According to the UN World Happiness Report 2018, the Netherlands remains one of very cheeriest places in the world – particularly for Dutch teens, who are the least troubled on earth. So, it stands to reason that the capital, Amsterdam, is the place to be if you’re looking to up your dopamine quotient in the coming year. From embracing laissez-faire parenting to (even) better biking, here are our top (and only very slightly stereotypical) tips for doing 2019 in Amsterdam.
With rich and poor alike favouring two wheels, Amsterdam’s flat bike lanes are the great leveller in more ways than one. If you’re out of practice, take an expert-led tour of the Eastern Docklands before negotiating the Rijksmuseum’s jaw-dropping thoroughfare. To take your newfound pedal power to the waters, rent a pedalo – they’re called canal bikes around here, of course.
Dutch kids are top of the class in global happiness surveys because parents don’t wrap them in cotton wool. Instil a sense of independent adventure at underground play palace, TunFun, where adults sip drinks as kids get busy in the ball pit. The NEMO science museum will explain the birds and bees with typical Dutch directness; the Vondelpark-side Kinderkookkafé teaches them cookery.
Despite the global food revolution, the Dutch remain obsessed with mashing root vegetables to create all manner of indigenous comfort food, from pea soup to stamppot (literally mash pot). You can sample such delightfully hearty fare at Moeders, where diners are invited to leave behind a photo of their mum. Or try Haesje Claes – which claims to have the best stamppot in town – and Hap-Hmm. Lekker.
The democratic Dutch hate to be seen as ostentatious. The most style-conscious Amsterdammers expend a lot of effort (and money) on dressing in a way that’s appropriate, never flashy and, of course, bike-friendly. Get the look at unisex multibrand trove Moise or luxury streetwear store ETQ, and accessorise with no-label eyewear from Ace & Tate.
The Dutch used to be derided for their keen sense of economy, but – with financial markets gyrating – maybe we can all learn something from their parsimony. Stave off hunger in upscale supermarket Marqt, where samples come thick and fast. Enjoy silver service on the cheap at one of the city’s catering schools, or peruse free ‘teaser’ exhibitions at Amsterdam Museum and EYE Film Institute.