Four Days in Amsterdam, Holland
There’s something magical about Amsterdam. This was my second visit to the Dutch capital, and still I have trouble explaining to people what is so captivating about it. I can never quite get across how genuinely crooked all of the buildings are. Crooked doors, windows, walls, steps, all going in a different direction to each other, but yet all fitting together so perfectly. It genuinely boggles my mind, & no picture on earth can accurately capture the imperfect perfectness of it all.
I love the attitude of the city, it’s relaxed and easy going, but everything still runs smoothly & efficiently. I love the wonky gingerbread houses lining the canals, a classic car or two parked nonchalantly outside. Wandering along the canals almost transports you to another time; it feels otherworldly and special. Somehow, I even grew to enjoy the thrill of nearly being mowed down by any number of the bloodthirsty cyclists at every corner.
I visited the city with one of my best friends & we dedicated our time to walking along the canals and eating as much as humanly possible. Below is a lengthy list of recommendations and a whole bundle of photographs from our time in the city. Enjoy!
where to stay
Hotel Mozart // our cute hotel was so perfect for us. We opted for the “romantic canal view room” – a little more expensive than other rooms, but worth it. We could see the glistening canal outside, and a super cute classic car nearby that we affectionately named Louis. Literally a five minute walk away from the Rijksmuseum, this is within walking distance to everywhere you’ll want to go. Added bonus: it’s nestled in along Prinsengracht, which is one of the prettiest streets in the whole city.
where to eat
brunch / lunch
Bakers & Roasters // B&R was my favourite brunching experience of our whole trip. We loved it so much we went back before flying home. No surprises about what we ordered: eggs benny for me, banana nut bread french toast for her. We died & went to brunch heaven. The portions are massive, and thank goodness because the food is amazing. The bacon was crispy, the buttered sourdough was so thick I nearly cried, the poached eggs were perfect. The coffee was so good I had two before my food arrived. We were lucky when we visited in that we didn’t have to queue – by the time we left there was a long line. Pro tip: if eggs benny ain’t your thing, I can also vouch for the ‘Navajo eggs’. A pulled pork, poached eggs, avo, salsa + toast number that kept me satisfied until we touched down in Dublin 10 hours later.
Dignita // we decided to hit up the Dignita at Hoftuin, inside the garden of the Hermitage Museum. It is absolutely stunning: huge windows, crawler plants hanging around, glorious sunshine filling every crevice. We loved it immediately. I have to say, Dignita might just steal the crown for The Best Eggs Benedict in Amsterdam. Not only were the eggs & bacon perfect, but they were served on the most luscious pillows of hash browns. I ate every single morsel of food, not a crumb survived. It was perfection. We opted for some extra coffees afterwards, & a brownie between us – cream cheese & raspberry, no less. Added bonus: their profits go towards helping victims of human trafficking. How awesome is that?
a close second
Gartine // let’s just take a step back for a second while I admit two things: eggs benedict is my weakness & french toast is my bestie’s weakness. We are powerless creatures of menu habit. Gartine was my first eggs benedict of the trip, & it was also the worst. That said, my friend had one of the best french toast experiences of her whole life: a little blueberry number stole her heart. The whole cafe has just a handful of tables & is effortlessly gorgeous, so be prepared to wait a little. Mismatching cups & saucers, hipster-chic waiters, cups of mint tea filled with real stalks of mint, & an extremely lovely barista. Added bonus: there was the most beautiful flower installation draped across a stormy grey statement wall.
where to eat
Foodhallen // we genuinely thought we were lost while trying to find Foodhallen. Then suddenly, we turned a corner & there it was: a massive indoor market, one section dedicated to food + drink. We walked there shortly after brunch & had chatted about just getting a snack, but quickly changed our mind. After securing ourselves a table, we picked up two glasses of cheap wine, and ordered a sharing board from a Spanish stall called Jabugo. We sat there for the guts of an hour, drinking, eating, people watching, living our best lives. Pro tip: I’ve also heard wondrous things about the burgers at The Butcher, but I’ll have to save that for my next trip. Added bonus: there’s a fabulous atmosphere in the market that feels so good you could sit there for hours watching the world go by.
where to eat
Hap-Hmm // walking to Hap-Hmm along a pitch black street with no lights was more than a little terrifying, but thankfully worth it. A traditional Dutch restaurant serving the kinds of food grandmothers make, Hap-Hmm has been open for over 60 years. We queued for 40-minutes, and the smells wafting past us as we waited made our tummies grumble. The menu was small but good. I opted for the wiener schnitzel & my bestie went for the house specialty: a beef stew. Both mains were melt-in-the-mouth good & came with large sides of potatoes + veggies. A couple beers later, we were much less terrified walking home along the pitch black street.
