Amsterdam is full of wonders. From the Red Light District to the Begijnhof, from vegan fast food to caviar dinners, you can find whatever you’d like in this city. Here at Max Brown, we get that every day calls for something different, so we have selected insider tips for the broadest of cravings. There are always ways to get inspired and support our local communities. Here a few tips that we hope make your day a little brighter.
Often considered one of Amsterdam’s most charming neighbourhoods, wandering down the Jordaan’s narrow streets of quaint buildings feels like stepping back in time. Originally a working-class area, the Jordaan is now one of Amsterdam’s most desirable quarters, dotted with independent art galleries, bars and restaurants, antique shops and courtyard gardens.
Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest green space, and one of the city’s most popular attractions for locals and visitors alike. Located just minutes from busy areas like the Leidseplein and Museumplein, the park’s 47 hectares of grass, ponds, walkways and the odd café offer a true urban oasis that’s always within reach.
Who says shopping has to cost a lot? If you don’t want to spend too much but still feel like going on a little shopping spree, go vintage. You not only pay a fraction of the retail price, but it’s also better for the environment. Here are some options:
IJhallen (every three weeks at NDSM-wharff)
Bij Ons Vintage (has several locations in Amsterdam)
The Zipper (has several locations in Amsterdam)
We Are Vintage (has several locations in Amsterdam)
TAKE THE FERRY ACROSS THE IJ
Escape the bustle of the city centre and hop on the (free) ferry behind Central Station across the IJ river to Amsterdam Noord. During your short journey across, you’ll get to see eye-catching buildings like the ADAM Tower and the Eye Film Museum. Once you’re on the other side, enjoy a walk through the beautiful park of the Tolhuis and treat yourself to a picnic under one of the park’s iconic old trees if the weather permits. Fun fact: there is always a free exhibition on in the Eye Film Museum.
If you want to experience the true “Amsterdam feeling”, head to the Jordaan and visit the Noordermarkt. Every Monday and Saturday, the market takes over one of the most beautiful squares of Amsterdam near the Noorderkerk. Don’t forget to try the typical Dutch apple pie at café Winkel 43—the very best in town according to locals.
Mata Hari is the hidden gem of the Red Light district. Sit at their small outdoor terrace to enjoy a cup of coffee along the canal, or take your friends out for local beers and cocktails. Inside, you’ll find a series of cosy armchairs to sink into, along with delicious Mediterranean-Persian inspired dishes.
On Spui, right in the middle of the buzzing city, there’s a door that leads you to an oasis of silence: The Begijnhof. It housed unmarried religious women between the 13th and 20th centuries, and today it’s still a women-only community. We definitely recommend a visit to experience the sacred feel and gorgeous architecture. Oh, and the entrance is free!
BROUWERIJ ‘T IJ
Found in the former Funen bathhouse next to the De Gooyer windmill, this small, certified organic brewery was opened by former musician Kaspar Peterson back in 1985. You’ll find their standard selection here and across the city, along with their unique seasonal and special occasion brews. Opt for one of their guided tours or tastings, then grab a spot in the pub or on the sunny terrace outside.
Every week—with exception of the months of July and August—a Free Lunchtime Concert takes place in The Royal Concertgebouw located on the edge of Museum Square. The concerts range from public rehearsals by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to chamber music performances by young up-and-coming artists.
Summer in the City
One of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, Amsterdam’s Hortus Botanicus is the perfect spot to mix some greenery and zen into your city stay. Check out the large hothouse that brings together three different tropical climates before sitting outside amongst it all with a drink from the garden’s quaint café.
If you’re looking for a popular local spot to enjoy some sunny drinks on the canal, Waterkant 10/10 fits the brief. Inspired by its counterpart in Suriname’s Paramaribo, choose from a casual menu of Surinamese bar food and local beers while taking in the boats passing by on the Singelgracht canal. Go early to get a spot on a sunny day before the locals come flocking.
