Amsterdam Travel Guide

A few months ago, one of my best friends and I headed on a little trip around Northern Europe and Scandinavia to try and beat the winter blues. Our first stop? Beautiful Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. And I couldn't possibly go there without sharing my favourite city hangouts with you, of course! From where to stay to what to do, and most importantly, where to eat and shop, I have it all listed below in this city guide. You might even be looking at flights before the end of this guide - I know I will be.



WHERE TO STAY


We actually opted for an AirBnB in the city center, or the Centrum as the locals call it. W had been looking at a few other options before finding our place, so I thought I'd share with you the best hotels I have found, starting with The Hoxton (You can take the girl out of London, but you can't take London out of the girl,)  The W Amsterdam, V Nesplein, as well as Citizen M, if you don't mind being a bit further out.


HOW TO GET AROUND


Like many cities in Europe, Amsterdam offers a City Card, which is the most affordable way to explore and experience the Dutch capital. Not only does it include unlimited access to public transports, it also gives you free or discounted entry to many of the city's most popular attractions.

Of course, you could also walk or rent a bike and pretend to be local - weather permitting. You know what they say, when in Rome... Well, Amsterdam. Not brave enough to cycle on the busy bike lanes? Try riding your bike in Vondelpark instead.


WHAT TO SEE & DO


TAKE A WALK ALONG THE CANALS

This one goes without saying, but taking a walk along the canals is a must when in Amsterdam. It's also something you can't exactly avoid since the whole city centre is built around the famous canal rings. Don't be afraid to venture a bit further out of the usual tourist hangouts and explore Jordaan, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Amsterdam. And don't forget to look up at the (wonky) architecture while you're at it, but be careful not to trip over the many bikes parked alongside the canals.



ANN FRANK HUIS
Prinsengracht 263-267, 1016 GV Amsterdam

Did you know you could visit the house in which Ann Frank, her family and four other people hid during World War II? It's definitely a must-see if you're in the Dutch capital. Be aware that you will either need to pre-book if you're planning on visiting between 9am and 3.30pm or be ready to queue early if you wish to go after that. The queues tend to be extremely long, so do yourself a favour and book in advance.


BLOEMENMARKT (a.k.a. Amsterdam's Floating Flower Market)
Singel, 1012 DH Amsterdam

It might take you a few minutes to realise that yes, this is a flower market on water and no, the novelty doesn't wear off so easily either. So have a look at the famous Dutch tulips, the many, many cacti (oh so Instagramable) and the lovely shops alongside the market. You can even buy seeds and bulbs to bring back if you want to give gardening a go when you get home.


GO ON A BOAT CRUISE

In a city built on water, taking a boat cruise is a must. So get yourself a spot on the deck, and enjoy the breeze as you pass by some of Amsterdam's biggest landmarks. And the best thing? The canal cruise is free with the I Amsterdam City Card, which is great if you are on a budget.


MUSEUMS, ART GALLERIES & FESTIVALS

Amsterdam is an art lover's dream. If you're ever in the city, I would definitely recommend visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Foam Fotografiemuseum, and MOCO, as well as the famous Rijksmuseum. And don't forget about the Tulip and Flower Festival - also known as Keukenhof - if you're in Amsterdam during the season. It's a little bit out of the city but word on the street is, it is well worth it. If you like greenery, you will also love Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam's own botanical gardens.



ALBERT CUYP MARKET
Albert Cuypstraat, 1073 BD Amsterdam

Open six days a week, this open market located in the lively neighborhood of De Pijp is both a local's paradise, as well as a great tourist hangout. If you're looking for somewhere to enjoy the famous Dutch Stroopwafels, this is it! They are made to order and so much better than the ones you can find in Camden, let me tell you.


