Looking for the best districts, most stylish shops and the trendiest restaurants in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a melting pot of culture, with insta-worthy canals, cool boutiques, crazy bars, great restaurants and the infamous red-light district luring tourists from around the world. And, if you venture a little further out of the city, you’ll find a plethora of beaches and some of the prettiest mini-Amsterdam’s you’ve ever seen. Discover the best districts, stylish shops and trendy restaurants with our guide to Amsterdam…
Where to Stay:
Known as the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam, this district is filled with eclectic shops, along with terraces that are ideal for perfecting the art of summer rosé drinking and people watching, and it’s also home to one of the city’s largest open-air markets. Take a look at Sir Albert Hotel for a unique stay near De Pijp.
Jordaan is a maze of canals, quintessential Dutch buildings and hidden gardens, offering the perfect environment for your Amsterdam trip. A 15-minute walk from the main tourist areas, beautiful boutiques rub shoulders with world-class restaurants and there is a picture-perfect scene around every corner. Check out Pulitzer Amsterdam, Kimpton De Witt or The Hoxton for the best of hotels in the Jordaan.
You’ll find Amsterdam’s most famous museums – Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk Museum, around a huge lawn square that’s very popular with tourists in the summer months. The area is also known for housing one of Amsterdam’s more popular fashion streets.
This up and coming district offers industrial architecture and wide-open spaces – worlds away from the charms of canal life. But in Noord, you’ll find some of the city’s coolest and creative spaces, including restaurants and shops. Check out Lloyd Hotel – it’s not quite in Noord but looks out to it, or Crane Hotel Faralda, housed in a converted crane – yes you read that right.
Sassy tip: The Crane Hotel is fab if you’re looking for something alternative but books up far in advance. Get in there early.
This is one of my favourite areas: a quiet, leafy area that houses the city’s botanical gardens and the zoo – which is worth a visit. The buildings in this area ooze grandeur and charm and the peacefulness makes it a great spot to stay. The downsides are that it’s a little further away from the main city centre.
Where to Eat and Drink:
There are so many great spots, it’s hard to pick just a few, but here goes…
Chin Chin Club
Dubbed Amsterdam’s social clubhouse, this chic venue offers everything from a restaurant, three bars, a nightclub and an entertainment hall. Party the night away here.
Chin Chin Club, Rozengracht 133, 1016 LV Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.facebook.com/ChinChinClubAmsterdam
Café Bern’s fondue is legendary and the steaks are mouth-wateringly good. The menu is small and hasn’t changed in years, but here you’ll get a good meal and have a great time.
Café Bern, Nieuwmarkt 9, 1011 JR, Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.cafebern.com
Café Restaurant De Plantage
Find French elegance in Amsterdam at De Plantage, which can be found in Amsterdam’s zoo – ARTIS. Why not pair a trip to the zoo with a meal here? We can vouch that it’s worth it! If you’re there for lunch, try the salad with burrata, blood orange and fennel – it’s delicious!
Café Restaurant De Plantage, Plantage Kerklaan 36, 1018 CZ Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.caferestaurantdeplantage.nl
Café de Tuin
Found on one of the busiest (and loveliest) streets in the Jordaan, this charming neighbourhood bar is quintessentially Dutch. It serves a range of beers, real Italian coffee and simple food. Try to get a table outside for ultimate people watching.
Café Tuin, Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 13, Jordaan, 1015 RX Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.cafedetuin.nl
Glou Glou is a lovely little wine bar in De Pijp. With a cosy atmosphere and serving an interesting selection of natural wines, this is the perfect spot for mid-week catch ups, cheese and wine.
Glou Glou, Tweede van der Helststraat 3, 1073 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.glouglou.nl
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a stop off at Foodhallen. This uber-trendy food hall features a range of cuisines, including Vietnamese, American, Hawaiian and Spanish. It also has a DJ spinning during the weekends and features a fab gin and tonic bar.
Foodhallen, Bellamyplein 51, 1053 AT, Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.foodhallen.nl
If you’re craving an Asian vibe, head to Karacter, the popular Bao bar. With a vintage look and a real tree that grows out of the bar (!!), you can sip on a range of more-ish cocktails and dine on a varied menu in a very cool, relaxed vibe. When you’re ready to take it up a notch, head into the karaoke box for your go on the microphone.
