Amsterdam City Guide


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Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

Amsterdam is the kind of place where you feel like you can immediately embrace the lifestyle and do as the locals do. Whether its strolling along the canals or jumping on a bike to get around, Amsterdam is one of the most relaxing cities in the world (this has nothing to do with the “coffeeshops”). The scene here is laid back and fun! Amsterdam is an incredibly beautiful and interesting place, where we easily spent a week exploring all it had to offer. Even in January, where the temperature dips to a little colder than enjoyable, it was a fantastic place to walk around, or do as the locals do and bike! It was so lovely to meander along the beautiful streets and pop into a brown cafe to warm up and have a beer. Everyone understands english, the people are so friendly and the town has a very interesting history and many great museums and sites. I did a lot of research before I went, and there is tons of  Amsterdam travel advice out there.. This was my first trip to Amsterdam, but it will not be my last. I can’t wait to return in the Spring or Summer to see all the Tulips and people out on the canals enjoying life!

My Personal Hit List

Sleep at the Dylan Hotel. There are no words to describe how perfect this hotel is
Experience dinner at De Kas in their incredible Green House
Eat pancakes and other local specialties at any of the "Brown Cafes"
Splurge on dinner at Vinkles Restaurant
Drink at brown cafes canal side my favorite are 't smalle and Cafe Papeneiland
Cocktails at Tunes Bar at the Conservatorium Hotel
Visit the Van Gogh Museum & the Rijksmuseum
Know walk everywhere, take a canal tour and do as the locals do and bike!
Shop in the nine streets, the 'De Negen Straatjes'
Breakfast at Gartine or BlueSpoon. Breakfasts are one of the best things about Amsterdam
Brunch at Baker's & Roasters (they even have a Monday Brunch)
Lunch at the Seafood Bar and get the dover sole (YUM)!t
Try some Gouda and take a fun cheese class at Reypenaer
Buy some chocolate from Urban Cacoa and bring it home with you

Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

Our week in Amsterdam flew by and I love the pace and feel of this gorgeous city. As always, I did an obscene amount of research before arriving and I wanted to share what I learned and experienced in Amsterdam so that you can make the most out of your trip to this amazing place. Here is my guide to the city!

Amsterdam City Guide

The city doesn’t come to life until (well after) 9am. This picture was taken at 8:30am as it started to get light out (sunrise was at 8:55 this day). 

Get Your Bearings

This is a city where you should try to get lost walking around the canals and the side streets. The center and canal belt, the Nine Streets, the Jordaan, museum and fashion district and the De Pijp are areas not to be missed. My advice, basically, walk till your feet hurt then stop for a beer and walk some more.

Hotels

Dylan Hotel Amsterdam , whatsarahknows

The Dylan – A true gem of a hotel which is sophisticated, intimate and ideal for the most discerning traveler. The Dylan is perfectly located in Keizersgracht, one of Amsterdam’s main canals in one of the most beautiful and chic parts of the city. This area of the city is full of chic boutiques, great bars and restaurants. I loved everything about this canal side boutique hotel. The hotel was once a popular theater at in the 1600s and now is the perfect small five star hotel. The vibe here is luxurious, refined and location wise I don’t think you could ask for a better spot! The hotel has two restaurants (one Vinkles, an amazing michelin starred spot), a small gym, a great bar (a room off the bar with a fireplace) and a charming courtyard. I think this is the perfect hotel for a couple or anyone who wants a small luxury five star experience and doesn’t mind spending a little more than they should… The Dylan is also a member of American Express Fine Hotel and Resort program. So yeah, I loved this place.

 

The Waldorf Astoria is the newest luxury hotel to arrive in Amsterdam. Great location on the canal and they look to have an amazing spa and pool. This was a top contender for where to stay when we booked because the building is so beautiful, they also have a great location, along with more spa, gym and pool amenities. If we didn’t love the Dylan so much, we would have spent our last night here. This is definitely a place for people who want a  luxurious experience, though not as small and intimiate as the Dylan. Billed as Amsterdam most luxurious hotel it is located in a row of 17th century rowhouses in the picturesque Herengracht canal. Rooms are elegant and many boast great views of the canal . With a good central location and larger feel, this is my second choice hotel for the the city.