COFFEESHOPS

Not to be confused with places that sell coffee, these are smoking parlours in which you are free to buy and smoke cannabis legally. Now, it's not my place to say whether or not you should go, but here are a few places that came in highly recommended if you wanted to see what the fuss is all about : Barney's for its upscale decor and of course and Dampkring, which you might have already seen if you've ever watched Ocean's 12.


EAT CHEESE AND DRINK BEER BY THE CANALS

When in Amsterdam... Eat all the cheese, of course! You will quickly realise that cheese shops are everywhere in Amsterdam, but if you don't want to buy yourself a wheel of cheese to yourself - no matter how tempting it may seem -, I'd highly recommend stopping by one of the many canal side bars to indulge in some mature gouda cheese and mustard. Of course, these are best paired with a local brew, but I certainly won't judge if you opt for a G&T instead.

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK



DE PLANTAGE

Just a stone throw away from the Jewish quarters, De Plantage was probably my favourite place we visited. The space itself is incredible and once again oh-so-Instagrammable, but don't get me wrong, the food is the real star here. I'd personally recommend going for their toasted sourdough tartines for if you're there at lunchtime. You will not be disappointed.



With its extensive brunch menu and tropical vibes, it's easy to see why Coffee & Coconuts is one of my favourite places in Amsterdam. And do I even need to mention the free wifi and ample seating? I didn't think so.

MOOK PANCAKES
De Clercqstraat 34, 1052 MZ Amsterdam

Believe me, no one will judge you for having American-style pancakes in the Netherland when they taste - and look - this good.



SLA
Various locations

Amsterdam's answer to the healthy eating craze is this chain of salad bars, which are scared around the whole city. Everything on the menu is fresh, organic and most importantly, seasonal. You can also easily create your own salad or make any of the board suggestions vegan and gluten free, if needed.

COTTONCAKE
1e van der Helststraat 76-hs, 1072 NZ 

Because who doesn't love shopping and brunching on a Sunday morning? Especially when the coffee is that good! Hutspot also offers something similar if you find yourself craving a latte while shopping there.

Picture Credit : 30smagazine

PLUK

Marble countertops? Check. Herringbone tiles and floors? Check. Healthy, fresh and delicious food? Check. What's there not to love?

MR PORTER
Spuistraat 175, 1012 VN Amsterdam

Located on the tofloor of the W Hotel, this is the perfect place to unwind and have a few cocktails after a day of exploring. And certainly don't forget to head to the terrace for one of the best views of the city.

Here are a few more places on my list that we unfortunately didn't have time to check out : Wolvenstraat 23 (that wall paper though), Paper Planes (all the eggs),  Frozz (for fro-yo), Café George and the food court, Foodhallen. Maybe next time?


WHERE TO SHOP




If you're after a little bit of shopping, you'll definitely want to walk along Hartenstraat and Gerard Doustraat, where you will find many concept stores, so typical of Northern Europe. Here are a few shops I particularly enjoyed : Anna + Nina, Hutspot, Homesick Records for vinyls, Marie-Sella MarisMaison RikaThing I Like, Things I LoveCircle of TrustAthenaeum Nieuwscentrum for international and independent fashion publications and of course, Dutch label Zoe Karssen's flagship store.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Anything you think I should add to my list for next time? 

- Elodie x

Don't forget you can get £30 / $37 / 30€ off your first Air BnB booking when you sign up here. Happy travels!
  1. I can't wait to visit Amsterdam in October. I've went once before, when I was 17, but we didn't get might sight seeing done. Plus the food scene has completely changed since then. Great guide!

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    1. Oh, I can't wait to see what gems you find there - you always find the best restaurants! x

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  2. I have only been once but we are going back in July. We will be an hour away but plan on spending a few days exploring the City. Such a valuable guide for me now x

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    1. Glad I could help! Have fun on your travels! x

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  3. Looks and sounds amazing it's definitely a city I would love to visit x

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    1. You should definitely go if you can - you won't regret it! x

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  4. this looks lovely i really wanted to go and to place a lock on the bridge but ive since found out thats not longer aloud now which is a shame its such a beautiful place x

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    1. I know! A lot of cities have banned those unfortunately. Amsterdam is just one of them... 😞 x

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  5. This is a great guide, really give so much information on what to see and do and places to stay. I would love to see Amsterdam, and would definitely have to see the Anne Frank House. I would also love to take a boat cruise and see the floating flower market.

