Planning a trip to Amsterdam? We’ve got you covered! After spending an extended weekend in the Dutch capital we can happily confirm we are well and truly in love (and not just because of the abundance of fresh stroopwafels at every corner). Only a seven hour flight from JFK, Amsterdam holds a special place in many New Yorkers’ hearts – after all, our city was originally named New Amsterdam. From quaint canal tours to traditional gin tastings and exquisite dining experiences, read on to discover our favorite things to see and do in Amsterdam, along with a selection of places to stay and eat.
Stay: Each of Amsterdam’s diverse neighborhoods offers truly unique microcultures. Nestled between Prinsengracht and Keizergracht, the Pulitzer is a hotel unlike any other in town. Comprised of twenty-five fully restored canal houses, each room feels entirely individual and is exceptionally well-appointed with thoughtful details. Be sure to ask for a canal view, if only for the people watching. If quirky interiors are your thing, head to the Andaz, also on Prinsengracht. Originally a public library, the building boasts many historic features that interior designer Marcel Wanders seamlessly incorporated into various spaces including the dazzling lobby. For those looking for ultimate independence try Airbnb. Amsterdam is rife with centrally-located, budget-friendly properties which should definitely be considered, especially for extended stays.
Explore: Thankfully most of Amsterdam is easy to explore by foot (the brave can easily rent bikes). Enjoy gentle strolls and the picture-book perfect canal houses that line each of the central canals encircling ‘Het Dam’ or Dam Square – the epicenter of the city. Alternatively, choose to hop on one of several canal tours and experience Amsterdam from a truly unique perspective, learning about the history of the city from local guides.
Amsterdam has an incredibly rich art scene. All conveniently located in the Museum Square are the Rijksmusuem, the Van Gogh Musuem and the Stedelijk Museum, as well as MOCO, which is focused on modern, contemporary and street art. The newly renovated Rijksmuseum houses Rembrandt’s infamous Night Watch among several other treasures hailing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. Just a short walk from the Rijksmuseum is the Van Gogh Museum, which is home to some of the artist’s most celebrated works (including Sunflowers, Irises, and The Potato Eaters). Contemporary gallery lovers are in luck as Amsterdam is home to a plethora of world-class spaces. Visit Galerie Fons on Bloemenstraat if only for its bunker-inspired galleries, or W139 on Warmoesstraat which initially started as an illegal squat in the 1970s, growing to become the well-respected institution it is today. Plan ahead to avoid the crowds by pre-ordering your museum ticket online.
Caffeine Fix: Although Amsterdam is renowned for its pancakes and stroopwafels (caramel-filled wafer biscuits), the city’s coffee culture is incredibly vibrant due to the Dutch and their age-old obsession with hot beverages. Start your day at Toki, an intimate neighborhood café which oozes an incredibly chill vibe and serves some of the best specialty roast in town. For something slightly more Instagrammable try Pluk, if only for its beautifully designed interior and exterior courtyard, plus the elaborate florals baked goods arrangements. A true concept café, visit Pluk to sample homemade treats including gluten-free and vegan-friendly options.
Shop: For your traditional line-up of luxury retailers be sure to visit the P.C. Hoofstraat and de Bijenkorf, but for something typically Dutch venture to Droog. Offering a different perspective on retail and design, this concept space includes a café, exhibit space and a single hotel room on the top floor of an otherwise traditional townhouse. If you’re a fan of flowers be sure to check out Gerda’s on Runstraat for everything from simple stems to elaborate centerpieces. (Pro-tip: flowers are the ultimate hostess gift in The Netherlands, especially tulips).
Dine: From traditional Dutch cuisine to international fare and specialty options, Amsterdam won’t leave any foodie disappointed. For something charming and easy try Venus & Adonis on the Prinsengracht, which specializes in gastropub delights and craft cocktails. Decide to venture off the beaten track and try Terpentijn in the heart of town. Boasting an incredibly unique French/Asian fusion menu, be sure to try an assortment of their street food including fresh spring rolls and dim sum. On the go? Amsterdam is full of delicious and convenient options that are also very budget friendly. From rows of fried food vending machines at Febo, to fresh herring rolls at Lucky’s Vispaleis, or to-go noodles via Wok to Walk just remember the city really does have something to satisfy for everyone.
No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Anne Frank House (52.3752° N, 4.8840° E). Not only is the house, its former inhabitants and their collective stories a somber reminder of Europe’s dark history, it also serves as a dynamic cultural pillar for the city and its visitors to remember our humanity and to celebrate diversity of all kinds. Tickets for the Anne Frank House are mostly available online and are released two months in advance, so plan accordingly.
Aside from museums and monuments, Amsterdam’s inherent liberal culture means relaxing at a ‘Coffeeshop’ while smoking premium (and legal) strains of expertly-grown marijuana is completely acceptable. Pro-tip: avoid the coffeeshops lining the Leidseplein and opt for a more premium experience. Try Barney’s Coffeeshop on the Harlemmerstraat, if only for its traditional apothecary-inspired interior or Grey Area on Oude Leliestraat. This Amsterdam hotspot is an old favorite among locals and celebrities including Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg. For the highest quality baked goods, edibles and packaging, don’t miss Boerejongens Center Coffeeshop. Club-goers have multiple, world-class options to choose from although our favorite is Shelter. First opened in 2016, this relatively new club emits an underground vibe (probably because guests enter via a hatch) with tantalizing trance and techno beats that have guests going till morning. For anyone looking to satisfy their vices head to the Red Light District, where Amsterdam’s notorious sex workers entice willing customers by sitting in glass windows.