Here is a very small selection of the delights in the neighbourhood. You may find some useful tips on this page even if you are not staying on our houseboat. For more information about Amsterdam in general, one of the best, if slightly outdated, guides to Amsterdam that we have found is the Internet Guide to Amsterdam.

Click on the map to see an enlarged version.

Amsterdam city centre
]9 Amsterdam city centre
The latest version of this brief guide can be found at http://www.oasishouseboat.com/amsterdam

Self-catering

  • There is a large and well-stocked supermarket, the Albert Heijn, located at Jodenbreestraat 21. Open from 8am to 10pm (8:00 to 22:00) every day.
  • Hema, a department store, has a good selection of fresh food and prepared meals. You can find it at Jodenbreestraat 11. Open from 8am to 10pm (8:00 to 22:00) every day, and on Sundays from 10am to 10pm (10:00 to 22:00)
  • Ekoplaza is a good organic health food store. It also has some prepared snacks. It is situated at Waterlooplein 131, and is open every day until 7pm (19:00).
  • Sterk Staaltje, is a wonderful delicatessen, with all sorts of prepared meals. Located at Staalstraat 12, it is open until 7pm (19:00) during the week, and until 6pm (18:00) in the weekend.
  • There aren’t many bakers left in the neighbourhood. But Brood, on Zeedijk 66, has delicious bread. Open until 6pm every day, Sunday until 3:30pm. The Albert Heijn also bakes bread fresh daily, and the Ekoplaza has fresh bread daily too.
  • Most of the butchers have gone too, but there is a very decent butcher still left, Slagerij Vet, Zeedijk 99. They sell fresh organic chicken, as well as good quality beef, pork and lamb. You may find it a bit odd, but Dutch butchers also make and sell sandwiches, so it can be very busy at lunchtime. (Ask for a Broodje Zeedijk.) Open everyday from 8am to 6pm (8:00 to 18:00), closed on Sundays.

Cafes and restaurants

There are so many cafes and restaurants in the neighbourhood, so we’ll just give you a quick overview of some of the ones that we like.

  • De Witte Zwaan, St Antoniebreestraat 46. Modern Dutch cuisine, with a seasonal (small) menu. Highly recommended.
  • Raan Phad Thai, Raamgracht 9. This little Thai restaurant is nice and close to the houseboat, and the food is great too.
  • Frenzi, Zwanenburgwal 232. Relaxed cafe for lunch, dinner or just a drink. Excellent fresh food and great location.
  • De Engelbewaarder, Kloveniersburgwal 59, is a literary cafe, which is close by. It is open for lunch and dinner, and has a weekly jazz session on Sunday afternoons.
  • Tony’s NY City Bagels, Jodenbreestraat 15. A great breakfast and lunch cafe if you are hankering for a New York bagel.
  • Nam Kee, Zeedijk 111. There are dozens of Chinese restaurants in the Zeedijk; this is our favourite for an authentic Cantonese-style kitchen.
  • Cafe de Jaren, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20. Famous for its beautiful terrace this is a lovely place for lunch and dinner.
  • Soup en zo Jodenbreestraat 94. Gourmet soups, freshly prepared every day.
  • Cafe Tisfris, St Antoniebreestraat 142. Just around the corner from the houseboat, this relaxed cafe has a sunny terrace, which is a wonderful place to sit and watch the rest of the world rush by. The food used to be excellent; now it is still good, but not as good as it used to be.
  • Geisha, Prins Hendrikkade 106A. About the best Japanese food that we have found so far in Amsterdam.
  • Ganesha, Geldersekade 5, Excellent Indian cuisine
  • Cafe ‘t Loosje, Nieuwmarkt 32. An authentic “brown” cafe, and a local favourite. Great for breakfast and lunch.

Attractions in the neighbourhood

  • The Rembrandt House Museum, where Rembrandt lived and worked for about 20 years, is located at Jodenbreestraat 4. It is open daily from 10am to 6pm.
  • The Zuiderkerk (South Church) was built in 1611 as the first Protestant church in Amsterdam, but it is no longer used as a church. The Zuiderkerkstoren (the tower) is open from April to September, with guided tours every half hour.
    Zuiderkerk by Claude Monet (1874?)
    Zuiderkerk by Claude Monet (1874?)
  • The Nieuwmarkt (New Market) is one of the oldest areas in Amsterdam. De Waag (the Weigh House), built in 1488, dominates the square. The square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, just about all of them are worth a visit. (But avoid the cafe in the Waag, as it is expensive and the service is lousy.) There is an organic Farmers’ Market at the Nieuwmarkt every Saturday.
  • The Jewish Historical Museum, at Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1, is situated in the old Jewish quarter. Open daily from 11am to 5pm.
  • The Hermitage Amsterdam, Amstel 51, is a satellite museum of the Hermitage State Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
  • There is a flea market at the Waterlooplein, which is open every day except Sunday.
  • Hortus, the botanical gardens, is located at Plantage Middenlaan 2a, about 10 minutes walk from the Raamgracht. Open daily from 10am to 5pm.
  • If you happen to be in Amsterdam for New Year’s Eve then fireworks around midnight is the local thing to do. There are semi-organised places where you can join a whole bunch of other people and watch the fireworks, eg at the Nieuwmarkt. It gets pretty crowded and you should go much earlier than midnight if you actually want to be in the middle of it. Another goodie as far as fireworks: the Bulldog on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal puts on a good show after midnight, around 00:30. Otherwise there are lots of organised parties and festivals. See Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam and Guide to New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam.

