Amsterdam is a wonderful city that I never seem to tire of. It has been several years since my last visit and my notes are terrible so, I have only a couple actual recommendations listed below. My best advice is to try to get a sense of the city on your own. In short, spend a lot of time being lost–Amsterdam is the perfect city for it. Get away from the most tourist oriented areas (Dam Square, Red Light District, The Leidseplein etc.) and explore the other parts of the city. Amsterdam’s canal district is not all that expansive, so you’ll be spending some time in these areas for sure. But, even within the canal district, there are certain places that don’t feel overrun by tourists. Be sure to check out some of the neighborhoods outside of the canal district as well.
When you roll into town, the first thing to do is rent a bike. Walk around in the Jordaan to find a low key bike place and get a more traditional black bike rather than the bright red or yellow ones available in the more touristic areas. There are a lot of bike shops around and most of them rent bikes. You’ll want a bike that looks like the one pictured to the right. You’ll still look like a tourist, but at least you’re not riding a bike covered with advertisements. Now that you have a feits, you’ll be able to cover a lot of ground in true Dutch style. Follow the numerous bike paths and see where they take you.
All day Saturday, there is a nice outdoor food market in the Jordaan. Noordermarkt has a nice selection of fresh cheeses, meats, pastries, fruits and vegetables. This is a great place to shop if you are planning on packing a lunch to go. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what you might see:
Villa Zeezicht has some of the best apple cake in town. I always make it a point to stop by at least once when I am in town. This small café is no one trick pony, the coffee and other offerings are good as well. They open early, so this is also a good spot to start if you are staying nearby. The location on the relaxed corner of Singel and Torensteeg is perfect for planning your day.
Tel: 020 – 626 74 33
Bordewijk is quite popular. So much so that I’ve never been able to get a reservation. This has more to do with poor planning on my part than a long waiting list though. If you are in the mood for a nice dinner, this place might fit the bill. Just make sure you call more than an ten minutes in advance for a reservation on popular nights.
1015 MV Amsterdam
Tel: 020 – 624 38 99
Open 18:30 – 22:30
If you have the mind to check out a museum, try taking in the Van Gogh Museum on a Friday Night. Also, The Rijksmuseum, while not open on Friday evenings, it is worth checking out during regular hours. The paintings are impressive, especially given the time they were created. The building that houses all of this art is also impressive. Make sure you don’t miss the massive pipe organ.
If you’ve been to Amsterdam and have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments.