If you don’t fancy joining the tourist crowds and snapping pictures with call girls in the Red Light District or riding bicycles around the Vondelpark on your LBW Super City trip to the Dam’, then be sure to check out this list of the top off-the-beaten-track hotspots in town. There are tulips and breweries, recycled cafes and museums on boats – something for all!
Brouwerij 't IJ
Housed in an historic little bathhouse on the edge of the Het Funen quays to the east of the city center, this charming microbrewery is marked by its curious logo of a proud ostrich standing over an egg. It’s been bubbling up some of the Dam’s most iconic homebrews here since the 1980s, and is now nothing short of a local legend, attracting crowds of the city’s students and yuppies alike. Tipples like the organic Natte Belgian-style dubbel, with its undertones of walnuts and fruit, or the potent Struis barley wine (9%!), make the menu mouth-watering to say the least, while it’s the setting that really makes a visit to Brouwerij 't IJ worth it – the beer garden sits in the shadow of the historic timber De Gooyer windmill!
The Houseboat Museum
In northern Europe’s famed city of canals (Venice surely takes the biscuit in the south!), this quirky little museum is a great way to catch a glimpse of local life. A fine example of a traditional Dutch houseboat, the living space come exhibition can be found bobbing up and own on the waters of the Prinsengracht, just a stone’s throw from the Dam’s iconic UNESCO canal rings. Visitors can enter and see exactly what it’s like living on a boat in the middle of a city, understand where the water and electricity comes from, see if it’s cold during those long Dutch winters, and check if there’s even space to move on a tight-knit barge!
Dutch Resistance Museum
Known to locals simply as the Verzetsmuseum, this enthralling look at one of Amsterdam’s darkest and most tumultuous periods is definitely worth the stop-off. The exhibitions deal with the oppressive years of Nazi occupation in The Netherlands, with a special focus on the subterfuge and sabotage campaigns of the heroic national resistance movement. There are tools once used by the Dutch underground forces, the walking boots used by Eleonore Hertzberger to escape the clutches of the anti-Semitic regime, forged identity cards, makeshift radio jammers, and oodles, oodles more fascinating artifacts to see.
There’s really no theme to the sprawling mass of stalls that make up Amsterdam’s Waterlooplein flea market. A treasure trove for collectors and antique lovers (or just travelers who love an off-beat souvenir), the colossal bazaar of more than 300 shops and emporiums is packed with everything from Cuban propaganda posters to knock-off t-shirts to Communist trinkets straight out of the Eastern Bloc. It’s got a long history too, dating all the way back to the 1890s! Waterlooplein is open Monday to Saturday from around 8.30am.
The EYE Film Museum
The third worthy off-the-beaten-track museum to make this list comes in the form of the all-new EYE Film Museum. This cutting-edge space just across the harbor waters of Amsterdam’s Central district in Noord, not only hosts some of the most fascinating exhibitions related to Dutch film making and cinematography, but also looks the part – it’s constructed from jagged white facades and spikes that make resemble something James Bond would’ve driven! There is also regular classic, independent and art house film screenings, which makes it the perfect place for a quiet night in (you know, if you’re still suffering from a hangover and all!).
Fed up of the gaudy streets of the Red Light District? Sick of the smoky coffee shops? Hey, it happens. And when you do tire of the Dam’s much-trodden middle, we reckon it’s high time to make a beeline for its quieter suburbs. And where better than Amsterdam Noord? This post-industrial chunk of land that lurks on the banks behind the Central Station has established itself as one of the city’s quirkiest and most bohemian areas. There are beer bars in old shipping depots, ad hoc art galleries on the sides of the streets, the clambering mass of recycled tables and chairs that is Cafe de Ceuvel (made completely from reclaimed stuff), pretty parks for cycling, creaking Dutch windmills and plenty, plenty more!
FloraHolland in Aalsmeer
Holland ain’t the home of tulips for nothing folks! And if you want to wake up and smell the flowers, there’s nowhere better in town than the famed (at least among botanists) FloraHolland depot in Aalsmeer. Situated close to sprawling Schiphol Airport on the southern edges of the city, the huge industrial space deals with literally tonnes of cut, fresh flowers every morning. They come by the truck load from the region’s countless growing houses and greenhouses, and bloom in every colour imaginable. Self-guided tours are the norm and you’ll have to head in early – the auction action is usually over by mid-morning!
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