Although I do not live in Amsterdam anymore, it is still my 'hometown'. I know I ain't a city girl, I lived in Amsterdam for over 14 years, but I wasn't as found of spending my time inside the city as some of my friends. Many times I would actually leave the city to go to the dunes or the forests. So I guess it isn't weird that I left to see more of the country side in Europe. But Amsterdam does have a special place in my heart. Not only because it is home to my family and friends but also because of it's atmosphere and character. Amsterdam is 'one of a kind'. I can't explain what I mean with that: you should just visit it and experience it yourself.
That is why I created a Guide How To Experience Amsterdam as a Local!
I hope with these tips you will visit some parts of Amsterdam that you otherwise wouldn't have seen. And of course hopefully you like them. Besides accommodation, transportation and areas & spots to see, I also added some of my favorite coffee places, bars and restaurants. Nothing fancy but nice and visited by locals.
I hope after your visit you can understand what I mean with 'Amsterdam is one of a kind'!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! ENJOY!
Step 1: Accommodation I guess this one is easy: book an appartement (or studio) through Airbnb. If you want to experience Amsterdam as a local, make sure you 'live like a local'! There are many apartments for rent on Airbnb, just be sure to book ON TIME because they are really populair. You can of course choose to stay in the most touristic areas: the centre, the Jordaan or somewhere at the canals. But I advice the following neighbourhoods: Westerpark (a.k.a. Staatsliedenbuurt), Oud-West, de Pijp or Amsterdam Oost.
Step 2: Arrange local transportation Bikes! It is where the Dutchies are known for. There are actually more bikes in Amsterdam than inhabitants so it shouldn't be a problem to get your own bike. A lot of Airbnb rentals are including a bike. Otherwise rent one! There is also public transportation available and of course you can walk a lot. But with a bike you are a lot faster and you can explore the outskirts of the city much easier! And it is what ALL locals do...
Step 3: Start your day with a good cup of coffee Exploring a city without coffee ain't a good idea... Find out which one of my favorite coffee places is nearby your appartement!
Caffènation, Warmondstraat 120 (close to Vondelpark) The owner is from Belgium and he makes great coffee. They also did an awesome job with the decoration of the place. It is walking distance from Vondelpark but well, you have a bike right?
Coffee Bru, Beukenplein 14 (East of Amsterdam) Awesome coffee and tasty sandwiches. Great place to kickstart your day.
De Bakkerswinkel, Polonceaukade 1 (Westerpark) Cross the bridge towards the park and on your left hand you will find 'De Bakkerswinkel'. They also sell bread etc in the little shop next to it. Please order a scone with your coffee... They are tasty!
De Laatste Kruimel, Langebrugsteeg 4 (Center) Small, maybe very busy but oh so cute! At the back they have a very tiny terrace to sit outside. This place is also great for a sandwich by the way...
De Drie Graefjes, Eggertstraat 1 (location 'Dam', Center) Hidden behind 'de Nieuwe Kerk' (the church at Damsquare) there is a little shop with an outside terras, some small tables inside AND a sitting area above the shop. If it is full, make sure you look upstairs as well ;). Also here they serve awesome sweets...
Vlaamsch Broodhuys, Eerste Constantijn Huygensstraat 64 (west) Again a concept from Belgium. I guess I like the Belgian coffees :). Order one of 'Dimitris favorites' with it to be all fuelled up for the city!
Le Pain Quotidien, Cornelis Troostplein 4 (nearby the famous 'Albert Cuyp' market) I could suggest something, but I don't know what to choose. All is super here!
Step 4: Explore Amsterdam during a big bike ride With your bike you can easily go everywhere, Amsterdam ain't that big... I give you a suggestion for a nice bike ride which covers a lot of areas a little less touristic. You can of course split this ride up in two days.
