. It’s almost like a right of passage for any visitor of Amsterdam, even if it’s just to drink one of their (amazing) iced coffees.
What to see: Our itinerary was packed solid. Before we went we had a discussion and agreed pretty much straight away on a couple of things/places we all really wanted to experience.
The Sex Museum – Damrak 18, 1012 LG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located in the busiest spot of Amsterdam, just in front of the Central Station. The Sex Museum combines a rich collection of sexual artifacts along with comedy drawings, videos, animations and sculptures. In each of the museums tiny rooms, different muffled noises from the hidden speakers are played *cue uncontrollable giggles*
It’s fun, it’s something I doubt any of us in the group will forget, we left crying with laughter… so mature!
Anne Frank House – Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Anne Frank House is one of the main reasons I had always wanted to visit Amsterdam. In my opinion, there is no better way to learn about history than to read about it and then see what’s left of it for yourself. I had read the book several times when I was younger and it had always been something I wanted to experience if I ever got the chance to visit. We queued for approximately two hours but it was totally worth it. You could not take pictures inside so it’s something you really do need to experience yourself.
The tour takes you through the warehouse and offices on the first two floors, the annex and the museum. The walls throughout are decorated with memorabilia and photographs of the families and the business associates who helped keep everyone safe until their capture.
A few televisions broadcast short films about the era and interviews.
The exhibition ends with a dark room where Anne’s actual diary is kept, along with pages of her other writings preserved behind glass. Seeing the diary in real life, reading the actual extracts in her handwriting was a real moment, a mix of emotions.
Everything is done so tastefully. It’s the right mix of being educational as well as emotionally moving. I can’t imagine anyone coming to visit Amsterdam and not taking the time to see this crucial piece of history, even if you have to wait in a two-hour line to do it!
Supper Club Amsterdam – Singel 460, 1017 AW Amsterdam, Netherlands
Everyone we had spoken to told us to go to Supper Club, it’s quite the unique experience. A restaurant, a gallery, a theatre, a bar and a club all rolled into one. It’s a night full of spectacle, from nouveau food concepts, music and provocative performances adding to the artistic visuals of the club itself. We chose to have dinner – € 69 for 5-courses of exotic eats each perfectly presented.
Note: wear good socks because when you step through the silver door of the old theatre hall and literally ‘get into bed’ you have be take off your shoes. Etiquette and good table manners are put aside, the hosts encourage you to open your mind and ‘let notorious performances amaze.’
So there we have it, apart from some hazy moments in a burger bar called ‘Ghetto’ – don’t ask, that’s what we got up to on our weekend away to the Dam. We honestly had the funniest, most amazing time and I really couldn’t recommend it enough. There’s so much to do and see. I’ll be returning without a doubt! Do let me know if you’re planning a trip soon. If you are, I hope you’ll find this little guide useful! If you’ve already been and can recommend other places I should visit on my next trip let me know.