Here are our insider tips for trips to the Dutch capital – from hotels on flower-flanked canals to secret beach bars.
Where to go for breakfast or lunch?
Australians excel at the art of brunching, so it’s no wonder that Aussie-Dutch-owned Little Collins – especially the original, indoor-outdoor branch in the trendy De Pijp district – is so good.
We recommend the sweet potato waffles or kimchi-gruyère scrambles alongside sriracha-spiked Bloody Marys. For a proper continental breakfast, meanwhile, head for Bar Botanique, an easterly haunt whose tropical plants are theatrically framed by emerald-coloured walls.
Unfussy yet high-quality lunches using organic produce are served in Vinnies. Well worth a journey through De Pijp to the quieter vibe of southern Amsterdam, this bistro’s concoctions might include smoked mackerel beside grapefruit chutney. All the designer furniture is for sale, too.
Location: Eerste Sweelinckstraat 19F, 1073 CL
Location: Eerste Van Swindenstraat 581, 1093 LC
Where to go for dinner?
Momo’s minimal interiors and sensational Asian-fusion dishes mustn’t be missed, but nor should some modern Dutch cuisine. The hyper-local Bolenius Restaurant is well deserving of it's Michelin Green Star, while river-facing BAK proffers creative tasting menus with an equally locavore, equally sustainable philosophy. This being the Netherlands, informality reigns supreme.
If you’ve some room left over, climb the steep, 16th-century steps to Upstairs Pannenkoeken. Perhaps Amsterdam’s hallmark dish, pancakes come in numerous sweet or savoury iterations – though there’s really no beating a simple sugar-covered original at this cutesy, four-table haunt.
Location: Hobbemastraat 1, 1071 XZ
Location: George Gershwinlaan 30, 1082 MT
Location:Grimburgwal 2, 1012 GA
Where to drink?
Amsterdam’s stellar cocktail scene is typified by the low-lit Flying Dutchmen Cocktails. Located among central cobbles, it sees fêted bartenders adapt 400-year-old recipes with modern twists.
And of course, you can’t visit one of Europe’s beer capitals without having a pint or two: skip the tourist-trap Heineken Experience in favour of windmill-topped brewery-bar Brouwerij ’t IJ. Alternatively, you can travel back a few centuries in time by heading to frequent a classic, tobacco-stained brown bar like Café Chris.
Rather hang with the cool crowd? You could take a short ferry to buzzy Amsterdam-Noord, where Pllek’s waterside warehouse, sandy beach and deckchairs host alfresco film screenings, photography exhibitions or yoga classes before late-night DJ sets.
Location:Singel 460, 1017 AW
Location:Funenkade 7, 1018 AL
Location: Bloemstraat 42, 1015 TB
Location: T.T. Neveritaweg 59, 1033 WB
Where to stay?
Just west of centre, De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) is a small, canal-crossed district housing many of Amsterdam’s finest design hotels. One such is the Pulitzer, 25 restored canal houses surrounding a central garden. Expect pastel colours, watery views and bold contemporary artworks.
Similarly opulent, the Conservatorium’s Neo-Gothic ex-bank contains additional facilities — a big spa; an 18-metre indoor pool; multiple restaurants — plus a handy Museum Quarter location.
Then there are quirkier options. Consider a floating stay through HouseBoat Rental Amsterdam, or Sweets Hotel: a city-wide project wherein 28 mostly tiny, former bridge-controller houses now serve as chic, remotely-run bedrooms.
Location:Prinsengracht 323, 1016 GZ
Location: Paulus Potterstraat 50, 1071 DB
Location: Pick your own
Location: Pick your own
What to do?
Museum Quarter visitors can admire Rembrandts in the Rijksmuseum, sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum or multi-disciplinary modern art inside the free-thinking Stedelijk gallery complex. Canal cruises are another classic distraction, as is the Anne Frank House: a moving memorial to the WWII diarist and Holocaust victim.
But try, also, to leave time to simply roam — or go fully Dutch and pedal — about. Cross the Jordaan’s leafy Notting Hill-like streets, shop for stroopwafels at the sprawling Albert Cuyp flea market and people-watch in beautiful Vondelpark.
Location: Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX
Location: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ
Location: Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ
Location: Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV
What to wear
Temperatures can vary from day to day, morning to evening. So, give yourself plenty of options with a combination of lightweight and midweight fabrics for easy layering. Here’s what we’d recommend for your packing list.