Amsterdam Travel Guide

After a week in Amsterdam, I have many suggestions on places to go and things to see. I will keep adding over the next few days but for now, here it is…

RESTAURANTS

A great Italian restaurant in the Jordaan is Hostaria. It’s a cosy spot and the fresh pastas, mediterranean-style seafood entrees and wine selections are perfecto.

Yam Yam is a pizza and pasta joint in the Jordaan and I highly recommend checking it out… we loved it. The specialty pizzas featured a delicious truffle sauce along with other seasonal, fresh toppings.

Had dinner at a very good neighborhood place called Kingfisher in the De Pijp where they serve only 2 entree dishes each night along with a selection of small plates. There is a good bar scene after dinner Thurs-Saturday.

I had perfectly cooked filet mignon with 2 sauces for dipping (peppercorn and creamy blue cheese) along with delicious fries at Cafe Quinto, located a block from Kingfisher. Very friendly service and outdoor seating make this a good spot to check out.

A highlight meal was at De Belhamel in the Jordaan. The location is stunning, the dining room beautiful but not stuffy, and diners look directly over Brouwersgracht and Herengracht canals. The food was a bit more expensive (25-35 Euros) but well worth the extra $$.

We had a wonderful meal at Cafe George, and it was a great ‘see and be seen’ spot. We had classic french bistro fare and the restaurant definitely had a buzz of activity.

BARS and CAFES

T’Smalls is a classic Amsterdam old brown cafe. Dark wood bar and tables and shelves lined with aged gin and old wooden barrels. They also have outdoor seating in warm weather directly overlooking the canals.

Proust is a nice little cafe in the Jordaan that serves good sandwiches and soup for lunch and casual food for dinner. It’s located on a lively corner next to Noordermarkt. On the weekends it turns into a fun DJ bar after 10.

Blawe Theehuis is a fun bar and restaurant located in the middle of Vondelpark. We stopped there after a bike ride to refresh and relax with a beer.

Also near Vondelpark is the world famous concert hall, Paradiso. It is housed in an old church and hosts concerts and DJ’s nightly. We tried to get in to a sold-out concert (with no luck) so it will be my first stop when I return.

THINGS TO DO

Rent bikes…we got ours at Frederic Rent A Bike for 10 Euros a day in the Jordaan and they were perfect. There are other companies that rent red and yellow bikes, but they are only for tourists (and locals will be judging your skills!). Frederic rents used local Amsterdam models so you will blend in.

Ride along the Amstel River and enjoy the countryside.

Take a relaxing ride through Vondelpark and stop at one of the cafes or outdoor theaters.

Walk around the Jordaan and get lunch at one of the many outdoor cafes that line the canals.

Find a local to take you on a boat for a canal tour. We got lucky enough to have an Amsterdam friend take us on a 5 hour ride, complete with Prosecco, snacks, and a stop to watch the sunset.

Check out the design shops that feature local talents. We loved The Frozen Fountain and Moooi.

Go to the Saturday morning organic famers market in Noordermart. The food is local and delicious…and the cheeses and fresh breads are amazing!

Visit the Van Gogh Museum...and get the audio tour which is very interesting and educational.

Check out The Movies movie theater. They have a great bar/cafe attached so you should arrive early to enjoy. Movies are screened in their original language with dutch subtitles.

RANDOM TIPS

Amsterdam is a casual town so don’t worry about getting too dressed up. Walking is the preferred mode of transportation for most visitors so be prepared.

The most useful guide we had was the Knopf Mapguides, Amsterdam. All of our local friends looked at recommendations listed in this small but thorough guide and gave it the thumbs-up.

If you have a computer, try to get a skype account before you go. It ended up being the most reliable way to make local and long distance calls, and it’s free if you call skype to skype. Long distance calls cost almost nothing as well…