Though not so central as Nieuwmarkt, Leidseplein and the other well-known hangouts, if you want to avoid the crowds head here for a quiet night out with a local flavour. There's five or six authentic little brown cafes to choose from, and a couple of restaurants too. The scenery's not bad and there's few if any lary stag-nighters.
Just off Prins Hendrikkade: from Centraal station, cross the road and walk east for fifteen minutes, it's opposite the old sailing ship at the Scheepvartsmuseum. Try also bus 22 or trams 9 and 14.
In spring and autumn, when the sun comes out but there's still a nip in the air, there's no better place for an al-fresco lunchbreak. En Zo serves a variety of home-made soups in weird and wonderful flavours (for example spicy peanut or spinach and cream) at prices from about 3 Euros - ideal for a hearty but healthy meal.
Jodenbreestraat 94A, near Waterlooplein and opposite Albert Hijn supermarket;
tel: 020-422 22 43;
A 14th century enclosed courtyard chapel complex that somehow manages to be the quietest place in the city whilst also being spitting distance from the centre of everything, just off Spui.
The silence is unbelievable - it's a proper oasis in the middle of the city. It's a private religious property, though, so respect the silence, take a book and spend a half hour getting your breath back.
Walk down the Kalverstraat from the palace, turn right onto Spui and the entrance is on Gedempte Begijnensloot;
Hotel Estheréa is a really great hotel on the Singel canal - a very good location, in such a compact city you can walk pretty much anywhere from here.
The rooms aren't huge but are well decorated and have very comfortable beds. The ensuite was spacious. Throughout the day in the lobby you can help yourself to tea, coffee and hot chocolate as well as fruit and, on a less healthy but far more addictive note, toffees. These can be enjoyed whilst relaxing in the grandly decorated library and lounge areas, also with canal views.
Breakfast is an extra, and at 14 euros isn't cheap, but the buffet is good and sets you up for the day. Alternatively there are plenty of sandwich shops, delis etc along the Singel or just a few minutes walk away. It is also well placed for restaurants in the evening.
The hotel is a 10 minute walk from the central station, you may want to take the tram if you have more luggage, but you can easily make it with a bag for the weekend.
Overall, Estheréa is definitely a good choice and played a big part in my enjoyment of the weekend I spent in Amsterdam.
Singel 303-309, 1012 WJ Amsterdam;
Every clubber and late-night drinker is well aware of the evils of the post-party munchies and the many horrific solutions. But Amsterdam takes nocturnal junk food to a new level.
Find a FEBO outlet, stick your change in the slot, pull back the little glass door and, hey presto, there's your snack. Piping hot and stuffed to the rafters with cholestorol. It's automatic - no need to interact with a human being - and they never close.
But do be careful not to burn yourself. And don't ask: a) what that unidentified fried object you're eating actually IS; or b) just how long it's been there...
All over the city centre - look for the yellow shopfronts;
Huge park in the city centre (five minutes walk from Leidseplein). Lovely for walking/lazing/picnicking on warm spring/summer days. Bring your own food/drink or stop in one of the bars for snacks etc.
Amsterdam city centre
Berets and wristbands abound in the the place my mate Matt calls "Ebelingo" because there's so much chalk that the whole place is chattering. He's great. Anyway, come to the Ebeling for great service and even better house DJ's. A must.
Tel: 020 689 45 58
The cafe at the top of Metz Department store has amazing views over the skyline. Its on the sixth floor (there’s lift access too) and has windows on three sides. The views are incredible. Wide selection of tea and cake too. Well worth it.
455 Keizergracht (on the intersection at Keizergracht and Leiderstracht)
It's the Whitney Houston to the Tig's Bobbie Brown. More likely to be filled with media types walking around tugging on each others’ sculptured facial hair and discussing the 'lighting' on their latest shoot. On Sundays the clientele changes and you can enjoy a mediocre Harvester style experience that'll have you pining for home.
At the back of the Tig Barra
Cool, stylish cocktail bar just off popular Leidseplein. The staff and clientele are easy on the eye and the toilets are dark with a nice flat surface to rest your cigarette or book or whatever. Sometimes the regulars can get a bit rowdy and it has been known for a slap or two to be administered, but in general the atmosphere is chilled, just like the drinks. The food is average but bearable and affordable.