Rock up or boat up to this hidden gem and dockside watering hole just a few minutes from Amsterdam Centraal Station. Dangle your feet over the dock, sprawl out on the greenery or grab dinner on the roof terrace as you take in the IJ water views and locals blowing off some steam. Go when sunny – and thirsty.
Amsterdam rooftop terraces can be hard to come by, but Floor 17 is certainly helping the cause. On the top of the iconic Leonardo Hotel Rembrandtpark at 85 metres high, it’s the tallest in the city with sweeping views of the capital below. And with a menu of burgers, salads, global dishes, breakfast and cocktails, it’s a crowd-pleaser in more ways than one.
RESTAURANT DE KAS
Located in a stylish glass greenhouse in Amsterdam Oost’s Park Frankendael, De Kas serves up plant-to-plate Mediterranean dishes made using the 300-odd organic vegetables, fruit and herbs harvested on-site and in their neighbouring local gardens. With an impressive wine list and no detail spared, it’s one of the city’s best places to spend a special dinner or particularly lush lunch with friends or family. Book in advance, because spots go quick.
When the sun is shining, no trip to Amsterdam is complete without a sail down one of the city’s many connected canals. There’s no shortage of public and private boat companies offering both captained or self-driven sloops, e-boats and speedboats, either covered or open-air (we like Stromma or Mokumboot). And with endless moor options like the IJ Canteen, Hannekes Boom, Strand Zuid and Edel, you’re never far from a cold beer or local bites on solid ground.
VONDELPARK OPEN AIR THEATER
On every weekend until 27 September, the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre is where fresh air, entertainment and the real Dutch ‘gezelligheid’ feeling come together as one. Every weekly programme features a range of performances including music, comedy, youth theatre and dance, from both established and emerging talents. And with free entry, what’s not to love?
A hidden gem removed from the city’s bustle, Strandzuid’s waterside terrace and urban beach are happily tucked away in Amsterdam Zuid. Watch the boats go by from one of the many canal-side tables, or post up in one of the sand-stationed lounge chairs. When you’ve had your fill of sun, the charming shaded gardens of Beatrixpark are just a short walk away.
ARTS & CULTURE
At Moco Museum, you will find a wide range of modern and contemporary art. Since its opening in 2016, the museum has showcased iconic works by renowned international artists such as Bansky. It’s only a two-minute walk from Max Brown Museum Square.
Its world-famous masterworks from the Dutch Golden Age include “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer and Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”. The Rijksmuseum itself is also a masterpiece. The collection is presented in a stunning building with amazing interior design. In 80 galleries 8,000 objects tell the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, from the Middle Ages to Mondrian.
Amaze Amsterdam is an immersive audio-visual experience created by creatives and showmakers from all over the world. Start off with a nice cocktail in the lounge and completely immerse yourself in the digital world afterwards. The only way out is in.
Ijhallen is located in the northern part of Amsterdam and is quickly reached via ferry from Central Station. It’s Europe’s largest flea market, and you can find anything from clothes to furniture here. Go early to catch the best stuff.
Tropenmuseum is one of the largest museums in Amsterdam. It’s dedicated to world cultures and shares interesting stories throughout its extensive and regularly changing exhibitions about people.
Filmtheater De Uitkijk is a movie theater close to Leidseplein, and it is the oldest in Amsterdam. They focus on screening arthouse and independent films but also host special movies such as all-time classics and international hits.
Amsterdam North is a breeding ground for new, young and experimental, and you get there by a free ferry. One of the best restaurants there is Pllek, and its menu is 75% vegetarian and 25% vegan. It also has a stage, and every genre takes the mic. During the summer, it becomes an outdoor cinema, a mini-festival venue, an art gallery and a yoga school. Check out their website for all their upcoming events.
If you want to visit the future, go to De Ceuvel. The former shipyard in Amsterdam North has been converted into a scientific playground for those innovating sustainable technology. You’ll even see houseboats that have been brought on land and converted into offices. There’s also a sustainable café for when you need a bite.
