Travel Here: The Coolest Things to See and Do in Amsterdam

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The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

Now that I’m back home and settled in, I have a whole lot of travel photos to share and places to recommend, just in case you’re headed to one of these European cities. If you missed it, I spent nearly two weeks in Europe recently, visiting Amsterdam, Paris, and London with Jeff and several others. 

To say that I packed in lots of to dos on this trip would be quite the understatement. Not much downtime at all, which was great actually, because it meant that I really got to explore each area in the short time I was there.

Anyway, long story short, I’ll be sharing a travel guide from each city over the next week or two, starting today with Amsterdam!

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

Amsterdam ice cream cones

Though, I should probably warn you first… I’m not the type to do a ton of touristy sightseeing stuff. These guides will mostly consist of the best food, coffee, and shopping.

Why? You know the touristy spots already, if you’re headed to one of these cities for a visit. So, I’m going to mainly focus on the stuff you don’t know already – like the best place to get a cappuccino, the coolest bakery to pick up pastries, the best boutique for home decor items, etc, etc.

You game? Let’s go!

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

Getting Around the City

If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam before, you know it’s known for it’s quaint canals and lots and LOTS of bikes. There are more bikes than cars in Amsterdam, which means more bike traffic than car traffic. It didn’t get named the bicycle capital of the world for nothin’. So, if you can find a bike shop to rent from for a few days, you’ll fit right in with the locals.

If you prefer to walk though, which is what we did, you can get around just as easily. The city is very conducive to walking! BUT you do have to be careful of the bikers because there are so many of them and there aren’t many traffic lights. So… you really have to pay attention when crossing the street. Bikers will come out of nowhere. I learned this the hard way a couple of times. So, just look out for that and you’ll be fine.

You can also get around easily on the tram, if you want to go that route. It’s clean and affordable. We only rode the tram a couple of times, so I’m no expert, but there’s lots of info on tram stuff here.

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

Other Things to Note

Lots of shops and restaurants do not accept debit or credit cards, so be sure to get some cash for your trip. We exchanged our currency at the Amsterdam airport.

To get a better idea of where we were, we stayed in this Airbnb. It was in a really good location on a canal, which made walking everywhere super easy, plus there was a tram stop right in front of our place. AND a really amazing rooftop terrace. It was pricey, but if you’re going with a bunch of people and splitting costs, it’s worth it. The hosts were amazingly nice and helpful too!

The best shopping in Amsterdam

Best Places to Shop

Hutspot: This place is awesome! I bought a bunch of stuff here and discovered a few new brands that I had never seen before. FYI – Hutspot has 3 locations in Amsterdam. This is the one I went to, which has clothing, accessories, a barber shop, a photo booth, and a coffee shop.

Felice: Love this concept store…men’s and women’s clothing, home decor, lighting, and accessories. There are lots of other cute shops and restaurants right around here too. So, find this shop and just walk around to the rest.

HAY: I’m a big, big fan of the brand HAY and their flagship store in The Netherlands happens to be in Amsterdam. Definitely worth a visit! There’s a little cafe with coffee and pastries attached to it as well, if you need to recharge after shopping.

Spiegel: Cute little housewares shop featuring Dutch designers. I remember seeing some cute stuff for kiddos in this shop too, if you have any little ones to shop for.

The Frozen Fountain: This shop was really cool and HUGE. So many good pieces…furniture, home decor items, sunglasses, textiles, etc.

The best bakeries in Amsterdam

Cool Coffee Shops

One of my favorite coffee shops overall was one called Bocca. Get the jasmine green tea or a flat white. The space has a cool vibe and it’s bigger than a lot of the other coffee shops around (a lot of the coffee shops we visited in Amsterdam were really small). You can also bring your laptop if you want to get a little work done, but they only allow ‘laptop parking’ for one hour. And they do keep track, trust me. So, if you’re looking for an all day work spot, this isn’t it.

All five of us on the trip agreed that the best spots for a pour over in Amsterdam are Sweet Cup and Back to Black. They’re pretty close walking distance of each other too. So, you can try them both on the same day, if you’re a coffee addict. Also, Sweet Cup has a resident pup that is really, really sweet and super adorable.

The best bakeries in Amsterdam

Awesome Food Spots

Bakers & Roasters was the first place we went to eat when we arrived in Amsterdam and it was delicious. The decor was really cool too.

