3 years, 9 months ago
We’d never tell you not to visit the Rijskmuseum. In fact we’d actively encourage you to get in line, it’s breathtaking. But you will have to get in line. If you want to see Anne Frank’s House, you’ll have a time slot – very moving, but don’t expect to move at your own pace. Craving a cool down at Flevopark? Yes, you and everyone else. And if you’re nurturing an image of yourself sedately cycling over canal bridges, possibly with a light breeze tousling your hair, we wish you luck. Summer bike rage is not a pretty sight, but it happens, even in Amsterdam.
So what do city dwellers do when temperatures rise and tourists descend?
Three times the size of Central Park and more free-spirited than the legendary New Yorker will ever be, Amsterdam Bos is summer escapism on a grand scale. It’s a vast forest where you can sail, walk, hike, trek, play and even spa, less than half an hour from Amsterdam by direct tram. And it’s also the wildest and least busy swimming in the city. You want Het Kleine Kinderbad and Grote Kinderbad for child size fun and cool sunbathing. And you’ll find bridges to jump off and wild forest atmosphere at Grote Vijver – big swimming pond, but safe and accessible.
Way back in the days before Netflix binging, pirate TV briefly saved Amsterdam from the torture of a single, local channel. It was shut down sharpish, but the tower still remained, floating out at sea, lost and unloved. Until some canny Dutch entrepreneurs hauled it home, moored it on the water at Houthaven and turned it into the city’s longest view – with food and drink. REM Eiland is the city’s undisputed king of rooftop restaurants. It looks amazing and on a clear night you can see Amsterdam lit up for miles in every direction while you have a drink – or dinner. It’s a brilliant, industrial-chic space and hands down better than the city’s ordinary rooftop bars.
Gorgeous Museum Van Loon is Amsterdam 1672 flawlessly preserved in the heart of the Canal District. Originally owned by Frederic Bol, a pupil of Rembrandt, it’s a grand and personal house with one of the city’s loveliest gardens. But for all its fascinating history, stunning interior and permanent collection, Van Loon often gets missed. So while everyone else is charging towards the Rijks, head here for peaceful, noisy guide-free, bliss.
Nice as it is to try local craft beer in historic Jordaan or de Negen Straatjes, it’s much more satisfying to trace the glorious brews back to source in Amsterdam this summer. Sidestep the visitors and make canal-side Butcher’s Tears your mission. This passionate little micro-brewery is producing some of the city’s finest gold stuff at the moment and it has a tasting room, live music, regular events and a friendly, beer-loving atmosphere. Oedipus Brewing are Amsterdam festival favourites and well stocked in clever bars and restaurants. The four founders are as much loved for their attitude (we take nothing seriously, except brewing) as the beer. So when they announced they were opening a taproom, the city’s cognoscenti almost wept with joy. Go and see what all the fuss is about on a Saturday afternoon this summer.
Amsterdam shopping isn’t in short supply. But if you want interesting, fun and local, find a market not everyone knows yet. Pure Markt is what Sundays were invented for in Amsterdam. Set up in Amstelpark or Beatrix Park or Park Frankendael – depending on the date – Pure’s all about the food and it’s irresistible. There are dozens of pop-ups serving all sorts of deliciousness to eat then and there (park picnics have never tasted this good). Local producers, artisans and culinary craftspeople sell amazing ingredients. Everyone loves what they’re doing, so there’s plenty of chat – the famously multi-lingual Dutch will put you to shame in the nicest way. And they even have a solar powered carousel. If you can think of a better way to spend a summer Sunday let us know.
Pllek translates as ‘place’ and any Tuesday after sunset it’s the place to see films on the beach, just 10 minutes from the city centre. Constructed out of recycled shipping containers and glass, when it’s not an outdoor cinema Pllek is a lively bar and another interesting hang out in Amsterdam Noord’s evolving NDSM complex. We like that you get there by ferry – and it’s a free ride.
Waterland is just as romantic as it sounds and only an hour’s cycle from the city centre. Hire a bike and spend a day this summer riding round the 9 little towns and villages that sit in this ethereally lovely landscape of marsh and fen. It’s all very pastoral and covered in marked cycle paths and routes. Visit Broek for the museum quality homes, Marken for the wooden houses on stilts, Katwoude for the traditional cheese making and Monnickendam to see the gorgeous, historic harbour. And remember to pick up picnic supplies at Albert Cuypmarkt before you go – we’ll shop here on any old excuse.
Amsterdam is one of our favourite cities this summer. So go, release your tourist. Just don’t forget to take a breather and try the alternatives too.