 

Conservatorium | Amsterdam City Guide

The Conservatorium is a very cool hotel that I think we would have loved to stay at. The vibe is incredibly chic and Amsterdam’s famous museum district is just a block away where you can find the Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh muesuem.  For the shoppers and leisure lovers, there is high end luxury shopping around the corner (think Hermes, Fendi and other 5th avenue mainstays) along with spa options and a luxurious but laid back experience. If you have ever been to NYC, the lobby reminded me a bit of the Ace Hotel (6 years ago), but cooler. This is probably the place to see and been seen in Amsterdam, and it is definitely worth looking into.

 

Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

InterContinental Amstal – The “Grand Dame” of the Amsterdam Hotel Scene. This five star, old world hotel is the place your parents would have been devotees to. This hotel is located on one of the larger and most famous canals and boast the top michelin starred restaurant in Amstedam. This hotel has been known to be the choice spot for royalty, celebs and politicians for years. The location for me made this a non-starter, I have heard it is a great place to grab drinks.

 

Sir Albert Hotel | Amsterdam City Guide

Sir Albert Hotel – Is a cool hotel in the very fun and lively de pijp area. They have a fantastic restaurant on site, that serves up some mouth watering cocktails. A great option if you are looking for a four star boutique hotel in a really fun area. 

 

The Dylan Amsterdam | Amsterdam City Guide

The Dylan Amsterdam | Amsterdam City Guide

The Dylan Amsterdam | Amsterdam City Guide

 

The Dylan Amsterdam | Amsterdam City GuideThe Dylan Amsterdam | Amsterdam City GuideThe Dylan Amsterdam | Amsterdam City Guide

{more photos from The Dylan}

Restaurants

De Kas | Amsterdam City Guide

De Kas – The restaurant that is always recommended when mentioning Amsterdam. This cool restaurant and nursery located in a greenhouse serving dishes made from organic ingredients grown on-site, makes for a great and unique dining experience. The service was maybe slightly less than, but that is a theme in Amsterdam, so no reason to write this place off. I would recommend ordering a bottle of wine and having it placed on your table, just saying. It is one of the most unique restaurants, I have ever been to and the food was phenomenal. The menu is pre-fixed and changes daily and they make vegetables taste like candy.

 

Vinkles | Amsterdam City Guide

Vinkles – This restaurant was the hands down best dining experience we had in Amsterdam. The fact that it is French Cuisine in the Netherlands is maybe a dig to the home country, but this place was really amazing. Located in the Dylan hotel, this michelin star gem of a restaurant will not disappoint. It is housed in an old bakery and served an incredible array of cuisine. From pigeon to oysters with “gin filled” pearls, to incredible cheese, this place was unbelievable. Their are maybe 10 tables in the whole restaurant that add to the incredibly special feel.

 


Restaurant Blauw - Every article I read said this was the best Indonesian place in town, which is saying something for a city that is known for amazing Indonesian the way London is known for Indian fare. This is a fun modern restaurant with a lively vibe and delicious food. The rice table is the must order and we loved every last bit of it! Totally worth the trek for a fun night out.  

 

Envy Restaurant Amerstdam

Envy – This trendy spot is serving up delicious food in a great part of town (close to where the Dylan hotel is). We indulged in the prefix which was incredibly creative and delicious. The service at this spot was some of the best we received in the Netherlands, and we generally loved this place. Even though we did the chef’s prefix, when we told our waitress how much we loved oysters she made sure the chef showcased them for us. High quality food, set in a cool trendy setting is almost a rarity I have found but this place was great!

 

Rakang Thai Amsterdam

Rakang Thai – Incredible thai spot that you wish was your local thai restaurant. This is definitely a local favorite and highly recommended for thai food lovers, We had an incredible meal and almost had to be rolled out of the restaurant we were so fat and happy.

 

The Seafood Bar | Amsterdam City Guide

Seafood Bar – We had an amazing lunch at the Seafood bar. This bright fun restaurant has a buzzing atmosphere and is apparently always packed and hip hopping. In my mind, the perfect place to have lunch and a glass of wine after visiting nearby museums. The oysters were unbelievable and the dover sole was incredible. James had the battered fish and we had the best time. Again, some service issues, but I think thats more a function of us being incredibly impatient New Yorkers. If you love incredible seafood this is an absolute must – I can’t wait to return!

 

Johannas Amsterdam | Amsterdam City Guide

Joannes – Another restaurant that was constantly recommended to me by everyone! Sadly, we didn’t go, but next time we are going to check it out. From all the recommendations, I suggest you do the same.

