Do you want to disconnect from your daily life and spend a few days in a mythical city, just a few hours by TGV from France? welcome to Amsterdam, one of the most popular capitals in Europe! If you are wondering what to do in Amsterdam, this article is for you.
Charming, cultural, alternative or even romantic, there is no shortage of words to describe this true nugget of the Netherlands, capable of satisfying all travelers who go there, whether as a couple, with family or with friends.
A few weeks ago, I visited Amsterdam again, this city in perpetual motion and came back with my eyes and mind filled. So I will share with you all my favorites for your next weekend in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, what is it?
Famous the world over for its canals, museums and even its port, Amsterdam is the European city par excellence. If it is not the capital of the Netherlands, it is undoubtedly its cultural heart, resolutely turned towards the future.
With a population of just over 800,000 inhabitants, Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in Europe with a rather young tourism, in search of new experiences but also of culture, whether classic or more alternative. .
A real mix of tradition and modernity that I could feel during my stay for a few days in this little Dutch treasure. I offer you here my favorites, my advice and my tips for a more than perfect stay in Amsterdam.
My must-sees in Amsterdam
Stroll through the canals
It’s hard not to marvel at the classic beauty of the city and just strolling, strolling through the streets and canals of Amsterdam is a must in itself. These mythical canals are also classified as Unesco World Heritage and we quickly understand why. With a total of around one hundred kilometers and more than 1,500 bridges crossing them, you have plenty to marvel at along these waterways that are so mythical and characteristic of Amsterdam.
Stroll through the Jordaan district
It is THE trendy district of Amsterdam, with a bourgeois-bohemian village atmosphere and numerous spots typical of what one imagines in the city. Picturesque canals, designer boutiques, concept stores or even wonderfully decorated houses, it is a real breath for the soul to stroll through the small alleys of this sublime postcard-like neighborhood. Stop at one of the famous brown cafes in the area to feel and soak up the whole atmosphere of the city.
Local flair in De Pijp
Further south of the city you will find the small district of De Pijp, more popular and on the way to becoming one of the trendiest areas in Amsterdam. Fewer tourists and therefore more local, this corner of the city, formerly rather reserved for the working class, impresses with its much greener and more airy side, in particular thanks to the Sarphatipark in which you stroll in the middle of greenery in an idyllic setting.
But De Pijp is also a real entertainment in the evening with many concept stores, restaurants and bars, each more trendy than the next, to taste the historic and dynamic soul of the city.
My alternative Amsterdam
The NDSM district
Change of scenery and atmosphere as we go to the far north of the city in the incredible alternative district of NDSM. To get there, board a ferry from the platform in front of the central station and in a few minutes, a whole new world awaits you.
Former industrial wastelands, it is now a creative district that gives pride of place to street art, made up of old hangars and containers completely transformed into museums, galleries, offices, bars and restaurants.
The STRAAT, museum of graffiti and street art
In the heart of the NDSM district, you will find the STRAAT, the museum of graffiti and street art and I promise you that you will be amazed. It is in a huge 8,000 square meter hangar that you can admire the more than 150 masterpieces exhibited by the greatest street artists of the moment, such as Findac, Alice Pasquini or even Sipros. A pure wonder not to be missed.
The green districts of Schoonschip and De Ceuvel
When leaving the district to go to the A’Dam tower, stop for a few minutes to admire the crazy project of Schoonschip, a brand new floating district totally independent and energy sustainable. This district, developed directly by its 144 current inhabitants, is made up of 45 lofts on the water, all equipped with solar panels and heat pumps for an annual gas consumption equal to 0!
A few meters from Schoonschip, stroll through the mini alleys of the incredible De Ceuvel district. More than a bar with a little hippie atmosphere, De Ceuvel is a real place where ideas bubble and come to life, founded on an old port which was so polluted that it was abandoned. Today, plants have cleaned this soil of all pollution and there are offices, workshops, associations and even a hotel.
La Tour A’Dam
To finish this trip through Amsterdam, I suggest you take a little height. Or rather a lot of height, exactly 100 meters above sea level, at the top of the A’Dam tower. Up there, a bar and a 360 ° restaurant await you for a breathtaking view of the whole city, with the canals and the historic center on one side but also the port on the other.
How about climbing a bit more to find yourself on the roof? This is the unusual activity of the A’Dam tower with a swing directly installed up there, on the roof. For just 5 euros and with a strong heart, you can swing above the void admiring a breathtaking view. To have done it, it’s impressive!
