Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands with 825,000 residents. It’s situated in the western part of the country, in the North Holland province. The city originated as a fishing village and later as a port and is built around the Amstel River. Canals were built as part of a city planning effort in the 17th century, and these historic canals are now on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Known as the hometown of Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh, Amsterdam today is rich with culture and history. Since the 70’s, it’s become a popular spot for bikers and recreational pot smokers who take advantage of the city’s tolerant cannabis policies. Read on for more recommendations about where to go on your Amsterdam trip from local Elizabeth.
THE LOCAL: Elizabeth
WHY YOU SHOULD TRUST HER: Elizabeth, 28, is a transplant from the States who lives in Central Amsterdam and works for a video marketing firm in the city. Elizabeth spends much of her time with her Hagelslag-eating Dutch (born and raised!) colleagues who aren’t fond of typical tourist attractions. These friends believe deep in their core that the best way is the ‘Dutch way’!!
1. Favorite Street to Stroll in Amsterdam?
Besides strolling on the four main canal streets (anything that ends in ‘gracht’) there are many little streets that cut through the canals. Laurierstraat, Reestraat and Hartenstraat are great for boutique shopping, Tweede Anjeliersdwarsstraat and Tweede Tuindwarsstraat are skinny/lively streets in the Jordaan with small restaurants, coffee and gelato, and Amstel has beautiful scenery and great house boats.
2. Best Coffee Shop or Bakery?
I love Kaasland for bread and cheese. Holland has amazing cheese, and much of it is referred to as old cheese and new cheese (oude kaas & nieuwe kaas). I read a stat recently that said the Dutch eat 14.3 kilos (31 pounds) of cheese per person/year… so they know their cheese! My favorite is the cheese stick, a long, twisted bread with baked cheese on top. Kassland is located at Haarlemmerstraat 2. My favorite coffee shop is Two for Joy Coffee Roaster because they serve drip or filter coffee (yes, I’m American!) but for a cappuccino and beautiful interiors, go to Ree 7.
3. Best Area to Shop Local?
The 9 Small Streets – De 9 Straatjes or Utrechtse Straat
4. Favorite Sunny Day Agenda?
Rent a bike for the day (I recommend this company) and spend your afternoon in Vondelpark, a huge, beautiful park with quieter areas if you feel like reading and relaxing as well as crowded areas with locals playing guitar and BBQing. If you’re visiting in the summertime, Kanen bij Ten Kate is an awesome food truck festival that occurs from May through July on Thursday nights. If it’s not the summertime, check out Brouwerij ‘t IJ. They have delicious microbeers brewed in Holland. It has a great outdoor patio under it’s windmill structure.
5. Most Essential Amsterdam Tip?
Do not walk in the streets, or a biker WILL hit you with NO shame! Also, you have to try bitterballen, which is basically fried balls with a creamy, beef paste in the center.
ELIZABETH’S FAVORITE AMSTERDAM RESTAURANTS
- Arendsnest Dutch Beer Bar– This place has an amazing selection of Dutch beers. The Dutch call cozy places like this a ‘bruin cafe’ or brown bar.
- Hap Hmm – This restaurant serves Dutch comfort food like warm veggies, stew, potatoes and meat balls.
- Fier – This is a good spot for brunch, drinks and burgers.
- Harlem Soul Food – A good lunch spot with sandwiches and salads
- SLA – This is a great spot for the health-concious. They have a create-your-own salad concept
- Shahjahan Indian restaurant
- Bird Thai Restaurant
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE ATTRACTIONS
1. The Rijksmuseum (National Museum) – Thumbs Up
2. Anne Frank House (Anne Frankhuis) – Thumbs Up
3. Sightseeing Tours – Depends. I usually don’t like how touristy these can be, but I do love taking boats on the canals in Amsterdam. With several tour companies, you can bring your own wine and beer on the the boat, and they’ll teach you some interesting facts about the city. Renting a boat is a better option if you prefer a more intimate cruising experience.
5. The Jordaan – Thumbs Up. I absolutely love living in the Jordaan. There are plenty of things to do within a close proximity.