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Insider’s Guide – Discover the new Amsterdam
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Insider’s Guide – Discover the new Amsterdam

Cleo Davis
Things to do in Amsterdam. A river with boats on it and buildings in the background

Discover the new Amsterdam—a city that's transformed its iconic canals and cobblestones into a playground for the sophisticated traveller. Gone are the days when Amsterdam was merely a caricature of coffee-shop culture and nights lit up by red lights. This Northwestern European destination is gaining a rep for refinement thanks to substantial investments from the Dutch government, which recognized the need for more honourable attractions. This attracts fewer lads on tour, and instead, ladies and gents who lunch,  One might say that Amsterdam’s standards are soaring, rivalling even the highest high of a coffee shop experience.

Things to do in Amsterdam

The best time to visit is between May and Sept – temperatures can reach up to 30s on peak sunshine days. And it’s the canals where you want to be. Either sit on the sides with an apéritif from a charmingly wonky canal townhouse hotel or take a private cocktail o'clock cruise to the water. On greyer days, amble the Nine Streets, an area in the trendy Jordaan district tightly woven with luxury shops, independent galleries and up-market eateries. 

If this sounds gezellig (the Dutch word for ‘inviting’, more endearingly used to encapsulate a cosy moment where the natural wine is flowing), discover our curated guide, which takes you past the typical tulips and cheese museums and into the hidden gems, hotspots, and hangouts.



Starting with (what you probably came to this article for) the restaurants. Presenting Amsterdam’s best of the best, from Michelin-starred establishments to hip warehouse dining spots.

Restaurant Flore

Restaurant Flore Amsterdam

For fine dining, the quaint canal-side Restaurant Flore boasts two Michelin stars, a menu of the finest locally foraged finds and an intimate 11-seater setting. Tip: book well in advance. 


Restaurant Breda

Restaurant Breda
Photo by: Restaurant Breda

Look no further than this restaurant nestled along a tranquil canal for locally sourced modern kitchen plates. Its buzzy vibe complements perfectly the delicate yet flavourful dishes. An extensive European wine list should be enough to get you through the door.


Cafe Toscanini

Photo by: Toscanini
Photo by: Toscanini

If you go to one Italian restaurant while in Amsterdam, make it Cafe Toscanini. It has been open for 38 years (in the charming Jordaan neighbourhood), and rarely an empty table says it all. Go for an excellent plate of pasta and romance—in that order.


Wolf Atelier

Restaurant Wolf Atelier
Photo by: Restaurant Wolf Atelier

For a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Perched atop a canal in a glass box on stilts, Wolf Atelier is unique for its views of Amsterdam’s river IJ. But eyes down because Chef Michael Wolf’s culinary creations are the highlight. Pro tip: book for sunset.



Corner Store

Photo by: Corner Stone

A hefty percentage of Amsterdam is under 40, creative, and cool. For your taste of trendy Amsterdam life, venture Noord (North) to Corner Store Sip to strong negronis, eat from small and perfectly formed plates and enjoy the ambient sounds scratched out by their resident (usually very good looking) DJ. Don’t let the wooden shed exterior put you off, it’s meant to be like that. (It’s cool.)




BAKEveryone loves BAK. It has everything a 30-something wants in a restaurant: an exciting and modern setting (in this case, an old warehouse). Ethically sourced food. Unpretentiousness. A selection of tasting menus. Go with friends to enjoy the vibe.


The White Room

The White Room
Photo by: The White Room

Serving Amsterdam grandeur, The White Room is an unforgettable, gold-accented historic dining room from 1885. And on the menu is experimental young chef Tristain de Boer’s creations of technical mastery, all born proudly from Dutch soil. Go to treat yourself.



Rijks Restaurant

RIJKS Restaurant
Photo by: RIJKS Restaurant

If there’s one thing I can’t forget about the Rijks Restaurant, it is the millefeuille beetroot. “A finely sliced root?”, you question/cry. It really was that good. And the natural Bulgarian orange wine. And that you access the restaurant via the regal Rijks maze-like gardens. Ok, that’s three things. Definitely date-night material.




Canalside terraces, rooftops, and speakeasies. Amsterdam has them all. Cheers to that.


Bar Twenty Seven


Set in the beautiful, suite-only Twenty Seven Hotel, the bar is located on the third floor of this 1916 building. Come for the sumptuous bar, attentive staff and well-balanced cocktails.


Fitz’s Bar

Fitz’s Bar
Photo by: Fitz’s Bar

Imagine London in the roaring twenties. Fitz’s bar is that. A sumptuous concoction of velvet curtains and sunken seats, drinks served Gatsby-esque glassware and waiters in crisp white jackets. To drink: the Dutch Courage with jenever, complete with tulip petals, is a must.


Bar Oldenhof

Bar Oldenhof
Photo by: Bar Oldenhof

The one where you press a doorbell to enter. It’s not exclusive, but it feels it. Nestled just off the Canal Belt, step into the discreet world of Bar Oldenhof for its abundant whisky selection, cosy upmarket ambience and soulful jazz tunes. 



