Free, surprising, always on the move, the beautiful and green Amsterdam reveals unexpected gastronomic surprises. Do you know Dutch wines? No ?! Then follow your Amsterdam travel guide!
- Discover the Dutch vineyards at Bob's
- Expanding your horizons at Benelux Wine
- Visit an urban winery at Chateau Amsterdam
- Enjoy a delicious evening at Shiraz, Jardin des vins
- Reconnecting with your roots at Glou Glou
- Dip into the beer at Brouwerij't IJ
- Have fun at the Heineken Experience
- Discover genever at the House of Bols
- Eating waffles at the Albert Cuyp market
- Fall back into childhood by eating pancakes in a merry-go-round
- Living the Dolce vita at the Tiramisù café
- Purring at Kattencafe Kopjes
- Learning and eating well in museums
- Escape from Amsterdam for a day or two...
Forget the coffee shops, the Red Light District and the tulip bulbs, beautiful Amsterdam has much more to offer than tourist attractions. To discover it, you have to get away from the Dam, the central square where pigeons and tourists meet, and walk along its canals, take the small streets, and venture into the slightly outlying districts.
Green, calm, Amsterdam is also a port city with a youthful population open to the world, full of expatriates and immigrants. A small world brought together by economic opportunities and freedom, the watchword of the Amsterdamers. Entrepreneurs, travellers and traders, the inhabitants of Amsterdam have been enriched (in every sense of the word!) by these exchanges, without forgetting to make their plates benefit from them.
Not very famous for its gastronomy, except for its cheeses, Holland is nevertheless worth a look at its pots. You will find, of course, fish, a lot of fish, but also specialities like "bitterballen", meat croquettes to be dipped in mustard that the Amstellodammers nibble in all the bars at beer time (that is to say at any time).
Another must on a trip to Amsterdam is the apple pie, for which every Dutch grandmother has a secret recipe. Hearty and well filled with apples, raisins and cinnamon, it comforts in case of bad rain (which is often). Just like poffertjes or stroopwafels(see My favourites), which happily take us back to childhood in a sugar bath.
As far as drinks are concerned, of course, we are in the realm of beer. One of the most sold beers in the world(see box) is the Dutch Heineken. In Amsterdam, you can also discover many other local breweries that offer more original beers than the famous "H"(see My favorites)
Little by little, wine is making its appearance on Dutch tables. On the one hand, because young city dwellers are increasingly interested in it, and on the other hand, because the Dutch vineyard is growing rapidly, under the effect of global warming: whereas in 1997 there were only 7 winegrowers in the country, there are now nearly 180 who produce 1.2 million bottles per year.
The vineyards are small (28 hectares maximum) and are mainly located in the south of the country, in the regions of Brabant and Limburg. The grape varieties used are similar to those grown in Germany (Rivaner, Pinot noir, etc.) or are cousins of international varieties adapted to the local climate (Cabernet, Chardonnay, etc.). Here are our addresses and our travel guide to discover these amazing wines and spend a long and delicious weekend in Amsterdam!
Travelling in wine in Amsterdam
Discover the Dutch vineyards at Bob's
Bob is not the nickname of the wine shop, but the Dutch equivalent of the French AOP ("Beschermde Oorsprongsbenaming" for Dutch speakers). Opened at the end of 2020 in the "bobo" district De Pijp, this wine shop attracts the eye by its front that promises us "only Dutch wines". Walk through the door and you'll be greeted with warmth and passion by Roderick, who also hosts wine tastings every Saturday. He will be happy to introduce you to the nuggets selected by Bob's team: wines from the north to the south of Holland, from rosés to sparkling wines, as well as surprising whites (we recommend the blanc de noir* from Domaine Stokhem, made with pinot noir) or light but carefully made reds (try the surprising red from Domaine Dassemus, which is made using biodynamic methods, which is a challenge given the humid climate of the Brabant region).
