Top 10 hidden gems of Amsterdam

Known as the ‘Venice of the North’ for its pristine canal system, Amsterdam really does have something for just about everyone. While you might consider coming here to stop at the usual tourist joints, the smoky coffee shops, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, it’s also worth remembering these 10 alternative options to take you off-the-beaten-track in The Dam. 

Go To The Stadsarchief

Like in any city that has its origins in the 14th century, it is very worthwhile to learn a little Amsterdam history before hitting the pubs and coffee shops. Be sure to head to the Stadsarchief (aka the City Archive) to catch a quick glimpse of this museum’s extensive collection of everything and anything related to the capital since its earliest beginnings. What’s more, the basement exhibition is totally free, and guided tours only cost €4.

Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Vijzelstraat 32, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20-251-1511

Building of City Archives of Amsterdam |© Konstantin Tronin/Shutterstock

Visit The Tropenmuseum

As one of Europe’s leading ethnographic museums, the Tropenmuseum offers the curious traveller a chance to view exotic art, photographs, and film from non-Western cultures colonized by the Dutch. South Africa, India and Southeast Asia are all included in the museum’s permanent collection, and a series of ongoing temporary exhibits deal with plenty more. Be sure to hop on the tram to get to this one, as it’s quite a walk from the canals.

Tropenmuseum, Linnaeusstraat 2, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20-568-8200

Get A drink At Café Sound Garden

Take some rest and relaxation at this alternative pub located right on the edge of the canals. Boasting great views of the city during the day (and even better ones on the terrace at night), Café Sound Garden is known for drawing alternative crowds made up of locals, tourists, and ex-pats alike. Look for the discounted beer specials and the live al fresco music spaces, a perfect combination to wrap up a long day walking the city.

Café Sound Garden, Marnixstraat 164-166, TG, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20-620-2853

Walk Around In De Pijp

With a name whose weird and wonderful English translation reads ‘the pipe’, this neighborhood is a must see for those looking to get away from the hustle of the city center. Traditionally a working-class neighborhood, De Pijp is home to the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam, which features a lively assortment of bars and restaurants, including many serving up fine Syrian, Moroccan, and Surinamese cuisine. Also, be sure to stop at the Albert Cuypmarket on a sunny Saturday for one of the oldest operating bazaars in the Netherlands.

De Pijp, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Go To The KattenKabinet (Cat Museum)

If traditional museums aren’t really your thing, you’ll probably enjoy the KattenKabinet, a museum all about cats, in Amsterdam’s Herengracht neighborhood. In particular its about the representation of cats as ironic, dramatic subjects in all kinds of sculptures, paintings, and posters. While a relatively recent addition to Amsterdam’s tourist line-up, this one is located in an old house that oozes historical charm. The museum also has five real cats to provide the essential interactive aspect of the exhibit.

Katten Kabinet, Herengracht 497, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20-626-5378

KattenKabinet |© Chris/Flickr

Visit the Bluebird Coffee Shop

The Bluebird is a far cry from many of the iconic coffee shops that pepper the streets in Amsterdam. Find a comfy spot with friends or a solitary window seat and experience Amsterdam’s famous cannabis culture. The Bluebird is the perfect spot for someone eager to try a joint for the first time or looking to get away from many of the more touristy hotspots near the city center. With a wide selection of cannabis strains, look to the staff to provide some helpful direction in deciding “what” and “how to” at this establishment.

Bluebird, Sint Antoniesbreestraat 71, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20-622-5232

Hang out in the Vondelpark

While Amsterdam is known on the one hand for its heady nightlife and party vibe, it’s also famed for its chilled-out subcultures and pretty parks. Because every trip here should have a relaxing day to follow a busier one, the Vondelpark, a popular green-space where locals go to unwind, picnic, and enjoy each other’s company, is simply not to be missed.

Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vondelpark |© kavalenkau/Shutterstock

Celebrate King’s Day

What was formerly known as Queen’s Day became King’s Day in 2014, when Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son, Willem Alexander. Despite the name change, this is the national party of the Netherlands, and catching it while touring Amsterdam would be a great idea. Not only are there parties throughout the streets, the day is also synonymous with a nation-wide flea market. That means beers with locals, and plenty of chances to grab some bargain souvenirs. King’s Day usually occurs on the 27th of April each year.

King's Day |© Steve Photography/Shutterstock

Eat at Café Loetje

For the best interpretation of real dutch food, go to Café Loetje near the Museumplein for biefstuk and friet (steak and chips). This café’s top-rated meats attract both locals and tourists, and have made it a landmark Amsterdam restaurant. Noted for its relaxed ambiance and reasonably priced beer, it’s no wonder why people who manage to find it keep on coming back.

Café Loetje, Johannes Vermeerstraat 52, Amsterdam Netherlands, +31 20-662-8173

Attend the Tulip Festival

Arguably the best known flower festival in the world takes place each year just south of Amsterdam in Lisse. Set in gardens that employ 30 full-time groundsmen year round, this one is definitely worth your time (especially if you’re travelling in the country from late March to mid-May). There are many tours to Lisse from Amsterdam, all readily available from the city center.

Keukenhof, Stationsweg 166A, Lisse Netherlands, +31-252-465-55

Tulip Festival |© Olena Z/Shutterstock

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