Other Attractions

  • The Keukenhof is a very popular attraction during the tulip season. It is well worth the visit, especially if you love flowers and gardens. The 2018 season starts on 22 March and ends on 13 May. See the About.com website for some good information about the Keukenhof, including how to get there by public transport from Amsterdam.
  • The EYE Film Museum is worth a visit. To get there catch the free ferry behind Central Station. Take the ferry to “Buiksloterweg”, it’s a two-minute ride. The ferry trip is nice, the building is interesting (?), you get a different view of Amsterdam, and the cafe/restaurant has a great terrace.
  • Walking around a park on a sunny day is always pleasant. The most well-known park in Amsterdam is the Vondelpark, which has the advantage of being close to the big museums. Another lesser-known park is the Westerpark and the Westergasfabriek Culture Park (the former gasworks), which is a bit off the beaten (tourist) track, and our personal favourite.
  • There are several open-air markets in Amsterdam. See the Amsterdam.info website for a list.

Drugs and other highs

There is some wise and useful advice here: 10 tips for using drugs in Amsterdam

Know your supplier

**NEVER, EVER, EVER ** buy drugs on the street. You WILL get ripped off. Amsterdam is currently plagued by nepdealers (“fake” dealers). They say they are selling cocaine/ecstasy/opium/whatever. If you are lucky it is something harmless like crushed up aspirin, or washing powder. But if you are unlucky it is something unreliable cut with something nasty, like anti-worming drugs used on animals. The nepdealers are a true plague. The police can’t arrest them because they don’t carry drugs. And you, as the one who has been ripped off in a shady drug deal, are unlikely to file a police complaint. So it is an easy living for the nepdealer. Don’t support them!

We cannot emphasis strongly enough, NEVER EVER buy drugs on the street!!! Get your highs from a coffeeshop, smartshop or café.

Coffeeshops and cannabis

Among Amsterdam’s many different attractions are the “coffeeshops”. These are distinct from, and different to, the (brown) cafés. A coffeeshop is where you can purchase and consume cannabis, semi-legally. Cannabis is decriminalised in the Netherlands (you won’t get arrested), but not legalised (you are breaking the law). A coffeeshop will have a sticker somewhere on its front window or door, similar to this:

How to recognise a coffeeshop
How to recognise a coffeeshop
Somewhat oddly, you are not allowed to smoke cigarettes in a coffeeshop. Alcohol cannot be served in a coffeeshop. Some bars/cafés are okay with you smoking a joint, but certainly not all. When in doubt, ask first. Lots of info on the internet, but here is a nice English-language one: http://www.coffeeshop.freeuk.com/FAQ.html Be careful, Dutch marijuana is probably much stronger than what you are used to smoking.

(Brown) cafés

What you would probably call a pub or a bar is called a café here. Alcohol, coffee and tea served all day. Sometimes meals too, and then it’s called an eetcafé or a lunchcafé. Brown cafés are so-named for their interior colour, which is dark brown either because there’s lots of old timber beams and wooden furniture, or because of nicotine stains from years past. They tend to look a bit shabby, and very comfortable. Most Amsterdammers have their favourite brown café. Anyway, there is a whole café culture, catering to different styles and tastes. Have fun trying to find your favourite one.

Smartshops

You can purchase other tolerated/legalised drugs (mushrooms, herbal stimulants, etc) at smartshops. Do not indulge lightly, and ask the smartshop for advice if you are at all in doubt. Make sure you are feeling psychologically stable, and not depressed or unhappy. There have been too many reports of young tourists high on mushrooms jumping into the canals, or landing in hospital having a really bad trip.

Links

  • Timeout has an good selection of interesting things to do while you’re in Amsterdam.
  • I Amsterdam is the city’s official website.
  • Amsterdam.info is a useful site and no in-your-face advertising.
  • About.com has some very extensive information about Amsterdam.
  • Unclogged has a good selection of “non-touristy things to do” in Amsterdam.

(Free) Apps

  • I Amsterdam City Guide is a very thorough app with a good selection of what’s happening in town, the weather, free WiFi spots, etc
  • The I Amsterdam site also has a good selection of useful Amsterdam apps, eg public transport apps, local weather, etc.
  • The Schiphol App is very useful, providing you with details about getting to and from the airport, and real-time information about your specific flight (baggage belt, check-in desk, gate number, time to boarding/landing etc).
  • The Rijksmuseum has a great app which can help you plan your visit to this world-class museum. Android version, iOS version.