Korte Leidesedwarsstraat 45, near leidseplein; trams 1,2,5,10
Tiny brown cafe run by sports mad. You can watch all your foreign sports there and chat to the colourful locals, Steven, an expat who's always on crutches losing things and hiding from his wife, Conor, a mumbling wood carver who used to market deodorants and Beard, a young sailor with a dark past. Fantastic! Great 'tostis' as well.
This is a canal trip with a difference. The club are a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic boats on the Amsterdam canals. The club will take your group on a trip round the lesser known canals and sights, with the knowledgeable captains gauging and tailoring the trip to your particular needs. It's free, although giving the captain a gratuity is polite (around 10 euros is normal). Best of all, you can take your take own supplies, be that food, drink, or smokes.
Inside Boom Chicago, Leidseplein 12, Amsterdam;
A beautifully decorated and spacious restaurant in what was the 1st class waiting room. The interior is late 19th-century, but the excellent food is a mix of traditional and modern Dutch. On my last visit there a quintet of feather-boa-ed musicians turned a great meal into a memory to treasure.
Platform 2b, Amsterdam Centraal Station; tel:020 625 0131
Foam is a relatively new and excellent photography museum. It consistently holds solid exhibits, ranging from big names like Mario Testino or Henri Cartier-Bresson to lesser-known but none the less interesting photographers.
Keizergracht 609, it's located very centrally one of the major canals; tel: 020 551 6500; www.foam.nl
An independent international theatre, run by English speakers and set in an old bath house.
It regularly hosts international bands, theatre and folk performances.
Andreas Bonnstraat 28; tel: 31 6 111 7 33 24; www.badhuistheater.nl
Apart from the appeal of its name to the British sense of humour, this Dutch maritime museum offers plenty for anyone interested in naval and shipping history. It’s based in an old navy depot and moored outside is a replica Dutch East Indiaman that you can board and explore.
A gentle bike ride around Amsterdam that takes you all around the city and then down the Amstel into the countryside (where you can add a windmill and cheese farm/clog factory to your sightseeing list).
Our guide, the irrepressible and engaging Egg, was incredibly learned on the city's history and liberal sex and drugs laws. All of which he assured us he'd researched in depth purely for our benefit. An excellent introduction to the city that makes you understand what Amsterdam is all about. Oh, and there's a free beer token in it too ... what more could you possibly want?
If you like vintage clothes and accessories, you’ll love Amsterdam. The best places to go for second-hand bits and pieces are:
Noordermarkt: on Mondays the Noordermarkt in the Jordaan, one of Amsterdam’s most authentic areas, is filled with stalls selling vintage clothes and accessories like bags, shoes, belts and jewellery from the sixties, seventies and eighties.
Noordermarkt; tram 6, 7 or 10
Waterlooplein: More vintage shopping at the Waterlooplein, a ten minute walk from the Rembrandtplein, bustling with merchants six days a week. Definitely the place to go when you’re looking for leather jackets, fur coats, jeans, or home ware from grandma’s era.
Waterlooplein; metro 51, 53, 54 or tram 9
Zipper: If you’re more into indoor than outdoor shopping, one of the best places for fashionable vintage is Zipper. The checked blouses and oversized baseball shirts are men’s favourites, women like everything at Zipper.
Zipper; Huidenstraat 7, 1016 ER Amsterdam (0031-20-6237302) and Nieuwe Hoogstraat 10, 1011 HE Amsterdam (20 623 70353)
Laura Dols: A no-go area for men, but women will love this shop. You’ll enjoy browsing the dresses and skirts they sell at Laura Dols. From the thirties all the way up to the eighties; if Marilyn Monroe were still alive, she would be shopping here.
Laura Dols; Wolvenstraat 6-7, 1016 EM Amsterdam (20 624 9066)
It may seem rather strange to be drinking Belgian beers in Holland but this little bar is just fantastic.
The bar area is tiny and with wooden tables, stone floor and tan walls covered in old-fashioned advertisements for many of the beers they sell. It has eight Belgian beers on tap and 30 in bottles. The beer menu is very well written, informative but also very amusing, giving you background on where the beer was brewed and also the percentage alcohol content, very important if you intend to stay for more that one or two.
The girl behind the bar was extremely friendly and also knowledgeable about the beers on sale. You can also order bar snacks such as toasties, cheese and mustard (perfect with beer) and extremely spicy sausages.
Gravenstraat 2, just behind the Nieuwe Kerk and Dam Square
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org