A Local's Guide to Amsterdam

April 24, 2019

by Kia Green

Amsterdam is known for many different things, whether it be the Red Light District, ‘coffeeshops’, tulips, or museums, there is definitely something for everything. I’ve lived in the Netherlands as an exchange student for the school year, so I hope my suggestions can give a bit of a local perspective for things to do in this amazing city!

Rent A Bike!

First and foremost, definitely rent a bike. My go to bike rental is Holland Rent a Bike, they have unbeatable prices and great service and non-touristy looking bikes (located near central station). I consider Amsterdam bike culture to be complete anarchy. However, that’s what makes it so great! It is scary and stressful the first time on a bike in the city, but it’s something that every local person does. After 15minutes of observing and riding, you should get the hang of it. Don’t be scared if other people run red lights and pass you on the left (because they will), be a smart biker and you should be fine! It is honestly the best feeling to be biking through the city and watching life go by.

My Top Five Activities

-Picnic in Vondel Park
-Museumplein (Rijksmuseum)
-Jordaan Neighborhood (Jewish Quarter)
-A Night Out (Paradiso, Melkweg, and DeTulp)
-Browertij Brewery/Windmill

Vondel Park

This park is situated near Leidsplein in the east of the city center. It transports you back to the eighteen century when people are walking with parasol’s and carriage rides in the park (this doesn’t actually happen); I imagine all of this when walking or cycling through the park. This is my favorite place in the city, its beautiful and peaceful, and so European. My suggestion would be to go to any Albert Heijn (Dutch grocery store) and buy whatever you want to eat (bread and cheese is amazing) and sit in the park and just enjoy life.


This area of the city is where many of the most famous museums are, such as the Rijksmueum, Van Gogh, Moco, and Stedelijk museum. I would suggest Rijksmueum as a must see, and then Van Gogh is nice as well, Moco is mostly just Banksy and street art, and the Stedelijk is for contemporary and design art. The Rijks and Van Gogh are around 19euros or more depending on which ticket you get, but children under 18 years are free! This area is not only amazing for attending museums, it also has a beautiful grass field that you can picnic at. Opposite the museums there are also many embassy’s which are nice to see. Overall, definitely visit this area and I would suggest Rijksmuseum if you only have time for one museum, it is a combination of Art, History, and Dutch Culture.

Jordaan Neighborhood

This neighborhood is quite hipster and has many great restaurants, its a very quaint and local area. The Anne Frank House is situated in this area, so if you want to check out that museum I would also suggest taking a walk in the surrounding neighborhood. Every time I have a visitor, I bring them to my favorite shop in Amsterdam, located in the Jordaan Neighborhood. I call it the pie place but the real name is Winkel 43; it has the most amazing apple pie and whip cream. They also have food, but I have never ordered it. There is usually a line for the place, but it is worth waiting for and usually you can find a table within 10minutes. This neighborhood is a great choice for cute local stores and of course the pie place!

A Night Out

Many people come to Amsterdam for the amazing music and night life scene. There are tons of different clubs and bars to try out and most likely if you go to any of them they will be great, but I will suggest some that I can testify to. First, Paradiso is one of the best clubs for just a good night out. It is in a renovated church, which gives it a great atmosphere and always has good parties. Melkweg is a similar venue, being that it is big and hosts large events, sometimes on the weekdays it is not as popular, but on Tuesday’s there is a weekly techno event.

For a local bar at night, De Tulp is a great choice, almost everyone inside will be Dutch. It has a tropical theme with most people standing up, there are also couches and tables in the middle section for nice seating. Another great local place is Cafe Brecht, this place is always full of local dutch people even on weekdays. Everyone is sitting and it might be hard to find seating, but it is a very popular local spot!

Other Good Venues
-Bitterzoet (R&B club)
-DeSchool (Best Techno in Amsterdam)
-Club Air (HipHop/R&B club)
-Disco Dolly (80s/90s/00s, young adult club)

Browertij Brewery/Windmill

This is a great option for tasting different beer. If you are a beer person, then this is a must-see place. It is located a bit out of the city center, but as I say “everything is close with a bike”. The brewery has taken over a windmill, so you get to see a Dutch windmill and a brewery! They have a great tasting menu as well as scrumptious bar snacks! I would suggest Browertij over the Heineken tour because you get a more local feel with artisan beer and it’s also a Dutch brand.

Tourist Attractions

-Dam Square
-Red Light District

The first three areas are very touristy and great places to do some shopping. Rembrandtplein is a great place for touristy bars, they are on the more expensive side, but there is a nice statue in the middle of the square, which a lot of people take pictures with. Leidsplein is great for shopping, bars, and ‘coffeeshops’ (weed cafes). There is a great sports bar called Satellite Sports Bar, they have really cheap food and pitchers and is a great place to watch any sporting game. Dam Square is the most touristy area. This is where the palace is situated and where most of the brand name stores are located. And last but not least, the Red Light District is a unique and interesting area, I would at least walk through it. Overall, I would suggest seeing all of these places just because they are famous, but for a more local aspect definitely check out any of the suggestions I made earlier!

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