There was a moment during our trip to Amsterdam. Stag and I were ambling down another home-lined street, even prettier than the last. The sun was the most brilliant shade of bright, that you can only get on a June afternoon, and we were strolling with no map in sight: just us, a maze of canals, and time. I turned to Stag and asked, with the tone of someone dreaming up a fantasy future, “Can we live here, one day?” Stag, being Husband of the year, humoured me with a kiss, and I swear I could see the wistful look in his eye, too.
I’m not sure if we’ll ever move to Amsterdam. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d want to ruin the sun-drenched, slow-living image I have of this marvellous gem of a city. Real life (and rain) can sometimes do that. But, if I could, I would visit repeatedly. And if you’re reading this, chances are, you either are heading there — or want to go as much as I did (and do). Here’s our Wolf & Stag Guide to Amsterdam, to help you on your own adventure, or whet your wanderlust to see it, one day.
Wolf & Stag Adventures: A Guide to Amsterdam, Netherlands
— GOOD TO KNOW —
- Language | English is very widely spoken: as in, you really don’t need to know a single thing in Dutch
- Cash or card | We often found that places were card-only, so make sure you have a card you’re happy to use
- Can I drink the water | Yes!
- Currency | Euro
- Taxis | Available, as is Uber and most ride-sharing apps. You can also take public transport, which is (meant to be) reliable and easy to use.
— WHERE TO STAY IN AMSTERDAM —
Sir Albert | A modern and stylish boutique hotel nestled in the trendy (and great for shopping) De Pijp district.
Some tips on finding the best accommodation in Amsterdam:
- Our favourite areas of the city were the Jordaan, De Pijp or around the Nine Streets shopping district. These are away from the touristy city centre — but still central enough to get around — and are absolutely stunning. With amazing food, too.
- Try iEscape, Design Hotels and Airbnb to find interesting and well-located places to stay
— WHERE TO EAT IN AMSTERDAM —
Pluk | This charming interiors-stroke-coffee spot is the epitome of ‘stop for a bite on a lovely weekend stroll.’ We ordered Dutch apple pie, iced teas and watched the world go by outside. Bliss.
Reestraat 19, 1016 DM
Metropolitain | We were a bit wary about this restaurant, located just off a very-main drag nearby to the city centre. We much prefer more local, hidden spots. However, this half outside, half inside restaurant surprised us in the best way. I sucked down the best coconut coffee I’ve ever tasted, and we munched on lobster rolls (SO GOOD) and salads on our first day in Amsterdam. A perfect spot for brunch or lunch.
Rokin 81, 1012 KL
Restaurant Arles | If there’s one place I recommend you go for dinner in Amsterdam, it’s Arles. Offering a very reasonable 3 courses for €35, this neo-French restaurant uses only local Dutch produce — and trust me, you can taste that attention to detail and superb quality in every mouthful. With impeccable service, a warm atmosphere, and a meal that had us talking for days, Arles is one not to miss.
Govert Flinckstraat 251, 1073 BX
Pancakes Amsterdam | I’d heard great things about this pancakery (is that a word? it is now), but we had planned to go to MOOK pancakes instead of here. That is, until we literally stumbled across it by accident, and Stag had not been fed yet. Apparently, this place is notorious for queues, but early enough on a Sunday, we were able to walk right in. We shared a sweet and traditional savoury pancake — the savoury was the winner — and left certain that no one does a pancake quite like the Dutch.
Berenstraat 38, 1016 GH
Sticky Fingers | After a wander through Vondelpark, make your way to oh-so-instagrammable Sticky Fingers for a coffee and a pastry. We ordered coffees (obvs), a savoury quiche and a pastry. That quiche, though. Honestly, one of the best I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve had a lot of quiche in my day.
