Amsterdam is best for...
Trying Dutch classics: Give Bitterballen, Stroopwafel, raw herring, Kibbeling and cheese a try on your holiday
Street food: Have your chips with patatje oorlog, a Dutch sauce that contains a mix of mayo, sate sauce and onions
Desserts: End your meals with poffertjes pancakes, appeltaart or bitterballen biscuits
Language: The language spoken in Amsterdam is Dutch
Currency: The currency used in Amsterdam is the Euro
Local time: Amsterdam is 1 hour ahead of GMT/UK time
Fly to: Amsterdam's main airport is Amsterdam Airport Schipho
If you’re looking for a bustling city that’s buzzing with creativity and has plenty to see and do, then book your holidays to Amsterdam. Bars and restaurants are plentiful, and you’ll find surprises around every corner. With world-class shopping and some fantastic art galleries, you’re never short of things to see and do. However, another delicious dimension is the Amsterdam food and drink scene. Whether you’re looking for a quick beer, a coffee and pastry, or a leisurely, upmarket dinner, there’s something to suit all tastes.
Best bars in Amsterdam
Home to probably the best lager in the world, you’re never far from a watering hole in the Dutch capital. However, while Amsterdam bars might be famous for their extensive selections of beers and lagers, the city does have a few hidden, gems. Look out for ‘jenever’, a gin-like spirit, which is the Netherlands’ national drink.
- Head to Dam Square and you’ll find De Blauwe Parade. A traditional Dutch bar, it’s the birthplace of Heineken, which has been served there for over 150 years. Decked out in rich, wooden panelling and with Art Deco-style lighting, it’s like stepping back in time. There’s a lengthy beer menu, along with wines, jenever, and some old-school Dutch snacks to help line your stomach.
- Oosterpark is home to one of the city’s most famous haunts, the Bukowski Bar. Named after the writer Charles Bukowski, it’s the perfect nightspot for lovers of liquor and literature. By day, it operates more like a café, serving light bites and snacks such as flammkuchen and oliebollen. By night, it’s usually alive with locals and visitors drinking cocktails and wine.
- One of the oldest bars in Amsterdam, De Druif is located off the beaten track, along Rapenburgerplein, near the Old Centre. Once a working distillery, it shows off its heritage proudly, with old barrels and bottles lining the walls and shelves. With a terrace that overlooks the canal, it’s a superb place to enjoy a quiet beer or a tall glass of jenever.
Best restaurants in Amsterdam
Dutch food seems almost to have been designed with having a drink in mind. You’ll find everything from pickled rollmop herrings, which are famed as a hangover cure, to deep-friend meatballs and mussels and chips. However, there’s a sweet side to discover too: the Dutch have perfected the art of pastry-making and sticky stroopwafels must be one of the best things to enjoy with a hot coffee. Depending on what you want, Amsterdam restaurants come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Here are three of our favourites.
- Head along Javaplein and you’ll come to the Wilde Zwijnen. This restaurant takes classic Dutch dishes and serves them up with a contemporary twist. If you’re choosing from the chef’s menu, you can select three or four dishes and the chefs then use fresh, seasonal ingredients to turn your choice into something special. The boar is something of a speciality and comes highly recommended. Alternatively, go a la carte or, if you only want something light, pop next door to the Wilde Zwijnen Eetbar, where you can enjoy tapas-style dishes inspired by French and Spanish cuisine.
- Traditional Dutch cuisine tends to focus around meat and vegetarians can often find themselves feeling a little left out. Head to the Old West of the city and you’ll find the Meatless District restaurant. It’s a vegetarian restaurant that’ll have even the most dedicated meat eaters reluctantly agreeing that veggie food is pretty good. Choose from dishes such as Spicy Parsnip Soup, Vegan Croquettes, and Mushroom Pappardelle. There are even plant-based version of chicken burgers and beef burgers, for those who might need a little more convincing.
- If you’re looking to push the boat out on your Amsterdam holidays, then a visit to the Spectrum restaurant is in order. This is widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in Amsterdam. The chefs at Spectrum have already clocked up two Michelin stars and seem determined to get another one under their belt. The menu is extraordinary and inventive, featuring the likes of fried eel served with goose liver and a banana beurre blanc, and pickled black pudding accompanied by lemon geranium and octopus. Despite its meaty appearance, there are plenty of vegetarian options, which are just as exciting and elegant.