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Best Things To Do In Amsterdam

 

Amsterdam conjures up many different thoughts in many different people, from classic architecture to liberal beliefs and laws the city has it all.  Old buildings towering over old canals is the image that most of us think of, but once you get past the superficial splendor you find that there is so much more to the city.  There are few places in the world with such a tolerant culture as the Dutch.  Activities which are taboo in other cultures are accepted here so long as they are deemed not harmful to society, or at least that they will be less harmful if regulated and controlled rather than shoved to the fringes. 
But what are the best things to do in Amsterdam? With excellent food and cooking techniques borrowed from around the world, influenced by the long Dutch history as a trading empire there are a host of great restaurants to sample from.  But the depth of culture does not come close to stopping there, the Dutch celebrate their long history of great artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt with great museums.  The country its self is and engineering marvel with much of the land reclaimed from the sea, and a levy system in place 100 years ago that would put many of the systems used in other countries today to shame. 

Who but the Dutch can claim such a vibrant colour (vivid orange in this case) as their own? Simply put, there is no other place on earth like the Netherlands. And there is no place like Amsterdam, from the culture and famed coffeeshops to the architecture and canals. The city's beauty is hard to overestimate, and yet a surfeit of stunning metropoles are only hours, or even minutes, away by train. Haarlem, Groningen City, Rotterdam, Utrecht City, Den Haag, Leiden, Delft, Maastricht - the list goes on. You’re nursing a drink in a canal café when you hear Bach. A man with a wild hairdo is playing organ and trumpet on a nutshell of a boat, while his feet do the steering. Only in Amsterdam, and today is no different. While you won't likely run into Bach (except for in the was museum), celebrities from all around the world enjoy visiting this cultural hot bed for relaxation. The unique culture, history, architecture and attractions make Amsterdam one of the world's top 10 travel destinations.

Amsterdam Cafes

Coffee Shops

Amsterdam is a city where you can take certain liberties like no where else in the world. It is notable for its famed coffee shops and visiting them on your vacation is certainly one of the top 10 things to do in Amsterdam. Also a home of great food, art, culture and liberal thought; it is a must see destination.

Baba

Not the thriftiest shop you can visit, and the space cakes are a little on the weak side, but the weed has a punch that could knock out a heavy weight boxer.  If you have some free time Baba is a great place to grab a Cannabis Cup winner and spend an hour people watching.

  Dampkring

Want to enjoy Amsterdam like a movie star?  Visit Dampkring a coffee shop featured in Oceans Twelve.  Boasting a variety of strains of cannabis which regularly win awards in the Cannabis Cup, Dampkring is an originally designed shop with a stylish but cozy interior and visiting it is one of the top things to do on your Amsterdam vacation. 

Dutch Flowers

Not far from Damokring, Dutch Flowers is a pleasant coffee shop for those who don’t want to hang out in an outlandish bar just to experience a Dutch coffee shop.  The atmosphere in Dutch Flowers makes it the perfect place to enjoy a toke and watch the game on TV. 

Greenhouse

This ultra modern coffee shop boasts a wide range of famous patrons.  This is where the stars smoke in style when they’re in Amsterdam.  With glass floors and walls covered in Sanskrit this shop is not like any other.  Located near the center of the city, Greenhouse is a perfect place to drop by when you’re headed to any of the great museums in the city.

Grey Area

Grey Area is small, and does not have much in the way of comfort, however this is more than made up for by the quality of the cannabis they provide.  If you want to enjoy the wares of this shop however, come early because the hours are shorter than the average for coffee shops.

Homegrown Fantasy

Conveniently located near several hostels in Amsterdam Homegrown Fantasy is a popular coffee shop with an unassuming exterior concealing a beautiful interior in fine Dutch fashion.  This coffee shop features an art gallery, for the appreciation of the customers and is one of the best places to visit in Amsterdam. 

La Tertulia

The outside of this coffee shop is decorated with a beautiful mural with Vincent Van Gogh reaching out of the wall to shake your hand right next to the door.  In front of the shop there are several tables for the patrons to sit at and enjoy a board game on nice days.  The interior has a great natural feel with a large window giving light to plants inside and the shop.

Other Side

This alternative lifestyle coffee shop (hence the name Other Side) features great cannabis such as super skunk, as well as a variety of hash.  The atmosphere is non-judgemental and comfortable for both gay people and strait people alike. 

  B Van B Café

The B Van B Café in the Beurs van Berlage is a historic building with stunning architecture, has delicious menu including lasagna, croquettes, steak, and the same variety of sandwiches you can expect from a reputable café.  Going to the café also allows you a chance to see the beautiful architecture and murals by famous Dutch artist Jan Toorop done in 1903, even if the building is not open to the general public when you happen to be there. 

