• Explore the city’s oldest church and graveyard

It’s the Old Church. You can’t miss it. (And check out the website to see what special exhibitions are going on.)

  • Visit the city’s oldest coffee shop

Yes, the “special” kind of coffee shop. But the Bulldog has claimed the title of first, so you can tick this off as a historical landmark visit.

  • Discover a hidden church

“Our Dear Lord in the Attic” is basically the Tardis of Amsterdam: it looks like a regular townhouse from the outside, but inside it hides the replicated home of a 17th-century Catholic merchant and a church seating 200 people and a one-story organ.

  • Grab a good beer for a good cause

As we noted the last two times we wrote about it, De Prael is a good (and good-looking) place for good fun and good people.

  • Explore weirdo-chic décor while sipping coffee

Ivy & Bros serves food too, and even has a couple of sunny terrace tables.

  • Learn your hemp history

Surprisingly informative, the Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum will walk you through the story of the cannabis plant from pre-history to today.

  • Question the “professors” of the Cannabis College

They’ve got the inside intel on the current state of cannabis in Amsterdam and beyond. Plus a garden to visit and vaporizer to sample (for a small donation). OK, can we stop talking about cannabis now?

  • Grab a coffee in a pretty garden

No, not another one of those coffee shops. The specialty here is really coffee. Just next the Old Church, built into the church, there’s a small shop with a bare, but charming interior -- but this is a spot you’re going to want to save for when you can enjoy your coffee in the shockingly wholesome walled garden terrace.

  • Watch some DJs at work

Red Light Radio offers a new kind of voyeurism in former prostitution windows. (Online, too.)

  • Enjoy some fine dining at a reasonable price

Restaurant ANNA looks out over all the action with a la carte items like candied peel of veal with lardo di Colonnata, green asparagus, white eggplant, and polenta, plus multi-course menus and wines to match.

  • Enjoy some fine dining in a hidden courtyard

It’s easy to miss the gated entry way to Blauw aan de Wal amidst one of the most crowded stretches of the Red Light District. Once you reach the pretty courtyard tables bedecked with mostly seafood and veggies, though, you’ll forget the Red Light District even exists around you.

  • Taste old Dutch liquors (and learn how they’re made)

Wynand Fockink has no seating, and it isn’t open late, but it’s well worth seeking out for its classic interior and tasty homemade liquors. Or you can just pick up some bottles from the shop to go. Come by on the weekend for a tour of the distillery itself.

  • Visit the Hangover Information Center

For when you’ve got a night of drinking the world’s favorite intoxicating substance ahead, stock up on one of this spot’s blue bottles -- a mix of minty mojito and foul sulphite flavors that, when guzzled down with a glass of water before bed, really does seem to help people.

  • Check out a smartshop

OK, there’s another (fungal) substance you’ll find in this neighborhood, and the Smart-Zone is the Red Light District destination to take your questions.

  • Score some hemp

Nothing in this shop is going to get you high, but there are plenty of edibles. Non-edibles, too. Basically, from seedy snacks to full-on fabrics to bath products, if it’s made with (THC-free) hemp, it’s sold at Hempstory.

  • Sup and sip like a spy

We don’t know why they named the spot after the Netherlands’ sexiest spy (ooohhhh…), but we know we like Mata Hari’s food, booze, and overall vibe -- it's one of our favorite spots in the entire Medieval City Center. The canal-side terrace isn’t bad either, if woefully under-sunned.

  • Have your beer with a side of football

When you want to feel like you’re drinking at the bottom of a boat while mingling with the local soccer fans, the appropriately titled Cafe Old Sailor is for you.

  • Pick out some pottery

Dishwasher-proof, oven-safe, and just plain pretty, J.C. Herman Ceramics’ dishes are the stuff good gift-giving is made of. (Even if the recipient is just yourself.)

  • Try out some seriously inventive chocolate

Also built into the (other) side of the Old Church, we named Ganache's oddball bonbons one of the 50 Amsterdam foods you need to eat before you die. We stand by that.

  • Take in some art with your coffee

If the weather is less than wonderful, you can head around to the back of the church to snag a coffee at Quartier Putain, which you can enjoy upstairs while taking in the latest of the changing exhibitions.

