We’re your nightlife experts, that’s for sure, but we won’t leave you hanging during the day because good times in the city are the best preparation for a good night out. Whether you’re an early bird or like to sleep in on your holiday, the entertainment is ready whenever you are.
Rain or shine, high temperatures or strong winds convincing you to buy that ‘Amsterdam’ scarf from a tourist shop, there’s something suitable on this list with 8 of the best things to do for every type of day in the city.
Go Shopping in The 9 Streets.
No need to go searching for H&M, Zara and Mango because you’ve probably got those at home too. So skip the main shopping street and head right over to “De 9 Straatjes” (the 9 streets) where you will not only find one of a kind boutiques where local designers of everything proudly sell their creations, it is also one of the most beautiful areas in the city.
Instead of walking along the main canals of the canal belt Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht you dive into the little streets that connect them. Don’t worry there are street signs to guide you in the direction of these small, crowded lanes that can be found close to Dam Square.
You’ll find anything there from vintage clothes to designer boutiques, shoes and bags, jewelry, art, books and beauty products. Dutch lingerie designer Marlies Dekkers has a store here, Ace & Tate makes beautiful, locally designed glasses and Scotch & Soda has a large selection of ‘Amsterdam couture’ for him and her.
Did shopping make you hungry? Get some ice cream from Ijscuypje (Prinsengracht) on a hot day, it’s the best in town. For lunch or coffee definitely try to secure a spot at Singel 404, it can be crowded but you know that means it’s good. Pancakes Amsterdam on Berenstraat is the place to go for your Dutch pancake fix, whether you’re into Poffertjes (the small, puffy ones) or the other Dutch pancakes, thin crepe-like and topped with literally anything (try bacon and syrup).
Of course, you already knew, Amsterdam is a small(ish) city with a big attitude. Which basically means it’s super easy for you to get around to see and do as much as you want without spending too much time on getting from A to B. Your travel time is easily cut in half when you decide to rent a bike instead of using public transport.
Cyclists own the city, the huge number of bikes and the endless rouge pink colored cycling paths (yup, those are for bikes, not for walking!) are visible proof of that. Apart from speed, it brings you freedom and that is something everyone in Amsterdam loves. Freedom to go anywhere, at any time of the day (or night), stop to take a picture and explore the tiniest streets, cute bridges, lush parks and feel like a local.
Visit one of the Many Markets
What day of the week it is doesn’t matter, there’s always a market somewhere in the city. They’re an excellent way to mingle with the Amsterdammers, explore new places in the city and of course score some bargains and yummy food.
The most famous market is without a doubt the Albert Cuyp market, which is on from Monday to Saturday. It’s big, crowded, in an area packed with shops and cafe’s and great for exploring some delicious Amsterdam street food options. But there’s more!
The Noordermarkt in the heart of the Jordaan, one of the most authentic neighborhoods in the city, is definitely worth a visit. On Monday morning it’s an excellent place for vintage treasure hunting and getting in line for the best apple pie in the city at Winkel 43. The organic farmer’s market on Saturday is the perfect spot to satisfy your cravings with some homemade goods.
The Sunday Market travels around the city and lands in a different location almost every week. One of their spots is the Westergasfabriek, a terrain that homes a collection of old factory buildings that are all used for different retail purposes nowadays. Visit the Sunday Market and your fun-filled Sunday is a guarantee.
Crossing the Ij lake to the Northern part of the city for some industrial vibes is definitely not something to miss out on. Once a month the Ij-Hallen (a few huge old factory halls) hosts Europe’s biggest flea market where locals sell their unwanted goods. The mood is always excellent and after shopping, you must head over to one of the iconic cafe’s and restaurants overlooking the water like Pllek, Noorderlicht or De Ijkantine. Take the ferry to the NDSM-Werf and just follow the stream of people.
Hang out at the Hard Rock Cafe
Just a few minutes walk from Leidseplein the Amsterdam Hard Rock Cafe is the right place to catch your breath from all the local madness or prepare for a night out. Located right on the water it provides you great views on top of delicious cocktails and a menu that features much-loved classics like nachos, ribs, burgers, milkshakes and cheesecake.