 

Bakers & Roasters | Amsterdam City Guide

Bakers & Roasters – We went for their Monday brunch and wanted to spend the whole (or have time stop) to take in this incredible de pjip restaurant. The food is stellar and the scene even cooler, did you see the living green wall! James and I both indulged in their B&R special which was amazing, but judging by all the food around us and the empty plates soon after, I really don’t think you can go wrong (unless you chose to not check out this awesome spot).

 

The Lobby | Amsterdam City Guide

The Lobby -A perfect spot for a cold day, this cozy restaurant was a great lunch place. Feel like a local and enjoy some delicious cocktails and an awesome vibe after lunch in one of there comfy leather chairs by the fire. I would recommend the pizza, but (there is a theme here) the eggs benedict was dank.

 

Gartine | Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

Gartine – maybe the best breakfast experience I have ever had! I can’t praise this place enough – the homemade jams were life changing good and the vibe here perfect. James had this concoction of fatty food with french toast, eggs, bacon, bread and more. I had (ok I am starting to feel embarrassed) eggs benedict which were insane. Make sure you get a res, we saw 10 groups come in, only to get rejected as we ate like kings.

 

Little Collins is a cozy restaurant in De Pijp area of Amsterdam, which is amazing for breakfast, brunch or dinner! This is an Australian restaurant serving up some seriously delicious brunch food, and not just on Saturday & Sunday. They serve four different types of bloody mary’s, and have a serious brunch operation going on.

 

Coffee & Coconuts | amsterdam city guide

CT Coffee and Coconuts – A great all day cafe. Perfect place to meet a friend or stop in to get some work done. Not that we were working. Another ridiculous breakfast spot where James had a croissant, covered in cheese, topped with Bacon. It actually was better than it sounds and I had a healthy acai bowl, if your into that kind of thing.

 

Bluespoon | Amsterdam City Guide

BlueSpoon – What an awesome breakfast spot in a super funky and cool hotel. Best eggs benedict ever (seriously I a have a problem). We opted to do their amazing continental breakfast spread as like an appetizer to our food, totally fatty but also totally amazing! The people here were so nice, ah take me back! 

 

la perla | amsterdam city guide

La Perla – delicious pizza, need I say more? We stumbled in here during the afternoon after a couple of beers (La Chouffe!) on a Saturday afternoon. We order a pizza, and it was insane. Coming from NYC, I feel like I have some authority on the subject, so trust me if your craving pizza go here!

 

Gartine | Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

Gartine | Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

 

Gartine | Amsterdam City Guide

Gartine

The Seafood Bar | Amsterdam City Guide

The Seafood Bar | Amsterdam City Guide

 

The Seafood Bar | Amsterdam City Guide

The Seafood Bar | Amsterdam City Guide

 
Seafood Bar

CT Cofffee & Coconuts

Coffee and Coconuts

BlueSpoon Amsterdam City Guide

BlueSpoon | Amsterdam City Guide

 
BlueSpoon

The Lobby | Amsterdam City Guide

The Lobby | Amsterdam City Guide

 
The Lobby

Bakers & Roasters | Amsterdam City Guide

Bakers & Roasters | Amsterdam City Guide

 

Bakers & Roasters | Amsterdam City Guide

Bakers & Roasters

Coffee & Coconuts | Bacon and Cheese croissant

James’ Bacon & Cheese croissant at Coffee and Coconuts

Breakfast at the dylan amsterdam

Breakfast at the dylan amsterdam

Breakfast at the dylan amsterdam

 

Amazing Breakfast Spread at The Dylan

Vinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining GuideIMG_6126Vinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining GuideVinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining Guide

Vinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining Guide

Vinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining Guide

 

Vinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining GuideVinkles Restaurant | Amsterdam Dining Guide

A few of the photos from our amazing dinner at Vinkles. We opted for all the courses (when on vacation, #amiright?) with the wine pairing – it was mind blowing. One course was bread that we dipped in some delicious truffle buttery broth! The oyster that was made of gin was the coolest thing I have ever eaten in my life, the pidgeon was delicious and the cheese was pure heaven. Best meal in a long time.

 

Drinks

Amsterdam City Guide

‘t smalle cafe – the charming neighborhood bar you wished you had in your neighborhood. I loved it in winter ,but have heard it is also perfect in the summer with its prime canal side drinking set-up. James and I had lunch here and drinks more than once. A very charming and cozy spot!

