The Hotel The Exchange sits on Damrak, one of the…
Amsterdam Tips From Locals- Hidden treasures, cozy places and more
Wandering what to do in Amsterdam? You have already been to Amsterdam numerous times and want to do something else? Or you are simply interested in discovering Amsterdam off the beaten track and do like the locals do? Don’t worry I got you covered. I have been to Amsterdam countless times and after always following the tourist route I asked my Amsterdam friends what they like to do in their city and where they go out to eat, drink, shop and play in the Dam. With all the information that I acquired I made this alternative guide to show you how to spend time in Amsterdam like a local Amsterdamer. By the way: I added the links to the websites of the locations to help you find it quicker. So are you ready to find out what to do in Amsterdam?
Local recommendations on what to do in Amsterdam
So you have seen it all and now you find yourself in the city wondering what to do in Amsterdam? Let me help you.
- You have been to the Rijksmuseum already? Why not see a different museum instead? If you are interested in modern, contemporary art I can recommend you to check out MOCA– they currently have a Banksy and Roy Lichtenstein exhibition or the Stedelik museum, an award-winning modern art museum with changing temporary exhibitions. If you want to get an insight how those beautiful canal houses looked like back in the days, I recommend you to visit the Museum van Loon. They still have the rooms originally furnished from the 1800s and a lovely garden where you can sit and enjoy a coffee. Oh and if you happen to go to the Rijksmuseums, my personal must do is check out the library. It is stunning.
- Amsterdamers move around on a bike in the city. That is in fact the cheapest and most convenient way to get around. If you only have a day in the city, this also gives you the chance to explore some more local areas and move around quickly and cover a bigger area. However only rent a bike if you are a confident bike rider. Locals hate nothing more than tourists on bikes who block their bike lanes. If you want to take pictures along the way, do not stop on the bike lane. I repeat, do not stop on the bike lane, but get out of everyones way when taking selfies or holiday pictures.
- The Vondelpark is a beautiful park and the green lung of the city. Locals love to come here to hang out and have a picknick with friends, do sports or just walk or cycle around. There are also some cool events happening. Last time I visited they had a skateboarding competition.
- Explore different neighborhoods like Amsterdam North, Centrum, De Pijp or Jordaan.
- Take the boat to Amsterdam North. The boat is free and there is a lot of cool things to explore like art, the film museum and some nice restaurants. Every second weekend they also have the Ij-Hallen, the biggest flea market of Europe where you can get some cheap things- especially fashion.
- Check out the Foodhallen to get a snack. There is many different foods to try like Chinese dim Sum, Mexican tacos, Dutch bitterballen or Japanese Sushi etc. I promise you won’t leave hungry. In the same complex there are also independent shops where you can get locally made souvenirs, a cinema, bars, a jeans shop where you can get customized jeans and design it after your liking for around 150 €.
- Rent a boat, gather your friends and bring some food and drinks along and cruise the canals of Amsterdam.
- Albert Cuyp Market for an authentic, local market with products and nice food from Holland.
- Shopping in the 9 Straatjes: I usually don’t like to shop in the big flagship stores when travelling, as I can get all those things at home as well. What I like however is to browse through small boutiques and look for local designers or unique gifts to bring home. In the 9 Straatjes you will find exactly that. Small independent brands and unique and beautiful clothing items, accessories etc. The shops are more on the expensive side but you also will find some steals and the quality is of course way better as a lot of items are produced in the Netherlands. Here you will also find some Second Hand Stores, cafés and restaurants.
Local favorites on where to have a drink
What I love to do in Amsterdam
- W Amsterdam: The rooftop bar of the W Amsterdam has a beautiful outdoor rooftop bar with a swimming pool from where you have a great view over the city. The interior is cool, the drinks delicious and you can also grab a bite in their restaurant. However prices are more on the higher side. Another rooftop bar with good views is on top of the Hilton hotel, not far away from the central station.
- The Pullitzer Bar: The bar of the Pullitzer is a real hidden gem. The interior is dark and cozy and transports you back to the roaring 20s with great gatsby vibes. Cocktails are fancy and creative and are well worth the whooping 15 € and you get some nuts to nibble on. Wines costs around 5.50 €, which to be honest you will probably pay in any Amsterdam bar. Highly recommend this place for a pre dinner drink.
- The Waterkant is a popular bar where you can sit either inside in a cool setting or on the terrace overlooking the canal. It is always busy with young people grabbing a drink and if you are hungry they have some amazing Suriname cuisine- that to be honest, I have never got to try anywhere else but in Holland.
- Escobar in De Pijp neighborhood is a nice tapas bar in the evening that turns into sort of a club at night, where you can dance to some funky tunes.
- The Ij brewery: Situated in a windmill you will find the brewery of the Amsterdam beer the IJ. It is less known than Heineken, but they have a really nice selection of special beers. The setting is nice and causal and along of your beer you can also order some snacks. It does close relatively early in the evening, as it is in fact a brewery, where you can have drinks and not a bar.
Cute cafés to stop by during the day:
One thing what to do in Amsterdam is visit all of those nice cafés and bars. There are so many to choose from and here are just a selection of my favorites.
- Rainbowls gave me some serious Bali vibes with the cute interior and their delicious and beautiful smoothie bowls. They have some good coffee too- definitely make sure to try their rainbow latte or a healthy smoothie if coffee isn’t your cup of tea 😉 .
- Pluk has two locations on the 9 Straatjes and has a lot of healthy all-day breakfast options, cakes and coffees. If you want to shop some cute interior items, books or gifts for your friends they also have a nice selection of things to buy.
- The Corner Bakery probably has some of the most instagrammable breakfast. Think big stacks of pancakes, pink milkshake and delicious fruit platters. Perfect for snapping new pictures for your feed, but not only nice to look at- but also super yummy.
- If you are keen on trying the famous Dutch apple pie head to Winkel 43– they have the best apple cake in the whole of Amsterdam. Still dreaming about this delicious cake. It is known among tourists, but locals also like to stop by for a cake and a drink and it is always crowded.
Where to go out for dinner in Amsterdam
- Vatten Ramen is situated on the Kerkstraat close to the Rijksmuseum. If you like Japanese food and don’t want to break the bank, Vatten Ramen is a delicious and affordable option. Ramens will set you back around 13 € (they also have vegan options) and I would even go that far and say that I have never had better Japanese food outside of Japan. As sides you have a delicious selection of bowls, gyozas, edamame, onigiri etc., which will costs around 6€ per dish. Been there once after Amsterdam pride and kept coming back overtime when visiting Amsterdam.
- Indonesian food is very popular in the Netherlands, as Indonesia once was a former colony of the Netherlands. Order a rijstafel and you will get an entire table full of different, small dishes to share like noodles, rendang beef- my favorite btw and so on.
- Looking for a fancy dinner? Then Jansz is your restaurant. It is situated in the Pullitzer hotel and offers more of a fine dining experience. If you want to eat there, I suggest to make a reservation in advance.
Extra tip: Eating out in the Netherlands can be quite expensive. Therefore I often look on Social Deal or Groupon for some restaurant deals. Often you can buy a coupon for a three course dinner for two people for around 25 to 30 €, which is a steal for the Netherlands.
I hope this guide could give you some new ideas on what to do in Amsterdam.
Are you a local or simply have great recommendations for Amsterdam? Please let us know. I am also always eager to explore Amsterdam better.