Travel Guide: All About Amsterdam
- Written By:Christina Valhouli
Many cities are defined by their architecture and that’s no exception for Amsterdam. The city was designed with a network of semi-circular canals and today it’s impossible to imagine the city without its waterways. The canals are teeming with life, from house boats to pleasure cruises and even the tiny House Boat Museum, and one of the best ways to soak it all up is on foot. Slip on a pair of comfortable shoes and wander past the canals and down little side streets - you may stumble on everything from one of a kind boutiques to world-class museums.
The Netherlands’s capital offers all the ingredients for an ideal getaway- history, culture and sophisticated dining in a magical setting. And if you want to live like a local, consider renting a bike, which is the fastest way to get around Amsterdam.
Start by exploring the Nine Streets neighborhood in Old Town, which is filled with independent boutiques and charming restaurants. Refuel with a cold pressed juice or a smoothie at Natur, where flavors include Drunk in Love (watermelon, pineapple and lime) and Cereal Killer (yoghurt, strawberry, banana quinoa). Pop into Pluk, which is the kind of housewares store you wish you could move into. Some of the best buys here are ceramics and textiles, and the baked goods are almost too pretty to eat. If you want to bring home edible gifts, Chocolatl sells single estate origin chocolate bars from around the world. The spot is beautifully designed and looks more like a bookstore than a retail shop. Dog lovers can pick up stylish accessories at Koko von Knebel, which stocks everything from leashes to puffer vests.
Amsterdam is full of world-class museums and while it’s impossible to see them all in one trip, there are a few must-sees. The Anne Frank House is an emotional but essential stop. Visitors must pre-book their tickets to tour the secret annex where the Frank family hid during WWII. Anne Frank’s diary can also be seen here. The two other major museums in Amsterdam are the Van Gogh (reservations are necessary) as well as the Rijksmuseum, for its selection of Vermeers and Rembrandts. Rembrandt's The Night Watch is arguably the most famous painting here. For contemporary art and design, stop by the Stedelijk Museum, whose recent extension has been dubbed “the bathtub.” The collection spans 1870 to the present, and includes works from Matisse and Picasso. Handbag lovers should browse the Museum of Handbags and Purses, located in a 17th century canal house. If you plan to visit multiple museums, consider buying an IAmsterdam City Card for free or discounted admission.
You’ll also have your pick of stylish hotels while visiting the city. The Nine Streets neighborhood is also home to the newly renovated Pulitzer Amsterdam, a member of Preferred Hotels. The sprawling hotel consists of 25 connecting townhouses centered around a courtyard. The hotel has deep literary roots as the owner’s grandfather was Joseph Pulitzer, creator of the Pulitzer Prize. The lobby library nook has Pulitzer Prize winning books and the bar creates drinks with a literary connection. The bar recently showcased The Great Gatsby inspired drinks and will move on to Ernest Hemingway in September.
The main restaurant, Jansz, fits in perfectly with Amsterdam’s casually cool vibe; you’ll see families as well as couples dining here. Kick off with a Gin Punch á la Terrington, which is crafted from homemade lime sherbet and garnished with nutmeg and dehydrated lemon. Start off with the beef tartare before tucking into grilled salmon served with black rice.
Although Jansz’s desserts look tempting, the neighborhood is full of superb ice cream stores which should be sampled. IJscuypje, which sells ice cream and sorbet, has multiple locations around Amsterdam and focuses on fresh, raw ingredients. Specialties include elderberries and rhubarb sorbet, and stroopwafel ice cream, which contains bits of this Dutch favorite caramel waffle cookie.