A tip and 5 recommendations for Amsterdam

Authored By:

CIEE Amsterdam

Have you too been captivated by the pictures of the canals, the exquisite cuisine of Bitterballen and Stroopwafels, and the concept of being able to live without a car? Come to Amsterdam and find out what it's like for yourself. Here are some of my suggestions after 3 years of living and studying in Amsterdam. 1. The real Amsterdam is outside of the center. Most people who first come to Amsterdam get a hotel in the center and spend a week shopping at H&M, getting Starbucks, dodging drunk bikers, and falling for tourist traps. There is nothing wrong with that, but this is the tourist experience. The real Amsterdam starts about 20 minutes away from the center. Here you will find restaurants and bars of any cuisine, real shops, and businesses where the locals go, and it will be much less crowded. Here are some of my favorites from outside the center: 2. Jordaan This beautiful neighborhood west of Centraal station is full of canals, little shops, restaurants and bars and a real treat in the spring or summer. You may also be surprised how quiet it can be in Amsterdam once you get away from the main roads. This is where real Amsterdammers live. Take a stroll and enjoy, discover, and relax. 3. O Mai Any time I bring someone new to Amsterdam I take them here. It is my favorite restaurant in the world. This beautiful, small, Vietnamese restaurant located on the Utrechtsestraat is perfect for lunch or dinner and will serve you all the Vietnamese classics like Pho, Summer & Spring Rolls and Vermicelli noodle salads. My go to is Nr. 23, the Summer Rolls to start, and the homemade Iced Tea. 4. Fort Negen If you have ever been to Paris, you know what a real boulangerie looks like and you probably also know that you cannot find anything like it elsewhere. However, in my extensive bakery research, this is the closest I have come. This absolute gem is a local favorite and always well visited. They make everything themselves and you can watch them making fresh bread all day behind the counter. They also have an assortment of sweet treats that changes daily, and they offer bread-making classes if you want to give it a try yourself. My personal favorites are the sourdough bread and the Chocolate Miso cookies. 5. Oosterpark While I wouldn’t call it a hidden gem, this park is less known (and crowded!) than the Vondelpark and much prettier in my opinion. If you are staying at the Generator Hostel, you will have the pleasure of calling this park your backyard. It is ideal for a walk, relaxing, and any sports activity on foot, or on wheels that doesn’t involve a motor. I used to personally run laps around here and there would be someone to race every single time. 6. De Pijp I’m not sure if calling this the SOHO of Amsterdam is fair since I have only been to SOHO once, but I have heard the comparison made many times and so far, I agree. De Pijp is a great neighborhood to explore and is especially well known for its nightlife, bars, and restaurants. Also, it is a great visit during the day for shopping, lunch, nature, and art. If you are interested in the history (and taste) of beer, the Heineken Experience is also located here. Conclusion When in Amsterdam, especially if you are planning to stay for longer than a few days, venture outside of the center and create your own experience. There is always something new to try out regardless of the weather *wink* and you will be amazed at the many faces of this beautiful city