As one of the most popular and visited European cities, Amsterdam has become an international hub for the arts and fashion during the past decades, earning a reputation as a top spot for finding the latest in the industry’s trends and innovations. With a rich history dating back to its beginnings as a fishing village in the 12th century, Amsterdam offers visitors amazing architecture and museums along with busy streets and an active nightlife. While famous for its coffee shops and Red Light District, the city has much more to offer those who seek to experience it completely and get lost in its charms.
Electronic music is also a big part of Amsterdam culture, with the ADE Festival’s presence serving as a testimonial to the city´s importance in the global club scene. Taking place every October since 1995, the ADE gathers the best electronic music artists and labels, and the latest gear, in a program that spreads throughout the city with conferences and music performances, growing bigger and drawing in larger crowds with each edition. Home to international DJs like Tiesto, Joris Voorn, Bart Skils, Laidback Luke, Matthew Dekay and many more, Amsterdam has had a strong influence on the expansion of electronic music, and its many clubs and record labels ensure the excitement keeps on going.
Below is a list of the best places to eat, drink, shop, stay and party at while in Amsterdam, to ensure you don’t miss out on anything while visiting this world-class Destination.
– RESTAURANTS –
Bakers & Roasters
A New Zealand-style café with a Brazilian touch, this popular spot offers a breakfast and brunch menu that has visitors raving, along with a coffee, tea and drinks selection that includes milkshakes, juices, beer and cocktails. For a tasty snack, try their sandwiches and salads, and, to top it all off, treat yourself to one of their delicious cakes, baked in-house.
Boasting traditional Thai Isaan style cuisine, Boi Boi dares guests to taste the Far East and experience the flavors and spices of their dishes, including their much-talked-about Pad Thai and curries. Set in a hip and vibrant location, the restaurant is decorated in the fashion of a Japanese pub and infused with the warmth of Thai hospitality, while offering views to the famous Windmill De Gooyer and the Dappermarket.
Translated as “Mothers”, this restaurant´s name fits the dining experience they offer very well, with traditional Dutch dishes served while surrounded by antiques and pictures of hundreds of mothers. A quirky place to eat that has nonetheless earned great reviews by its visitors, thanks to its hearty fare and fun vibes.
The Dutch Weed Burger
Offering unique, seaweed-based vegan fast food, The Dutch Weed Burger is in a class all by its own, a very creative restaurant where all-time classics like hamburgers, hot dogs and shawarmas get a vegan makeover, in their efforts to promote a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Located in Amsterdam´s Old West, it´s well worth a visit to try their famous “Sea Nuggets” and burgers, although their milkshakes and desserts are also a good excuse to pop in.
Cafe De Ceuvel
Organic, locally sourced ingredients are the basis of Cafe De Ceuvel’s philosophy, a restaurant located in the De Ceuvel sustainable urban development, which uses clean technologies to regenerate an old shipyard on the Johan Van Hasselt canal. By ensuring everything they serve is fresh and planet-friendly, the restaurant has gained popularity among Amsterdam locals and visitors, also due to their great food choices and waterside location.
– DRINKS –
Inspired by celebrated artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bar Basquiat is a great spot for breakfast, lunch or drinks. The interior is decorated in the artist´s style, with some of his scribbled handwriting serving as neon lighting and his sketches on the tabletops. Located in Amsterdam East, Basquiat Bar is always very busy and very lively and hailed as one of the city´s best places to eat and drink.
For a tropical experience in Amsterdam East, head to The Bar Botanique for a bite to eat or for drinks and you´ll find yourself surrounded by plants and green decor, behind large windows that flood the place with light. Open from 9 a.m. until late at night, Bar Botanique is not only about decoration, but also about great food and drinks that have gotten many visitors to come back for more.
De Tulp is a cozy bar located in the Marie Heineken Square, serving food and drinks in a garden setting and informal vibes. While being a quiet spot at day, the pace picks up as night nears and the chilled ambiance begins to feel more like a party. A lunch and dinner menu offers a wide selection of fusion cuisine dishes and an extensive drinks menu will help quench your thirst.
A Surinamese cafe-bar set on the waterside, at the edge of the Amsterdam canal ring, Waterkant has become a popular summer hotspot, thanks to its great ambiance, food, drinks and massive, sunlight-drenched terrace right on the canal. The party takes over on Friday and Saturday nights, with DJs playing R&B, Hip Hop, and tropical beats.
The Cold Gas Building on the Oostenburg Island is now home to Amsterdam Roest (Rust), a bar that was born from the bones of the old industrial building, refurbished to create what is now considered as an Amsterdam retreat, complete with city beach. They are always open to creative input, so the decoration shifts constantly, and offer food that includes sandwiches and snacks, with vegetarian options, and a drinks menu as well.