  • Nab some sexy bags at Ignoor

If the shape of these bags (from the daughter of a family with more than a century of leather-working experience) looks alluring, it’s because they were modeled after the female form.

  • Shop for vintage

Named after a French flea market, Les Petites Puces offers a mix of vintage threads, shoes, and accessories. Plus they sell coffee, tea, and baked goods, as well as sacks and coffee and tea to-go.

  • Shop some wood

Not that kind of wood, put your pants back on. In the surprising old and vast Houthandel Schmidt you have your pick of dead trees, mostly in raw-material form, as well as iron and other accessories.

  • Follow print art in action

Once known as The Proud Otter, this off-beat RLD shop has merged with art and lit ‘zine Goodbye Horses to form the new Peer on this spot. The shop, which will focus more on paper-based art, will also be a work space for creatives to come and work on their own projects while observing the magazine-making process and regular exhibitions. When all that observing gets you hungry, refuel with coffee, cakes, and cordials.

  • Get cultural in other cool, creative spaces

They’re spreading like wildfire, but we’re not complaining: Ultra de la Rue coffers another (fair trade) coffee, Wi-Fi, and art combo with films, lectures, and other events to boot. There is also a shop with silk-screen tees and sweats and other goodies and books about street art and urban life.

  • Pick up some epic hats

Mirjam Nuver’s hats are almost complete costumes in and of themselves. Browsing is as much fun as buying.

  • Chill with a drink at the Black Tiger

A popular place to get merry without all the frenetic tourism outside.

  • Eat Tibetan food

The lack of real competition isn’t the only reason the aptly named Tibet is the best Tibetan restaurant in the city. The food is just damn good. And spicy.

  • Eat wood-oven pizza

Da Portare Via (one of our top pizza picks) has a local shop, with all the wood-oven goodness, right here.

  • Listen to classical music or jazz

The Bethaniënklooster is a small remnant remaining for the former medieval cloisters that used to take up the full city block. The pleasing, opulently austere interior is restored rather than original -- actually, the gorgeous concert venue and staircase were once a canteen. Classical music fans follow the klooster’s Facebook page to learn about upcoming concerts. Jazz fans, keep an eye out for the regular jazz nights that take place in the vaulted basement under the name Bethany’s Jazz Club.

  • Sample some modern Korean

Quick Korean lesson: Yokio, this restaurant’s name, is the polite word Koreans use to get a waiter’s attention. You can practice it while participating in one of three social concepts: on the ground floor, you can just walk in and snag a spot at the long tables or the bar; upstairs you can eat a la carte in the salon; or if there are two or more of you, you can arrange a full Korean BBQ at the table. Grab a few friends and go for the last. The chef is Jaymz Pool, of the Wilde Zwijnen and Trouw fame.

  • Get even more coffee

At KOKO Coffee & Design it comes with clothes. And accessories. Expect fresh, modern Scandi and Dutch design with Belgian coffee.

  • Bloemenmarkt

The city’s famous flower market sits along Singel within the inner canals and offers up a selection of Holland’s famous tulips (among other blooms) in every imaginable variety. Locals pick up the fresh cut tulips, and bulbs are available for visitors looking to take a piece of Amsterdam home.

  • Canal Tours

Built on a web of canals, you’d be remiss not to see the city from the water level. Canal tours depart regularly from various central landmarks (such as the Red Light District or Anne Frank Huis) and weather depending, you can opt for an open-air boat or a more luxury tour that serves dinner and drinks. No matter what type you choose, the views at sunset are unmatched.

  • Anne Frank Huis

While it’s one of the more solemn activities you’ll find in Amsterdam, millions line up each year to take a quiet walk through the now empty series of rooms that housed Anne Frank, her family, and her red diary for over two years during WWII as they hid from Nazi invasion. It’s a touching experience of a young girl’s heartache and hopeful nature that resonates with everyone who passes through.

