Once a 13th-century fishing village, the historic northern European city of Amsterdam has transformed itself into a modern, bustling hub of business and culture. While it certainly does its tulips, bicycles, cobblestone streets, and distinctive 17th-century Golden Age canals extremely well, it’s also a charming walking and pedaling city, a place where rich culture, bustling cafés, trendy boutiques, hip nightlife, world-class museums, and chic hotels seamlessly coexist with magnificent Renaissance architecture. Below, we show you what’s new in this buzzy urban city.
New Places TO EAT
After a morning of sightseeing, dig into to Amsterdam’s burgeoning food scene. An old tram depot houses industrial-style Foodhallen, a series of local vendors hawking delicious (and reasonably priced) fare from pizza to burgers to Vietnamese street food. Meanwhile, some of the city’s best food is found tucked inside hotels. At the airy, subway-tiled Lotti’s (at the hip Hoxton Hotel), order a juicy burger and crisp truffle French fries flecked with parsley and Parmesan (and best dipped into the obligatory side of creamy mayo). For dessert, the salted caramel brownie is the perfect treat. Situated in an old apothecary, the sunny Jansz (part of the Pulitzer Hotel) is in a handsome room with an open kitchen preparing deliciously simple bistro fare. To start, the king crab on toast and diver scallops are highly sharable, and for mains, enjoy the tender roasted lamb with red lentils. Don’t leave without a bite of the New York cheesecake with pistachio sorbet. And, on the subject of sweets, in the Jordaan district, the small Winkel43, serves a hearty homemade slice of apple pie with a thick, dense crust while locals meet at the nearby Finch, an ideal sunny spot for a cup of coffee or a pint.
For healthy food and juices, Cold Pressed Juicery offers a welcome reprieve from the addictive, traditional Dutch stroopwafels. For breakfast, the highly Instagrammable Pluk has assorted baked goods, fresh coffee, juices, and açai bowls. Vegan Moroccan dishes with a twist are enjoyed at the trendy De Pijp concept store Ninour, where afterwards, you can shop the collection of earrings, home goods, and vintage clothing. Nearby, the boutique deli Goutdeli serves fresh watermelon juice and smoothie bowls with crunchy granola.
For fresh and delicious Asian-inspired cuisine, seek out Taiko (Japanese for drum), situated in a minimalist dining room. The chef’s tasting menu unveils surprises like watermelon sashimi paired with unusual sakes. Post-meal, opt for the tableside matcha service. For casual Asian street food, Happyhappyjoyjoy melds Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese with a menu full of Asian beer and teas. The bar at the dimly lit Restaurant C whips up a light, tart Colombian Lulo fruit cocktail.
New Places TO DRINK
Skip the Heineken and seek out smaller local brews. At the fun-spirited Hoppa, sip over 30 tasty craft drafts including varietals like Butcher’s Tears Triple Cripple Pale Ale and Two Chefs Howling Wolf Porter. When the sun’s shining, the hip head for the tropical vibes of Waterkant and its generous beer sprawl. Nearby, Calle Ocho melds Cuban, Mexican, and Caribbean cuisine with drinks like rum-based libations and tequila-spiked frozen margaritas.
Overlooking the stately Stedelijk Museum, slip into the stylish, intimate Tunes Bar, catering to a well-heeled, after-work crowd (a DJ cameos on the weekends). Serving 40 varietals of gin from all over the world, the genial bartenders whip up boozy specialty concoctions like Fifty Pounds with 1724 tonic and fruit. And, with last month’s 325th anniversary celebration of nearby Nolet Distillery (the 11th-generation family business that produces the venerable Ketel One Vodka), ditch the tonic in favor of their limited Reserve Dry Gin, a mix of spicy saffron and cool verbena, best served neat.
Late night, hidden speakeasy-style bars are having a moment. In De Pijp, one requires a password to walk through the “freezer door” of a burger bar to find Butcher (Albert Cuypstraat 129), while Door74 dazzles with its tin ceiling, jazz music, and potent cocktails. At the small, sophisticated, Porem, bartenders sling unfussy cocktails like a Java Mule with Indonesian rum, Saya liqueur, lime, and ginger beer, alongside Asian snacks.
New Places TO SHOP
In the heart of the Canal District, saunter down the narrow, famed “Nine Streets” where trendy boutiques and sweet cafés line the streets. For easy basics like striped shirts, the unisex We are Labels is an organized spot with international labels like Dr. Denim and Second Female. Another stylish choice, Ou sells chic brands like Love Stories alongside timeless shoes and sweaters. For on-point Scandinavian fashion, Rum Amsterdam fashion carries basic brands like Dante6. The feminine Sky stocks beloved labels like Isabel Marant and APC. Uncover the latest fashion sneakers at Japanese label Onitsuka Tiger. In De Pijp, Gathershop carries natural skincare alongside well-curated linens and books. Pieter and Tosch carries darling home collectables and gifts like handmade scissors, bowties, and framed butterflies. The fashionable Hutspot has a vast array of home goods and hip, inspiring clothing. There’s also a barber shop on site and a lunchroom serves a dish packed with sausages, lettuce, yogurt, tomato salsa, and coriander.
New AT THE MUSEUMS
After a lengthy renovation, the gloriously restored Rijksmuseum is a place to lose yourself in all things art. Housing Golden Age Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer, there’s also a mix of diverse special exhibitions like this summer’s highlight of 170 Japanese prints from Elise Wessels (through Sept. 11). A few blocks away, the venerable Van Gogh Museum offers a glimpse of artist’s bright colors. In July, catch a glimpse into the late master’s mental decline and how it affected his work. Among the 200 paintings and 500 drawings, classic works like Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters are easily accessed. Meanwhile, the recently renovated Stedelijk Museum houses a renowned collection of modern and contemporary art. This summer, check out the top-floor galleries dedicated to Dutch artist Jan Dibbet’s colorful series of automobile bodywork.
New Places TO STAY
Housed in an erstwhile 19th-century bank building and most recently, a music conservatory, the appropriately titled Conservatorium offers 16 different room types. Luxe, mod suites flaunt beamed ceilings and stunning city views. Bathrooms feature rainfall showers and deep soaking tubs, or you can visit the spa’s hammam, sauna, and indoor lap pool. In the morning, stretch your legs with a walk or jog around Amsterdam’s lush, tree-lined Vondelpark.
For the stylish budget traveler, the new Generator Hostel is set in an former university building with detailed Scandinavian design sensibilities like local Kamp Horst artwork. The small, minimalist rooms feature a mix of twin, double, or mixed quadruple rooms with private bathrooms. A former lecture hall reveals a relaxed lounge and bar, and in the former boiler room, uncover a secret late-night spot.