I have been living in the Dutch Capital for three short months. It’s been super intense, it’s been fast and it feels like it was just 2 days. There is so much going on, there is so much to see and learn.
The history of the city is everywhere, but here time has moved on. And it has became one of the most modern and advances places in our world.
After some time in Amsterdam I got to know only a tiny part of the interesting places to see… But its a start and here I share them with you.
In the past 10 years Amsterdam had grown in size and population on a exponential number. More and more students arrive to the city every year, and rarely leave after graduation (Which makes the possibilities to find a good place to live very slim).
The biggest problem in Amsterdam, as you may heard, is to find where to live permanently. It takes time, patience and a full control of your desperation because there are plenty of scammers ready to take advantage of our desire to find a place. Be aware. It is practically impossible to afford to live in the city center if you are less than rich.
But Amsterdam is more, much more, than the Red Light District and the thousands of Coffee Shops* around. Amsterdam is a melting pot of cultures, nationalities, modern and old buildings telling their history at every corner. It is constant trip back and forth from and to the past. From the Colonial Power time as the one of biggest traders of history, to the dark and difficult times of WWII to the modern and cool today’s Amsterdam.
Things to see by area
- Central Station: The entrance to the city. The point of departure and arrival. Modern and well organized. Most method of transport arrive and/or depart from here. You can also take the free ferry to Amsterdam Noord from here (at the other side of the Canal).
- Dam Square: Center of life in Central Amsterdam. Here you will find the Royal Palace (not working as Governmental building anymore since all gov. has been moved to The Hague). Madam Tusseau’s museum, Ripleys, tons of shops, resturants from all over the world, etc. This is THE tourist point in Amsterdam… which takes me to mention the number one tourist attraction in the city:
- Red Light District: The most famous area in Amsterdam. The place is by the coast and port and used to be where the sailors arrived from their trips. And because these men where looking for a drink an a lady’s company, this is where all the party and (legal) prostitution is located.
Tons of Coffee Shops, restaurants, bars, sex shops, and everything you could imagine. Next to the “windows” where some of the most beautiful women you could find are standing offering their services. Be aware that you can’t take pictures of them, and please be respectful with them. These women are organized, have an union and rights. 10 points for The Netherlands for that. An advances society indeed.
- Chinatown: The oldes Chinatown in the World. Yep. Here in Amsterdam. This is the first settlement of Chinese outside China making it the first Chinatown in the world.
- Anne Frank House: The number 1 tourist attraction in Amsterdam
This museum is located just a walk away from Dam Square. The tickets are usually sold out months ahead, so prepare well in advance if you want to visit it. Lines outside can be blocks-long and you could spend hours waiting if you don’t have a reserved ticket. The doors open after 15:00 for people that doesn’t have a ticket.
Ticket price: € 9,50 adults and € 5,- children – For more info go to their Website.
Rights across the canal from Anne Frank House you will access My most favorite neighborhood in Amsterdam: The Jordaan.
Old workers’ neighborhood is one of the most hip and expensive areas to live in.
Full of bohemian cafes and stores, cool shops and tranquil cute streets. Also location of my favorite market in town.
By the way: Open Markets are a thing in Amsterdam. And believe me, you won’t find better quality goods than on these markets.
Noordermarkt: My absolute favorite. Located in Jordaan, surrounding the Noorderkerk (church). Opens Saturdays and Monday and Saturday from 9 AM. Full of local produce, freshly baked bread and muffins. Hand brewed coffee, the finest cheeses and much, much more. If you love the organic kinda life, you will love the open markets in Amsterdam.
All around the market you will also find a lot of cafés, restaurants and stores. The one worth special mention is the famous Winkel 43 and Oh… My… God… their Apple pie.
People make long lines every day to get a taste of this heavenly goodness. and I know, you must think “It’s just apple pie!” but no, I assure you: it is like all the beautiful things in the world would taste in your mouth. A before and after ❤
Albert Cuypmarkt: The most famous of them. And for a reason: the best street food, flavors and smells will be found here. Do not miss it out! Although be aware the secret is out, so is super touristy.
Waterlooplein Market: a smaller market, you will mainly find goods for sale (and illegal/stolen bikes, abstain from buying them here).