Karakter, De Clercqstraat 75 HS, 1053 AE Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.bar-karakter.nl
This is our favourite pizza spot in Amsterdam, and actually one of my favourite pizza places of all time. The pizzas are freshly cooked in a traditional wood-burning oven, the vibe is buzzy and there’s always a good crowd. For the overspill (of which there is always many), it also has a take-out joint opposite, for people to order and sit on the street to enjoy. Get here early, as it’s always busy!
La Perla, Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 14 & 53, Jordaan, 1015 RZ Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.pizzaperla.nl
Libertine Petit Café
This is one of my faves and a regular haunt for Friday drinks. With checkered tablecloths, a busy terrace and a small selection of delicious and filling French dishes, this is ideal for a low key dinner.
Libertine Petit Café, Noordermarkt 4, 1015 NA Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.libertinecafe.amsterdam
Mossel & Gin
I love mussels, gin and al fresco dining, and this restaurant combines all three. Set in a lovely sunny courtyard, Mossel and Gin serve a selection of fresh mussels in a range of delicious sauces, paired with speciality gin and tonics. You’ll also receive a tube of amazing Gin Mayo for your chips. If you’re a cheese fan, make sure to try the Mussels Roquefort with creamy Roquefort cheese and fennel.
Mossel & Gin, Gosschalklaan 12, Westergasfabriek, 1014 DC Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.mosselengin.nl
Cafe Palm Springs
Palm Springs is an oasis in Jordaan, and a stone’s throw from our flat, which means we spend a lot of time here. With palm print and flamingo décor, this is a bar for those always looking for sunshine, good food, drinks and a laid-back vibe.
Cafe Palm Springs, Palmgracht 48, Jordaan, 1015 HN Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.facebook.com/palmamsterdam
A trip to Amsterdam in the summer isn’t complete without a trip to Plek. Plek features a live music program from all corners of the world throughout the year, as well as mini-festivals and yoga workshops. On a day-to-day basis, Plek is a great spot to hang out in the sun by the water.
Pllek, TT Neveritaweg 59, Noord, 033 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.pllek.nl
An industrial city beach spot in Oost, Amsterdam Roest is a great, relaxed spot to hang out with friends. The food is simple but good, and there is a range of drinks to choose from. Roest has a unique and stand out live music programme and a nightclub at the back with an abandoned bus within – what more could we ask for?
Amsterdam Roest, Jacob Bontiusplaats 1, 1018 LL Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.amsterdamroest.nl
Roses By Sal
This is a great go-to for a fun weekend dinner. Think Argentinian street food, including ceviche and the most delicious meat. It’s on one of Amsterdam’s busiest bar strips, so we think it’s the perfect spot to kick start your night out.
Roses By Sal, Reguliersdwarsstraat 40, 1017 BM Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.roses-amsterdam.nl
Newly opened canal-side Soho House features a Cecconi’s restaurant and a lovely pool and rooftop bar with unparalleled views of Amsterdam. It’s a great spot to hang out with your girls.
Soho House Amsterdam, Spuistraat 210, 1012 VT, Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.sohohouseamsterdam.com
The arcade paradise TonTon is ideal for those who are still kids at heart. The ‘playground’ features a Japanese American fusion restaurant, a Dance Dance revolution room, arcade shooters and button basher games.
Named after James Bond’s favourite cocktail, Vesper is a great bar for cocktail lovers. A classy little joint – but not too classy – the menu features a range of cocktails including the Vesper Martini and the Exceptionally Old Fashioned.
Vesper, Vinkenstraat 57, 1013 JM Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.vesperbar.nl
Waterkant is ideal for lazy Saturday afternoons in the sunshine with a cider in hand. Set along one of the wider stretches of canals, it’s a great spot for sunbathing, dancing, drinking, eating and hanging out with friends.
Waterkant Amsterdam, Marnixstraat 246, 1016 TL Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.waterkantamsterdam.nl
Wine Bar diVino
Amsterdam is home to a number of great wine bars, but this is one of our favourites, sitting on a quiet street in the Jordaan. Settle in and enjoy the Italian wines alongside the deliciously fresh Italian dishes. We recommend the Carbonara – it’s one of the best we’ve ever had.