 

cafe papeneiland | amsterdam city guide

Café Papeneiland – We happily stumbled upon this historic and happening spot which turned out to be on the oldest brown cafes in Amsterdam. We loved this place and apparently many others do as well, it is even a favorite of Bill Clinton when he is in town. He and many others come for their famous apple pie. A great place to have a coffee or even better a few beers in the afternoon.

 

Tunes Bar Amsterdam |Amsterdam City Guide

Tunes is a fantastic bar with beautiful cocktail drunk by beautiful people in the Conservatorium hotel. They specialize in luxury gin and tonics and have a three page menu of them. I don’t even like gin & tonics but loved this place!

 

Toren Bar Amsterdam

Bar at the Toren has a very funky vibe but it was super cozy for a cocktail with their fire place! We enjoyed coming after diner for a glass of wine and a game of chess.

 

The Pulitzer Bar is also a fantastic spot to grab a cocktail, sadly I don’t have a picture but we loved stopping here. We did not go but we heard that the Rooftop Bar at the W hotel is fantastic for a drink and a panoramic view of Amsterdam.

Cafe Papeneiland | amsterdam

Cafe Papeneiland | amsterdam

 
Cafe Papeneiland

Sights

Amsterdam City Guide | rijksmuseum | whatsarahknows

Rijksmuseum is a must see for any art lover! This museum is dedicated to arts and history of the Netherlands and is fantastic. We pre-bought tickets and I would highly recommend doing the same to avoid any lines. You can purchase the tickets and use them at any time during your visit. <The Seafood Bar is a great place to grab lunch after you visit the museum>

 

Van Gogh Museum | Amsterdam City Guide

Van Gogh Museum is incredible and a must for most visitors, which also makes it incredibly crowded. You really have to buy tickets in advance and I also recommend making your booking time as early as possible to get a head start on the crowds. I’m serious, every year, 1.6 million visitors come to the Van Gogh Museum, making it one of the 25 most popular museums in the world! The history of Van Gogh is fascinating and I loved our time here, just book early and at an early hour.  

 

A Canal Tour is absolutely the best way to see the city and learn some of it’s incredible history. There are many tour companies and ways to do a canal tour – private, on a brunch boat (G’s) or while having some drinks!

 

Anne Frank House

Anne Frank House – Which sadly we did not make it to. We tried to purchase tickets over a month in advance and they were totally sold out. We also tried to stop by twice but were deterred by the insanely long lines. We were told if you aren’t able to purchase tickets in advance the best bet is to stop by before closing or talk to your hotel.

 

reypenaer cheese amsterdam | whatsarahknows

Reypenaer Cheese – We took a deliciously awesome cheese tasting class (with wine pairings obviously) which took about an hour. A fun way to learn about Gouda and the history of cheese in the Netherlands.

 

Waterland | Day Trip outside of Amsterdam

The countryside of the Netherlands is beautiful and unlike anywhere else I have ever been. We spent the day in the Waterlands, visiting three towns (windmill town, fishing town and Edam, the most picturesque town I have seen). We had a tour guide who drove us around showing us the country side and giving us a history of the area and of the Netherlands.

 

The Begijnhof in Amsterdam

The Begijnhof in Amsterdam

 

whatsarahknows | amsterdam

Do as the locals do and cycle around this incredible city and all of the canals!

 

National Tulip Day | Amsterdam City Guide

National Tulip Day | Amsterdam City Guide

National Tulip Day | Amsterdam City Guide

 
National Tulip Day in Amsterdam | Dam Square

reypenaer cheese amsterdam | whatsarahknows

reypenaer cheese amsterdam | whatsarahknows

 
Reypenaer cheese Tasting in Amsterdam

Amsterdam City Guide | rijksmuseum | whatsarahknows

Amsterdam City Guide | rijksmuseum | whatsarahknows

Amsterdam City Guide | rijksmuseum | whatsarahknows

 
Rijksmuseum

Farmers Market in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Farmers Market

 
Farmer’s Market 

Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAndaz Amsterdam | amsterdam city guide

Andaz Hotel 

Amsterdam City GuideConservatorium Hotel AmsterdamConservatorium Hotel Amsterdam

Conservatorium Hotel 

whatsarahknows | Amsterdam | Dylan Hotel

Boots(on sale under $200) | YSL Tote | Poncho | Skirt(on sale under $100) <skirt post>

whatsarahknowsTrip to the Country Side | Waterlands, NetherlandsTrip to the Country Side | Waterlands, Netherlands

{Waterlands | day trip outside of Amsterdam}

Amsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknowsAmsterdam City Guide | whatsarahknows

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