WHAT TO DO
Hire a bike and do as the locals do, cycling down Amsterdam’s cobbled streets with the wind in your hair as you pass 200-year-old canals lined with bobbing houseboats, and picturesque townhouses where window boxes overflow with vibrant flowers. If the sun is shining, ride through the city’s green heart, the Vondelpark, where you’ll find locals drumming, picnicking and dancing in the sunshine.
Head to the heart of the canal district to the delightful Nine Streets shopping area, a network of alleyways lined with vintage and designer boutiques, small art galleries and chic cafes. Check out Laura Dols for pastel-coloured vintage underwear and slips, the multi-level vintage den Episode for their fantastic denim collection, Terra for beautiful handmade Spanish shoes, and BsaB organic soy wax candle store.
On Saturdays, the Noordermarkt is a fantastic farmers market, but on Mondays it transforms into a vintage and sustainable clothing market – think second-hand leiderhousen, antique indigo-dyed wraps from Mali and second-hand kimonos and sequined tops.
When you’re ready for a culture hit, explore the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings at the Van Gogh Museum, see Rembrandts and 7500 other Golden Age masterpieces at the famous Rijksmuseum, or visit the newly renovated Anne Frank House, where you can see her original diary.
WHERE TO EAT
Amsterdam’s trendy Jordaan area is brimming with delicious eateries, including Hummus Bistro where you’ll find overflowing bowls of spicy hummus, pillowy couscous laden with vegetables and nuts, and Israeli salads dotted with punchy pomegranate.
Lavinia Good Food on Kerkstraat is a cosy boho cafe that works with local producers and organic ingredients, and makes the tastiest spelt pizzas, house-made almond milk chai tea and fresh juices in the city. It’s the perfect place to while away a couple of rainy afternoon hours by candlelight.
For something different take the five-minute ferry across to De Ceuvel, a former industrial site that has been transformed into one of the most sustainable urban developments in Europe. Here you’ll find the sustainable, canal-side alfresco Cafe De Ceuvel, which grows their own delicious organic food on small floating gardens in front of the café. When you’re done feasting, walk around the surrounding retrofitted houseboats that have been transformed into offices, ateliers or workshops for creative and social enterprises.
WHERE TO STAY
Amsterdam offers some delightful Airbnb options, including everything from cosy canal-side apartments, to lofts and spacious houseboats. There are also many fantastic boutique hotels, including the former 17th century sugar trader’s residence turned private nine-room canal guesthouse Seven One Seven, and the Hotel de Filosoof just off the Vondelpark, where the 38 rooms are dedicated to well-known philosophers including Socrates and Wittgenstein.