Amstelveenseweg 3, 1054 MB
CT Coffee & Coconuts | If I could take this restaurant, bar and coffee spot with me to every city I ever live in, I’d be a happy place. Sprawling over two floors, this De Pijp hangout is huge, and yet it was nearly full when we visited on a Monday afternoon. The entire menu is worth ordering, but we’d especially recommend anything with, well, coconuts. When in Rome…
Ceintuurbaan 282-284, 1072 LR
Other food places that come highly recommended | Foodhallen (food market), The Avocado Show, Little Collins, Libertine Cafe, Staring at Jacob and MOOK Pancakes.
Also, get yourself some patatje oorlog — translated roughly to ‘war chips,’ this beast of a street snack involves mayonnaise, satay sauce, fresh white onion and piping hot chips. Not for the faint hearted. We got ours at the highly-rated Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx.
A note on cafes in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam is no different than Shoreditch, Brooklyn or any other cool city neighbourhoods in its coffee offering. Seriously, there are so many places to choose from that offer beautiful interiors, a chill atmosphere, and one damn good cup of coffee. The ones we went to that we loved were Lot 61 and Bocca Coffee.
Also highly recommended — but we didn’t get a chance to go, because who can fit that much caffeine in their bodies — were Koffiespot, Frederix Micro Roasters, Sweet Cup Cafe, Bakers & Roasters and Winkel 43 (known for its apple pie).
— WHAT TO DO IN AMSTERDAM —
Go Shopping Along the De 9 Straatjes (The Nine Streets). | This charming area of the city was by far my favourite: with the most beautiful canals, homes and independent shops, you could literally spend a whole weekend here (In fact, we nearly did!). The shopping here is unparalleled; make sure you allow enough time to pop into each shop that takes your eye.
Browse the boutiques in in De Pijp. | The De Pijp neighbourhood is Amsterdam’s ‘up and coming’ (read: already very cool) neighbourhood. Here you can find some of the city’s best restaurants and independent shops, with most of the shops found on Gerard Doustraat.
Soak in the art at the Rijksmuseum. | The Rijksmuseum is a must-see while in Amsterdam. The art selection here rivals some of the greats in Paris and London — Van Gogh, Vermeer and Rembrandt all under one roof. Save yourself time and money by booking tickets ahead.
Enjoy a nature-filled stroll in Vondelpark. | A stroll through Vondelpark makes for the most relaxing afternoon. If you’re into house porn (*raising hand emphatically*), then the houses here are some of the most beautiful you will see. Finish your walk with a crisp, cool beer at Cafe Schinkelhaven — and maybe even a coffee at Sticky Fingers.
Soak in the atmosphere at the Bloemenmarkt. | This floating flower market is one of Amsterdam’s must-see staples. Each stall is awash with colour, a myriad of tulips, wooden clogs, bulbs and fresh flowers. The street opposite is lined with traditional Dutch cheese shops. Pop in for some samples, and enjoy a leisurely stroll through the market.
Try a homemade Stroopwafel at Albert Cuyp Market. | You think you’ve had a stroopwafel — but you haven’t, really, until you’ve had one fresh from the griddle. The market itself is just okay (I thought it was a bit overhyped, honestly). But stop in for one of those warm, caramelly delights, and your world will never be the same.
Have a beer at a windmill. | Is there anything more Dutch than snacking on cheese, meats and beer in a windmill? The Brouwerij ‘t IJ is an iconic brewery and bar, with nothing but local beers on tap and long wooden benches in which to drink them. Although touristy, the atmosphere feels authentic. Like the beer, the meats and cheeses are all sourced from local Dutch farms, too.
Feel humbled at the Anne Frank Museum. | Trust me when I say: this museum is worth the queue. It’s one of those places that, yes, is very touristy, but it’s a life necessity to visit it at least once. You will leave humbled, saddened, and empowered.
— WHERE TO SHOP IN AMSTERDAM —
Amsterdam is a treasure trove of independent clothing, interior, beauty and gift shops. With such great retail on offer, there’s no need to even come near the global high street brands. Below is my little black book of some of my favourite shops that I went to. However, there are just too many to name. The best thing you can do? Wander the streets, soak in the atmosphere, and pop into every shop you see!
Have you been to Amsterdam? What do you think of my Amsterdam guide? What are your favourite spots in the city? Have I missed any of this list?