I visited Amsterdam for the first time a few months ago and absolutely loved it. It’s one of those cities where there is something for everyone it doesn’t matter if you’re out here to smoke and drink or if you’re interested in the culture and history.
When I first arrive into a new place I always enjoy doing the touristy bits (they are normally touristy for a reason) but once I’ve ticked off most of those then I try to venture out a bit and find something others may have missed.
Here are a few things you may want to check out if you’re visiting Amsterdam this summer:
Sandemans New Amsterdam Free Walking Tour
Not exactly off the beaten track but one of my favourite things to do when I arrive into a new city is do a free walking tour, they help orientate you and the tour guides are always very knowledgeable. Amsterdam was no different. Amsterdam is covered by Sandeman New Europe, a company who organise free walking tours in cities all over Europe and instantly recognisable by the red colour scheme.
These free tours are nearly always ran by locals, often students, and can therefore give you some great local insight and tips for places to visit. They work on a tip basis so at the end of the tour you pay what you feel it was worth.
The Amsterdam tour starts twice a day (11:15 AM and 2:15 PM) by the National Monument at Dam Square. From here you snake your way through central Amsterdam, taking in the red light district and finishing up over in the upscale western District of Jordaan, known for its art galleries, specialty shops and boutique restaurants.
At the end of the tour our guide invited anyone who wanted to could join her and head to a local pub for a well deserved beer and a chat. We had no pressing plans so decided it was a good a use of our time as any and we could ask some advice on where to eat. The top recommendation from this chat was a restaurant we checked out the following day, Café de Klos.
Café de Klos
This restaurant has a special place in my heart and currently holds title for the best ribs in the world, my personal opinion of course! (We didn’t try it we also heard the Lamb shoulder is incredible if you’re not a fan of ribs.)
Located in the South West of the city this hidden gem is one not to miss. We arrived at around 7.30pm on a Sunday night and it was already quite busy. There was no table immediately available so were directed to the pub across the road, which they also own (very clever). After a beer and a good chat with the bartender we were told there was space for us over the road and ushered over.
The layout of the restaurant is unique, with a large proportion of the seating set up around the horseshoe bar. Sitting like this gave the place a very friendly feel, you’re always facing inwards to the chatty bartender and it’s likely you’ll be sat next to some complete strangers. Rest assured however that after a few beers and you’re mutual admiration for the ribs you won’t be strangers for long.
The ribs are slightly more expensive than some of the all you can eat ribs places in the centre but you pay for quality not quantity here and after trying both I know which I prefer!
Brouwerij ‘t IJ (The Windmill Brewery)
Another recommendation is to give the Heineken brewery a miss and instead visit Brouwerij ‘t IJ. This local micro brewery is located in a former bathhouse directly next to De Gooyer Windmill and offers a range of beers from 4.7% up to 10%.
Another of the main attractions is that they also offer a brewery tour. These tours take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 3.30pm (4pm for the Dutch version) and costs only € 4.50 which even includes a free beer!
This quirky cafe is a popular local hangout, stylised in a cosy fashion with vintage furniture, it’s a cross between your Grandma’s living room and a hip bar in downtown Berlin.
If you’re looking for a casual drink and you happen to be down this side of town it’s most definitely worth a stop. The friendly bar staff and young patrons (many of who are local students) give this café a great relaxed atmosphere and make the place very appealing to those looking to get away from the craziness of the center.
So if you’re in Amsterdam this summer and fancy getting away from the crowds for a bit give some of these a look.
Also if anybody has any of their own hidden gems in Amsterdam I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.