We’ll get to the classics later too but first, we want to point out that Amsterdam’s art scene has plenty more to offer than old paintings by super famous artists. Of course, names like Rembrandt and Van Gogh are hard to miss but they’re not the only ones that are pretty good at the art thing.
Moco Museum focuses on modern and contemporary art from creatives who have proven their worth. Banksy is on till the end of September and definitely worth a stopover and we can’t wait to see what’s on next at this inspiring boutique museum.
Are you into photography? Foam photography museum wants to show visitors all different aspects of microfilm and offers a wide variety of exhibitions throughout the year. Definitely not your standard museum and there’s something exciting going on every time you visit.
Party at the Leidseplein.
Leidse Square, also known as party central, is the place to be for a night full of clubbing, music and dancing. Several big and well-known clubs, as well as bars and pubs, are scattered throughout the area and when the sun sets this place really comes to life.
May we suggest starting your night in the intimate atmosphere of one of the smaller bars? Surprise bar is a good choice for a first stop, considering its popularity arriving early is advisable anyway. Get a free welcome shot upon arrival and settle into the party mood.
So what’s it gonna be? Bar hopping from place to place, hanging with some locals in one of the above-mentioned spots, or perhaps dance the night away in one of the bigger clubs?
Neither one of these options requires you to move away from Leidseplein, especially not if clubbing is your next move.
Chicago Social Club pops up in everyone’s nightlife at some point and has built quite a reputation since the opening in 2011. They’re open every night of the week, throw big parties on the weekends and with your Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket, their door is never closed.
In Amsterdam on a Monday? Don’t think you’re sentenced to a quiet evening because Melkweg simply won’t allow it. Instead, they bring you their legendary drum and bass night ‘Cheeky Monday’ and you won’t be asleep before 5 am.
Heading home after the party? With a bit of luck, some of the places right at the beginning of the Leidsestraat are still open. Nothing tastes better than fries, a burger or falafel after a night out dancing and drinking.
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Take your bike through the bicycle passage of the Rijksmuseum and stop right in the middle of the square. Park your bike and just look around for a second, as you are now surrounded by the finest museums in the Netherlands.
Want to learn more about the art history of the country and see Rembrandt’s famous painting ‘The Night Watch’? The Rijksmuseum is your destination.
The Van Gogh museum is obviously dedicated to the work of this famous painter. But you won’t just see his work, you’ll also learn more about the painter, the life he lived and letters he wrote.
More into modern art? The Stedelijk Museum’s got your back, just look out for something that looks like a giant bathtub and you cannot miss it.
Having the munchies after hours of walking around the streets of Amsterdam or perhaps that short stop at a coffee shop? We know exactly where to go and what to eat and make sure you try at least some of these specialties before you leave the country. Dutch people love them and we think you’ll appreciate them too.
You’ve probably seen ‘FEBO’ a few times here and there and if you’ve never set foot inside one is about time you discover their great wall of Dutch snacks. Insert a coin, or your ATM card, and pull out delicious, warm delicacies. The ‘kroket’ is a must try, which is a fried, breadcrumbed food roll usually containing meat (beef, veal) mixed with a creamy béchamel and yummy spices that you eat with mustard. Other options are the ‘frikandel’, like a minced meat hotdog, a burger or you can order a soft serve and a number of other options at the counter.
Also, look out for a HEMA sign and score the best sausage in the world, locals happily make a detour for this one and so should you.
Stroopwafels (plural, yes), caramel waffles, are not just famous in the Netherlands anymore. They’re exported to all corners of the world but fresh ones, from the market, are definitely best.
If you’re feeling adventurous try eating raw herring, it’s delicious and healthy but you either love it or,…well, it’s up to you!
In restaurants, keep an eye out for dishes like ‘stamppot’ (mashed potatoes, vegetables and sausage or bacon, sometimes both), ‘snert’ (pea soup) and ‘poffertjes’ (small Dutch pancakes) if you want to try something local.
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