Het Museumplein is the city’s cultural hub, centering on the iconic Rijksmuseum. Looming over the square, it needs no introduction: a handsome, turret-topped pile that opened in 1885, housing one of the world’s greatest art collections. Its neighbours include the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk (dubbed ‘the bathtub’ by locals, thanks to its angular extension). Meanwhile, Moco Museum is a playful addition to the line-up, showcasing global street-art greats like Banksy and KAWS.
After a morning’s art appreciation, it’s time for a change of pace, so spend a laid-back afternoon exploring the neighbourhood. Just west of here, the leafy Vondelpark is perfect for a stroll, while the historic Hollandsche Manege is the Netherlands’ oldest riding school. More in the mood for lunch and a mooch round the shops? Head for De Pijp’s relaxed cafés and boutiques, or the buzzing Albert Cuyp Markt.
Here are eight more suggestions to get your adventure started, all within easy reach of Museumplein.
Independent boutiques cluster on this street in De Pijp – the shortest of strolls from the Rijksmuseum. At number 94, Anna + Nina is known for its boho jewellery, while a few doors down, Baskèts has the latest sneaker drops. Refuel with coffee and chocolate babka at Ugga’s bakery. Or hit the Thrill Grill for lunch: try the classic ‘Thriller’ burger, with parmesan and truffle fries.
Leading down to Vondelpark, this is one of the loveliest streets in Amsterdam. Its claim to fame is the Zevenlandenhuizen; a row of seven houses, built in 1894. Each represents a different country and architectural style, from a dome-topped Russian ‘cathedral’ to a pared-back Italian palazzo. Our favourite’s the Moorish mansion at no 24, with its arabesque arches and candy-striped façade.
Everything’s organic at this slick eatery, which is part of the eco-conscious Tire Station Hotel. Its seasonally changing menu is a showcase for the best local produce, from wild game and Amsterdam-grown veg to herbs picked by the chefs. Daytime crowd-pleasers run from eggs Florentine to mustard-spiked krokets, while the suntrap pavement terrace is just the spot for a beer.
This much-imitated concept store now has several outposts, but its two-floor flagship in De Pijp gets our vote every time. The ground-floor barber’s is perfect for a quick spruce-up, and a canny eye for trends and new designers has helped it stay ahead of the curve. It’s particularly strong when it comes to affordable homeware, from block-printed linen beach towels to Japanese stacking cups.
In spite of this restaurant’s name, offal isn’t the focus. Instead, it’s all about bold, ingredients-led cooking, served in a coolly pared-back space just off Rembrandtplein. Standout small plates might include razor clams with smoky XO sauce; the barbecued turbot’s a worthy signature dish. Come the evening, there are two set tasting menus; arrive hungry, and tackle the full seven courses.
This extraordinary, 19th-century riding school is hidden in plain sight, tucked behind a row of stately townhouses on Vondelstraat. Inside, horses stamp in the stables and trot around the ornate arena, modelled on Vienna’s neoclassical Spanish Riding School. It offers riding lessons, if you book ahead – but it’s worth the entry fee just to watch the action from the balcony café.
Held Monday to Saturday, this sprawling market stretches the length of Albert Cuypstraat. With bargains aplenty – and zero airs and graces – it’s a vibrant slice of city life, selling fabrics, fish, fruit and veg, and cut-price souvenirs. It’s also worth investing in a street-food snack or two, from pickled herring rolls to stacks of poffertjes: fluffy mini-pancakes, cooked before your eyes.
Energy levels flagging? Drop by this organic cafe, with its feelgood menu, friendly staff and airy, all-white decor. Its dishes are mostly plant-based and brimming with ideas – like the vegan twist on Indonesian gado-gado, made with marinated tempeh. Other highlights run from Moroccan chickpea soup to Japanese-style donburi bowls, along with a rainbow array of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
Stay in the heart of Amsterdam with all the top things to do and see on your doorstep.
For plenty of buzz and your choice of bars restaurants and shops, this is a great base in Amsterdam.
This western part of Amsterdam has become home to upmarket shops and restaurants.
This up and coming area is great for budget travellers with a choice of affordable hotels and places to eat.