You know you’re in Amsterdam when there are risqué coffeeshops, condomeries, and dance bars at every corner. Amsterdam’s provocative reputation is not unwarranted – it is definitely one of the spiciest cities in Europe.
But that’s not all – as every itinerary of Amsterdam will tell you, the city boasts of a number of culturally rich museums and buildings. Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank’s House are amongst our favourites. It is easy to spend a couple of days exploring Amsterdam’s historical buildings, museums, and open spaces. But what after you’ve ticked them off your list, wandered around the Red Light District to find out what the fuss is all about, munched on a month’s worth of frites (fries to you and me!), and spent hours people watching at Amsterdam’s central square Leidseplein. Luckily for you, there’s no dearth of offbeat things to do in Amsterdam. Here are 12 of our favourites:-
1) Jordaan, Amsterdam’s bohemian neighbourhood
This is one of our favourite areas in the city. It’s perfect for an aimless gander – make sure you make a pit stop at De Kaaskamer. The legendary cheese shop has some insanely scrumptious locally-sourced cheeses. Nom!
2) Blijburg Beach
An artificially created city beach just outside Amsterdam. The laid back atmosphere is reminiscent of a hippie commune. It is perfect for a warm afternoon of doing nothing.
3) Albert Cyup Market
If you enjoy flea markets and local markets, make sure you explore the Albert Cyup Market. It’s easy to find everything from chocolates and flowers to clothes and bedding here. Albert Cyup is the perfect place to sample local Dutch specialities such as herring and Dutch liquorice.
4) Free Ferry
Make sure you take the free ferry across the river. These free ferries provide the perfect excuse to head out of the city centre and head ‘Noord’ (North). Cross over to the other side of the river and explore Amsterdam’s lesser-known neighbourhoods.
5) Coffee Shops
If you plan on hitting Amsterdam’s infamous coffee shops, avoid the chains like the plague. Staff are usually uninterested, menus overpriced and quality cheap. Some of our favourite coffee shops include Grey Area, Greenhouse, and Grasshopper. If you’re looking for a coffee shop close to the Red Light District, try Baba Coffee Shop.
6) Kokopelli’s Headshop
If you want to try out shrooms, truffles, and other naturally-occurring hallucinogens, head over to Kokopelli’s Headshop. This eclectic shop, with friendly staff members, is one of Amsterdam’s best kept secrets.
7) The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes)
A network of picturesque streets criss-crossing Amsterdam’s canals. The area is just two minutes away from the Royal Palace in Dam Square. The streets are crammed with quirky boutiques, shops, and art galleries. Our favourite bit? The cafés. Make sure you try coffee at Espressofabriek and Screaming Beans – the good stuff!
8) In De Wildeman
Located in a former distillery, this is essentially a beer tasting bar. It is somewhat of an institution in Amsterdam. The bar boasts of a massive selection of 18 beers on draft and over 250 bottled beers. Make sure you try beers from local Dutch brewers.
9) Wynand Fockink
A traditional distillery in the bustling centre of Amsterdam, known far and wide for its selection of liqueurs and jenevers. It’s hidden in a little alley near Dam Square, so it might take you some time to find it but its well worth it. Take a tour of the distillery or head straight to the tasting room for the good stuff.
If you’re on the hunt for a good nightclub in Amsterdam, try Trouw – it’s a night club, restaurant, and cultural space all rolled into one. Trouw never disappoints!
11) Amsterdam's Central Library
A library might not sound like the recipe for a fun day out but Amsterdam’s Central Library is different. It’s easy to spend hours perusing the expansive music section here. What’s more, the view from its terrace cafe is amazing, to say the least. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it out.