Step 5: Take the ferry to Amsterdam Noord (Amsterdam North)
Locals used to say that Amsterdam Noord isn't Amsterdam. But this has changed completely. It is now the new and upcoming neighborhood! Explore this part of Amsterdam: take the free ferry from the back of Central Station to NDSM werf. This is an old shipyard, first alive in the fifties as Europe’s largest shipyard. In 1984 the shipyard went bankrupt and now you find all kind of different things here. In a part of the old building, called the 'IJ-hallen', there is a couple of times a month a market in the weekend where locals sell all kind of stuff. You can also find some awesome cafeterias to relax in the grass with an amazing view over the water and see Amsterdam Central station from a different point of view. One of these is Noorderlicht, a quirky greenhouse-style space houses this hip, bustling cafe serving seasonal dishes by the river. Chill outside in the gras and maybe they will make a fire in the evening to warm you up! Another part of Amsterdam Noord worthwhile to visit is the Noordelijke IJ-oever. It is directly opposite of Central Station with a ferry that goes 24 hours a day for free. Go to the other side and walk over the to famous Eye museum. Even if you don't feel like visiting the museum, go there to have a drink!
Step 6: Enjoy good food and drinks I already mentioned some places for coffee and other nice spots in the bike ride description. But well: city life means also enjoying food and drinks in nice places. Hereby a list with some of my suggestions for food & drinks in Amsterdam:
Amsterdam Roest, Jacob Bontiusplaats 1 A converted industrial building, housing a laid-back bar with outside picnic tables, a little city beach & live music
Rosa & Rita, Conradstraat 471 A kind of canteen with great pizza and steaks! Simpel concept, nicely done
Bloem Eten & Drinken, Entrepotdok 36 Cafe Bloem has during summer an outside terras where you can see the animals across the water of the Amsterdam Zoo!
Restaurant Bidou, Beukenplein 19-21 They serve a variety of food: from delicious pizza to grilled fish and pasta. Good service and reasonable prices. Often full so make a reservation in advance!
De Biertuin, Linnaeusstraat 29 Long tables with benches where everybody sits together. Good beers, terrace with heaters and nice 'bitterballen'
Two Smokin' Barrels, Beukenplein 22 Again this square... Yes I love it! Also nice heaters to sit outside, always full with people sharing a drink and laughter!
Boca's, Westerstraat 30 Trendy modern cafe in the famous Jordaan, specialising in gourmet sharing plates of snacks, sandwiches & desserts. Just delicious! Also for lunch...
Le 4 Stagioni, Johannes Verhulststraat 32 Real Italian food with a chaotic Italian host in the South of Amsterdam. One of the few restaurants in Amsterdam that locals actually take the time to wait for a table at the bar
Spaghetteria West, Jan Hanzenstraat 32 Guess what you can eat here...? Nice pasta's while sharing big tables with other guests
Van 't Spit, De Clercqstraat 95 Simpel food: grilled chicken in a cozy and modern surrounding
Noorderlicht, NDSM-Plein 102, A quirky greenhouse-style space houses this hip, bustling cafe serving seasonal dishes by the river
Cafe Cook, James Cookstraat 2 A small cozy cafe, hidden for tourists. If the sun is out, they have a great terrace!
Foodhallen, Bellamyplein 51 Indoor food market with all kind of food, bites and drinks. Try out the gin tonics with cucumber as well
North Sea Jazz Club, Pazzanistraat 1 Intimate low-lit club in Westerpark for live jazz, soul & world music, plus 3-course dinner concerts & dancing
Bierfabriek, Rokin 75 A brewery in the centre of Amsterdam with hip, urban edge serving craft ales, plus organic grilled dishes & private tap tables. Sometimes the floor can be covered with peanut shells...
Happyhappyjoyjoy, Bilderdijkstraat 158HS Great Asian streetfood! Can be really busy so make a reservation just to be sure
Step 7: Discover more of the areas you loved
At this point you have visited many parts of Amsterdam. Which one was your favorite? Let's explore that one more! I amsterdam made a great guide with a lot more information, tips and suggestions, categorized by neighborhood. Check out this guide and explore more of your favorite area!