Amsterdam is a very, very cool city. No doubt you will stumble across many chic boutiques, galleries and things to do all by yourself. But we have a few recommendations you ought not to miss. So, once you have done the canal tour, Rijksmuseum and taken a peep at the Red Light District, try a cafe, gallery, club and shop from our very coooool list of finds.
You really are spoilt for art galleries in Amsterdam; no doubt the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt’s House, Stedelijk and the Van Gogh Museum are already on your list. But the Netherlands has also produced some of the most intriguing photographic work. Foam Fotografiemuseum runs about 3 exhibitions at any one time and features both pioneers, established and emerging artists. Your best bet is to head along on a Thursday evening where you can catch a free tour of exhibitions from 19:30-20:30. They produce a wonderful large format publication (Foam magazine) and there is a cafe serving coffee and cake too.
Keizersgracht 609 / Open: Daily 10am-6pm (Thur and Fri 10am-9pm) / Admission: €8, students €5.50
Openbare Bibliotheek (OBA)
This is the largest library in Europe spread over a whopping 10 floors. There are over 600 PCs and funky-looking Apple Macs where you can surf the web for free. Space-like bubble rocking chairs make for dreamily comfortable reading. They have international newspapers, CD and LP listening posts and, as long as you can tinkle a tune, you can play the piano in the foyer. Although the best view is at the top, each floor has large windows with wonderful panoramic vistas of the city. A chic cafe and posh restaurant are on the 7th floor.
Open: Daily, 10am-10pm
Many artists have cottoned-on that this place is the perfect live music venue and as a result, it often features several performances a day. The stained-glass windows are tell-tale signs of the venue’s historic past as a church so the atmosphere can be pretty special. See who is playing before you go. There really is something for everyone, but we spotted N.E.R.D, Martha Wainwright, Goldfrapp and Chromeo among the bigger names playing this summer.
NEMO Science Centre
Science may or may not be your thing but the building is something of an architectural feat. Shaped like part of a ginormous cruise liner, head to the sloping roof terrace which offers magnificent views across the water and an ideal sunbathing spot.
Oosterdok 2 / Roof Terrace Admission: Free / Open: Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm (July and August, noon-7:30pm)
A lot of love has gone into this place, right down to the last detail. Food is served on antique chinaware collected by the owners and it’s a unique spot for breakfast or lunch. Ingredients are collected from the garden and orchard out back along with eggs from 58 adopted chickens – roll on very fresh scrambled eggs on toast! Cooking is a passion for these guys and I’ll leave you with the sweet taste of rhubarb chutney, beech smoked sausages and sweet pear with cinnamon butter.
Taksteeg 7 (between Rokin and Spui)
Open: Tue-Sun, 8am-6pm
Average meal: €8-€10
Saskya & Co
A wonderful contemporary twist on Dutch souvenirs using traditional fabrics, Delft blue china patterns or soft slipper clogs. This is THE place to pick up gifts or mementos all the while avoiding the usual tourist gift shops – but a word of warning; you will probably end up keeping them for yourself.
Stromarkt 5 / Open: Fri-Wed, 11am-6pm; Thur, 11am-7pm
Other good areas for one-off boutiques are in the so-called, Nine Little Streets. These are: Reestraat, Hartenstraat, Gast-Huismolensteeg, Berenstraat, Wolvenstraat, Oude Spiegelstraat, Runstraat, Huidenstraat and Wijde Heisteeg. You can wander around this picturesque area to find unique gifts, pleasant tea rooms and galleries.
Located in Albert Cuyp market, this place has all the magic of a Moroccan riad, except the centerpiece of this covered courtyard is a bar rather than a mosaic fountain. The high ceilings and walls are vibrantly painted with Arabic patterns and the colored glass lanterns add to the enchanting souk experience. They serve both North African and Middle Eastern cuisine including grilled kebab, falafel, saffron couscous and chicken stew all for a moderate price.
Albert Cuypstraat 182
Open: Mon-Thur, 11am-midnight; Fri, 11am-1am; Sat, 9am-1am; Sun, 9am-midnight