48 Hours In Amsterdam

Above: The picturesque canals of the Jordaan, Amsterdam (Photo: Amy Laughinghouse)
Above: The picturesque canals of the Jordaan, Amsterdam (Photo: Amy Laughinghouse)

Beyond Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District and the “coffee shops,” which sell mood-altering substances that are far more hardcore than espresso, the capital of the Netherlands is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan port, luring history buffs, art aficionados, foodies, and fashionistas.

What to see and do

In addition to its Waterworld-like network of canals, Amsterdam is renowned for the number of insouciant cyclists freewheeling through its streets. You can experience both by renting a Canal Bike pedal boat which seats up to four. Alternatively, purchase a pass for the Canal Bus, which lets you hop on and off its boats at 20 stops, including top sites like the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. If wearable art is more your style, head to the Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, which showcases more than 4,000 carryalls dating back to the 16th century.

What to eat and drink

The atmospheric Restaurant-Café In de Waag, occupying an old medieval gatehouse, offers hearty, reasonably priced fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If the weather is fine, stock up on picnic provisions at De Kaaskammer, which sells more than 300 different cheeses. (If you can milk it—cow, goat, sheep or buffalo—they sell the cheese).

For a tipple, head to the hip House of Bols, 18+ only, where you’ll wash down a few facts about Bols Genever liqueurs with a free cocktail and two shots of liqueur. (Catchphrase: “Some museums have a great bar. Our bar has a great museum.”)

Leave room for a belt-loosening Indonesian dinner—the adopted cuisine of erstwhile Dutch colonizers–at Blue Pepper. Cap your evening with a cocktail at Vesper, sipping one of the bar’s eponymous martinis amid James Bond memorabilia.

Where to shop

Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat is Amsterdam’s most chichi shopping street, bloated with brands like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton. But for funky one-of-a-kind finds, don’t miss De 9 Straatjes. This grid of nine streets (hence the name) is home to Laura Dols, hawking cool vintage clothes for guys and, er, dolls, Mendo, purveyors of art and fashion books, and Terra, packed with handmade leather shoes and ceramics. Monday to Saturday, you can also bag a bargain on everything from furry handcuffs to second-hand clothing at the Waterlooplein Flea Market.

Where to stay

For an intimate experience, check into the Canal House, a 23-bedroom boutique hotel housed in three 17th century merchants’ homes in the Jordaan neighborhood. Celebrity spotters, meanwhile, may go starry-eyed at the Hotel Pulitzer Amsterdam. Guest rooms and Pulitzers restaurant were featured in Ocean’s Twelve, starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon.

Follow Amy Laughinghouse on Twitter at @A_Laughinghouse or visit her website: www.amylaughinghouse.com.

Amy Laughinghouse

From swimming with sharks in French Polynesia to walking with lions in Mauritius, London-based travel writer Amy Laughinghouse has attempted to overcome her fears (and basic common sense) through her adventures in 30 countries. Her articles have appeared in Qantas Airlines’ in-flight magazine, The Toronto Globe & Mail, the Irish Times, and the Boston Globe. You can find Amy at www.amylaughinghouse.com and on Twitter @A_Laughinghouse.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>