Every Saturday from 6 to 8 pm, Bob organises Dutch wine tastings where you can take a guided tour of the Dutch vineyards. Over a nice cheese and charcuterie board you can taste about 8 wines and learn all about the Dutch vineyards. We went at the beginning of October and the atmosphere was very warm, the explanations were kindly given in English for us, and the wines were surprising! Go there!
*A"blanc de noir" is a white wine obtained from black grapes. It is the skin of the grape that gives its color to the wine, so to obtain a white wine from black grapes we press the grapes directly in order to ferment only the juice, contrary to a red wine for which we leave the skins in contact with the juice during the maceration. A wine region well known for its blanc de noir is obviously Champagne!
Expanding your horizons at Benelux Wine
Head for another of Amsterdam's trendy districts, the Jordaan. In the small streets lined with fashion designers and trendy restaurants, stop at Benelux Wine Co, a new generation wine shop that specialises in wines from the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg). These three countries have some surprises in store for us, especially Luxembourg and its crémants, but also Belgium and its very promising vineyards.
All bottles come with a small tasting note and a presentation of the vineyard and winemaker. If you want to know more, Malory will be happy to advise you. Every Thursday, themed tastings are organised (introduction to Benelux wines, quiz evening, crémant party,...). Please remember to book well in advance, as they are sold out very quickly! The shop also offers ciders, beers, cheeses and local sweets... A bright place, created with intelligence and sensitivity for true wine lovers. Of all wines.
Visit an urban winery at Chateau Amsterdam
In the trendy northern part of Amsterdam, which you can reach by boat from the central station, there is a Chateau. No towers or drawbridges, but a wine cellar where grapes from all over Europe arrive: Pinot noir from Germany, Grenache from Spain, Syrah and Cabernet sauvignon from France... These grapes are then blended to produce Made in Amsterdam wines. In this urban cellar, you can see the stainless steel tanks where the fermentation takes place, but also the (French) oak barrels where the wines are aged.
Born in 2017 from the passion of a father and son for wine, the urban cellar Chateau Amsterdam (the only urban cellar in the Netherlands) is worth a visit: 20 different grape varieties are found there, sometimes vinified as single varietals, sometimes blended. From the very aromatic Chardonnay named "Fat lady sings" to the more evolved Pinot noir named "Fantastic mister fox", there is something for everyone. Our favorite: the blend of German Pinot Noir and Italian Montepulciano, nicely entitled "Tango by night". And of course, the wink to France with the very assumed cuvée Piquette, an effervescent rosé drink at 5° obtained by mixing musts with water and sugar to obtain a second fermentation. Long live the Piquette of Amsterdam!
Enjoy a delicious evening at Shiraz, Jardin des vins
It is a magical place, on the edge of a canal and a stone's throw from the famous Rijskmuseum, where you can stay for an aperitif, a dinner or even a long evening. The wine list of "Shiraz, jardin des vins" (in French) will make you want to linger: a sharp selection of French, German, Spanish and Italian wines, but also from California, Argentina or South Africa... at very reasonable prices (from 5 to 7€ per glass).
The menu has been cleverly designed with colour markers to give you an idea of the character of each wine (fresh, mineral, fruity, spicy, etc). If that's not enough for you, the waiters are very good at advising you and are able to direct you to find a wine that matches your taste or what you choose to nibble on. And here, I can only encourage you to be greedy: the whole menu makes you salivate and everything is delicious. A little advice: try the duck and truffle croquettes with their parmesan mayonnaise... To die for (be careful if you are on the terrace barge not to fall into the water!)
Reconnecting with your roots at Glou Glou
Feeling a bit homesick? Go quickly to Glou Glou, a Francophile wine bar where natural wines are in the spotlight. The wine list changes regularly, but most of the wines are French and Italian, by the glass or by the bottle, and can be accompanied by cheese and charcuterie boards. Entering Glouglou is the promise of a good time in a bar that will bring back memories to Parisians, with lively discussions and bottles from behind the bars. If you like to discover original, unfiltered, organic, sulphite-free wines, you will love spending your evenings in this little piece of Paris in the heart of the trendy De Pijp district.
