The Idealist

Idealist City Guide: AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam is known for its canals, its progressive attitude, and its strong cafe culture. However, it’s Amsterdam’s artistic and historic focus that really encapsulates the heart of the city.

Summer sunset in the Nine Little Streets in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Shopping

For a wonderfully unique shopping experience, take a trip down to The 9 Streets. Situated along Amsterdam’s historic canals, this neighbourhood has something to offer every shopper. No matter where you shop, make sure you get to these local hot spots. Many of them offer worldwide shipping, so don’t worry about getting that amazing find home (unless you were smart and drove to A’dam):

  • Art Deco – Djoeke Wessing: From fabrics and interiors to Art Deco lighting, you’re sure to find the perfect piece for your home here.
  • Ethnic Chic: If you’re looking for furniture and decor that combines traditional design with modern natural beauty, look no further than Ethnic Chic.
  • Shirdak: Featuring textiles and more from the nomadic tribes of Central Asia, Shirdak offers a shopping experience for those who enjoy bright cultural art.
  • Mark Raven Amsterdam Art: For beautiful art souvenirs at affordable prices, this is the place to go.
  • Sukha: From kitchenware to wall decor and everything in between — with an incredibly sleek, stylish touch.
  • The Frozen Fountain: Modern furniture lovers will obsess over The Frozen Fountain’s cutting-edge designs.

Staying Over

In such a stylish city, it should come as no surprise that there are a plethora of boutique hotels. If you’re looking for a cute, cosy hotel to stay in, give one of these great Amsterdam hotels a try:

  • Ambassade: Situated in a peaceful area along the canals just a short distance from the hustle of the city, Ambassade Hotel offers reasonable prices on great rooms. For a bit extra, try one of their canal view rooms.
  • The Toren: With a prime location near The 9 Streets, The Toren is perfect if you want to be close to the shops.
  • Museum Suites: For the ultimate in boutique luxury, choose Museum Suites. You can’t go wrong with a beautiful terrace view and a fully accommodated room.

Galleries & Museums


In a city where art and culture run rampant, it’s not hard to find great museums and galleries. The Van Gogh Museum gives visitors a look into the life of Vincent Van Gogh, as well as a look at some of his lesser-known artwork. For art buffs, the Rembrandt House Museum is particularly special because it was where Rembrandt did much of his work for two decades. Perhaps the most famous museum in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House, known as the Frank family’s place of hiding during World War II. It’s a difficult place to visit and a stark reminder of the impact of extremism. No matter which museum you choose, though, you’re sure to discover something to remember.

Food

Graduating from traditional Dutch foods to a more diverse offering, Amsterdam has become a great city for foodies. Be sure to try some of these local favourites while you’re in town:

  • Omelegg: With a focus on breakfast, brunch and lunch — specifically omelettes — Omelegg has everything you need to survive until dinner.
  • Jacketz: A self-described “baked potato shop,” Jacketz is a highly rated, stylish restaurant that specialises in crafting complex flavours that aren’t normally paired with baked potatoes.
  • Ivy and Bros: Beautifully designed plates and colourful food bring new life to old classics like sandwiches and salads.
  • PIQNIQ: Piqniq is exactly what it sounds like — a restaurant influenced by the quaint traditions of picnics. Food includes soups, salads and sandwiches, and gluten-free cake is available for those who enjoy a little something extra after dinner.
Skating rink in front of the Rijksmuseum

Attractions

When you’re finished eating, shopping, and visiting museums and galleries, head over to some of these local attractions to get your sight-seeing fix:

  • Vondelpark: Surrounded by nothing but green serenity, the Vondelpark is a great place to relax. However, with 10 million visitors yearly, it may be a bit crowded at times.
  • Canal Cruises: If you enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam’s historic canals, you have to take a canal cruise. Beyond the beautiful scenery and fresh air, it’s a great way to get a quick tour of the city. If you’re wanting particularly special scenery, take an evening cruise.
  • Hortus Botanicus: This botanical garden provides the perfect environment for a tranquil stroll. As a bonus, you’ll get to see some rare plants.
  • Skating: During the winter, there are ice skating rinks in the city to enjoy too, such as the one in front of the Rijksmuseum.

Travel

Amsterdam is easily reached from most parts of the UK. To travel from London to Amsterdam, for example, there are three main methods you may choose:

  • Train: While it isn’t the cheapest option, travelling by train will allow you to do plenty of sight-seeing. Allow about 4-5 hours via Eurostar
  • Train & Ferry: While not the most luxurious, the train and ferry method is the most eco-friendly and the cheapest — starting at £49.
  • Plane: A flight from London to Amsterdam will cost anywhere from £57 to £119 round trip and flight time is about an hour

Alternatively, you could drive in about 6-7 hours via northern France and Belgium, listening to authentic Europop en route.

Whatever you choose to do, we think Amsterdam makes a great year-round destination!

Image Courtesy Ice skating (c) frugo, Amstel river view (c) andreykr, 9 Streets (c) dennisvdwater/ 123RF Stock Photo

 

  • John is a photographer and journalist from Manchester with a passion for street photography and modern art. When not taking photos, you can find him on a bike anywhere from Sardinia to Amsterdam listening to Zero 7.

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