– CLUBS –
Located in Amsterdam West, De School was formerly a technical school that was refurbished in 2016 as a club, bar, restaurant, an exhibition and concert space and a gym, boasting a 24-hour license, as well as a secluded outdoor courtyard, and opening seven days a week. The 700-capacity nightclub puts the focus mainly on local DJs and artists, with some international guests making an appearance behind the decks now and then. De School is run by Post CS BV, the same people that handled Amsterdam nightclubs Trouw and Club 11.
Two wooden-floored rooms, decorated with colorful patterns and equipped with Danley sound systems, provide the ambiance and the music in this unique club, located in the Amsterdam center, on Rembrandt Square. Claire features appearances from both international and local forward-thinking artists, performing in its small, yet incredible-sounding, dance floors that get filled to the brim and flooded with light and sound.
Radion is located in what was formerly a medical office building in the Amsterdam Nieuw-West District, turning it into a creative center that includes a varied diversity of cultural programmes like theatre, cinema and dance, as well as a restaurant and bar. It also features a nightclub that hosts many guest artists that keep with the experimental concept of the project.
Thuishaven is not a nightclub, but rather a surreal experience that takes place on the outskirts of Amsterdam, surrounded by abandoned industrial buildings and scrap metal. While having indoor facilities like a hangar and heated tents for the wintertime, the place moves to open-air spaces and plays host to massive concerts and festivals, with a dedicated ADE program schedule as well.
A truly underground club, Shelter is located below street level, with an entrance that pops out at night, which means that it´s invisible during the day. Offering a healthy dose of house and techno, the club is not afraid to also feature avant-garde electronic music. High standards of design and quality of sound are two aspects that set Shelter apart and make it a not-to-miss experience for the serious clubgoer.
– WHERE TO STAY –
With a modern, artistic atmosphere, a comfortable, well-equipped common room and amenities like a fully-stocked library, a bright, green-walled atrium, a bar and restaurant, and rooms with en-suite toilet and showers, Clink Noord is more than a youth hostel. Located very near to the Amsterdam center, it has earned many rave reviews from visitors, some of whom have named it the city´s best hostel.
Hotel Casa Amsterdam
Founded in the 50´s to help with the shortage of student housing, The Hotel Casa Amsterdam also offered rooms to guests and has since become one of the city´s most recommended places to stay. An eye on design and cutting-edge technology in the rooms are some of the amenities featured in the hotel, which also include the East 57 bar, and Hopp, a roof-top Biergarten complete with amazing views.
Hotel Ibis Amsterdam Centre Stopera
From its privileged location in the center of Amsterdam, guests of the Hotel Ibis have easy access to the architectural and cultural hotspots of the city, as well as to the best nightclubs, either by foot, bike or public transportation. The hotel also features a summer courtyard, 24-hour snack and drink service, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and flat-screen TVs and air-conditioning in the rooms.
Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre
Very close to the action of the Amsterdam city center, the Ramada Apollo offers elegant and modern accommodation in its towering 17-story building. A huge rooftop terrace, the highest in Amsterdam, is home to a cocktail bar in the summer and an ice rink in the winter while, in the floor below, Skybar and Restaurant Floor17 serves French and international cuisine with panoramic views of Amsterdam surrounding the dining room.
Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
The Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht sits right in the middle of the historic Amsterdam canal ring, making it a perfect place to stay to be close to the lively city center. Featuring ample, individually-decorated rooms designed by Marcel Wanders, an artwork exhibition spread throughout the entire building, a spa, and a restaurant serving fresh, seasonal food with a Dutch twist, this hotel has been hailed as one of the best in Amsterdam.
– RECORD SHOPS –
Record shop, label and distributor, Rush Hour covers all the bases when it comes to music, be it house, techno, disco, hip-hop, electro, Latin, reggae or a long etc. They also stock DJ equipment, clothing, books, magazines and all sorts of merchandise and can be visited either on their central Amsterdam location or on their website.
A small record shop set in a former prostitution window that nevertheless has a well-stocked selection of a variety of quirky musical styles like Euro Boogie, New Age and Japanese synth-pop. Hailed as one of the best record shops not only in Amsterdam but the world, their Red-Light District location is a must-visit spot for the vinyl record lover. Run by the folks at Red Light Radio, who regularly upload shows to their Mixcloud account here.
Offering a wall-to-wall selection of second-hand records, Record Mania has been well-known among local and visiting record lovers since 1994. They buy vinyl records from their store located at the city center and carry a very wide array of musical styles, featuring rare editions and other hard-to-find collectibles.
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