Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Destination guide: Amsterdam

canal9streets.jpg

Amsterdam is one of the true postcard cities. Encircled by 165 canals and covered with endless criss-crossing bridges, its picturesque streets are hard to beat. From cutting edge design to hip bars, excellent markets and gastronomic delights, this buzzing metropolis is bursting with character and each city quarter has its own distinct personality.

Start at the area known as De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets). Explore its trendy shops such as Zipper, and stop for great coffee at Screaming Beans. To the south, make for bohemian De Pijp and the chic fashion district around PC Hooftstraat. Head west to trendy Jordaan for excellent pubs and beautiful humpback bridges and houseboats. Spiegelkwartier (the Mirror Quarter) is an absolute must for lovers of art and antiques and be sure to save some time for the Museum District for an injection of culture.

Where to stay

Each room is unique at The Dylan on Keizersgracht Canal

For a special occasion or just a treat, stay at The Dylan. The hotel is housed in a magnificent 18th century building (a former concert hall where Vivaldi once conducted his orchestra), and overlooks the gorgeous Keizersgracht Canal. The Dylan takes a minimal approach to each of its enormous and individually styled rooms, and has a keen attention to detail. Spend the afternoon in the hotel where they offer the best alternative to High Tea - High Wine. Book a table at Vinkeles, The Dylan's Michelin-starred French restaurant, or check out its homely bar kitted out with open fires, leather armchairs and a Fendi sofa.

For a longer stay make for Okura, located on the Amstel Canal in one of the tallest buildings in the city. The influence of its Japanese owners can be felt throughout the hotel, with elegant furnishings, muted tones and a relaxed ambiance. Alongside great views, Okura has an impressive line-up of facilities including French Restaurant Le Ciel Bleu (two Michelin stars) and Yamazato (one Michelin star), and a stunning cocktail bar, spa and fitness area.

Amsterdam's unusual museums

Rembrandtplein - or Rembrandt square

Food and drink

Gourmands will delight in organic restaurant De Kas

The Netherlands has 98 Michelin starred restaurants to its name, most in Amsterdam, and the city is increasingly being spied as a foodie Mecca. With this dizzying choice, start with a meal at the organic restaurant, De Kas. A municipal nursery in Amsterdam was due to be demolished in 2001 until the owner of De Kas stepped in and converted the glass greenhouse into a stunning restaurant. Adjacent to the dining area is another greenhouse where vegetables, herbs and edible flowers grow and the daily menu is based on the harvest of their own nursery, their fisherman and local stock.

Due to the former Dutch colonization, there’s a huge Indonesian influence felt throughout Amsterdam and Michelin starred Blauw Restaurant is an excellent starting point to take on Indonesian cuisine. Order the ‘rijsttafel’ - an Indonesian tasting menu - for a selection of small dishes to share. There are also loads of cheap Surinamese-Indonesian-Chinese snack bars dotted around the city; the spiciest can be found at Kantjil & de Tijger.

Fruit tart, anyone?

For modern Dutch cuisine Wilde Zwijnen is a top choice serving up delicious, fresh and experimental dishes. The atmosphere here is relaxed and its concrete floor, exposed light bulbs and mismatched furniture give it an edgy and industrialized feel. Order the cod with langoustine sauce and if you’re feeling brave start the night with Wilde Zwijnen's prosecco/cider combination – delicious but dangerous.

The cafe is the traditional and most popular place for the Dutch to drink (many stay open to 3am) and Twee Zwaantjes, Prik and Cafe Thijssen are all worth a visit.

A visit to Vesper Bar is like entering a scene from Mad Men with its kitsch and sophisticated décor, and it serves some of the best cocktails in the town. Go on a Sunday for their "high tea cocktails” and cakes. If whiskey takes your fancy, head to the aptly named Whiskey Café L&B, which boasts over 1,400 different types of whiskey and bourbon sourced from all over the world. Chet’s, a retro jazz bar on Hazenstraat, is filled with elegantly dressed punters and serves up delicious Italian tapas.