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    1. Hope you get to see all those soon! x

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  6. I really like the concept of a city card, I think they do something similar in Rome and I really want to go to Amsterdam to soak up the culture and street art!

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    1. They're so handy, aren't they? x

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  7. I did Amsterdam last year one of my favourite trips, I'm itching to go back!

    www.unwrittenhollywood.co.uk

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  8. What an incredible guide, I am going to save it for when I finally get to go to Amsterdam! xx

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    1. I'm so glad I could help you plan your trip in my own way! x

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  9. Fabulous travel article!!! I have never been! It's so on my wish list. Really lovely photos x

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  10. Wow what a comprehensive guide! I have been to Amsterdam 4 times now but only ever had 6 hours there each time as I visited on a boat trip with DFDS seaways. Im going again in June but flying so will definitely check out your recommendations now that we're staying for 3 days xxx

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    1. I hope you have the best time there! x

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  11. What an awesome guide! I'm hoping to get to Amsterdam this Fall so I'll be bookmarking this!

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  12. Love Amsterdam! My husband I were there a couple of years ago and vowed we'd go back soon. The photos made me smile and remember. Thank-you for your lovely post

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    1. And thank you for your lovely comment! I hope you and your husband get to go back soon. x

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  13. I'm going to Amsterdam on Friday for a long weekend and I am now even more excited, and I'm so glad I booked our Ann Frank tickets x

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    1. Exciting! I hope you had the best weekend there! x

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  14. I've been to Amsterdam a few times before and loved it. Would love to go again this year x

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  15. I've never been to Amsterdam. I would love to go there as it looks great

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  16. Love the gorgeous photos. This is great as a guide there are so many places to go and things to see.

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  17. These photos are fantastic! I want to go to Amsterdam & Scandinavia desperately and I will surely follow your tips.

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    1. I actually have a few more Scandi city guides coming up... Just saying. 😏 x

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  18. Although it has been over 10 years since I visited Amsterdam, it still looks as gorgeous as it did before! :)

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  19. I haven't been there and it looks a beautiful place to visit, I'd love to go there someday

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  20. I would love to go to Amsterdam & this post has made me want to go moree! xo

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  21. Amsterdam is on my bucket list and now I'm even more keen to visit.

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  22. Some great suggestions on places to go and eat when travelling to Amsterdam :) we've yet to stay anywhere with AirBnB but this has given us inspiration x

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    1. Definitely give it a go! It's super easy to use and I've never been disappointed! x

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  23. I have been to Amsterdam a few times now and just absolutely love the place x

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  24. I love Amsterdam, but I haven't been for about 10 years. I have heard some great things about air bnb there!

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  25. Love Amsterdam! This has made me miss European cities a lot - hopefully going back next year and will definitely have to re-visit the cat cafe! x

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  26. I really really really want to go to amsterdam and this has just made me want to go even more! I think I'm definitely going to have to look into going on a short break next year!

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  27. I haven't been to Amsterdam, but it is on my to-visit list. Thanks for sharing your tips.

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  28. I last went to Amsterdam when I was 4. I am now nearly 43! I was due to go in March but had to cancel my plans and now I am really gutted as it looks amazing!!! I will get there at some point x

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    1. Oh no! I hope you get to go soon! x

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  29. I still find it hard to believe I have never been to Amsterdam, it looks so amazing, and, as an art lover, this is the perfect city for me.

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  30. I actually lived near Amsterdam for a couple of months. It really is a beautiful place! And the huge bike park near the train station is amazing!

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