exploring amsterdam

Hi! My name is Kimber and I’m obsessed with Amsterdam. Wandering along the canals is an experience like no other. As one of Europe’s most visited destinations, Amsterdam is a thriving city full of culture.

Whether you prefer to explore by foot, boat or (most popular) bike, it’s easy to see why this city is a top destination. Today I am sharing a list of some of my favorite bars and restaurants in Amsterdam along with a few things you won’t want to miss (check out my guide 2 Days in Amsterdam for more details). 


exploring amsterdam

Amsterdam is also referred to as the “Venice of the North” because of the seemingly endless canal system. It’s full of world-class museums, the infamous Red Light District, and of course, coffee-shops, where smoking marijuana is a perfectly legal and a relaxing pastime. 



Hiii cozy little bar! Paul and I got to experience a light dusting of snow while we were in The Dam. On this particular day, we wandered into a little crooked bar, sitting along the canal to warm up and grab a drink. Café de Sluyswacht looks as though she’s had one-too-many drinks herself, but in the charming way that I’ve never been able to master. Built in 1695 (what?!), she leans to the right and it’s rumored to be an even bigger lean than the Tower of Pisa! 

We walked into the bar and immediately fell in love. This bar is the former home of the sluice master – aka, the person in charge of controlling the water ways. Inside, it feels as if you walked into the old captains quarters of a wooden ship. The floors are so uneven that you actually feel as though you’ve already been drinking. 

Exploring Amsterdam

We cozied up at a corner table and watched the snow fall along the canal. Our bartender made us the best drink ever. Seriously. I would fly back to Amsterdam just for this drink. It was a hot mix of Baileys, Chocomel (Dutch chocolate milk – sooo good), and whipping cream. 

Café de Sluyswacht also had a vegetarian version of Bitterballen, which is a Dutch specialty (basically a deep fried ball of beef). I know, sounds pretty unappealing, but they were actually tasty. I love finding vegetarian friendly version of local delicacies!

exploring amsterdam


Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a super-cool brewery connected to a windmill, sitting along a canal. They offer a wide variety of locally brewed beers at really good prices.

exploring amsterdam

Try a flight to a get a taste for the local beers. It was very cold while we were there and it was still packed. In the summer they have a large patio for extra seating. I would love to sit outside along the canal sipping beers at this spot! Check out the hours before visiting, as they are a little weird!


Developed by a Kiwi and a Brazilian, this brekkie spot is the perfect place to grab a hearty & healthy bite to eat. The inside of Bakers & Roasters is bright & airy with a bit of a Scandy-vibe. They have two locations and offer a ton of  delicious breakfast specialties. I went for the Vege Brekkie and Paul had the Kiwi Brekkie. 

exploring amsterdam


Did you know the Dutch Apple Pie dates back to the 17th Century? Although, the credit for creation actually belong to the English – the first known recipe for apple pie dates back to England in 1381!

Ok, I digress. Apple Pie. Go to Winkel 43 for a fat-slice (is there any other kind?) of this Dutch treat. Situated in the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam, its the perfect place to rest your feet while exploring the shops in this trendy neighborhood. 


Little Collins is a tiny yet cozy brekkie spot near the Albert Cuyp Markt. The menu nods to the food culture of Melbourne with seasonly inspired ingredients. 

I had the vegetarian Waffles & Hollandaise with a portobello mushroom on top of a crispy, savory chive waffle. This is a great little spot, but farther from the city center. I wouldn’t go out of your way to eat here unless you happen to be in the area. 



De 9 Straatjes, orThe 9 Streets, is just a really cute neighborhood full of shops & restaurants. When you picture Amsterdam, this is the spot you’re thinking of! Grab a coffee and wander the canals.

exploring amsterdam

Be sure to keep an eye on all of the buildings. You’ll notice them leaning to the left or right, and even forward! On many houses, you’ll notice a hook on the facade toward the roof line. These hooks allow residents to pull large objects through their windows (like a couch), as the tiny staircases are often too small.  


If you’re looking to experience Amsterdam’s renowned “coffee culture”, you’ll want to visit one of the many coffee shops in the city. Coffee Shops are the spot to legally buy and smoke marijuana. All of these spots  serve, you guessed it, coffee. Alcohol is not allowed to be sold in these establishments. 

Since many people who visit Amsterdam are looking to enjoy weed or hash for the first time, the staff are very knowledgeable and for the most part welcoming.

Coffee Shops

If you’re new to the game, I recommend trying out Dampkring and Kadinsky’s. Dampkring is world famous because the crew from Ocean’s 12 spent a lot of time here. The inside feels like you’ve stepped onto a 70’s movie set. The staff are knowledgeable and the vibe is loud! It can be hard to find a seat, so plan to stand. 

Kandinsky’s is a popular spot for locals. It has a modern atmosphere and cool vibe. The front window overlooking the street is a great spot to people watch! 


The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum specializing in Dutch arts and history. It’s located in Museum Square, near the Van Gogh and Stedelijk Museum. The current building dates back to 1885 and receives over 2 million visitors a year! 

exploring amsterdam

Masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer and Asselijn are among the artists showcased inside. Plan to spend a few hours here to take in the many pieces of art. 

exploring amsterdam

exploring amsterdam exploring amsterdam exploring amsterdam

Exploring Amsterdam

Why not PIN for later?

If you’re looking for more things to do during your time in Amsterdam, check out my post, 2 Days in Amsterdam. Because of its centralized European location, you can easily visit other cities in a short time frame, such as Cologne, Germany or Brussels, Belgium. 


What cities do you enjoy visiting most in Europe?


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  • Emily Keen March 16, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    Fantastic article, Kimber! The photos are stunning and the info is so helpful. I love how cozy it all looks with the moody weather and snow. I’m pretty sure this would be my ideal trip there. Haha. And, I’m so impressed you stay strong with your vegetarian diet while abroad! I was a vegetarian for years and started eating meat again during my first visit to Iceland!

    • aholidayaway@gmail.com March 17, 2019 at 1:04 am

      Thank you, Emily!! I was born and raised a vegetarian, so I don’t deal with temptation in the meat department 🙂 But my husband eats meat, so he always tries the real thing and I get the veggie version – haha! Yes! The moody weather made it so cozy and made me fall in love with the city even more! Thanks again for always reading and being so supportive!