However long you’re staying in Amsterdam, make every moment count. Arrive in the evening and there’s still time for an adventure, whether you’re heading for a cocktail with a view or sampling the city’s best seafood. Mornings in Amsterdam are just as pleasing, particularly when the early light hits the canals just so. Linger over an epic stack of pancakes (we know just the place) or avoid the crowds with a tactically timed visit to the Rijksmuseum.
To make life easier, we’ve found suggestions close to four hotels. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, here’s where to head.
There’s something exhilarating about whizzing around town on a sturdy Dutch bike. But while Amsterdam Noord’s streets are broader and quieter, the centre of town can be intimidating for novices. Early morning is the perfect time to find your feet. Set out on a pulse-quickening ride along the Singelgracht to Vondelpark. It’s the city’s largest green space, and a tranquil spot for a cup of tea and a wander.
Pull up a stool at this hospitable, cheerfully tiled wine bar owned by chef Kees Elfring, who also runs the restaurant next door. The wine list is impressive – 200 bottles and counting – while the menu’s deliberately simple, with home-made charcuterie and seasonal small plates to snack on. It’s perfect for a light, late-night supper, accompanied by a glass or two of velvety pinot noir.
There’s no better way to start the day than a stack of fat, fluffy pancakes – and Moak delivers every time. Quality ingredients come as standard (think organic buttermilk and flour), along with a hip-hop soundtrack and easy-going vibe. Breakfast-friendly options are piled with banana, dates and honey, while the Mancake’s a hangover-banishing combo of bacon, maple syrup and cheddar.
This low-lit bar and restaurant keeps the cocktails flowing until late (3am on Fridays and Saturdays). Set in a converted warehouse, it’s cool but surprisingly cosy, with wood-panelled walls, glimmering candles and a handsome marble bar. Swap out your usual margarita for a grapefruit-laced Paloma, or investigate the lengthy list of gins. Our pick’s the citrussy Damrak, distilled in Amsterdam.
The Rijksmuseum opens its doors at 9am. Arrive early to appreciate this treasure trove’s highlights in peace, from Vermeer’s Milkmaid to Rembrandt’s shadowy Night Watch. With the big hitters ticked off, take your pick from the rest of the collections. Look out for ceramic cockatoos and a self-portrait by Van Gogh, as well as Japanese prints, Renaissance saints and three extraordinary dolls’ houses.
Tables are in high demand at this airy, white-tiled seafood joint, whose sustainably sourced seafood is among the best in town. Book ahead if you can or be prepared to wait. It’s less painful than it sounds, thanks to an online queuing system. Kick off with half-a-dozen creamy Zeeland oysters, then take your pick of the mains, which run from garlicky grilled prawns to piled-high seafood platters.
The clue’s in this name at this sunny little café in de Pijp, whose yolk-yellow, perfectly cooked omelettes have locals queueing round the block. Portions are substantial and fillings surprisingly inventive: try the smoked salmon-stuffed Viking Fisherman or jalapeno-spiked Spicy Mariachi. There’s even a banana and peanut-butter option, which has a reputation for being surprisingly good.
In a city that’s low on skyscrapers, this sleek, high-rise hotel bar is an unexpected find. Cocktails are boldly conceptual, but invariably taste delicious – like the playful Dutch Clouds, topped with a froth of champagne foam. The restaurant here holds two Michelin stars, so the bar snacks are sublime. Think miraculously light cheese profiteroles or confit-duck steamed buns.