A day in Amsterdam • The essence
Amsterdam is one of the most photogenic cities in the world and that’s probably the main reason why I love it and keep coming back to it. With its historic canals and picturesque townhouses it feels like a living postcard… which also explains why it is so popular! I read somewhere that the city is flooded with tourists (much like Venice), so recently I preferred to keep a distance. But if you haven’t been yet or if you want to know my take on Amsterdam, here are the essentials according to Gerrit and the City.
Stroll along the canal belt
Amsterdam boasts all the contemporary elements hipsters may desire, such as cozy cafés and trendy restaurants, but the best part according to me is still its canal belt. Known locally as the ‘Grachtengordel’ it encompasses the city’s four main canals encircling the Dam Square: Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel. These tree-lined canals with beautiful, narrow townhouses are reminiscent of the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, when Amsterdam reigned as cultural center, and will surely make you fall in love with the city, walking over little bridges, avoiding getting hit by locals on bicycles. Prinsengracht is presumably the most beautiful of these canals so I suggest focusing on this one. Starting from the Museum Quarter, slowly work your way up North along the water until reaching the first of the 9 Straatjes…
Shopping and more in the 9 Straatjes
Amidst these gorgeous canals, you can find the 9 Straatjes, an ensemble of nine perpendicular streets to the waterways that entirely revolves around shopping. You won’t find no mainstream shops around here, thank God. Instead the 9 Straatjes are packed with unique venues, from vintage shops to independent boutiques. Jewelry, cosmetics, apparel, flowers, … It’s all there! In between shops, you’ll also find small cafés and restaurants which makes it the perfect place to spend a relaxed afternoon. On Saturday it might be a challenge to find a free spot for lunch, but you should be able to find one eventually. For instance we ended up at Libertine Café by chance and we were highly satisfied.
Just a few steps away from there you can find X BANK (Spuistraat 172), a concept store that quickly became a personal favorite. Housed in a historical building that used to be a bank, the boutique focuses on Dutch designers through clothing, design and deco, with a very ‘arty’ approach. The space almost feels like a gallery, yet it has a very young and cool vibe. I was especially charmed by the friendly staff that was very eager to tell all kinds of stories about the concept as well as the designers on display. You’ll encounter some very high end items, but also more affordable things that are truly unique, so don’t miss it!
If you’re spending an entire day in Amsterdam, here are two additional recommendations. The best museum is undoubtedly the Rijksmuseum which boats an incredibly rich and vast collection and which has been recently renovated (make sure to book your ticket online in advance to avoid waiting lines). The best green spot is the Vondelpark for this is where locals like to hang out, giving you a taste of the city’s daily life.
I had the chance to go back to Amsterdam during my recent stay at the Corendon Village Hotel which landed an actual Boeing 747 airplane in its garden. This hotel in Badhoevedorp offers free shuttles to the Schiphol airport so it’s a great option if you have to catch an early flight. On top of that, they offer hourly shuttles to Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter in less than 30 minutes.