For everybody who is looking for unique spots and hidden gems in Amsterdam.
Yes, the Rijksmuseum, Kalverstraat and Vondelpark are great, but no, we are not always thrilled to stand in line for 10 hours or fight our way through 9 layers of tightly packed tourists. That’s why you’ll find 8 great hidden hotspots you’ve probably never heard of in this article.
If you love the Hortus Botanicus or are very attached to your house plants, you should also pay a visit to the botanical gardens of the Vrije Universiteit. Nestled between the hospital and main building of the VU you can admire 10.000 different kinds of plants. On business days (mon-fri) entry is free, so take a break and enjoy this green oasis in the urban jungle of the Zuidas.
The Vondelbunker is an atomic air-raid shelter from the cold war that was (gladly) never used. Throughout the years the bunker has housed many squatters, punks, youth and musicians for illegal parties, short-term rent or temporary use. Now the Vondelbunker is a breeding ground for creativity through music, art, and more. If you want something out of the ordinary, the Vondelbunker is the place to be.
Greenhouse to table: Restuarant de Kas is a unique twist on fine dining. At night you’ll be served the produce that was harvested in the greenhouse earlier that day. This ~hidden gem~ isn’t actually quite so hidden: Restaurant de Kas has been featured in major publications like the New York Times and Lonely Planet, and it’s usually fully booked. This is a restaurant for special occasions, because this unique concept will cost you a pretty penny. So, start saving up and don’t forget to make a reservation!
You might have heard of the Begijnhof, next to Spui square. There are usually groups of tourists hanging out near the entrances and although this is definitely one of the calmest places in our vibrant capital, it’s also often kind of busy… But did you know there are many more hofjes like the Begijnhof in the city? Like the Hofje van Brienen, or Zon’s hofje. If you are interested in touring the hofjes, make sure to look up a tour in advance, because it’s not always clear where the entrances are and whether you’re allowed to go in…
On the Nieuwmarkt you’ll find a 18th-century spice shop from the time of the V.O.C. The store still has the original interior, with antique wooden vats, apothecary cabinets and several scales for measuring out spices. You can go in to glance at times past and it’s a great place to buy herbs and spices, as well as organic teas, beauty products and more.
In Amsterdam Noord you’ll find another unique restaurant: Skatecafe. This fun spot is open for dinner on Wednesday through Saturday and has quite the eye-catching interior… The entire back of the restaurant is a half-pipe! (it’s not called Skatecafe for nothing.) You can stroll in with your baggy jeans and sneakers on and no one will bat an eye. The staff also gives skate lessons to kids, so maybe you can sneakily listen in and learn some new tricks!
This little movie theater is the oldest art-house theater in the Netherlands and that’s not a surprise when you walk in. The original ‘20s interior is old fashioned but atmospheric, exactly the kind of cosy vibe you want from a classic movie theater. The students who run de Uitkijk are also responsible for the programming. Take a seat on the balcony and have a drink while enjoying a unique film.
Enjoy a cuppa on one of the quietest places in the infamous Red Light District: de Koffieschenkerij! This cosy café is located in the Oude kerk, the oldest remaining building in Amsterdam. They have an amazing sunny outdoor terrace and great pies, cakes and other sweets. You can’t miss it!
What is your favorite hidden gem in Amsterdam? (or are you keeping yours a secret…)