Hidden Amsterdam: 7 Places the Guidebooks Don't Tell You About
From multi-tier cakes to underground record shops, truly neighborhood restaurants (where English might not be on the menu) and where to rent a bike that won't make you look like a tourist - this guide brings you seven fairly hidden - and absolutely delightful spots in Amsterdam for those looking for something different.
1. Secret Canal Tours
St. Nicolaas Boat Club [Leidseplein 1] [www.amsterdamboatclub.com]
Nothing makes you feel more like an insider than discovering a secret log in a random bar, which happens to be the only to way to gain access to the St. Nicolaas Boat Club: a not-for-profit group preserving historic boats and giving incredibly charming boat tours. Stop by Boom Chicago in Leidseplein early in your trip and sign-up for the next available boat (which may not be for a couple days). Then return at the set time with picnic-ables to drink, snack, smoke and share. Your captain will escort you and your fellow passengers in open-air, low-sided boats perfect for navigating Amsterdam’s tight canals (canals where larger commercial tourist boats are not permitted). Cost is by donation only and collected at the end by passing a can. Tip well.
2. Rare Vinyl
Record Mania [Ferdinand Bolstraat 30] [www.recordmania.nl]
Record collectors rejoice! Pristine vinyl, knowledgeable staff, and a fantastic selection set this record store apart (along with a lovely stained glass window in its rear). A recent visit found Leonard Cohen’s entire hard-to-find collection. Bonus- they will ship your selections to you: which means you won’t have to worry about cramming all that vinyl into your pack.
3. Neighborhood Eats
Le Kade [Jacob van Lennepkade 334D] [www.lekade.nl]
Le Kade’s chef left the acclaimed Le Garage to open his own neighborhood restaurant. Feast on 5-star food at neighborhood prices (with most main courses under 20 Euros). The menu features a handful of slow cooked entrees: enjoy whatever game, fish and local produce are in season.
4. Better Bikes
Bike City [Bloemgracht 68- 70] [www.bikecity.nl]
Amsterdam is absolutely crazy for bikes: evidenced by the six-story parking garage at the train station, for yes, bikes only. Skip Mac Bikes (literally a red flag that you’re a tourist) and head to Bike City to pick up stealthier wheels.
5. Spectacular Spectacles
Brilmuseum [Gastuismolensteeg 7] [www.brilmuseumamsterdam.nl]
Located above an old-fashioned optician’s shop, this two-floor museum is filled with 700 years of spectacle history. See the progression of technology and fashion in eyewear, and if you fall totally in love with those Buddy Holly glasses you can upgrade your frames in the shop and see Amsterdam in a completely new way.
6. Rock Out
Live at Westerpark [Westerpark] [www.liveatwesterpark.nl]
This fantastic outdoor venue draws big names and big crowds for its summer series. Shows are general admission. So get there early, buy some tokens for beer and enjoy the show.
7. Join the Party
De Taart van m'n Tante [Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 35] [www.detaart.com]
This delightful cake parlor would fit perfectly into the Technicolor Land of Oz, with its multi-tiered and wildly colored cakes topping every available surface while balloons fill the air above you. Relive your eighth birthday with a slice (or three).