Amsterdam has always had the need to constantly reinvent itself, creating an interesting mix of new and old. While most visitors stay within the canals, the locals live life up outside of them. So, hop on a bike and spend a day exploring the free spirited Amsterdam the way locals know it.
Exercise like a local in Vondelpark
In the early morning, before all the stoned tourists show up, Vondelpark is a lively cycling route and exercise place for many Amsterdammers. It’s an ideal place for a morning run along trees, ponds and cyclists right in the center of the city. Let’s see how many 3 kilometer laps you can get in.
Get a hip start at CT Coffee & Coconuts
This former cinematic theatre has been turned into a spacious multi-level hangout where you can have great local beers, tasty dinner, but more importantly after an exhausting morning run: bean bags, strong coffee and an expertly crafted breakfast.
Browse around at Albert Cuyp Market
The biggest street market in The Netherlands with a history that spans more than a century. It started out illegally by street vendors, but was legalised in 1905. Nowadays it’s a nice way to explore the multicultural side of Amsterdam while getting good deals on flowers, fruit and Dutch delicacies.
Drown yourself in options at Hutspot
Feeling hungry? Want to check out some more clothes? Time for some art? Or you have a sudden urge for a new haircut? Hutspot has got you covered. When you’re done with your coffee meeting, why not buy some trinkets, glasses or furniture on the way out? People with ADHD, beware.
Sail away on a ferry to Amsterdam Noord
Amsterdam is more than just the canal district and the north side of town is an excellent way to experience a post-industrial version of the city. Hop on the free ferries that the city government offers to keep both sides connected. If you want to know what it’s like to see Amsterdam from the water the way the locals see it, skip the canal cruise and go north.
Explore and discover the NDSM Shipyard
After the ship building company that developed this area went bankrupt in the 1980s, squatters took over parts of the area and created a cultural breeding ground with cheap accommodation and studios for artists, craftspeople and supporters. They formed a foundation which started managing the area and was awarded subsidies to do so. Nowadays it’s a hip hotspot with lots of street art, a crane turned hotel, a derelict submarine with graffiti, abandoned trams, a hotel on a boat, and nice places for a beer after work to watch the sunset over Amsterdam’s south side.
Support sustainability with a beer at De Ceuvel
Situated on polluted ground, this project mixes culture and sustainability in an ‘only-in-Amsterdam’ way. Boathouses have been retrofitted and placed on the site. They now function as studios, offices and workshops for creatives and social enterprises. The goal is to clean up the area, so why not help them out a bit and have a beer or some lunch at their bar. Don’t worry, you won’t grow a third ear.
Get a taste of Amsterdam at Oedipus Brewery Taproom
This recently opened venue is where the Amsterdam-based Oedipus brewery shows off their new & classic blends on the weekend. Fine spot to chill out, reward your taste buds and, if it’s a Sunday, listen to some tunes by the folks of Red Light Radio, an influential online radio station which normally broadcasts from an old prostitution window.
Have an alcoholic history lesson at the House of Bols
Russia has vodka, Greece has ouzo, Mexico has tequila, and the Netherlands has jenever. What better way to get to know a country than getting hammered with the local liquor? This strong alcoholic beverage, which also formed the basis for gin, has a long history which is strongly tied to the Bols brand. In the museum you will use all five senses to explore that history and shots & cocktails are included in the entrance fee.
Dine like an anti-capitalist vegan at OT301’s Peper
Squatted with the goal to turn it into a venue for cultural events, this place offers cinema, band nights, great parties, art and many other activities, always with mixed crowds of locals from all over the world, from all walks of life. One of OT301’s projects is Peper, an organic vegan kitchen with “no menus, no waiters, no boss, no advertisements, no pay-cheques, and no profit.” No problem!
Get blown away by the live music at Paradiso
With a full belly, still a bit tipsy from the Bols jenever, head over to this former church which is now one of Amsterdam’s most popular music venues. This, too, was once squatted, but a year later, in 1968, it became a publicly subsidised venue. The main hall fits 1500 people and offers a wide variety of programming from indie to hiphop, heavy metal, pop, drum & bass nights, and techno.
Go on a midnight journey at Ruigoord
Oh, Ruigoord… This village was once cleared of residents for the expansion of the western port area in Amsterdam, but the plans fell through. By now you can guess what happened. Was your guess: it was squatted with the intention to turn it into an artists colony? Then you were correct! Although legalised now, they still live there and use the village church and big outdoor area for parties, festivals and workshops.
What are your favorite spots in Amsterdam? Share them with us in the comment section below!
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This article was written by Bas Grasmayer.