Amsterdam is a wonderful destination, at any time of year. A little (or a lot) of rain doesn’t slow the city down. Explore on bikes, stay in the city center (or stay in Haarlem and train in for a less crowded experience).

City Center


  • **Bijbels Museum, Herengracht 366-368. The “Bible” Museum, though it doesn’t have many bibles. Interesting collection of egyptian artifacts (specifically egyptian artifacts that reference Jews) and 2 original 17th-century kitchens worth seeing (if you like that sort of thing).
  • ***Canal Museum, Herengracht 386. Surprisingly great. Digital/mixed media overview of the building of Amsterdam. 
  • ***Rijksmuseum: new building is complete, epic collection.
  • **Museum Amstelkring: aka the “church in the attic museum.” Not bad, interesting from a historical perspective. I’d choose this over the bijbels museum.
  • **The Van Gogh Museum: just as the name describes. Must do once, and several times if you love Van Gogh.
  • *The Amsterdam Museum: trying too hard in all the wrong ways. There’s a lot of “interactivity” and video, which complicates the experience and detracts from the materials they have in the collection. Pass.
  • *Canal Boat Tour: surprisingly not worthwhile. We took the Lover’s Line – other tours might be better? It had a pre-recorded audio track that provided almost no useful information. 
  • ***Anne Frank Museum: very moving. Be sure to reserve in advance.
  • ***Maritime Museum (9-5). Pretty cool. Very boat-y, if you like that sort of thing. Deeply historic building, rotating exhibits. Impressive.
  • **The Cat Museum Yes, a museum cat art. It’s mostly reproductions, smells like old cat, not the best experience, but fun if you like cats and want to see the interior of a classic Amsterdam mansion.
  • Allard Pierson Museum (haven’t been, looks interesting)


Restaurants / We’ve Tried:

2017 Note: Food in general wasn’t great, and service across the board was bad/rude. There are exceptions, but expect a non-SF level of engagement.

  • [now closed]: Villa Zeezicht, Torensteeg 7. Galen’s favorite breakfast hangout. Try the apple pie.
  • **De Kas: in a conservatory, locally grown food. Wonderful, don’t miss it. (We’re told this is “for tourists” – but it’s still the best meal we had in Amsterdam.)
  • **Long Pura, Rozengracht 46-48. Very good, recommended as the best Indonesian food in Amsterdam. 
  • **Proeverij 274 Restaurant, Prinsengracht 274. Very good, excellent setting, adventurous food (creative European). Get the wine pairing.
  • **Best Thai, Elandsgracht 36. Sterile environment and glaring lighting, but the Thai food was great.
  • **Black and Blue, Leliegracht 46. Caters to tourists, but nice setting, open all day, quite decent food options.
  • **Blauw Aan De Wal, Oudezijds Actiterburgwal 99. Hidden down an alley in the red light district, this is a fancy option for a nice dinner. Built into the original city walls, very old building. Prefix menu. 2017 update: not as classy as we remembered, still okay. Still a good way to see the red light district without, well, just going there.
  • *Singel 404: nice spot on the canal, better than average food (not great, but more edible than most lunch spots). Popular with the locals. Doesn’t accept credit cards.
  • *La Oliva, Egelantiersstraat 122-124: Great atmosphere, less impressive service and food. I’d give it another try.
  • **V Hotel Nesplein Pretty good, if not amazing. Nice location, fine food, good cocktails.
  • *REM Eiland: Really bad experience. Cool setting in an old TV station with great views, but rude staff, blah food. Skip.
  • **Restaurant Bordewijk, Noordermarkt 7: old school, not particularly hip, but great food and friendly staff. On the edge of the Jordan.
  • *Restaurant A bit farther out, not quite walking distance from the center. Indonesian. Okay, but pricy and not as good as Long Pura.
  • **De Lutwe, Leliegracht 26-28. Good neighborhood place, not too touristy, nice staff, medium-fancy setting.

More Restaurants to try in Amsterdam:

  • Bord’Eau, the the Hotel de L’Europe. 2 stars.
  • Pata Negra: best tapas bar
  • Restaurant Vermeer, locally-sourced fare
  • Sie Joe: good indonesian, tiny, family run, doesn’t take reservations, closes at 8 pm
  • Ciel Bleu: high end French
  • Restaurant Jaspars: local neighborhood place, good food
  • Daalder: high end food in a casual setting (pre-fixe)
  • Toscanini: italian
  • Merkelbach: slow food movement, in the park (in the same park as De Kas)
  • Brasserie Bark
  • Cafe Loetje
  • Ron Gastrobar
  • Yamazato (michelin star, japanese)
  • Het Bosch
  • Max: traditional dutch/indonesian
  • Gusto de Casto
  • The Lobby
  • Restaurant Jansz

Outskirts of the City:

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