My trip to Amsterdam is so fresh, that I haven´t even unpacked the cheese I brought back, but I really wanted to write about it asap, lest I forget all the powerful impression this wonderful city have left on me. Full disclaimer: this is my second time in Amsterdam, and I actually stayed for six days, but since I didn´t really take any time off, and worked for almost four of those days, I compressed an itinerary for three days, and adapted it to someone who´s never been there, touching upon all my favourite places. Now since I´m a huge foodie, I will reserve a whole other article to speak about all my favourite food places, but I´ll still mention them here in passing, so you know where to eat at least one fabulous meal a day. Let´s go? Or shall I say “Laten we gaan”?
Start your first day in Amsterdam with one of the best brunches I´ve had – at Factory Girl. Their speciality – a breakfast dessert, Coco Anjéla, followed by (yes, you read that right, you´re starting twisted) their Turkish eggs or shakshuka, accompanied by a mimosa are the perfect way to kick off a great day. Next, head next door to the Albert Cuyp market, presumably the largest open air market in Europe! Note: the market is open six days a week, so if your day one is Sunday, be aware that it will be closed. While I didn´t particularly like the market, it is a landmark and it sells everything from bikes to amazing looking strawberries and fresh dumplings, great tuna and colourful dresses. So you might something nice! Next, walk around the scenic De Pijp neighbourhood, where streets are named after Dutch painters and houses, albeit not bordering on the canals, look picture perfect. Finally head back through the neighbourhood and make your way to the Van Gogh museum. Make sure you´ve booked your tickets online (a ticket is 22€ with an audioguide included) previous to your visit, and if you´re not following my plan and getting there towards the end of the day, aim for the morning as it´s less crowded. Depending on how thorough you´ll be, a visit should take you around two to three hours. Finally, upon leaving the museum head to the Vondelpark, a huge 120 acre park in the middle of the city. Walk around and appreciate how green Amsterdam can be, even at its heart. I haven´t had dinner in the area, but I hear even the Vondelpark has some nice restaurants so I suggest you end the day around there, with a nice meal and a cool glass of wine.
Start your second day in Amsterdam with coffee at the Hoxton Hotel. Note: their breakfast is also nice, but breakfast on the second day will consist of Amsterdam´s best cookies, so settle for coffee alone at the Hoxton. I´ve been there on two days, working from their downstairs restaurant (it´s a very beloved place for digital nomads and entrepreneurs and the staff is so kind as to let you do your thing even if all you order is one coffee for four hours of work). And now, for your cookie breakfast walk to Het Koekemannetje, the absolute best cookie bakery in the whole of Amsterdam. My favourite was the one with milk chocolate, but the pure chocolate and the brownie ones are also to die for! You are now in the 9 Straatjes neighbourhood, Amsterdam´s trendy shopping district, amongst its many canals, and will probably want to do some shopping for a couple of hours. One shop you cannot miss is De Kaaskamer, a 25 year old cheese store that has a fantastic (and totally non commercial) selection of cheeses. Two things I love about them: they are on spot with their recommendations (assuming you know what you like, and can tell them) and they can vacuum seal your cheese and sausages so that they last many months. I left with three cheeses: Bonte Peperkaas (a Gouda cheese with a pepper mix from the village of Deurningen), Bio Remeker Rijp (a 7 to 9 month old cheese made of milk of the horned Jersey cow) and Koopman´s Truffelkaas (a creamy black summer truffle cheese) and three sausages: Livarano, Chipotle and Knoflook – all for 45€ (the cheeses weighted about 250g each and the sausages about 150g each). Of course, the 9 Streets have plenty of clothing and cosmetic stores you´ll love too, so check those out too! Now head over to the Jordaan neighbourhood, browsing through its many art and antique stores before reahcing Anne Frank´s House. Make sure you book your tickets ahead of your visit as well, they´ll be 14€ per person with the audioguide included and the visit will take you about one hour. It´s truly super interesting and touching and you absolutely cannot leave without doing this. As you leave Anne Frank´s house head over to my favourite Amsterdam bookshop – Waterstones. Four floors of fantastic books you´ll love! Next door at van Wonderen you can also try out one of Amsterdam´s most famous desserts – the stroopwafel. Choose the Smarties one, it´s pretty good! End the day walking through the fascinating Red Light District, but don´t let it get too dark, otherwise it gets a bit creepy. Then walk to Café de Jaren for a light dinner by a gorgeous canal (I recommend the bitterballen and the hummus, they´re super good!).
Buckle up for day three in the city of over 160 canals! Grab a quick breakfast, perhaps from the famous Bagels and Beans (they´re everywhere and while they didn´t blow my socks off, I have to admit I have never seen such a radiant smoked salmon on a bagel!), and head over to the Rijksmuseum. Again, you´ll need your tickets in advance and they´ll be 25€ per person with the audioguide included, but thet´re worth every penny. The museum is absolutely huge so I would recommend either taking two days for it, or making sure you only stop in front of things you really want to focus on (for me it was the big Dutch painters – mainly Vermeer and Rembrand, their jewellery collection, weaponry, musical instruments and ship maquettes. We stayed there for close to four hours and it was a bit tiring. Once you get out, you´ll want to sit down in the sun (hopefully) in the park at the right of the museum, admiring all the people people in front of easels giving painting a shot. Next, head over for a great lunch at Arisa, a newly opened restaurant by the Prinsengracht canal (there are two Arisas in town, but this is the one I utterly recommend). Have their fries, their labneh and hummus, and a glass or two of their excellent wine. As for the rest of the afternoon, book yourself a cruise through the canals. We used Flagship and chose the Booze cruise, which had unlimited drinks over the short period of the cruise (60 minutes). Needless to say we established a new record of how much rosé wine we could have in one hour. If you´re still up for it, head over to one of Amsterdam´s many brasseries for a light dinner and a fabulous end to a great trip. Note: We chose Marie Amsterdam, a brasserie from the Michelin guide, right next door from Café de Jaren, as we really loved that canal. I wouldn´t necessarily recommend them as some of their dishes were a bit bland, but their tartare was fabulous and they do great drinks (if the booze cruise was not enough), so it could be a good spot if you´re just feeling peckish.