Café de Jaren

With an airy terrace overlooking one of Amsterdam’s many canals, Café de Jaren has become a favorite of tourists and locals alike.  Going against the typical cramped European style, the café is one of the largest in the city with high ceilings and plenty of elbow room.  Whether you’re there from brunch or an evening meal the food more than matches the quality of the ambiance, so this is one stop you won’t regret.

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Amsterdam Delicacies

Food

Best things to eat and drink in Amsterdam and the best places to eat them

Bazar Amsterdam

Drawing from strong trading roots the Dutch have an eclectic food culture, exemplified by the excellent Middle-Eastern cuisine which can be found at Bazar Amsterdam.  Enjoy exotic dishes cooked with exceptional skill, or just stop by for some baklava after dinner. 

Betty's

For those travelers wanting a vegan or vegetarian experience in Amsterdam there is Betty’s.  Widely considered to have the best vegan/vegetarian food in the country, the menu at Betty’s is short but ever-changing.  The tables and the interior are cozy, and the desert options are excellent, so whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or just feel like something different, Betty’s will be able to suit your tastes.

Barney's

A perennial favorite of tourists from around the world, barneys is a great place to try world class cannabis, such as the Cannabis Cup winning Caramella Cream - one of the top ten things to smoke in Amsterdam.  Then once you have worked up an appetite head down the block to the café for a large brunch with their all day breakfast.  Or if you want the experience without losing the brain cells the brunch is delicious by it’s self as well.

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Your Stay in Amsterdam

Hotels

The greatest places to sleep in Amsterdam

  Hotel de Filosoof

Anna van den vondelstraat 6, Amsterdam 1054 GZ, Netherlands

This three star hotel has a unique setup, Hotel de Filosoof, which translates to “The Philosopher Hotel,” has each room themed after a different philosopher.  Conveniently located near beautiful Vondel park, you could not ask for a better location in Amsterdam.

Lloyd Hotel

Oostelijke Handelskade 34, Amsterdam 1019 BN, Netherlands

Whether you have a one star budget, or a five star budget, the Lloyd Hotel can accommodate you.  The interior has classical but contemporary look that pleases the senses.  What makes the Lloyd hotel most popular however is the social atmosphere, the tables in the café are the long community table style where it is encouraged that you share with strangers, they also face each other making inter-table conversation natural.

Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken

Jan Luijkenstraat 58, Amsterdam 1071 CS, Netherlands

This four star hotel is built into 3 renovated town houses.  Located across from both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum you will have some of the best spots in the city right at your doorstep.  The hotel its self has great amenities including a Turkish Steambath, Jacuzzi, and a superb wine bar.

  NH Hotel Doelen

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 24, Amsterdam 1012, Netherlands

Located next to the Amstel river and right on the Kloveniersburgwal canal, the NH Hotel Doelen offers guests comfortable clean rooms with classical styling that would satisfy any guest.  The food in the restaurant is hearty and delicious and the staff is polite (at least by Dutch standards.)   

Hotel Arena

S Gravesandestraat 51, Amsterdam 1092 AA, Netherlands

With great views between Oosterpark and one of Amsterdam’s many canals, Hotel Arena has world class views.  The interior is equally beautiful with constant new designs and renovations.  Staying here you really get an all in one package, the hotel has a café for brunch, a great restaurant for dinner, and it’s own night club for after hours.

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Touring Amsterdam
Amsterdam Attractions

Some of the best attractions to visit while in Amsterdam

Amsterdamse Bos

Amsterdamse Bos located just a few kilometers from Amsterdam has everything anyone could ask for in a park.  In addition to the lush forest cultivated here you can find a petting zoo for kids, a sports park for getting in a bit of recreation, there is also a rowing course where you can rent boats, and a pancake house to refuel at when you’re done having fun.  The real jewel of the park however is the Amsterdamse Bos Theatre which has plays with the great Dutch actors in the summer.

Amstelpark

Located as the name implies along the Amstel river in the suburb of Buitenveldert, this large park was created in 1972 as part of the second world garden fair.  The city maintained the park after the fair ended and it is now one of the two most popular parks in Amsterdam.  With everything from a petting zoo to art galleries to mini golf Amstelpark has something to suit all tastes.  Amstelpark with its many activities is definitely one of the best places in the city to take your kids so they can work out their energy and leave you free to enjoy the night.

