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Amsterdam – The Almost Local Guide

I wasn’t born in Amsterdam. But I already gave information for Dutch people, so I guess that makes me kind of a local. In the year I’ve been living in this beautiful city I have collected some amazing places and lots of knowledge, so let me share them with you.

Pizza of choice

La Perla Pizzeria

Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 53

+31 20 624 8828

When you are craving for Pizza, as everyone is every once in a while, make yourself a favor and go to La Perla. Jordaan, the neighborhood where La Perla is, is already a place to be contemplated. The place is full of locals wondering and going to the classic Dutch bars. In the middle of this very Dutch neighborhood, there is an Italian jewel. In the restaurant, they use only ingredients coming from Italy, and the pizza is so light and delicious that eating the whole thing won’t be a challenge for anyone. The only thing is that the place is small and incredibly busy, make a reservation before showing up!

Bar of choice

Mata Hari

Oudezijds Achterburgwal 22

+31 20 205 0919

Somewhere in the red light district, there is a bar where Dutch people actually show up! The name of the place is in tribute of a famous prostitute that lived during the time of the first world war. She was Dutch, spied for the French and ended up executed in 1917. The bar is very much alive though, and it has a fascinating decoration, lots of beers and a very decent finger food menu. I would also recommend you to stay for dinner.

Go on a sunny day

Amsterdam Roest

Jacob Bontiusplaats 1

+31 20 308 0283

On the rare and happy occasion of a sunny day in Amsterdam, I would recommend you first to walk around the canals and see the city in the sunlight. It adds a whole new thing to it. Going to the many parks, it’s also a great option. After you checked those two things off the list, go to Amsterdam Roest. Amsterdammers of all kinds come together to a fake beach located between old warehouses. They accept reservations for big events, but otherwise just show up early to guarantee a place.

For shopping

Now I confess I won’t be the best person to tell you where you should go for shopping since I chose to spend my limited amount of money on going out. But I will try. The traditional shopping street with all the big and famous shops we all know about is Kalverstraat. There you can find shops like Forever 21, Urban Outfitter, H&M, Topshop; I think you get the picture.

De 9 Straatjes is an area with 9 streets (duh), where you will find all different kind of shops and galleries. The luxury shops are around Museumplein. Another great area for shopping is Haarlemmerstraat, where you can find several local gems. Finally, when it comes to local goods, you should check the Maker Store, a collective of local stores the I Amsterdam store in the Central Station have excellent stuff. If you want to know more about shopping in Amsterdam, also check the I Amsterdam guide, they have everything!

Working place of choice

Meet Berlage

Oudebrugsteeg 9

+31 20 261 0903

If you are a digital nomad or just someone looking for a great place to work in Amsterdam, check out Meet Berlage. Probably the most central coworking and meeting space in Amsterdam, Meet Berlage is inside the architecture jewel Beurs van Berlage, the first stock market from Amsterdam. There they use the Seats2meet concept, where instead of paying with money you can pay with social capital. Pretty cool! Even more, they use the Serendipity Machine there, so be sure to check-in and get connected.  You can book a workspace here.

Chinese food of choice

Oriental City

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 177-179

+31 20 626 8352

In the middle of the red light district, you will find a restaurant where loads of Chinese people stop to eat. The Oriental City is the real thing when it comes to Chinese food and is so delicious. Wherever you com from, I invite you to enjoy this amazing place.

Where to stay

Amsterdam is full of great Airbnb houses, so that’s where I would go for if you are planning you stay with some time left, also the prices are better than hotels.

If you want to stay in hotels here are some separated by how much money you will spend on them.

The cheap options in Amsterdam are hostels. Luckily, there are a lot of good ones. You can check out the Flying Pig, Ecomama, StayOkay and ClinckNOORD.

€€

If you are not very hyped about the idea of sharing a room with unknown people, you will have to pay for it when it comes to Amsterdam. But there still are affordable rooms in nice hotels, as long as you book in advance. You can stay at the Student Hotel, the Lloyd Hotel, CitizenM, Volks Hotel, the Hoxton or you can always rely on big chain hotels as NH, MarriottHampton, Radisson or HollidayInn, which also uses the Serendipity Machine!

€€€

If you want to go all out in Amsterdam, there won’t be short of options. You can look into the W Amsterdam and if you do be sure not miss their SPA, the Conservatorium, Pulitzer, Amstel Hotel or Waldorf Astoria.

Party!