Stach is great for sandwiches, salads, cold pressed juice, and snacks. I really like their goat cheese sandwich, stroopwafels, and giant meringues.

Albert Cuypmarkt: This is Europe’s largest daily market and it’s really fun to walk up and down the street shopping and people watching here. We found it by accident and then ended up buying flowers and cheese and pastries, etc. I’d recommend doing a lap around the market before buying anything because a lot of vendors sell the same thing, but everything is priced differently (flowers especially vary drastically in price from vendor to vendor).

Try My Little Patisserie if you’re looking for a super cute bakery / pastry shop near the market.

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

The markets in Amsterdam

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

The markets in Amsterdam

The best things to do and see in Amsterdam (a travel guide)

Photography by Brittni Mehlhoff

P.S. If you like this guide, be sure to check back for my Paris and London travel guides, which will be up in the next week or two.

Have you ever been to Amsterdam before? Did I miss one of your favorite spots? Let me know!

11 comments | Click here to reply

Haha I live in Amsterdam and haven’t visited quite some of the spots you mentioned! Will most definitely check them out. I would reccommend crossing the water (Het IJ) behind central station and visiting the EYE Filmmuseum, it’s a beautiful building inside and out. Next to EYE you can find the newly opened A’dam tower where you can find a great view over the city and several restaurants. Other reccommendations are: De Laatste Kruimel (baked goods and coffee), Javastraat (a street outside of the city center with lots of up and coming bars, restaurants and coffee spots) and Het Hanze Huis (beautifully packaged authentic products from all over Europe).

Charlotte | June 9th, 2016 at 9:44 am

So glad I shared a few spots that you haven’t checked out yet, Charlotte. And thanks for the recommendations. These are great.

Brittni | June 9th, 2016 at 10:04 am

Thanks for sharing, I go to Amsterdam in a week so I can’t wait to try some of these places! 🙂
http://www.cloclocreative.com

Chloe | June 9th, 2016 at 2:34 pm

How exciting Chloe. I think you’ll love Amsterdam.

Brittni | June 9th, 2016 at 2:48 pm

Beautiful pictures of the city! I’m from the Netherlands. Even though I don’t live close-by (1,5-hour drive), I’ve been to Amsterdam. 🙂
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Anouk | June 10th, 2016 at 3:19 am

I will be visiting Amsterdam in a few weeks, so I’ll make sure to see everything you recommended! Thank you for that!
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Michelle | June 10th, 2016 at 8:43 am

this was a fun read! i love to visit amsterdam…it is such a cool little city and so easy to get around. i just have a couple of caveats about your review:
about the bikes: bicycles, like you mentioned, are the most used transportation. you must remember, though, that they are TRAFFIC! if you follow the rules, you will have no problem. the bikers are part of the traffic pattern with their own traffic lanes, not just a little part of the car traffic bike lanes like here in the states. pay attention to your pedestrian lanes, and do not step into the bike traffic lanes….you WILL get run over! it only takes once to get the jist! lol!
about the cafes: please be careful about your lingo or you will get a big surprise! coffee SHOPS are for the selling of cannabis! coffee HOUSES or CAFES are for coffees, teas, etc. so use the correct verbiage to get what you are looking for!
amsterdam is such a lovely place and the people are friendly and kind. i go as often as i can.
sandyhf

sandy halliburton | June 10th, 2016 at 11:34 am

Thanks for the clarification Sandy. 🙂 Haha. I had shops and cafes confused on that one (thought the verbiage was the other way around). But yeah, I’m just talking about places you would go to get coffee, tea, cappuccinos, etc.

Brittni | June 10th, 2016 at 3:35 pm

I’m an American living in NL (albeit 2 hours from Amsterdam). My faves in Amsterdam are Foodhallen which is becoming super popular. It’s a giant old train factory (I think) that they’ve put tons of little (see: DELICIOUS) food stalls in. I also love HappyHappyJoyJoy, an Asian food restaurant that serves everything tapas style. I usually end up staying with my friends for 4+ hours without even noticing because you just chat, drink, and then order some more small dishes when your tummy feels ready again!

Lauren | June 15th, 2016 at 9:53 am

Hi Lauren. Happyhappyjoyjoy was on our list but we weren’t able to make it there. 🙁 Next time, for sure!

Brittni | June 15th, 2016 at 10:30 am

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