Anne Frank Huis

The Anne Frank House is something that every visitor to Amsterdam should see whether they have read the story of Anne Frank who was forced into hiding by the Nazi’s in the very house that is now a Museum.  There is no description that can give you the same feeling as being in the actual house.  You can walk through history in the small house that was the setting of such an incredible story of human survival.

Artis Zoo

Want to experience wild life from around the world without the soles of your shoes ever having to touch dirt?  If you’ve seen one zoo you definitely have not seen them all the old buildings constructed in the 19th century give the Artis Zoo a feel that is completely different.  Artis Zoo is also the largest zoo in the Netherlands, and the third largest zoo in the world.  The animal exhibits here are guarunteed to delight children young and old, (even 50 year old children.) 

Electrische Museumtramlijn Amsterdam

Electrische Museumtramlijn Amsterdam (or EMA if that is too much of a mouthful) the tram museum is not just any ordinary museum.  They don’t just exhibit old trams from different parts of Europe, they fix them up and let you ride them!  And there are few better ways to experience the city than to see it from a tram.  Check their website for current ride schedules. 

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Amsterdam Landmarks Amstelsluizen

These locks are what make the city of Amsterdam (and indeed the whole country of the Netherlands) possible.  Dating back to 1674 the locks allow the city waterways to be fed by freshwater lakes in the north rather than brackish sea water, (which vastly improves the smell of the city making it much nicer to visit or live in.)  These ancient locks operated by hand until the recent past put many modern waterways in other countries to shame.  An educational attraction that will show you some of what makes the Dutch great.

Begijnhof

Begijnhof was a convent in the 1400s, but is so much more than that.  Like an image from a fairy tale this serene courtyard with well kept lawns and gardens and houses that looking like they are strait from the pages of a story book will leave you with a relaxed mind after strolling around it. 

Blauwbrug

Blauwbrug, which translates to blue bridge was built in the late 1800s to replace a wooden bridge from the early 1600s which was painted blue, hence the name blue bridge.  This sculpted bridge was modeled after the famous French bridges which span the Seine.  Reaching from Rembrandtplein to Waterlooplein this bridge is an aesthetically pleasing way to travel from one popular area of the city to another.

Centraal Station

The Centraal Station is a major transportation hub for tourists and locals alike, but it is much more than that.  The building stands out from it’s surroundings with bright red brick architecture designed by PJ Cuypers (the designer of the Rijksmuseum.)  Centraal Station not only important for transportation adds flavor to a city bursting with culture.

De Gooyer Windmill

When you think of Amsterdam and the Netherlands of old you think of flat fields dotted with windmills as far as the eye can see.  Today there few windmills left, however one of these has been preserved and converted into a private residence, and that is the De Gooyer Windmill.  De Gooyer Windmill is a great monument to look at and take a picture in front of, (however the people who live there would prefer if you didn’t try to tour the inside.)

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Amsterdam Night Scene
Bars
Bubbles & Wines Champagne Bar

This trendy wine bar has an edge on the competition in technology and quality.  Rather than featuring just a few wines by the glass like a normal wine bar, Bubbles & Wines Champagne Bar has over fifty wines available by the glass, and 180 by the bottle.  And here you don’t have to risk getting bad wine to try something new, this wine bar uses the Enomatic system which allows them to pour tastes of wine from bottles like soda from a soda fountain without breaking the seal and compromising the wine!  So come and enjoy a new wine and a desert.

Café De Kroon

Café De Kroon originally opened over 100 years ago, and was named the Crown after Queen Wilhelmina who was crowned that year.  After world war two it was closed due to a drop in clientele, however today it is back and better than ever with a contemporary twist to it’s original style.  The inside is decorated with an artistic taste, however nothing in the café matches the quality and presentation of the food.

Casa Rosso

One of the most well known spots in the Red Light district, Casa Rosso is hard to miss with a pink neon elephant wearing a green tie standing two stories tall over the entrance.  This is where you can come to see the often whispered about live sex shows in Amsterdam, so if you want the full red light experience, Casa Rosso is a good place to start. 

Casablanca Variété

Want to get a taste of another era?  Casablanca Variete is home to the only theatre devoted to the type of performance that would ordinarily be found at a circus.  Magic, jugglers, acrobats, and singers can all be seen here.  The café also features live jazz from big bands and solo artists.  So take a step back in time and see life in a simpler age.

Diep

A bar that has all of the glitzy little high tech gimmics, from projectors playing film to go with the music to pictures of the patrons played on screens on the walls.  Diep however has much more than gimmicks, the heart and soul of the place stems from the deep selection of fine beers, fully stocked liquor bar, and the friendly be still relevant regulars.

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