FOAM, located on the pituresque Keizersgracht, is a photography museum featuring national and international talent. The exhibitions vary from photography to visual installation to graphic works. The combination of the exciting exhibitions in the historic building is an experience in itself. Keep an eye on the website for updates on the current exhibition.
L’ÉTOILE LUXURY VINTAGE
Amsterdam locals love their vintage shopping, and l’Étoile’s Luxury Vintage’s three designer bag outposts always top any list. With new finds arriving weekly, it’s the perfect place to indulge yourself in a little pre-loved luxury to take back home (at some of the best prices in the city, no less).
THE EYE FILM MUSEUM
A modern-day Amsterdam icon, the Eye Film Museum is also home to a cinema and water-view café with a huge collection of Dutch movies, foreign films and film posters. Explore the history of cinema, grab a drink in the café, then catch a foreign art-house film or restored classic before hopping on the 5-minute free and easy ferry back to Centraal Station.
THE DIAMOND MUSEUM
Enter the Amsterdam Diamond Museum enchanted and leave an expert on the unique role diamonds have played in fashion, glamour and entertainment over the last 400 years. It’s the only diamond museum in Europe, and just a two-minute walk from Max Brown Museum Square. That’s a whole lot of sparkle, just a gem’s throw away.
DUKE OF TOKYO
Let the city carry you to a holiday within a holiday. The owner and designer of this karaoke bar created a Japanese wonderland. You’ll feel like a duke of underground Tokyo. Book one of the rooms and let loose.
Toko Bersama might not look like much from the outside, but this place has the best Indonesian meals and snacks in Amsterdam. The portions are big and you can definitely enjoy leftovers the next day. We recommend that you do take out and enjoy it at your place.
Located close to De Pijp, this hidden gem has the best cheesecakes. Owned by a lovely Greek man named Spiros, you can really see the passion that goes into these cakes. The flavours switch with seasons and special holidays, and you can always count on being surprised by what Spiros has come up with. The best thing is that it is all handmade with high-quality ingredients so you will not feel nauseous after indulging.
If you’re looking for a glass of champagne and an elevated slice of pizza, look no further than TONI LOCO, the quick, casual Italian-American pizza spot right in Amsterdam’s buzzing De Pijp neighborhood and just down the street from famous Albert Cuyp Market. Get the exact giant slice you want by choosing your own toppings, and be prepared to lose your train of thought when you take a bite.
G’s A REALLY NICE PLACE
This is a really nice place for brunch after sleeping in one of Max Brown’s famous beds. G’s a Really Nice Place offers a range of lavish American dishes. If you want to feel like you’re in the South, go for the Dirty South—cheddar waffles with fried chicken, bacon, sour cream and topped off with hot sauce. And being the ultimate brunch spot, G’s has a separate Bloody Mary menu. While you’re at it, go for the Bloody Ridiculous, where “ridiculous” refers the toppings, which includes bacon, fried chicken, celery and much, much more.
Feel like having the best burger in town? (Who doesn’t?) The Butcher is where to go. You can choose from one of four locations in Amsterdam. Each location, just like the food, has an easy-going vibe, and any dish you order is great. We strongly recommend the truffle burger accompanied by some sweet potato fries. If you have room for a milkshake, don’t hesitate to order a spiked one.
ALBERT CUYP MARKET
This market has been a favourite for Amsterdammers since 1905, but tourists, students, day-trippers and entrepreneurs are also at home here. Located in one of the most popular districts of Amsterdam, it’s a place to experience an authentic atmosphere and all-around happiness.
VERSE GOOD STORE
In 2016 on an iconic canal in Amsterdam, Verse first opened its doors. It’s a female BIPOC-founded, one-stop-shop for ethical, sustainable and empowering brands.
This light and airy store offers a subtle glimpse into a greener future with its diverse selection of beautifully curated clothing, homeware, skincare, art, and accessories. Everything is made ethically from eco-friendly fairtrade hemp (arguably the greenest fibre our planet has to offer). Within the wondrous shop is a cosy café offering hemp teas and coffees alongside other tasty snacks and treats.
