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The Dreamy Definitive Guide To Amsterdam, The Venice of The North

The Dreamy Definitive Guide To Amsterdam, The Venice of The North

The city that has long been referred to as the Venice of the North is the ultimate ideal city break: small in size yet big in art and culture.

With more than 100 kilometres of canals, two-wheeling is a way of life in the Netherlands’ capital. Explore the buzz of a metropolis with its very few big-city drawbacks, its pretty bridges, quiet, historical canals and dinky gabled buildings.

You’ll find there’s more to Amsterdam than its village-like charm: top ranking art museums, one of the best orchestras in the world and a combination of a glittering past with a rough rebellious contemporary edginess…


Drinking In The City

The city’s reputation for partying doesn’t exactly come from nowhere, in fact it’s largely deserved. It still remains a cafe society where the pursuit of pleasure does involve cosiness and charm, but just remember that when the Dutch say cafe, they mean pub. 

amsterdam beer

And it’s not all Heineken anymore (the old brewery is now a theme park), nor is it about Amstel; the two suppliers most associated with the Amsterdam pub scene are no longer made there!

Head to the traditionsal bruin cafe (brown cafe) that keeps beer as the main tipple of choice. Although you can also try Jonge Jenever, a lighter more refreshing gin, or float around to come across speciality wine bars for some top-flight cocktails mixed by Holland’s finest bartenders…

amsterdam pub

Although if you are a serious beer enthusiast and are on a hunt for more of an authentic brewery experience, you’ll need to make sure you don’t miss out on the “Windmill Brewery” on Funenkade steet (its called Brouwerij ‘t IJ in Dutch – and its pronounced “browery eye.”)

Enjoy the taste of their five high-percentage beers in the tiled tasting room, lined by an impressive bottle collection; take your pick from standard, seasonal and limited-edition brews…

amsterdam windmill

Coffee’ing Around

A city renowned for its coffee shops gives us the hard task of finding the best one, amongst the 250 that there are in Amsterdam.

You can find the prettiest ones along the historic canals if you start with Dampkring you’ll need to seek behind the city’s famous floating flower market where you’ll find its cosy layout and its feline mascot, Bowie, will pose for a photograph.

amsterdam coffee shop

You’ll find a lot of the coffee shops in the Canal Belt Area which was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2010 (this comes at no surprise; it’s 400 years old and lots of beautiful canal houses are located along there with typical architecture).

amsterdam canals

If you’re visiting to delve into Amsterdam’s permanent resident, cannabis, there’s an array of choices for where you should swing by! Start where it all began in Mellow Yellow– it opened in 1972 and continues to impress travellers today with its diverse menu, also featuring a pool table and a pinball machine.

Or how about Green House United where the floor contains a huge aquarium that spans half of its seating area so you can watch fish swim underneath your feet (not to mention, the menu goes above and beyond and offers sirloin steaks and hamburgers…)

amsterdam coffee


Holland In Bloom

If you like to see a lot of colour on your city breaks, then don’t forget to take note of Holland’s flower gardens! It is somewhat synonymous with tulips, and an excursion to Keukenhof will dazzle you with its stunning array of colour.

The endless fields of tulips will stretch as far as the eye can see and make an incredible photograph opportunity! One thing you must do if you’re here is to try and find some of the art installations hidden amongst the flowers as well…

amsterdam tulips

Did you know you’ll come across flower auctions and floating flower markets in the heart of Amsterdam? If you’re bored of tulips alongside the canals and fancy a bit of variety, don’t fear because you can choose the botanical gardens as the next stop,  (one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world).

It’s only €8,50 euros to visit, and gives you the chance to enjoy some beautiful green scenery outside of the tourist hub.

amsterdam botanical gardens


Taste The Difference…

Dutch chocolate might be massively under-appreciated because of their Belgian neighbours, but believe us when we say it’s worth a try! Belgian chocolate traditionally has a higher cocoa content, whilst Dutch chocolate typically comes from cocoa that has been alkalised for a less acidic, smoother taste. You have to tick this off your list.

Amsterdam is full of chocolate shops that make produce fresh on the premises, so why not visit them for a steaming cup of fresh hot chocolate, a bite of a chocolate macaroon or to bulk buy bags of chocolate treats!

amsterdam chocolate


How about Puccini Bomboni over in the red light district (just next to the Oude de Kerk)? If you fancy trying something utterly unique and never-before-tasted, here is where you should be…

‘Each and every Puccini chocolate is meant to be a unique experience. Pure of taste. When you eat chocolate, you should taste chocolate.’

Or make your mark and visit Metropolitan (also in the red light district!) to carve your name into the chocolate slab above your head after you’ve eaten one of the many types of dark, milk or white chocolate. Now that’s something different…


amsterdam chocolate

Architecture (The Narrowest You’ve Ever Seen…)

If you don’t already know, the winding streets around the canals are full of weird and wacky picturesque architecture, making it a great way to see all of this is on a glass topped canal tour. If you’re saving money, not to worry as they are reasonably priced and give you a great overview of the many towering buildings that stand decidedly wonky…

wonky buildings

Fancy crossing the narrowest house in the world off your list? Do this in Amsterdam by visiting the building named Singel 7. With a width of only one metre, the house is barely wider than its own front door and if this is something you find thrill in, there’s an array of narrow experiences you can visit.

From the narrowest house in Europe (two metres wide and only six metres deep) to the narrowest street in Amsterdam (100 centimetres wide!)

amsterdam architecture

It’s hard to miss the huge great church in the middle of the red light district, especially for the scantily clad women in the windows either side! However, (calling history lovers) if you can look past these distractions, you’ll find the Oude de Kerk has beautiful stained glass windows and 13th century features.

There isn’t much to see inside the church aside from bizarre modern art installations, so save yourself money and stay outside to view it if you’d prefer, or even settle down in the café attached next to it for a peaceful alternative…


Views For Miles

The moments really worth getting your camera out for include views from the DoubleTree Hilton hotel bar. The bar is on the eleventh floor, right at the top, and gives you one of the best central views of the city. The panoramic view of the capital can be enjoyed either with signature Sky Lounge cocktails or a cup of Buscaglione coffee, depending on the time you decide to visit…

amsterdam night

If you can face trekking to the other side of the city then Hotel Okura Amsterdam is well worth the journey; the views from the cocktail bar on the 23rd floor are spectacular. You’ll be served by white-gloved waiters and drinks are made to your personal preference as you sit amongst simplistic furniture and naturally-lit, open spaces.

amsterdam view



The Medieval Side

If you want to experience Dutch culture that is a far cry from Amsterdam’s coffee shop culture then you simply have to visit Castle Muiderslot. Amsterdam was founded in 1250 after a group of fishermen built a dam, so this castle dating back to 1285 gives you the closest you can get to “original” architecture.

This little known spot is €12.50 for adults and the surrounding fields and scenery make it that extra bit special…

amsterdam museum

If you’re really into the medieval side of things, you could additionally visit the Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments on Singel street. Although fairly small, it gives you a vivid image of a painful past of interrogation and Punishments and Verdicts in the Middle Ages. 

You’ll see over 40 instruments of punishment from different parts of Europe, from the inquisition chair to the guillotine…

amsterdam tourist spot


That was the dreamy definitive guide to Amsterdam, dubbed the Venice of the North from tourists and locals. Have you visited the city before? Are you a coffee shop fan or a lover of all things history-related? Would you go straight for the chocolate or the tulip photo opportunities? Leave us your comments and thoughts on Amsterdam and check out our other city break guides below…

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