Wijnbar & Restaurant diVino, Boomstraat 41a, 1015 LB Amsterdam, Netherlands, www.wijnbardivino.nl
Where to Shop:
One of the nicest things about Amsterdam is its abundance of lively markets and unique shops. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it in Amsterdam…
Westerstraat & Noordermarkt Farmers market
Held every Saturday morning and Monday morning, this is a great spot for clothes, shoes and textiles, traditional Dutch and organic foods.
Sassy Tip: Look out for the wicker basket stall, these are to die for, and when you’re finished with shopping, chill with a beer and try the fresh bitterballens and stroopwafels.
The Sunday market at Westerpark is just the best. You’ll find live music, stands with vintage accessories, baby’s clothes, affordable art and housewares, alongside creative workshops and delicious food and drinks at the various outdoor cafes.
Sassy tip: The market rotates, so is only in Westerpark the first Sunday of each month.
Nine streets is a cluster of picturesque streets on the canal belt. The area is full of quirky little shops and great restaurants and is ideal for a Saturday morning wander. Shops range from the more well known Toms, Scotch and Soda, Cos and Filippa K, to boutiques, pop-ups and vintage shops.
Albert Cuyp Market
This famous market is open every day apart from Sundays and sells anything you could want, from flowers, vegetables and meat, to phone cases and shoes.
This street is on the quieter end of Centraal and runs towards Westerpark. Along it you’ll find a plethora of boutiques and a range of speciality stores. We love the Dutch fashion label Jutka & Riska; concept store Restored; top eyewear brand Ace & Tate and SeventyFive for sneaker lovers.
One for the vintage lovers. This is the biggest flea market in Europe taking place once a month. Selling almost everything, this is the place to head for second-hand homewares.
What to Do:
No trip to Amsterdam is complete with a boat trip. Mokum boats can be hired for 110 euros for three hours, and you can take both your own food and drinks on them – they really do make the best day out. We don’t recommend the tourist boats, as they are expensive and totally impersonal, so try out the Mokum Boats instead.
Multiple pick up locations: www.mokumbootverhuur.nl
Be a Dutchy for the day and head to one of Amsterdam’s many parks with a picnic, or BBQ and while away an afternoon in the sunshine. The most popular (and beautiful) are Vondelpark or Westerpark but you will find green space around the city.
Soak up the culture in Amsterdam’s museum quarter. Home to three major museums including Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art and the Van Gogh Museum, culture buffs will be in their element. Here you’ll also find some of Amsterdam’s chicest shops, smart restaurants and one of the best concert venues in the world.
Sassy Tip: It’s best to book tickets for the museums online, because during high season the queues can be very long.
A stones throw from Amsterdam, you’ll find Haarlem, one of the most Instagrammable destinations in the Netherlands. Haarlem is often referred to as a mini-Amsterdam and it makes a great day out from Amsterdam. Marvel at Haarlems cathedral, check out a landmark windmill and hit the shops, all in a days work.
Anne Frank Huis
Found on the canal belt, this is the house where Anne Frank hid with her family for more than two years during World War II. The house has now been converted into a museum with an interesting exhibition on the Jewish persecution. Make sure to book tickets for Anne Frank’s House online during high season, as the queues can be very long.
Anne Frank Huis, Westermarkt 20, 1016 DK Amsterdam, www.annefrank.org
Many don’t know that Amsterdam is lined with beautiful beaches, all of which are only a short train ride away. Zandvoort aan Zee is renowned for its stunning dunes and buzzy beach bars; Bloemendaal aan Zee is popular for its party atmosphere; Ijmuiden aan Zee & Wijk aan Zee is known for its wind water sports and Heemskerk Area is popular for its dune walks. Pack your towels and bikinis and head off on an adventure.
Featured Image courtesy of Milana Jovanov via Unsplash, Image #1 courtesy of Yumsterdam via Instagram, Image #2 courtesy of voyaged via Instagram, Image #3 courtesy of Chin Chin Club via Facebook, Image #4 courtesy of Café de Tuin, Image #5 courtesy of Karakter, Image #6 courtesy of Mossel & Gin via Instagram, Image #7 courtesy of Amsterdam Roest, Image #8 courtesy of TonTon Club via Instagram, Image #9 courtesy of Wine Bar diVino, Image #1o courtesy of Yumsterdam via Instagram, Image #11 courtesy of De 9 Straatjes via Facebook, Image #12 courtesy of Yumsterdam via Instagram, Image #13 courtesy of Iamsterdam