Market at Frankendael Park: My personal favorite park, since its two steps from my house and very quiet! Excepts the last Sunday of the month, when it host the most amazing farmers market, barbecues and live music.
Somebody said Shopping?
- 9 street District: Area of local stores and independent brands. Very cool and hipster but upscale. Near Anne Frank house and the Centrum.
- The Spui: My favorite open square with tons of restaurants and cafes, shops and more. At this point starts to get more touristy again, but its worth checking out. A good restaurant recommendation here is Kantjil & the Tiger. An indonisian speciality, considering the big amount of Indonesian population brought up during time of colonization, they have brought Indonesia to us.
- Kalvenstraat: The #1 shop street in Amsterdam. All the international brands, all the shops and all the tourist meet here. Specially during weekends.
The parks are one of the most beautiful things of the city. And I am very proud of what they have done to keep these spaces, even if the city affronts a shortage of housing.
They are huge and peaceful. The most famous and the biggest one in the city is Vondelpark. It also has a tea house from the early 1900’s and hosts music festivals during Summer. It is located in the South- West area of Amsterdam Centrum. Take a break in the sun from the buzzing city.
Although the oldest park in town is Oosterpark. This park is in the Eastern part of Central Amsterdam.
Sloterplas: A little far out to the West of Amsterdam, but very much quieter than the first two. It also has a big lake in the center and very nice areas for jogging and picnic.
Rembrandt Park: A smaller version of the previous parks but worth visiting because of the huge amount of trees and chill areas. It also has small lakes 🙂
Hortus Botanicus: This is one spot to relax and enjoy nature, even when its raining in Amsterdam, like usually does. The botanical garden is set to display all the different flora, climates and environments from the world. Located in the Plantage district, and one of the oldest in the world.
The most famous and big museums are located all together at the Museum Quarter on the Eastern side of Vondelpark. It is an area full of cafés and green. Perfect to chill on a sunny day.
My favorite is the Rijks, but Van Gogh is world famous. I recommend you to always reserve your ticket online prior to arrival. You will save a lot of time!!!
Art district: Near the Rijks Museum and full of art galleries, this cool area of the Center is just a master piece in itself.
Outside the Rijks you will see the famous: IAmsterdam Sign.
- Amsterdam Noord
The upcoming next thing part of Amsterdam. The most well known point is the A’Dam Tower, which hosts a 360 view restaurant, a hotel and more, it has the World’s highest Swings! You can literally swing over the border at the roof. It is a scary and exciting experience, and let’s accept it: We all love swings.
Like in any other touristy city, it is difficult to find a good restaurant. The basic recommendation is: stay away from touristy areas, do not buy food there.
If you are in a budget head for the super markets like Dirk or Albert Heijn, both offer freshly made food to go. If you want to enjoy a nice meal: plan in advance, know where to go before even leave the hotel.
There is no such thing as “Dutch Cuisine”. The Dutch were navigators back in the Imperial days, trading they travelled all around the world and incorporated influences from every culture they met, to their language, culture and of course: food.
That is why you could find food from all over the world in one street of Amsterdam. It is the max example of multicultural city.
There are tons of good French and Italian restaurants, not to mention the thousands Argentinians steak houses across town. Another specialty of the city: Indonesian Food, another legacy of the Imperial Dutch past.
Being said so, yes there are some Dutch classical dishes. But do not expect to find many Dutch restaurants.
The most famous Dutch dishes are: Pancakes, Croquettes, Gouda Cheese, Toasties and classical Dutch Waffles.
*The best restaurants I have tried:
Van Pufflen: world food with a Dutch touch. The most “traditional” and local place. Johannes is also Dutch but on the upscale side.
Envy: Mediterranean food and a cool, modern place.
Kantjil & The Tiger: Great Indonesian option and the famous Rijs tables!!
Pancakes upstairs: Pancakes done right. Entrance by very narrow and steep stairs up to the homemade Pancakes heaven.
My relationship with the city of Amsterdam is very new. I came here with no expectations, but with very determined goals. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I feel I discover it (and myself) every day a little more.
Coming from my beloved and chaotic Rome, this city seems so laid back and organized. Only time will tell if we are meant for each other…
“It doesn’t matter where you are or who you are with. The only thing that matters is how you feel inside and with yourself”.