Instock is a concept that transforms waste into food. They are passionate about reducing food waste and preparing delicious dishes out of food items that would have otherwise ended up in the bin. They now have a restaurant in Amsterdam, The Hague and Utrecht.
Meatless District now has two locations in Amsterdam, one on Bilderdijkstraat in West and the other on Van Woustraat in De Pijp. They prepare 100% vegan dishes and are open every day for lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks (and breakfast during the weekend). Their menu changes with the season.
Vegabond sells plant-based food and advocates itself to be a place for everyone. The place itself is cozy and homey, nurturing a community where everyone can grow and develop themselves while enjoying vegan food and doing a good deed for the environment.
CHARLIE + MARY
If you want to shop some sustainable fashion and lifestyle products, make sure to stop by Charlie + Mary in De Pijp on Gerard Doustraat. The employees of this finely curated store are always up for a little chat.
VEGAN JUNK FOOD BAR
If you’re in need of a hangover cure but want to avoid meat and cheese, a visit to Vegan Junk Food Bar is essential. This playful vegan chain has several locations in the city, and even better: they do home deliveries. Luxury!
MR. & MRS. WATSON
This cute restaurant is fully vegan, and their specialty is a cheese platter. Yes, they have an award-winning vegan cheese platter, because they understand that giving up cheese is a hard thing to do. Even if you’re not vegan, this restaurant in Amsterdam East is definitely worth a visit.
A one-of-a-kind concept store and art exhibition space set in the historic W Hotel Amsterdam, the 450-square-metre store is a destination for the best in Dutch art, fashion and design. A meeting and event space for the local creative community, X BANK hosts both small and large-scale public expositions, lectures and gatherings, with changing artworks to keep the creative community inspired.
Vedder & Vedder
Looking for a little something special? Stop by this Amsterdam atelier to to check out the gorgeous, personalised jewellery created by two Dutch sisters (and get a sneak peek behind the scenes). It’s a popular spot, so don’t forget to make an appointment over on their website first.
The most luxurious shopping street in Amsterdam, the PC Hooftstraat is well-known across the Netherlands and beyond. Drawing in visitors with its chic ambiance and international allure, there’s no shortage of beautiful brands from around the world to explore. If you’re looking to treat yourself to something luxurious and high-end, add this one to your list.
MOMO Restaurant, Bar & Lounge
MOMO is culinary hotspot located next to Vondelpark in the heart of Amsterdam. Go for fancy dining with cocktails in a timeless, cosmopolitan and sparkling atmosphere. During weekends, you can find many locals getting together there for cocktails and bites.
Cafe Panache is in between fancy and casual. Here you’ll find some of the best cocktails and the nicest staff (insider tip: their host is famous). It’s perfect for dinner, and you can always move to their bar side afterwards.
Momenti Italian Cuisine is a new place in the heart of Jordaan. Their sommeliers perfectly pair their amazing wines with their incredible pasta. Go here for a fancier four-course dinner—you won’t be shocked by the bill. Try their delicious Funghamisu, which is most likely the best tiramisu you will ever have.
If you want a locally-sourced, mesmerizing dinner experience, go to this restaurant located on a small dock and in a former warehouse space. For once, veggies are the stars of the show and meat takes a backseat. We recommend that you to go all out—order as much as you possibly can and get the wine pairing. It’s worth every penny.
A former bank, now a magnificent restaurant. If you have something to celebrate or simply feel like having a fancy dinner, we highly recommend The Duchess. When you go, don’t miss the Spaghetti with Beluga Caviar. Fancy galore.
IZAKAYA Asian Kitchen & Bar
The words “Asian fusion” don’t do IZAKAYA justice. If you can get a reservation, the concept of this sleek Amsterdam hotspot is Japanese with a South American twist (think padron peppers with yuzu miso), and their cocktail menu will change the way you think of sake.
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