Malabar Amsterdam
Photo by: Malabar Amsterdam

For a taste of modern Amsterdam, take yourself to the 8th floor of the steel-and-glass wedge Hotel Jakarta. It’s worth the short trip to the Eastern Docklands for the Van Gogh vodka cocktail, Indonesian bar bites and spectacular harbour views.


Sins of Sal

Sins of Sal
Photo by: Sins of Sal

Playful, sophisticated, and naughty, I went for the Slush Puppy Espresso Martini. It's maybe not the most refined cocktail bar, but it's certainly the most indulgent. Try the ‘Adult Entertainer’ if you like chocolate.



Twee Prinsen and Bar Kikkie

Kikkie van de Prinsensluis
Photo by: Kikkie van de Prinsensluis

Want to feel like a local? Head to these bustling neighbouring bars more for the vibe than the bars themselves. Situated on the pretty Prinsengracht canal, perch yourself on a tiny stool on either terrace to sip natural wine and watch the (cool) world go by.



Photo by: LuminAir

Stop dodging cyclists in the busy city centre and elevate yourself up to Amsterdam’s high-vibe sky bar, LuminAir. Designed to mirror the sky's mood, the bar’s modern interior is an ever-changing canvas of art and light thanks to cloud-shape installations and luminous projections. 




The Dutch are known for peddling the trends, so you won’t be disappointed with this solid selection of concept stores, featuring hand-picked pieces from local to far-flung designers.


Velour Amsterdam

a display of sunglasses in a store
Photo by: Velour Amsterdam

For minimalist, high-end fashion by Dutch to Japanese designers, vintage Prada and a gallery of unique sunglasses. In the heart of the cobbled Nine Streets, this modern treasure trove supports sustainable design and offers personal tailoring with every clothing purchase. Look out for shoes by Yume Yume and French fragrances by Ofumum.



ENSO Vintage

a room with a black chair and white clothes

The owners of Enso are committed to re-imagining the fashion industry by giving clothing a new life. They do this by upcycling clothing, which means altering and updating to modernise. A truly curated collection, every vintage piece of clothing in this store is hand-picked. 



Cowboys to Catwalk

a mannequins in a store

With Antwerp just down the road, it’s only right that the best of Belgian brands are in Amsterdam. Shop Dries Van Noten to Raf Simmons, as well as smaller brands. Tip: the sales are pretty generous.



Frozen Fountain

a table with chairs and a lamp
Photo by: The Frozen Fountain

Quirky. Vivid. Bespoke. When the Dutch play with style, it is usually through interiors. Bear witness to this at Frozen Fountain, where high-end meets highly intriguing. Find limelight-stealing trinkets to offbeat upholstered stuffed animals.  




a room with black and white checkered floor and black and white tiles
Photo by: ABCNDstore

The type of shop where when you walk in, you want to be part of its world–and own all of its truly unique pieces. Not just a place to shop, people flock here to hangout, to lunch, to get styled and to chat to the lovely owner, who is an advocate for up-and-coming designers. 



From modern art to Moet o’clock boat rides. Fill your photo app with Amsterdam’s less touristy and more interesting offerings. It’s not a bad line-up for a city that emerged from a swamp.


De Hortus

a glass roof with plants in it
Photo by: Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam

Enjoy the other kind of ‘green’ Amsterdam has to offer. In the city centre is Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. Go on a Sunday afternoon in July and August for exhibitions and live music.



Private canal ride

a couple of people in kayaks on a canal with boats and trees with Canal Saint-Martin in the background
Photo by: Pure Boats Amsterdam

You cannot come to the city that has more canals than Venice without taking a boat ride. And these boat rides come with good wine. Book your private tour with the knowledgeable and friendly hosts at Pure Boats.



Foam Photography Museum

a group of people sitting on the steps of a building
Phot by: Foam

Set an hour aside to sample some of the most progressive and diverse photography to come to town.  Enjoy three floors (plus basement cafe) inside this small-scale yet impressive canal house property.


Het Hem Art Centre

a large room with a few objects in it
Photo by: Het HEM

Hop on a 30-minute ferry ride from Centraal Station along the river IJ, and you’ll find yourself on the outskirts of Zaandam, greeted by a seemingly desolate landscape. But fear not, your destination is Het Hem, an old bullet factory (complete with holes in the walls), that has been (thankfully) repurposed into a hub for contemporary culture, showcasing the work of forward-thinking creative thinkers and visionaries. Wrap-up your day at the hi-fi music bar.


Nxt Museum

a man standing in front of a large screen
Creation by Marco Brambilla at Nxt Museum, The Netherland

Aptly positioned in the up-coming area of Noord (North) Amsterdam, Nxt is an expansive warehouse offering immersive experiences into AI art and media. An interesting and interactive way to get a grasp on the ever-changing world of technology. Tip: head to Corner Store for dinner (mentioned above).



people walking around a market
Photo by: Noordermarkt Amsterdam

For foodies and people watchers. This canal-side market is the perfect Saturday morning excursion. Coffee in hand, explore local cheeses, artisanal sandwiches and freshly made Dutch mini pancakes, known as poffertjes. Don’t miss the charming sight of locals loading up their bike baskets with fresh-cut flowers–it’s a bit cliché, but undeniably adorable.




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Last Updated on June 13, 2024 by Editorial Team


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