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 – MY FAVORITE BARS, RESTAURANTS & SIGHTS
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.
BARS & RESTAURANTS
CAFE DE SLYSWACHT
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.
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!
BROUWERIJ ‘T IJ
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.
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!
BAKER & ROASTERS
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.
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.
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.
THINGS TO DO
DE 9 STRAATJES
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.
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.
EXPLORE AMSTERDAM’S COFFEE SHOP CULTURE
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.
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!
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.
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?