1. Sightseeing on your own boat (sloep)
The nicest way to see this gorgeous city is from the water. But don't get on one of the heavily polluting sight seeing boats that race tourists through the canals. Rent your own little boat, bring some wine, bionades, lunch, snacks, portable bbq, speakers on board and cruise the many canals at your own pace. On warm sunny days, it seems that most of Amsterdam's social life happens on the water.
25% of Amsterdam's surface is water, so you have a lot to explore, stick to the historic canal belt, Amstel river, western and eastern islands, the IJ river and venture east past the Scheepvaartmuseum towards Brouwerij 't IJ and the windmill De Gooijer, drinking Brouwerij 't IJ beer on the jetties adjacent to Brouwerij 't IJ is THE thing to do on a sunny day.
2. Getting lost in Amsterdam by bike
The best way to get around town is by bike. However, if you're not comfortable on a bike, don't get on a bike. A very fun thing to do is to join rush hour traffic on a sunny week day. Since I manage 3 construction sites in the city (one in east, one in west, one in south) I often join rush hour traffic on my bike, it's the fastest way to reach any destination in the city. And the cheapest.
Amsterdam is very compact. The A10 beltway circumvents Amsterdam's area of interest. East-West is a 9km trip. North to South is a 10km trip. What I love to do is to venture out, to an unknown area and just bike random streets. What happens is that I always make new discoveries on such expeditions, shops, bars, restaurans, play grounds, parks, markets, galleries... Amsterdam has a lot of hidden gems, and the real Amsterdam experience is to be found outside the historic canal belt. Every little neighborhood in Amsterdam has it's own cool bars, shops, markets,....
3. The food sceneHolland is not famous for it's food. However, there's a lot of good food in Amsterdam, and a thriving food scene.
Sure you can dine at world class Michelin star restaurants. But in my humble opinion, they aren't better or more special than the ones you found in Belgium or France. Price/quality wise you're better off abroad if Michelin star restaurants is what you're after. BUT: exception to this is Yamazato, the Japanese 2 star restaurant in the Okura Hotel. The only Japanese restaurant with 2 stars outside of Japan. Highly recommended.
What is much more exciting are the various food concepts that emerge all over town. Often organic, biological infused ideas, often set in very cool locations, and quite often emerging as a pop-up concept. Think of Wilde Zwijnen, the boys of Repere and Foyer, BAK, Baut, Restaurant As, Rijsel, Speijkervet, Cafe Modern, Goudfazant.... More conceptual ideas emerged as well, Fier with Limburg food, Bar Brouw specialized in pulled pork, Rotisserie focusses on chicken, Julius is all about the BBQ. Shared dining was introduces and now counts 5&33, Bocinq, Mercat, Boca's. In addition to all that there's now a huge selections of bars and brasseries serving excellent food: Carters, Bar Moustache, American Bar & Kitchen, Hugo's Bar & Kitchen, Franklin Bar & Kitchen...
There's now also a serious breakfast and brunch scene, with G's as the pioneers, and Little Collins, Drover's Dog, Staring at Jacob seeing their stars rise. Flanked by hundreds of exciting coffee spots scattered all over town: Bedford Stuyvesant and Bru in East, Mem's in South, Quartier Putain in the red light district, White label coffee and Berry in West and Headfirst Coffee Roasters in the Jordaan.
All in all, no matter how you find your way across Amsterdam canals and streets, there's always exciting places to discover where you can find good food, good drinks, good people, and crazy moments!
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