A Weekend in Amsterdam

From nature to nibbles, Amsterdam has all the trappings of a perfect weekend getaway. Rich in more than just bike culture, it’s a quintessentially charming city with stellar nightlife, welcoming cafés and a burgeoning food scene. Now is absolutely the time to visit.

Warmoesstraat 129, 1012 JA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cocktail bar-restaurants typically excel at one or the other, rarely both tipple and nibble. Four month old Tales & Spirits, located in the beating heart of Amsterdam, manages to succeed on both fronts. The cocktails are both creative in name and flavor (I opted for a Fallen Lady with vodka, deep fruit flavors and a dusting of chocolate and pepper), affordable and strong for the initiated cocktail lover. Spa still water is offered on the house with each drink ordered- a nice touch when the alcohol bill starts climbing. While I enjoyed my drink, it was the food menu that caught and held onto my attention. My truffle and wild sautéed mushroom risotto was impeccable in taste and size, leaving me sufficient room to test out one of their desserts of the moment. Most of the dishes on the menu are small so prepare to order several to share. And, of course, given the spot’s short order popularity, it’s wise to book ahead.
221IV Oudezijds Voorburgwal
When it gets cold enough in a Dutch winter, residents of Amsterdam and Utrecht don ice skates and take to the frozen canals. The cold weather is met with anticipation and joy, residents raid their closets and canal-side shops to find their gear. Luckily, many cafes line the canals for post-skating coffee and hot chocolate.
29 Berenstraat
“9 Streets” (De 9 Straatjes) is a charming, picturesque shopping area in the heart of Amsterdam‘s canal district. Located between Leidsestraat and Raadhuisstraat, this area is named after the nine side streets connecting the main 17th-century canals in the stylish Jordaan neighborhood. Spend a leisurely day browsing in the artisan boutiques, local designer shops, art galleries, cafes, canal-side restaurants, bars and more. You’ll be intrigued by all of the unique, beautiful objects for sale.
Weesperzijde 23, 1091 EC Amsterdam, Netherlands
Supposedly De Ysbreeker (‘Ice breaker’), arguably one of Amsterdam‘s most coveted café terraces overlooking the Amstel river, was formerly an inn for men who broke the ice on the river - hence, its name. Incarnations as a theater and dance hall followed before settling into its permanent role as a café/restaurant with prime people-watching real estate. When it changed ownership in 2010, it also underwent massive renovations to modernize the space. Today, it boasts a commodious interior which includes a bar, armchairs near a fireplace, a billiards table, a work space, loads of dining nooks and a concert hall in the back. Go for coffee and people-watching or a pre-dinner drink and nibbles, that’s where it shines.
Binnen Oranjestraat 14, 1013 JA Amsterdam, Netherlands
It was a late Saturday afternoon in Amsterdam. The sun was almost piercing and locals were joyous, thronging cafés and shedding layers. After all, they had suffered weeks of spring’s damp and gray homecoming. Knowing the extents to which I will go and the lengths I’m willing to travel for a good sandwich, my friends took me straight to Small World Catering whose unalloyed success keep the small space thrumming with customers at all hours of the day. Make your own sandwich or choose between a variety of warm or cold combinations on different types of bread (go with the brown!) proposed by the Australian owner and his convivial staff. And if you’re not in a sandwich kind of mood but find yourself in the neighborhood, the freshly-pressed juices, locally-roasted coffee, vibrant salads and delectable desserts should do the trick. If there aren’t any available seats - which is likely - take your meal to go and head for the canal.
160II Overtoom
We had been to Gollem for a drink and a snack (note: the meat platter is hearty) the evening before, but when we found ourselves on Overtoom after visiting Vondelpark, with Gollem just opening for lunch, we went for it again. After all, it was our last day in Amsterdam and there was beer to be drunk. The servers are very knowledgeable and helpful, and will guide you to specific styles or rhapsodize over undiscovered breweries. Fries, fried in beef tallow, were wonderful. Sweetbread croquettes tasted mostly like any other croquette, with perhaps a whiff of sweetbreadiness. The ham and Chimay cheese sandwich was good. It was all fresh, and all went very well with the wide selection of Belgian beers they offer. And for dessert? Gueuze.
Gabriël Metsustraat 8, 1071 EA Amsterdam, Netherlands
It has been a decade since the major museums on the Museumplein—a grassy square connecting Amsterdam’s main art centers—have all been open at the same time. Here’s what to check out at the Van Gogh Museum. Sunflowers, The Bedroom, and The Potato Eaters are just a few of the masterpieces on display as part of the “Van Gogh at Work” exhibit.
Singel, 1012 XG Amsterdam, Netherlands
Since 1862, fresh flowers and plants have arrived by barge from the Dutch countryside to Amsterdam. While this assemblage of flora still shows up daily, it comes by van, not boat, to the Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market. Here, you can browse 15 fragrant stalls on houseboats permanently moored on the Singel. Now the best-known flower market in Holland, this colorful attraction is packed with tourists on sunny weekends. Still, it’s a great place to pick up Dutch tulip bulbs in a plethora of shades and varieties, as well as many other types of bulbs, seeds, cut blooms, and houseplants. Ship a bag of bulbs home, or grab a souvenir at one of several shops hawking T-shirts, mugs, clogs, Dutch cheese, and other fun and inexpensive gifts.
Pijlsteeg 31, 1012 HH Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wynand Fockink founded his namesake distillery on this narrow alleyway off Dam Square in 1724 (and the building is even older, dating to 1679); some 70 varieties of jenever (Dutch gin), fruit brandy, and liqueur are still produced here today. In the small, beautifully preserved tasting tavern you can learn about—and more importantly, sample—both oude (old) and jonge (young) jenevers, as well as classic Dutch liqueurs like Bruidstranen (bride’s tears), an orange-flavored cordial with flakes of silver and 22-karat gold. Let the bartenders guide you on the traditional method: Bend down and slurp from the tulip-shaped glass—no hands allowed! You can also sign up for a one-hour tasting session and tour of the distillery; the cost is €17.50 (about $20).
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