Getting around Amsterdam
If there is one form of transport that you should absolutely try across the city, it is definitely the bicycle, a true emblem of the city and of the Dutch lifestyle. Amsterdam being a very flat city with as many cycle paths as there are roads, it is very easy to move around the city with pedals and doorbells. To give you an idea of the city’s cycling culture, it is said that 40% of trips in Amsterdam are made by bicycle!
Faced with such a phenomenon, it is obviously very easy to rent bicycles of all kinds throughout the city.
By tram, bus or metro
If you want to rest your calves a little, which have already traveled quite a few kilometers, the city’s bus and tram network is very well supplied, with passages for both means of transport which are made between 6 a.m. and midnight. , all through 12 bus lines and 17 tram lines. The metro is also preferred by some, especially because it reaches more distant areas on the outskirts of the city.
Single tickets are sold at 2.80 euros but you can get the GVB Dagkaartest, which allows you to travel at will throughout the network for 1 to 7 days.
On a boat
With all these canals and this rich maritime network, it is obviously possible to travel by boat, in particular by riverboat to cross the city from a whole new point of view, for around 15 euros for an hour of ride.
The city also offers a large network of Ferries to connect quickly and free the center and the north of the city of Amsterdam. These are managed by the same company as the buses, trams and subways.
For your trip to Amsterdam, I advise you to opt for the I Amstardam City Card pass, which gives you access to more than 70 museums, the entire public transport network (including ferries), a walk on the canals and a bike rental!
Where to eat in Amsterdam?
Symbol of a city in perpetual motion and of a successful mix of cultures, food occupies a very important place throughout the city. My stomach and I have tested a lot of places and I list all my favorites here.
- Le FC Hyena – Aambeeldstraat 24, 1021 KB Amsterdam
Located in the NDSM district at the water’s edge, FC Hyena is probably the most unusual restaurant I have done since it is also … cinema! In a decor (well) made of odds and ends, the kitchen completely open to the room lets its scents escape and is responsible for making you hungry. A real treat !
- Pllek – T.T. Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB Amsterdam
Also located in the NDSM district, Pllek is a restaurant / bar with an industrial chic atmosphere, set up inside old containers. A simple and quality menu, a superb variety of beers, vegetables grown on site for a lower carbon footprint on the environment make this restaurant a real must!
- Lombardo’s – Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 50, 1017 DG Amsterdam
Located in the city center, this restaurant focused on street food and in particular burger is a real nugget discovered by chance, and very probably one of the best burgers that I have eaten in my life (and I can tell you that I have some. ate a few…). I will go back, that’s for sure!
- Cafe ‘t Smalle – Egelantiersgracht 12, 1015 RL Amsterdam
Another little nugget discovered by chance during my strolls, this time for breakfast. Located in the Jordaan district, this quaint little café on the edge of a canal is the perfect place to take a short break in an idyllic setting. It’s the kind of place where you sit down for a simple coffee and where you find yourself spending hours there.
Where to go out in Amsterdam?
A resolutely young and dynamic city, nightlife is very present in Amsterdam and here again, there is something for everyone. Here are some of my favorites for going for a drink in the evening, after a good burger!
- Brewery Het IJ – Funenkade 7, 1018 AL Amsterdam
Quite simply a beer lover’s paradise! Well installed at the foot of a huge windmill, this brasserie is a real treasure where you can taste one of the many beers brewed on site in front of a small platter of cold meats. Get there relatively early as the bar is a victim of its success and very popular with locals.
- Flying Dutchmen Cocktails – Singel 460, 1017 AW Amsterdam
With its retro and intimate style, the Flying Dutchmen Cocktails bar is a real gem for all cocktail lovers. With more than 800 à la carte spirits and talented mixologists, this bar was quite simply voted best cocktail bar in 2018 and in the Top 10 of the best cocktail bar in Europe in 2019. Do you really need to tell you more ?
Where to sleep in Amsterdam?
During my stay in Amsterdam, I had the chance to live an unusual experience, sleeping in old huts of bridge keepers! the Sweets Hotel has in fact renovated 28 of these former lodges of all sizes to make them real little marvels of hotel rooms, directly placed on the bridges of the city. Designer, cozy rooms offering breathtaking views of the city’s canals, to the delight of architecture enthusiasts. In the evening, it is even common to observe from the front row the bridges rise to let the boats pass. Playing bridge guard and falling asleep to the sound of water in the heart of the city, a totally unusual experience that I recommend 100% to you!
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