Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market is a unique and (mostly) free treat. The smells are intoxicating and the sheer volume of tulips will remind you that you are indeed in Holland. Sure, it is crowded, but you can take your time picking through bulbs and getting your hands dirty. Open daily 9-17:30, Sundays 11-17:30.
Yes, this one will come as no surprise, but it is an absolute must. Amsterdam’s expansive canals (without the smell- ahem, Venice) are what make it so unique and a glorious site. The traditional Dutch canal houses with their distinctive gables and ornate cornices are worth an hour (or two, or five) of gooing and gahing.
The pancakes here are so memorable that I remembered exactly what I ate for lunch on my last trip to Amsterdam six years ago. Head to Pancakes Amsterdam for a wonderfully filling savory pancake to set you up for an afternoon of window-shopping and museuming. Think goat cheese, spinach, pine nuts, and garlic oil or – my personal favorite- camembert, chicory, ham, and raspberry drizzle. This one may even change your outlook on your next breakfast-for-dinner exploit. Open daily 9-18:00 (20:00 at other locations). Savory pancakes €11-14.50.
Stroll through the main shopping Kalvertstraat area, perusing with your wide eyes for ink stamps at De Posthumus, baby gouda at Cheese & More by Henri Willig, stroopwafels (caramelized waffle cookies) at van Wonderen Stroopwafels, and pen-and-ink kicks at Dogo (sure, this one’s a chain, but it just makes sense in Amsterdam).
A lazy afternoon in any city wouldn’t be complete without a cappuccino, a phone call with a close friend (or lover), and – in Amsterdam – a slice of apple cake. This glorious Sunday was no exception. I headed to the local chain, Coffee Company, which served my needs perfectly with fast Wifi, large mugs, and a big slice of apple goodness. Open daily 7:30-19:00, 9-19:00 on weekends.
Amsterdam has, undoubtedly, some of the world’s best museums. It is no coincidence, as the city was home to the infamous Dutch Masters, including Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. With a longer stay, I would head straight to the Rijksmuseum for the day (or week), but with a condensed schedule, I opted to see Rembrandt’s home instead. His home has been refurbished to include what the debt collectors listed as his belongings when he went bankrupt later in life. Don’t expect to see a collection of his work, instead, you will find a packaged glimpse into 17th-century privileged Dutch life, demonstrations on period etching and paint-mixing techniques, and works by his pupils (think, Bol and Flinck). Open daily 10-18:00. Admission €13, €10 with student ID.
In any trendy city (and it doesn’t get much trendier than Amsterdam), I love perusing vintage shops to get a feel for the local style. The Waterlooplein area (conveniently next to Rembrandt’s house) has a block of wonderful vintage shops, including Episode, Candy Store, and the Kilo Shop. Unbeatable collections of authentic German army jackets, chunky knit berets, Breton striped shirts, and (duh) fur jackets.
It’s been a whole five hours since I have eaten (ok, it’s been four), so it is naturally time for more grub. Fusion tapas hit the spot at the nearby Olijfje (translation: Olive) Restaurant. Go for one of the tapas platters to try a spread of Spanish patatas bravas, Mediterranean hummus, and Turkish feta pastry rolls. Open 16-11:30 daily, except Mondays. Mixed tapas platters €20 for 6, €35 for 10.
You get the idea. A nightcap in Amsterdam is its own experience. Hop on over to Bluebird Coffeeshop for the full experience- complete with brilliantly horrific 80’s music, spotty teenagers, and a big mug of chamomile coffee (to remind yourself that you are indeed still yourself). Open daily 9:30-1 (late). Pre-rolled joint €7.50.