Things to see and do

Bargains of all kinds await on the streets of Amsterdam

Amsterdam's fine quota of galleries and museums count as definite must-visits. The Rijksmuseum is the top choice, especially after its decade long closure for refurbishment. It contains over 40 Rembrandts, including The Night Watch, and four Vermeers. The Van Gogh Museum is another highlight, housing more than 700 of his works. The bathtub-shaped Stedelijk Museum has an outstanding collection of 20th and 21st-century artists and holds pre-war works by Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and Chagall. For brilliant photography pop Foam on your radar, and of course take the time to spend a reflective moment at Anne Frank’s house.

For excellent coffee and people watching on a Monday morning get yourself to the fabulous Noordermarkt for everything vintage. A great general market to visit is Albert Cuypmarkt in the heart of the Pijp. For Dutch designers, head to the Jordaan's alternative shops or pop by the quaint Nine Streets for designer boutiques – Lady Day, Leafde and Spoiled are all worth a rummage.

Vondelpark: an oasis of green

Vondelpark, Amsterdam's answer to New York's Central Park, is the largest green space in the city and is named after poet Joost van den Vondel. Another lovely spot is Amsterdamse Bos; with thick clusters of trees, open fields and lakes, it's perfect for cycling, walking and kayaking. If you're in Amsterdam in the summer months, look out for the Open Garden Days. Dozens of canal-side houses and museums open their doors to the public to share the hidden gardens behind their tall brick facades. Also worth looking out for are Amsterdam Roots Festival and Appelsap Fresh Music festival, both of which take place in the city's green spaces.

Know before you go

  • The currency used here is the Euro
  • The website: iAmsterdam - iamsterdam.com - the official website and app for the City of Amsterdam. This resource provides all the latest information on festivals, attractions, museums, nightlife, hotels and events in the city
  • The book: Amsterdam 2013 Wallpaper City Guide (Wallpaper City Guides, £4.99, Amazon.co.uk) includes in-depth information about Amsterdam and the surrounding area

Getting there and away

The delights of the city are just a Eurostar trip away

Schiphol International Airport is just 15 kilometres from the city centre. Better still, take the Eurostar from London St Pancras. Trains run up to five times per day with a change in Brussels and fares start from just £99 return.

Another option for travel is the day or night ferry from London with the Stena Line ferry company. The overnight option is a useful one - wake up in Holland early the following morning with the whole day ahead to explore.

For train services book through Eurostar (08705 186186; eurostar.com) or NS Hispeed (00 31 30 233 1676; nshispeed.nl).

Words and photos: Kate Vandy

Related

chain-bridge-c-hungarian-tourism.jpg

Destination guide: Budapest

valletta-aerial-view-viewingmalta.jpg

Destination guide: Valletta

rexfeatures-3335019a.jpg

Destination guide: Durham

More

Sign up to our weekly travel email

24 Sep 2017

The truth about that ‘SSSS’ airport stamp on your boarding pass

A lot of people have been complaining about this on Twitter

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Sep 2017

These are the most wish-listed places to stay on Airbnb in the UK

Just wait until you see the tree house

by Megan Murray
21 Sep 2017

Discover paradise closer to home

Turquoise water, white sand and bottle-nosed dolphins; Stylist discovers Britain’s most tropical archipelago

by The Stylist web team
19 Sep 2017

These are the least (and most) stressful cities to live in the world

You'll never guess where made it to the top of the list

by Megan Murray
19 Sep 2017

Ryanair has cancelled up to 50 flights per day

"You need to give us a chance to make alternative arrangements"

by Susan Devaney
18 Sep 2017

The 7 most spectacular autumn holidays to book now

From Europe to Asia, these are the best trips to add to your bucket list

by Sarah Biddlecombe
15 Sep 2017

The first underwater restaurant will fulfill your mermaid fantasies

It's everything you dreamed and more

by Megan Murray
13 Sep 2017

Ryanair just made a major change to its cabin baggage allowance

This changes everything

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Sep 2017

Live the good life in the British Virgin Islands

Stylist uncovers the variety on offer in the British Virgin Islands

by  Moya Lothian-McLean
05 Sep 2017