Amsterdam is one of the most interesting cities in the world. In the time span of one hour of strolling around the city you could stumble upon a family packed farmer’s market, a carnival in the middle of the Red Light district, a blitzed out tourist after partaking in the coffee shops, or a museum plaza with some of the most famous art in the world. Add Amsterdam to your bucket list today and read on for some lower-key must-dos in the Venice of the north. While this guide won’t tell you about all of the tourist things to do, it will give you the opportunity to experience the city like a local and eat some of the best food I have ever had in Europe.
Where to stay:
When we travel our favorite thing to do is to stroll around neighborhoods away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas. Because of this we always stay in Air BnBs and Amsterdam is the perfect city to try it out for the first time. We stayed on a houseboat in the Jordaan district and absolutely loved the authentic experience of living on a canal in Amsterdam. There are plenty of houseboats to check out on Air BnB so click here for $20 off your first stay! The Jordaan and De Pijp districts are perfect places to stay since they are close to all of the tourist destinations yet off the beaten path enough that you aren’t overwhelmed by tourists.
When to go:
I can only attest to how great it was to go in the spring. The tulips are blooming, the city is warming up, and it’s not as busy as the summer. We went in mid-April and had the opportunity to go to the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse (bucketlist!). Late April thru late May is perfect times to go.
What to bring:
- An extra suitcase for all of the cheese you will want to bring home.
- A light raincoat
- Good walking shoes
- Maybe two extra suitcases for all of the cheese?
- But really, the cheese here is so good. Three suitcases for cheese will do just fine.
If you have read any of my blogs, you know that my main goal is to provide you some great walking routes and things to do along those routes when you visit cities. Since I recommended the Jordaan and De Pijp as places to stay these two neighborhood strolls will take you through both of these areas.
De 9 Straatjes (The Nine Streets) and Jordaan district
This route takes you by the Anne Frank House, to an amazing cheese tour, and through the romantic 9 streets with plenty of trendy shopping, cafes, and unique gifts to suit your taste.
What to do on this walk:
- If walking on a Saturday visit the Noordermarkt – a massive market with food and flea market goodies.
- Eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner at The Pancake Bakery.
- Do the cheese and wine tasting at Reypenaer Cheese. It’s €15 and it’s well worth it. Also, buy as much as you can afford afterwards. When you run out when you get home you will cry for a few days.
- Stroll around the nine streets and pop in and out of shops. There are also quite a few cheese shops in this area if you need some more cheese.
Some other awesome things to do in the Jordaan area:
- Eat at La Perla in Amsterdam’s Little Italy. Then stroll around and eat authentic gelato.
- Drink a beer at one of Amsterdam’s brown bars. Cafe Papeneiland is a very authentic and quite lovely choice. Word to the wise: If you are allergic to smoke this is not your best bet.
- Eat at the Japanese Pancake World. No pictures, so it must have been good right?
- Enjoy stumbling across the locals doing local things and appreciate how this city seems to stand still in time.
- If the weather is nice stop for some coffee or drinks and sit outside and people watch.
- Stroll around the area during the “Golden Hour”. No words can describe the beauty of the canals during this time of day.
De Pijp and the Museum District
Hope your belly is empty because this route is going to take you by some of the best food and drinks Amsterdam has to offer.
When traveling to Amsterdam, I expected good food. But, I never expected the sheer amount of good food there is to find in this city. This walk will give you a taste of traditional Amsterdam street food, Tex Mex breakfast, California vibe coconuts and coffee, Dutch cheese (duh!), and the perfect Turkish dinner.
- Start this walk at Bakers and Roasters for some of the best Tex Mex breakfast outside of Texas (my heart melted when eating the burrito here).
- Then hop by the Heineken Experience to learn all about the Dutch beer.
- Continue by strolling through the Albert Cuyp Market where you will be able to buy authentic Stoopwafels, Dutch souvenirs, and really anything that strikes your fancy.
- If your feeling a little tired and the weather is nice, head down to Sarphatipark with some of the cheese you have collected (see my description of the Jordaan for more details) and have a quick snack with the ducks by the pond.
- By now your buzz from the Heineken Experience is wearing off and in you are in need of another pint. Head over to the Gerard Douplein and find a nice bar to plop down and enjoy a few pints.
- If you are feeling up to it head over the Museum district and explore the large majestic buildings surrounding the I Amsterdam sign. As an alternative make a quick stop by Coffee and Coconuts for an amazing coffee or a fresh young coconut.
- End your day at Bazar for finger-licking good Turkish food and one of the prettiest bathrooms I have ever seen in my life.
If you ready to eat good food, see history, drink cheap (€3 euro!) beer, and dance the night away make Amsterdam your next European destination!