8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss in Amsterdam
Next up on everyone's favorite series, 8 Things, Amsterdam! If you have plans to travel to Amsterdam but are having trouble narrowing down what to do, you have come to the right spot. Or maybe you are simply tired of reading dozens of blogs all saying the same thing (I was too). You likely already have plans to visit the Red Light District, Anne Frank's House, the Van Gough Museum, etc. - and you should! But, aside from the obvious touristy things, what should you definitely not miss? After four visits to this beautiful city, here are the top 8 things I recommend seeing, doing, eating, and drinking!
Brunch at Cafe Georgette on P.C. Hoofstraat
P.C. Hooftstraat is a popular shopping street lined with every designer store you could imagine. Even if I am not planning to buy something, I love to head here to explore the shops because they have such beautiful, unique displays. Even the Chanel exterior is to die for! And on glam P.C. Hooftstraat lives Cafe Georgette, my favorite place in all of Amsterdam.
Cafe Georgette has only been around for about a year which is probably why I had never heard of it prior to my trip in October. Luckily I was sent to P.C. Hooftstraat on a photography gig for AFAR and stumbled upon it while searching for a warm coffee. It is a Parisian-themed cafe, serving breakfast, lunch, and delicious coffee and pastries. I now go here every time I visit Amsterdam without fail!
Once done, head to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gough Museum, or Vondelpark, all a short walk from Cafe Georgette.
above photos via Nooch
Dinner at Nooch
Nooch is a place I randomly stumbled upon online during my last trip while trying to find a place to eat on New Years Day. It was, like everything else, closed, but since I had hyped up the menu to Penelope we knew we had to go back the following day when it was open. The result? It did not disappoint.
Nooch features Asian cuisine of just about every variety - Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, and Thai. My biggest issue here was deciding what to order since they had so many delicious sounding options. We were pretty hungry and ordered a handful of things - all of which were absolutely fantastic.
It does get extremely busy, so I would recommend making reservations. We got there right as they opened and still barely found seats at the bar.
Rent a bike and see the sights
…if you dare :) I am certainly not a bike-riding expert, despite my unhealthy addiction to Soulcycle, but it is almost always my favorite way to get around when visiting somewhere new. You are able to see so many things in a shorter period of time than if you were to walk, but you still get to exercise and breathe in fresh air unlike being in a car/bus or some kind. I recommended the same in my popular post about 8 Things You Cannot Miss in London and everyone has loved it!
I would recommend renting a bike first via a guided tour so that you get a good overview of the city. Then you can later go back to the spots you want to see more of, either via bike or not. Years ago I did a tour via Mike’s Bike Tours which was great and something I recommend.
Walk around Albert Cuyp Market
Albert Cuyp Market is an outdoor market selling everything under the sun — from fish and waffles to clothes and souvenirs. You name it, Albert Cuyp Market’s got it! Grab a coffee and snack at one of the stands and spend an hour or two perusing all of the goods. It's fun to roam around in and great if you need to pick up something for someone back home (or yourself, even).
Note: don’t forget to stop by Noor when you’re done! More on that below.
Get drinks at Lion Noir
Lion Noir is a restaurant and bar in the center of Amsterdam. The ambiance is so great that I might have recommended it for that alone! But luckily I don’t have to, because just as great as the decor itself are the drinks. They have a full cocktail menu including their “famous fabulous martini”, classics like an old fashion, and many of their own custom concoctions like “don’t leaf me alone” and “monkey kong”. You can check out the menu here.
They also serve lunch and dinner, although I have not yet tried their food. The reviews seem to be universally positive though, so I’d say you can safely test your luck if you do find yourself here around feeding time ;)
Do some shopping
One of the things I love about Amsterdam is that everything is so dang cute. On every single block (no exaggeration) there are at least a few things I see and want to shop at/eat at/do something at. For the most part I try to steer clear of shopping while traveling, but somehow Amsterdam’s charming stores always seem to pull me in. Some of my favorites:
- Noor - a boutique full of affordable and fashionable items. My favorite place to shop for clothes in Amsterdam!
- & Other Stories - a one-stop destination featuring items designed in Paris, Los Angeles, and Stockholm. I first discovered it while stumbling upon it in Amsterdam but they do have many locations all over the world and also online. Still, it’s worth the in person visit!
- It’s a Present! - super cute gift shop. It looks a bit tacky online (no offense) but don’t let that fool you. In person it is lovely and full of adorable presents for you or anyone you need to pick something up for!
- Wilderness - plants, books, accessories, and gifts. The store is absolutely beautiful and covered in greenery, which you know I LOVE!
- All the Luck in the World - another adorable store featuring things like “home accessories, jewelry, vintage treasures and exquisite rarities, stationery, must-have gadgets, furniture and things for the little ones”. I especially love the jewelry.
Stay in a canal view room
Two trips to Amsterdam ago I did something very unlike me - I booked a hotel for that night at the Amsterdam airport upon arrival. And, as seems to be the norm here, almost everything was sold out. Since I was not sure if I would actually want to stay more than one day (I was there for a quick photography gig), I switched my search to one night instead. All of a sudden I was presented with many more results, including a canal view room at Amsterdam Wiechmann Hotel for a very reasonable price.
Google describes Amsterdam Wiechmann Hotel as an “unpretentious option offering unfussy rooms" and I couldn’t have put it better myself. It is certainly without frills and almost feels like you are staying at your grandma’s house. But it is homey and charming and my canal view room was everything I didn’t know I needed. Waking up in the morning to the most stereotypical, unique-to-Amsterdam views was such a joy and the best way to start my day. I watched as dozens of people — business men, women in heels, friends, etc. — whisked by my window on their bikes en route to work, school, or wherever the day was taking them. There were trucks unloading food and other things to restaurants and stores and parents walking their children to school.
It of course doesn’t necessarily need to be a canal view room at the Amsterdam Wichmann Hotel specifically, but could be elsewhere. But I have stayed in a few different places — the Pulitzer, the Albus Design Hotel, and a b&b in Jordaan — many of which were much fancier (and more expensive) than this place, yet I still really enjoyed it. And, not to be picky, but I especially liked that it was right on the end of the street at the canal bridge. Watching people bike down the street isn’t nearly as exciting as watching people in 3 different lanes crossing each other!
Check availability and book your stay at Amsterdam Wiechmann Hotel here.
Take a day trip from Amsterdam to Utrecht
Before Amsterdam became the go-to spot in the Netherlands, Utrecht was the most important. It is a medieval town and, like Amsterdam, full of canals, ancient buildings, and historic houses. From the city, Utretch is a quick 24 minute train ride, making it the perfect destination for a day trip!
Head over first thing in the morning to grab breakfast at Ted’s All Day Brunch - reason enough to make the journey. It is delicious and makes you feel like you have died and gone to Instagram heaven! Check out the menu here.
Some places I did not have time to check out but hope to make it to next time: SLA Voorstraat (for healthy salads, bowls, snacks, and juices), Broei (a beautiful vegetarian spot), and Instock (tackling food waste one day at a time).