The famous canals are as pretty as ever however there is a new, exciting energy gripping Amsterdam, with chic artisan cafes popping up in old neighborhoods and repurposed food halls rejuvenating this historic city.
I’m a planner and I’m also pretty frugal, especially when it comes to paying for accommodation. When I started looking for options in Amsterdam, the prices were exorbitant. I dug in my heels and did something I would never usually do. I didn’t book a thing. Friends had told me about how they rarely booked accommodation, preferring to wait until they landed before looking. That way, they said, you’d get a fantastic hotel for cheap. The day before we were to fly to Amsterdam, I spent half the day searching for hotels to no avail. The morning we were flying out, I was in a mild panic, furiously searching every hotel website, hoping….waiting. By 3pm, I was sweating and pacing the house. Our flight was at 8pm and I still didn’t have a thing. Finally, at 4pm, I found one on Hotel Tonight. Hotel De Hallen was not only in a great location but beautiful and dirt cheap. Next time I’m hoping to be more chilled out about it all as I was a tad stressed out but we did land a bargain.
Late night tipple at Bar Brandstof
If you’re keen to avoid the after-dark debauchery of Amsterdam’s famous red-light district, head to Bar Brandstof where the vibe is convivial and the wine goes down easily. We arrived after midnight but refused to just go back to our hotel so we braced the cold and sat at an outdoor table and watched the world go by.
Pick up edible supplies at Boerenmarkt
This small open market is one of Amsterdam’s trendiest local hotspots and my favourite place in the city. While you rarely see a tourist here, every Saturday the small laneways are packed with Amsterdammers shopping for fresh, organic produce. At the heart of this market is a huge mushroom stall with exotic varieties in every shape and colour, collected from not only Dutch forests but brought in from France and Lithuania. There are also a handful of ready-to-eat stalls selling cups of piping hot chestnut soup and still-warm cakes. It’s located in the Jordaan neighbourhood, just a short walk from Anne Frank’s house. Boerenmarkt is open every Saturday 9am – 3pm.
Morning brew at Scandinavian Embassy
Head to this chic café for a still-warm cinnabun and a strong flat white. Scandinavian Embassy sources a range of coffee beans, including (my) Copenhagen favourite, The Coffee Collective. While it would be rude not to have a coffee when it’s this good, if the probiotic strawberry soda or died coffee fruit kombucha is on the menu, you have a leave pass.
Street market lunch at Foodhallen
Taking up residence in a former tram depot, wander this indoor marketplace known as Foodhallen and create a lunch feast. Start with Bánh mì from Viet View before tucking poke so I couldn’t resist picking up a bowl at Meneer Temaki.
Afternoon flat white at Lot Sixty One
This corner café takes its coffee seriously, so seriously, in fact, it does nothing but coffee. While I didn’t know at the time, it came as little surprise that Lot Sixty One is owned by two Aussie blokes; Adam Craig and Paul Jenner. The two met in New York City and opened Culture Espresso, which was named in The New York Times ‘Top Ten All-Time Great Coffee Spots’ before heading to the ‘Dam to open Lot Sixty One. If you appreciate coffee, this place should be top of your list.