Amsterdam is full of character and bursting with wild and lively things. We spent most of our time in the Jordaan and De Pijp neighborhoods, and really enojyed them both (but if we had to pick a favorite, Jordaan wins). Amsterdam is a pedestrian city so, like Paris, we highly recommend renting a bike or walking to as many places as you can – along the way you’ll discover little gems you wouldn’t have noticed by car or tram. Not to mention, the city is so visually distracting (in the best way possible) that you won’t even realize how much you’re walking or cycling (or how bad your legs ache). And if you need to take a load off, popping into a café for a beer or dessert is never a bad idea. In fact, we highly recommend it.
Beware: Coffeeshops sell ganja, not coffee. If you want coffee, you need to look for a café. But if you want ganja, we recommend going to the red-light district. And if you’re lonely and want sex, you can find that there, too.
De Bolhoed – Vegetable heavy (mostly vegan) food done right. Don’t order the quiche unless you like your quiches light on the eggs, loaded with vegetables, and topped with a shitload of seeds.
Gs – HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF DELICIOUS BREAKFAST. You’d be a fool to miss this place. You’d also be a fool to show up without a reservation, unless you like waiting with a rumbling belly. Also: BOOZE.
De Bakkerswinkle – Cozy cafe with fresh baked scones and bread (amongst other breakfast items), plus a killer jam/curd selection. They serve lunch and other savory items, as well.
No Sushi – Takeout (only) sushi done right. They have limited options, but they’re sure to satisfy vegans and meat eaters alike.
De Kas – We lunched in a greenhouse eating herbs and tomatoes grown within 100 feet of where we were seated – and everything else was was sourced from local farms around the city. Eating there was truly a remarkable experience – and to top it off, one of the chef’s was kind enough to give us a tour of the grounds + kitchen. We cannot recommend De Kas enough.
Organics – Grocery store with a decent chocolate selection. They have other ogranic offerings, but let’s not kid anyone: we were there for the chocolate. Rather, Ashlae was there for the chocolate.
Chocolátl – The lady went on a €50 shopping spree and got some seriously decadent chocolate bars. They aren’t particularly cheap, but the owners let you sample everything (seriously, EVERYTHING) so that kind of makes it worth it. Recommended: Grenada Chocolate Company‘s Nib-a-Licious and Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé‘s Cacao Criollo.
Metropolitan Deli – Chocolate, espresso, ice cream, waffles, etc. Go for the truffles – they’re worth their weight in gold.
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx – Ya know, if you’re drunk or have the munchies.
Café Brecht – Great brews, caffeinated beverages, and decor similar to what you’d expect to see if you walked into a house that had been abandoned for 50 years (read: AWESOME). We sat around sipping beer and coffee for a good three hours, enjoying the tunes (Ella Fitzgerald! Louis Armstrong! Billie Holiday!) and admiring the little details and various trinkets scattered around the café.
La Fruteria – Smoothies and juices.. and waffles for the person who isn’t into healthy eating. The man had bright eyes (vegetable heavy) and the lady went for strawberry banana. Both hit the spot.
Café ‘t Smalle – The service was slow but the canal view more than made up for it. And the beer selection was top notch.
Screaming Beans – Coffee done right. Welcoming atmosphere and surprisingly spacious despite the entrance being rather cramped. Grab an Americano and a pastry, and cozy up to a table in the back. Or outside if you’re down for a little sunshine and people watching.
Arendsnest – 30 different Dutch beers on draught, meaning there’s something for every taste. Great ambiance and service, and close to all the local spots, but far enough removed from the touristy areas.
Van Gogh Museum – To skip the lines, order tickets online ahead of time.
Rijksmuseum – If you plan on going to the Van Gogh Museum as well, get the museum pass.
Anne Frank Museum
Albert Cuyp Market – Funky little market with everything from flowers and fresh fruit to tennis shoes and wood tables. Stroll through early in the morning to avoid the sea of people.
Walk along the canals
Rent a bike
We stayed at the Okura Hotel, but can’t recommend it. I have a problem with hotels (especially ones with prices as high as theirs) charging exorbitant fees for fitness facilities and wifi (they do offer free basic wifi, but it’s slow as hell). The rooms were nice, but it was too business focused for us. Bonuses include: Nespresso machine. 5 foot soaking tub. Rainfall shower. Luxury matress. AIR CONDITIONING. And being able to be as annoying and as demanding as you want because you know the person in the executive suite above you is being 10x worse.
Visually speaking, the city makes for a great run. But physically? The cobblestone sidewalks will beat the shit out of your feet and ankles – especially if you wear minimalist running shoes. Do your stubborn self a favor and find a pretty park.