To start your day off as a true Dutchman, stay at home, eat a sandwich with cheese and drink your coffee – black. The Netherlands is a coffee-drinking nation and is far too good to contaminate with milk.
Amsterdammers, like all Dutchmen, don’t go out for breakfast. They would sooner have a leisurely brunch – a tradition imported from Paris along with the city’s cafe culture.
Pic: Wiki Commons
Head to one of the bakeries – you can find one on almost every street corner – and indulge in fresh croissants and cured cheeses. The Dutch are health-conscious and like to start their days off with a savoury breakfast – the only sweet breakfast treat they’re partial to is hagelslag (chocolate sprinkled over bread).
Top tip: If you want to head out for food, try the eggs Florentine or Scotch pancakes head to Cafe de Paris on Rokin, right in the centre. Fancy something more quaint? Head to ‘t Bakkertje on the Warmoesstraat and find great breakfast deals. Or to the Drie Graefjes behind Dam Square, don’t forget to come back here for tea because their Red Velvet is renowned throughout the city.
Hagelslag. Pic: Flickr
Don’t fret if you’re not staying in the city centre; bakeries and cafes can be found anywhere in the city. So if you’re in Oost head to the Pijp, try cafe de Wasserette or get something on the go from the Albert Cuyp market.
If you want to start your day in peace, head away from the majority of the city and get the ferry to north. Just catch the ferry from central station and head over to Buiksloterweg and cafe De Pont.
Amsterdam is famous for its museums, so that’s where the day’s activities should start. Nemo, the science museum where you can take a walk through the human body and wrap yourself in a bubble, is perfect for all ages.
The Anne Frank house is the most famous of the history museums. Located right in the centre on the Prinsengracht, it’s always packed and you could easily be standing in line for hours, so be sure to book ahead! Another museum to keep in mind is the Jewish History museum on the Nieuwe Amstelstraat.
Rijksmuseum. Pic: Wiki Commons
Then there is, of course, the museum district, which is home to the van Gogh and Rijksmuseum. The van Gogh museum needs no explanation, and most people will know that Rembrandt’s Nightwatch can be found at the Rijksmuseum, but the art is classic and has been finely curated, so it’s always worth checking in.
Van Gogh museum. Pic: Wiki Commons
The museum district will guide you straight to the Vondelpark, the city’s best known park. Contrary to London, Amsterdam’s parks aren’t all clumped together, however, the city was planned in such a way that wherever you find yourself, you’re never far away from a good patch of green.
By the end of the afternoon, around four or five, you should make your way to the nearest cafe. Find yourself a nice table, preferably outside, because: cafe culture. It’s time to ‘borrel’. A borrel is an alcoholic drink, but to borrel means to have a glass of beer or some wine and order some snacks.
Any cafe will do for the borrel, but one located on a square is preferable so you get the full effect of the fun tradition. This afternoon activity would usually see you through to dinner, but it has also been known to go until it’s time to go clubbing.
Bitterbal is traditionally served for borrel. Pic: Flickr
Once the borrel is over, a stroll through the city will work up your appetite for dinner. Dutch cuisine doesn’t differ so much from the English in that their most common dishes will be some form of potatoes, greens and meat, but Amsterdam being the capital means that there’s a wide variety of cuisines offered throughout the city.
In the Nine streets in the centre you’ll find a lot of French and Italian restaurants packed into the houses Amsterdam is known for. The food is good, but much pricier compared to somewhere like Pllek or Noorderlicht on the NDSM wharf in north.
For a night out where everyone is dressed up, having their pictures taken, drinking Dom Perignon straight from the bottle and ordering Grey Goose by the bucket-load, head to the Nova or Jimmy Woo.
For classic disco remixed along with soul and funk, make your way over to the Disco Dolly or the Bloemenbar.
These bars and clubs are great places to go almost any night of the week, but it’s worth checking what’s on the agenda at Paradiso or the Melkweg for everyday concerts and club nights. Acts such as The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse, and the Sex Pistols have graced these stages.
Words, Imogen Mills