My favourites in Amsterdam
Dip into the beer at Brouwerij't IJ
Don't let the unpronounceability of the name* fool you, this beer brewery is a must-see during a stay in Amsterdam. The famous ostrich on the glasses and bocks is them! The brewery was founded in 1985 and moved into a former public bath, topped by anold windmill that has become a symbol of the brewery and a meeting place for the people of Amsterdam. On the spot, a tasting of five beers is offered (about 10€) to discover these beers inspired by the Belgian neighbours. From the very fresh Blondie to the stronger Zatte (a triple at 8°) and finally the very special Columbus at 9°, the journey into beer, on the terrace at the foot of the mill when the weather is good, will allow you to discover all the subtleties of this drink. Nibbles are available on site. Guided tours of the brewery are also organised on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3.30 pm in English (20 minutes, 7€/pers.).
*IJ- pronounced Ye - is the name of the body of water around which Amsterdam is built, between the North Sea channel and the small inland sea IJ meer
Have fun at the Heineken Experience
A total change of atmosphere, even if we remain in the world of beer. The Heineken Experience is a bit like the Disneyland of beer, but it is still worth the trip, if only to admire the old vats where the beer was brewed. The tour of the brand's first brewery, founded 150 years ago, begins with a look at the history of Heineken, before you delve into the beer-making process and visit the old vats. Then it's time for entertainment (and marketing) with a capital D: personalise your own Heineken bottle, stand in the place of a bottle on the bottling line with a vibrating floor, have a 2-minute nightclub session, take funny pictures and finally enjoy a cold beer in the basement bar. Each admission entitles you to two beers per person at the end of your visit. A beer is also offered on the way. Have fun. Entrance fee (drinks included): €20.
Discover genever at the House of Bols
Genever is the ancestor of gin and guess who invented it? A Dutchman! Lucas Bols, in the 16th century, created this liqueur which developed over the course of the Dutch maritime explorations with theaddition of spices and exotic fruits. Now used in cocktail bars around the world, Bols liqueurs come in hundreds of flavours that you can discover at the House of Bols. Very interactive and well designed, the visit (16€/pers.) presents the history of the brand, then allows you to smell the different aromas, discover the raw ingredients, understand the different processes of making the liqueurs (maceration, percolation, etc.) before tasting a cocktail of your choice. Choose from the recipes on offer or let one of the talented bartenders surprise you. Workshops to learn how to create a cocktail are also offered.
Eating waffles at the Albert Cuyp market
It is an institution that takes place every day (except Sundays) on the Albert Cuyp street in the heart of De Pijp. The Albert Cuyp market is a great meeting place for gourmets, the curious, the bargain hunters,... From fresh fish to sexy lingerie, from pitas to Chinese ravioli, from kitsch souvenirs to fresh flower bouquets, you will find everything at the Albert Cuyp market. The smell of herring mingles with the smell of waffles, pretty birds nibble on the crumbs that have fallen to the ground, tourists mingle with the locals... A cheerful market where you can also stop for a coffee or taste (space) brownies (we decline all responsibility for the consequences of this experience).
My favourite on the market: Rudi's stroopwafels. Stroopwafels are small dry waffles filled with sugar syrup. And the best ones are definitely Rudi's: try a hot one on the market or buy a packet to take home, you won't regret it. To find Rudi, look for the little truck with the blue, white and red colours (which are also the colours of the Netherlands) at around number 182 in the street.
Another interesting market for real shopping, perhaps a little less touristy: the Noordermarkt, on Saturday mornings in the Jordaan district.
Fall back into childhood by eating pancakes on a merry-go-round
Let's keep the beak in the sugar. Waffles come in all shapes and sizes at the Carrousel, an unlikely café built as an old merry-go-round. It's the ideal place to take a snack break on a rainy day and to discover poffertjes, the typical Dutch pancakes. Presented in the form of small dough rounds, like mini doughnuts, they are served with plenty of icing sugar but also whipped cream, and everything you can imagine around them: chocolate, fruit coulis, fresh fruit, caramel, etc. The variations are infinite and it's delicious. For a typically Dutch experience, try them with advocaat, which is not an avocado at all but a liqueur made of egg yolk, sugar and alcohol.
