The capital of the Netherlands and one of the main culture hubs in Europe is also one of the most popular and visited cities on the old continent, attracting over 4.5 million international visitors annually. Heritage, art, architecture, stunning canals, over 140 festivals and events, a center of bicycle culture – these are just a few things that make Amsterdam a must-visit location. This vibrant city offers an impressive array of things to do and places to see, so we have put together a short list to help you make the most of a weekend stay. We have chosen special places you may not discover on travel sites, to ensure that your Amsterdam experience is as unique and inspiring as the city itself.
The INK. Hotel Amsterdam has plenty of history written inside its walls, as it used to be the home of “De Tijd” newspaper, first published in 1845. Located in the Old Town, the building has been transformed into a 149-room hotel under the supervision of Concrete Architects. The decor has a cosmopolitan ambience and references the building’s past, with typeface letters and handwritten notes adorning the walls. In the Pressroom restaurant you can find international dishes made with local ingredients. For those looking for a more immersive experience, the Hôtel Droog located in a 17th century building is ideal. This one-of-a-kind hotel has only one room, with the rest of the 700 square meters dedicated to an art gallery, a fashion store, a garden, a dining room and a spa. The hotel also offers access to exclusive exhibitions and lectures throughout the year.
Everyone knows that Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, but it may come as a surprise to see just how widespread and popular cycling really is. A famous statistic from 2003 acknowledged that there are more bicycles than citizens in the city. If you want to blend in and look like a local, you may want to avoid the majority of renting services that offer bikes plastered with ads. The Frederic Rent a Bike provides ad-free bikes with a charming vintage design and they cost just $14-a-day. It’s the best way to see the city and you’ll have access to numerous bike racks.
Food And Drinks
De Foodhallen is a recently opened interior food market, located in an old tram station. Inside, you can find various food stalls where you can buy artisan cheeses, fresh meat and fish, as well as various types of food, from authentic Italian and Spanish to Indian, Vietnamese, or Indian dishes. A cinema, art gallery and a public library provide a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in some culture or to enjoy a bit of entertainment after your meal. The food hall is beloved by locals, so it’s a great place to visit to get a feel of real Amsterdam.
The trend of producing craft beers on a smaller scale started much earlier here in Amsterdam, when Brouwerij ‘t IJ opened its doors in 1985. It was one of the first microbreweries to challenge the quality of mass-produced beer, and it’s still located in the same bath house, right under the famous De Gooyer windmill. You can choose from around forty types of beer, available all year round, or try the seasonal and limited edition beers.
For delicious French patisseries and tarts, go to the Petit Gâteau. It’s a small family-run patisserie, recently-opened by Meike Schaling. A pastry chef trained in Paris, she has decided to move the successful patisserie back home in Amsterdam, after six years of business in the French capital. She makes up to 100 sweet and savory tarts every day, all beautifully decorated, with authentic macarons and eclairs also available.
If you’re planning a picnic, don’t forget to visit De Kaaskamer to find an array of artisan cheeses, from all over Europe. The shop is located in the middle of Amsterdam’s 9 Streets. You can also buy quality wine and preserves, crackers and pesto. Check out the shop’s opening times here.
Enjoy a refined dining experience at Vinkeles, a Michelin-starred restaurant that offers classic and contemporary French cuisine. You can also reserve a private dining room for 2-14 people or even eat at the chef’s table, located in the kitchen, for a unique opportunity to see how the dishes are prepared. The restaurant is open Monday – Saturday from 7 pm till 10.30 pm.
There are plenty of coffee shops dotted around Amsterdam, but here are three places to choose from. At the Lloyd Cafe-Restaurant you can find dishes made with meat and fish from sustainable sources and organic vegetables where possible. The recipes are traditional, yet the methods of cooking innovative and contemporary, offering the best of both worlds. Toki is a stylish coffee shop where designer furnishings, synthetic marble and international food and drink offerings create a unique atmosphere. You can order coffee from Berlin, tea from Brooklyn or cakes from Petit Gâteau. If you prefer to admire a view while sipping your coffee, go to the IJ-Canteen. Here you can eat delicious breakfasts and artisanal dinners, while enjoying the fantastic view over the port of Amsterdam.
The Noordermarkt takes places every Saturday in the historic Jordaan square. Frequented by Rembrandt van Rijn 350 years ago, this flea market is more popular than ever. It brings together a wide range of products, one more charming than the other. Browse through antiques, traditional fabrics, second-hand books, kitsch items, or delicacies – it’s impossible to get bored here.
If you need a place to read in quiet or simply want to work for a couple of hours, the Central Public Library is perfect and it’s also close to the Central Station. The building has a contemporary design and 10 levels, providing access to 1.7 million books, computers and wi-fi. You can easily park your bicycle here, using one of the 2000 parking spaces.
No Amsterdam visit is complete without a stop at the famous Rijksmuseum. Step inside the stunning building to discover 800 years of Dutch art, including the most iconic painting in the collection, Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’. With over 8,000 paintings to see, along with photography and fashion, tourists can easily spend a whole day here without noticing the passage of time.
Visit the Misc Store Amsterdam to buy stationery, notebooks, lighting or accessories for your home or office desk. They are made by various local and international brands, with a focus on great design and modern minimalism. At the Hutspot you can have a haircut in a 1960s barber chair, drink some fantastic coffee, buy vintage furniture, trendy clothing, or handmade jewelry, to name a few. Go to one of their two locations, Van Woustraat or Rozengracht, to enjoy a different kind of shopping experience. Friday Next is a concept store that combines a classic shop with a design studio and a chic cafe-restaurant. It’s a place filled with creativity and contemporary design, and you can buy items created by young Dutch artists or products from well-known designers. Tenue de Nîmes offers hard-to-find Acne jeans, shoes and shirts, along with an excellent range of vintage jeans from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Here you’ll also find products created in collaboration with American heritage brands.
The Amsterdam Roest is a creative haven where locals and tourists who know where to find this hidden gem can sit back and enjoy a unique atmosphere. Located in the east side of the city among industrial buildings, Roest includes a large warehouse with a cafe and space for art shows, smaller concerts and film festivals. Outside, an artificial beach provides the ideal space to relax, sip a cocktails and chat with the locals. There are many events taking place starting from Thursdays and through the weekend, but check out the website beforehand to see what’s on during your visit.