As one of my favorite cities in Europe, I make it a point to visit Amsterdam as much as I can. It seems more like a little village than just an urban space, with animals, plants and a pleasant atmosphere. The beautiful thing about Amsterdam is that it never gets boring. If you speed things up, then you have everything you need at your doorstep – but if you’re looking to slow things down, then Amsterdam offers a unique silence that can usually only be found in the countryside.
It seems that the people of Amsterdam are some of the nicest I’ve met, with a sort of wittiness and humor about them. You can see it mostly through the kids, who are funny and cheeky, always running around.
Another charming thing about Amsterdam is that it’s a green city, in the sense that everyone rides bicycles – barely using buses or the subway to get from one place to another. This, and the fact that the city is pretty small, makes it easy to get around and ask for guidance. Even if you’re a solo traveller, you never feel too lost.
Amsterdam is also a designer’s heaven. You can see it in every cafe, gallery or store window that has been meticulously designed and built with such preciseness, always with a smart use of typography and a general playful vibe that makes this city such a fun destination.
Art and photography galleries – Foam Museum
The city is filled with art and culture, with a huge avenue of museums, plus additional galleries scattered around. As a fan of photography museums, I always seem to find an interesting photography exhibition when I visit. One of my favorite photography museums is Foam, an internationally operating organization presenting all facets of contemporary photography.
Foam Fotografiemuseum, Keizersgracht 609, 1017 DS, Amsterdam
Street art & the industrial area – NDSM Island
The city’s street art scene is a force to be reckoned with. In most neighborhoods the streets are cleared from graffiti, showing only statues and illustrations. But in the industrial areas, like NDSM, you’ll find endless murals in huge hangers along with sculptures and crafts.
T.T. Neveritaweg, 1033 WB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Stores & boutiques
Say hello to some of the best vintage out there. Amsterdam’s thrift scene covers everything, from books to clothes and many other unique pieces. As the capital of the most design-oriented country, you’ll find many furniture and home decor stores that combine fashion and accessories. You can find refreshing combinations between local designers and large brands. Many of the stores also offer a cafeteria with coffee, cakes and a place to chill. For a great breakfast next to beautiful jewelry and quality basics, check out CottonCake.
CottonCake, Eerste van der Helststraat 76HS, 1072 NZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
One of my basic necessities is coffee (surprise surprise) and most important is the first one I have in the morning. Amsterdam offers plenty of quality coffee and great places to enjoy it. Some of my personal favorites are Scandinavian Embassy and Lot 61.
Lot 61, Kinkerstraat 112, 1053 ED Amsterdam, Netherlands
Scandinavian Embassy, Sarphatipark 34, 1072 PB Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fresh food scene
While the food scene hasn’t yet reached its full potential, you can find super fresh food everywhere, many vegan/vegetarian friendly places and a great Asian cuisine scene. Design-wise, you’ll find that many restaurants are both sophisticated yet cosy – influenced by the Scandinavian Hygge values, a Danish concept of complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming. Hygge encourages taking pleasure from presence of gentle, soothing things such as good food and wine with your favorite people.
Parks and lawns – Sarphatipark
While Amsterdam has its fair share of parks, Sarphatipark is my personal favorite. Its layout makes it feel cozy and communal, while on the other hand, it’s wide enough to give a sense of space and pastorality. It’s the perfect place to take a break from your day and just lie there on the grass, read a book and daze off (the ducks swimming in the lake, birds flying and dogs playing will definitely help you do that).