Before Setting Off
Reserve a room at one of Amsterdam’s many excellent boutique, affordable or luxury hotels. For centrality, comfort and style make sure to check out Art’Otel Amsterdam, or Conservatorium Hotel. Travelling on a budget? Take a look at our backpacking guide to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam’s bustling historic centre gravitates around the oldest building in the city, de Oude Kerk. This ancient church is steeped in history and has stood in Amsterdam for over 800 years. Today, the church acts as a cultural centre and regularly hosts exhibitions and concerts. There’s also a charming café hidden inside, which serves delicious sandwiches and coffee from 10.00 onwards.
Amsterdam’s 17th-century canal belt curves around its city centre and is within easy walking distance from de Oude Kerk. Many tours and cruises operate on the canals which allow visitor to experience the waterways by boat whilst learning more about their area’s fascinating history.
Although it is always tempting to stay inside central Amsterdam, the city’s outlying neighbourhoods have plenty to offer inquisitive travellers. Amsterdam-Oost, for example, features an impressive number of awesome hang-outs including a craft brewery sprawled underneath a gigantic windmill, called Brouweij het IJ, which keeps its charming beer garden open until 20.00.
From Brouwerij het IJ it is only a short tram ride to Plantage, a particularly green neighbourhood on Amsterdam-Centrum’s eastern borders. Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo is located within this beautiful quarter and organises late evening events throughout the warmer months of the year. For dinner and drinks, stop by Café-Restaurant Plantage, an open-plan brasserie that backs onto the zoo’s flamingo enclosure.
Over the past few years Amsterdam’s de Pijp neighbourhood has become an absolute paradise for foodies and features many excellent breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurants. For glorious poached eggs, chic design and artisanal coffee make sure to check out the Scandinavian Embassy on Sarphatipark.
Amsterdam’s Museumplein lies just beyond de Pijp and features many of the city’s principle cultural institutes including the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk and Van Gogh Museum. It is worth deciding beforehand which of these museums to visit, as their collections are particularly extensive.
To soak up some local modern architecture, head west through Vondelpark towards Overtoom or Kinkerstraat. These residential streets are particularly beautiful and feature many charming buildings from the last century. On Kinkerstraat, take a pit stop at De Hallen and check out the building’s massive food court where dozens of local culinary experts sell their creations.
As de Hallen contains an arthouse cinema and several bars, it is exceptionally easy to spend the whole night chilling out inside the building. However, there are many other excellent watering-holes within de Hallen’s vicinity, including Kevin Bacon Bar, which serves spot-on cocktails and killer Thai food, or Waterkant on Singelgracht, which might have the best canal side terrace in Amsterdam.