Los Feliz // owned by the crowd behind Bakers & Roasters, this is the Mexican restaurant of my dreams. I treated myself to a good old fashioned margarita & we went wild when ordering. We. Feasted. Without any reservations at all, we can vouch for most of the menu. Guac + chips, a whole host of different tostadas + carnitas, & the chipotle aioli fries. It was hard to decide which tostada stole the show – a tie between the tinga de pollo & the carne asada – but everything was so delicious it hardly matters. After the roaring success of our meal, we simply couldn’t leave without dessert.. & another margarita. We went for the tres leches cake, which neither of us had ever tried before, but which we devoured within seconds. From beginning to end, it was glorious. *2020 update: sadly closed down now*
Thrill Grill // TG is a burger place. At the time I rather enjoyed my burger – & my pal really enjoyed her hot dog – but thinking back on the experience as a whole, there wasn’t really anything fantastic about the place. Not necessarily a bad restaurant, there was just nothing about the place that would make me go back.
where to drink
Cafe George // we stumbled across Cafe George completely by accident one day & it ended up being one of our favourite stops. It’s a kind of hipster-chic place with an American/French bistro vibe going on. There are marble tabletops, mirrors lining the wall, cute candles lit regardless of the time, & a solid snack list (definitely try the traditional ‘bitterballen’). We stopped by more than once to enjoy a couple glasses of wine in the shade.
Wijnbar Boelen // we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy glass of wine before dinner one night & this was the perfect spot. I opted for a big glass of Valpolicella, which was so delicious that I treated myself to a second.
where to get coffee
Scandinavian Embassy // I somehow discovered online that Scandinavian Embassy have the best cinnamon rolls in the city. It’s a very cool, very chic place, with the very alluring smell of cinnamon wafting out the front door. SE are also real deal kind of serious about their coffee. We sat right at the bar so we could watch the barista work his magic & we basically sat there openly gawping at him the whole time. The cinnamon roll was amazing, but it was the coffee that stole the show. A lot of care & attention went into making every single cup, & you could definitely taste it in the end result.
Lott Sixty One Coffee // we were tipped off on Instagram about attractive Thor-style baristas working here, and we weren’t disappointed. Attractiveness aside, they really knew what they were doing, the coffee was amazingly smooth. Cute boys + delicious coffee = match made in heaven.
what to do
Canal Cruise // I feel like this is a must in Amsterdam, you just gotta do one. We went with a company called Lovers, but I think they’re all basically the same. The tour lasts an hour & brings you down all the main canal routes, with an informative little electric tour guide narrating your trip. Our boat driver threw out a few tid-bits of information every so often. Did you know that the canals in Amsterdam are 3-metres deep? He reckons they’re actually only 2-metres of water & 1-metre of ill fated bicycles, of which they pull over 12,000 from the canals every year. Mad.
Rijksmuseum // another Amsterdam must. I headed straight for the Van Gogh self-portrait & stood there taking in every single brushstroke for a good 20-minutes. It is exquisite. The museum also holds an extensive Rembrandt collection on the top floor, which is definitely worth a visit. Pro tip: don’t miss a trip to the library inside the museum! It’s a three-story room filled entirely with books about art history & is extremely pleasing to behold.
Moco Museum // skeptical as I was about visiting Moco, I thoroughly enjoyed our time in the museum. Perhaps that’s because it’s much less museum-ey than you think. The museum houses contemporary works of art – we saw a Banksy & a Roy Lichtenstein exhibition – in a seemingly random layout. Added bonus: in the basement of the museum there was a 3D interior room installation of Lichtenstein’s painting “Bedroom at Arles”! It was literally like we stepped into the artwork, we were amazed.
I Amsterdam Sign // just one of those stupid/half fun things that you have to do when you’re in Amsterdam. If you’re one of the
unlucky few whose name begins with any of the ‘iamsterdam’ letters, then you get to try climb up on top of said letter for that cliche tourist shot. Let’s just hope that you don’t slip or embarrass yourself on the way up, because there are a heck of a lot of people milling around. Thankfully, there’s no hidden ‘V’ in ‘iamsterdam’, so I’ve been spared the public humiliation thus far.
Vondelpark // I imagine Vondelpark would be a lovely place for a summer picnic or a stroll, but we were there in the depths of winter. If I’m being completely honest, it was so freezing when we visited that we briskly walked 10-paces in, glanced around, & walked right back out again. Only when we were safely inside a warm coffee shop 10-minutes later did we decide that yes, it was indeed a pretty park.
Classic car hunting // Amsterdam is full of quirky old cars – they’re impossible not to come across. Go for a wander along the canals & see if you can stumble across that insta-perfect shot. I dragged my poor friend halfway across the city to go back & take a picture of a classic car I’d spotted while we were on our canal tour. The things you do for Instagram!