Amsterdam: it might just be my new favourite European city break. Just over an hour’s flight, easy to walk or cycle around, full of cool shops, cafes and restaurants -what’s not to like? We went in November, the temperature was brisk but not too cold and it felt lovely and festive, plus the flights were so much cheaper. Here’s what we got up to…
WHERE TO STAY
We only stayed at The Hoxton Hotel for 2 nights, and wanted to stay somewhere centrally located with a bit of luxury. I can’t recommend it enough, not super expensive but it still feels luxe (the comfiest beds in existence), and has such a buzz as soon as you walk in. It’s in a great location, amongst the famous ‘9 streets’ neighbourhood inbetween the grand canals. The affordable rooms are small (we stayed in a Cosy room), but the bar and restaurant is great to hang out in (and the food is great for breakfast and lunch too) – it’s very easy to spend a LOT of time in this hotel (!). The staff were so helpful, and gave us all their restaurant recommendations and even plotted them out on a map for us.
Explore the 9 streets. Here you’ll find the coolest boutique shops, cafes and restaurants – don’t worry about finding the trendy places to go, most here are good and it’s so relaxing just wondering – everything is so picturesque and I just loved all the small boutiques and gift shops. You can rent bikes, we didn’t this time and enjoyed it just as much. I would add that I have previously been to Anne Frank house and would recommend, but we didn’t go this time – just make sure you book in advance.
The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam has plenty of good museums (and if you wanted to go further afield, I would recommend the Mauritshuis in Den Haag) but if you were to do just one, this is it. Save plenty of time as there is so much to see – and it’s all about those Dutch Masters: Rembrandt, Vermeer and Jan Steen are amongst the outstanding works here and it’s definitely one of my favourite galleries.
De Pijp This is a new area we had never visited, and is fast becoming the ‘hipster’ area of the city (I’m pretty sure people who are actually hip, don’t put the word hipster in inverted commas but let’s ignore that, shall we?). I would really recommend walking around here at night, enjoy a few cocktails and dinner. Albert Cuypstraat is a good street for restaurant – we had a burger in The Butcher which was very casual (gourmet burgers but takeaway seating area) but Pho 91 also looked great if you wanted something relaxed but a little more formal.
WHERE TO EAT
There are so many good restaurants in Amsterdam, and we didn’t go anywhere super expensive. We tried to get into Balthazar’s Kitchen which we’d heard about but it was fully booked, so book ahead! But we loved Mook for pancakes, Cafe Amsterdam – set in an old Pumping Station in the Jordaan area and Pluk for brunch with a side of shopping.
Foodhallen for on-the-go streetfood was great. We went on a Thursday night, it was lovely and warm as it was all inside, it was packed but still places to sit and eat, and the food was fantastic – burgers, sushi, tapas, seafood – independent food stalls serving pretty much everything and anything. Dinner for 2 cost €20 with drinks.
One last tip: if you can get to a Hema store whilst you’re there, you won’t be disappointed! Or you can always shop online when you get home…