  • Golden Bend

The Golden Bend area is the most prestigious stretch of the surrounding Herengracht. While most of the city is notorious for tall narrow homes, the Golden Bend allowed its wealthy residents to build much wider estates (many of which conceal elaborate gardens out back). To see it like a local, rent a bicycle and roll by using one of the readily available bike lanes.

  • Canal of Seven Bridges

Nestled at the end of the Golden Bend sits the Reguliersgracht Canal, easily one of the most photographed in the city. Visit at dusk to watch the lights on all seven canal bridges come on, casting a romantic glow over the area. Afterwards, have dinner at one of the nearby bruin cafés (or “Brown Cafés,” a traditional Dutch pub).

  • Museum Van Loon

Far less trafficked than its more popular counterparts like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, the Museum Van Loon is a meticulously preserved Grand Canal house allowing daily visitors. Still owned by the Van Loon family (who occasionally hold dinner parties in the ornate dining hall), each room offers a unique glimpse into the history and style of aristocratic Dutch residents.

  • Rijksmuseum

The Netherland's national museum and home to famed works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum sits at the end of an expansive outdoor promenade. (Tip: Just a few steps away, and also worthy of a visit, is the Van Gogh Museum). Allow at least a few hours to wander the halls and immerse yourself in traditional Dutch art. Don’t miss the museum library, one of the largest art history libraries in the world, tucked away in a hidden corner. Its scale and grandeur will leave a book lover breathless!

  • Vondelpark

The 'Central Park' of Amsterdam, Vondelpark sits just south of Rijksmuseum and the city’s center. Pack a picnic lunch and find a quiet spot among the parks expansive gardens, ponds, and lawns to enjoy the view.

  • CoBrA Museum of Modern Art

A short tram or bus ride from central Amsterdam in Amstelveen, the CoBrA Museum is inside a beautiful building designed by architect Wim Quist, and houses playful and colorful works by the avant-garde 20th-century CoBrA group (the name was created from the home cities of its members: Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam), by the likes of Karel Appel, Constant and Corneille. The movement began in 1948 and its legacy was significant—Paul Klee was among the artists influenced by it.

  • Oude Kerk

This beautiful medieval church is Amsterdam’s oldest building. It occupies a picturesque location in the heart of the red light district, where it seems to attract few tourists (most who come here are interested in quite different things). It’s a great place for getting your bearings in the city—climb the church tower for a stunning birds’ eye view (check the website for times). The church hosts a variety of cultural events, and adjoining it is a postcard-perfect little café with a small garden.

  • Oost Amsterdam

Few tourists seem to explore this eastern district of the city, yet it has some wonderful features: Artis, the city zoo; one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens in Hortus Botannicus; perhaps the best Turkish food in town; and lots of green spaces to stroll through. Take a walk through the Plantage neighborhood to Park Frankendael—once the country estate of a wealthy 17th-century merchant, and now a park complete with a country-house exhibition space and some quality restaurants (try De Kas or Merkelbach).

  • Rembrandt Park

In the west of town, the area in which this spacious green park is located is a bit too modern and working class to be touristy, but it offers a more restful experience than the ever-busy Vondelpark, as well as a taste of the ‘real’ Amsterdam. The park boasts sculptures, a petting zoo (De Uylenburg) and what many consider the best kids’ playground in town, so it’s great for a family outing.

  • House of Bols

Founded in 1575 by Lucas Bols, the world’s oldest distilling company, Bols, runs this interactive museum and tasting room in celebration of the original Dutch spirit, genever, and its many flavored offshoots. The tour is an insight into the ancient, and very Dutch, art of distilling, and the visit ends with a delicious cocktail (or two—you can refill your glass for a modest sum).

  • The Resistance Museum (Amsterdams Verzetsmuseum)

A fascinating look into the Dutch experience of World War II, with a variety of often touching everyday exhibits that help to shed light on what made the collaborators, as well as the resistance fighters, tick. A separate display looks at the last days of Dutch colonialism.

  • The Tulip Museum

This compact and quirky little museum inside a tulip shop tells the story of the tulip in Amsterdam—including its origins as an early Turkish import, and the phenomenon of tulipomania, the world’s first speculation bubble in Rembrandt’s day.

nov 16 2015 ∞
dec 21 2015 +