The thing with Amsterdam, at least as I experienced it, is that there aren’t clubs that open and have the same party every weekend. What you can do to party is find specific events around you and in cool venews. You can always see what is going on at Paradiso or Melkweg.

Dutch also party a lot in festivals. During Spring and Summer, you can find a festival for every weekend, and I am not exaggerating. Look them up at I Amsterdam. And if you missed the tickets, don’t despair, you can always find a last minute ticket at Ticket Swap.

LGBT

Amsterdam is a city of tolerance. Being in the LGBT group, you shouldn’t have, and there won’t be a shortage of cool places to go. Around Rembrandtplein, there are several bars with amazing parties and a great vibe, including Queers Café and Lellebel, which are host to most fabulous Drag Queen shows.

Touristic stuff you should actually do

Amsterdam, like many cities, has a lot of things that tourists love doing while locals not so much. Let me tell you the things I know that locals do and recommend.

  • Anne Frank House – I confess I have never been there, but it’s one of the only attractions I hear Dutch people suggesting, once they usually visit it while they are at school and it has an impact on them. Be aware that the lines are ridiculous. So buy it in advance online.
  • Rijksmuseum – I also still have to do this one, but it’s also one of the touristic things that my Dutch boyfriend makes a point on going with me.
  • Heineken Experience – Ok, this one most of Dutch people I’ve met never been to, but I had so much fun!
  • Keukenhof – The park is only open between March and May, and it’s ridiculously lovely. If you are around during this time of the year, don’t think twice, go! You can buy tickets here.

On the move

When we hear about Amsterdam, we think about bikes! If I recommend you to bike in Amsterdam? No. Even if you are the best biker in your country, bikers in Amsterdam have their own set of rules, and they use this magical power where they look at each other and understand what everyone is doing. It’s incredible to watch, but it takes a time to learn. And even when you are walking, be sure that you are not in a cycle lane, they are always red. If you are coming to Amsterdam to stay for a while, then yes, you should definitely take the risk and use a bike to go around. If you want to bike, this video might explain some of the basics.

The best way to get around in Amsterdam if you are in for a few days it’s by tram. They are fast, practical and you usually don’t have to wait long for them. To pay you can pay with cash, you can buy multi-day cards at the GVB website, which is way cheaper.

I Amsterdam City Card

As you probably noticed, I am doing several links to I Amsterdam, but it’s because they have a super complete website with all kinds of information. I visited the website five times a day when I first moved here. I Amsterdam also created the I Amsterdam City Card, and there are four options: 24h, 48h, 72h, and 96h. And they cost from 57 to 87 euros. If it is worth it? Hell yeah. You can use it for:

  • Free entry to all Museums.
  • Free Canal Cruise
  • Unlimited use of Trams, Metro and Bus (then you don’t have to buy a multi-day card)
  • Discounts and giveaways in concerts, theater, rentals, and rentals.

I swear I am not being paid to write this, you can trust me. And of course for it to be worth it, you have to make the max out of it and go to the museums, canal cruise and go around the city. If you just want to chill in your hotel, it’s a waste of money.

Coffee Shops

We can not make a guide about Amsterdam without talking about the coffee shops. Yes, they are real. If you are going to find coffee shops with nice food and a nice place to chill? Hardly. Usually, coffee shops are crowded and don’t have a very nice and chill vibe to it. What Dutch people do is usually buy their weed and smoke it at home. If you don’t have a home to smoke it in, you can find places which don’t sell weed but allow you to smoke in, like King’s Cross in the Warmoesstraat.

If there are a difference in the weed between coffee shops? Probably, but I don’t know much about it. What I know is that the ones in the inner city aren’t always the best. I found this list that talks about famous and peculiar coffee shops in Amsterdam and this Buzzfeed list on how to get high like a pro in Amsterdam. Enjoy!

Useful Phone Numbers

Emergency (police, ambulance, fire): 112
Police (theft and other queries): 0900-8844 / +31 343 578 844
Tourist doctor +31 (0)20 427 5011
HotelDoc +31 (0)63 090 0346.


So that’s the end of my guide to Amsterdam! And believe me, I could keep writing forever about this amazing city. There is so much to discover and it’s a city that keeps on moving, therefore if you have the change to come, don’t miss it. If you have other doubts, let me know in the comments. Prost! 🍻

About Beatriz Bremer

I was born in São Carlos, Brazil and since then I have moved to 8 different cities in 4 different countries. My energy comes from discovering what is the next thing and imagining how the future will be. That's one of the reasons I love to travel, to learn what are the new and crazy creations around the world, and document it by writing.

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