Living the Dolce vita at the Tiramisù café
A little corner of Italy awaits you in the chic Beethovenstraat. Last winter, two Milanese brothers opened this pastry shop/tea room where everything is made by hand with the greatest care. Their speciality: tiramisù of course! Classic but also with Piedmont hazelnuts (a delight!), the most famous Italian dessert is reinvented and accompanied by a real good espresso like over there! Don't miss the cannoli made on demand to keep them fresh, the panna cotta, the salted croissants and focaccia, and all the other delights on offer. Mamma mia, buonissimo!
Tiramisù café, Beethovenstraat 38, Amsterdam.
Purring at Kattencafe Kopjes
Instead of the shisha bars, choose the cat bar. Kattencafe Kopjes is all about purring: lovingly made coffees, teas, breakfasts and cakes, and a bunch of cute cats walking around. Or rather, the place you come for a coffee. Around Lennie, the young woman who started this first cat bar in Holland, live seven cats that you can pet or play with. They have all been taken in from shelters in the Amsterdam area and now live a sweet life among the café's customers who pamper them all day long. A fee of 4 euros is charged to contribute to the costs of the kittens. A very small contribution for a real purr-fect therapy session.
Note: if you are a total cat-addict, don't miss the cat museum, Het KattenKabinet, a private art museum with various works of art representing cats and a beautiful exhibition of photos of artists with their favorite kitty. You will also come across some life-size specimens and the secret recipe of the croquettes "à la Choupette", the famous cat of Karl Lagerfeld...
Learning and eating well in museums
Amsterdam is a paradise for museum lovers. There is something for everyone, from the Nemo Museum of science to the great classics of painting at the Rijskmuseumto the very modern museum of the city of Amsterdam to the old galleons of the maritime museumfrom the anthropological collections of the Tropenmuseum to the exhibitions on cinema of theEye film museum. Let's stop at the last two which, in addition to presenting fascinating temporary exhibitions ("Healing power" or the history of healers and shamans at the Tropenmuseum, or "All about theater about film" which presents theatrical adaptations of films at the Eye museum), also offer cafés where you can take a delicious break.
In the Tropenmuseum, De Tropen Cafe draws its inspiration from cuisines from all over the world: Indian lassi, Indonesian salad, Mexican nachos, Lebanese falafel... Take a trip around the world in one meal, before starting your visit to this fascinating anthropology museum.
As for the Eye, you can't miss it: if you take the (free) ferry from the central station to the northern districts of Amsterdam, you're bound to see this white building with itsultra-modern architecture. Inside there is a small film museum, daily film screenings (in VO), and temporary exhibitions. Not forgetting the café-restaurant where you can have a great lunch break with a breathtaking view over the IJ and above all in a totally new architecture.
Escape from Amsterdam for a day or two...
If you want to get some fresh air, although Amsterdam is green and quiet enough not to be stifled by city life, head to the outskirts of the city for two trips.
The first is a simple bus ride from the central station to Volendam and the island of Marken (30 minutes by bus from Amsterdam to Volendam). Take the boat from the port of Volendam to Marken and take your time to visit this peaceful haven where fishermen have lived isolated from the world for centuries. It's a little less so now that Marken is connected to the rest of the country by a dike, but you'll still feel a unique sense of calm among the beautiful wooden houses built on stilts. The menu includes fish, of course! The restaurant Taverne de Visscher offers a tasting plate of local fish and a very good fish and chips, accompanied by a local beer of course.
The second trip takes you to Zaandam, northwest of Amsterdam, where you can visit Zaanse Schans, a traditional village surrounded by old windmills. The village is very touristy, but still worth a visit: you can go into the houses that have become shops and discover how cheese, clogs, waffles, etc. are made. On the way from Volendam station to Zaanse Schans, you will certainly smell something strange in the air... Chocolate! There are several cocoa processing factories in Zaandam, which were established here because cocoa traditionally arrived from South America in the port of Amsterdam.