Amsterdam; get the authentic experience

Emma In amsterdam
This is me enjoying the Amsterdam sun, a late summers day.

Have you visited Amsterdam? Then you’ve probably been stuck in the centre of Amsterdam with all the tourist and tacky shops. But this city has so much more to offer than expensive souvenir and pretty canals. I have lived 2 years in Amsterdam and has managed to gather a lot of local knowledge about the city. It is with pleasure I will give you a full on guide to this city.

Morning in Amsterdam

I have always found that what you do in the mornings determine your day. I also think that eating breakfast out is one of the most luxurious things one can do. The tricky part is finding the best breakfast and brunch places and Amsterdam is full of them. Here I will list some of my all time favourite Amsterdam Brunches

Staring at Jakob

This massive plate is the ‘all around veggie’

Do you want a boozy brunch? Pitcher of mimosa sound appealing? How about a waffle with some fried chicken? The all around veggie plate is delicious! Sounds good? This is a very filling brunch, and very tasty. Their venue is cozy too, but usually popular so book a table on advance. They have two locations in Amsterdam so there if always on nearby. You find it here.

The Breakfast club

This is the ‘Mexico City’ Brekkie

This chain also has several venues across Amsterdam, but the one ate Bellamystraat is by far the cosiest. Their menu is super fresh but also cheat yummy and they have a different daily pancake. I full-heartedly recommend the ‘Mexcio City Breakfast’. You can find more information about this place here.

Bakers & Roasters

If you are in Amsterdam, you are likely to have a hangover. Then this place is perfect. Besides being very instagram-friendly, they have a variety of eggs, sweets and bowls. A perfect way to get a fresh start to the day and they have boozy options too, if you’d like a more party start to your day. You can find the restaurant here.

Coffee & Coconuts

Perhaps you fancy a healthier brekkie? No worries, this place have a smashingly healthy menu, for both brunch and lunch. The coffees are so so soo great and the venue has a cool Hawaii vibe. It is like you were to step in to a different place ad you left the busy borough of ‘De Pijp’. You can find this place here.

After brekkie there are several beautiful things to view in Amsterdam and perhaps you feel like you need to compensate for all those pancakes? I think a long walk is perfect after a full brunch, if the Dutch weather allows. I have many favourite routes to walk and here are a few must ‘see’ which are perfect for a slow morning.

The Seven bridges

These lovely bridges are nearby ‘Rembrandtplein’ follow a canal down to ‘De Pijp’. They are said to be seven identical bridges, you can see this through the bridges’ arches.

The Amstel

This iconic river gave the city its name. The river follows the east side of the city all the way north passed the central station and the Ij (another river). The river is fairly broad and filled with house boats and one of the most expensive hotels in Amsterdam, the InterContinental. This is definitely out of my price range, but the building is very impressive and its a nice walk along the river up to the city centre. You will also pass some famous bridges and the famous dancing houses.

Vondelpark

This is the biggest park in Amsterdam but tourists rarely make it to the southend of the park. Many are biking, walking and rollerblading through this park, and others are sitting on the grass having a drink or a simple picnic. To take a ‘long-cut’ through the park is often worth it. If you walk along the east side of the park, you will get to see some amazing realestate facing the park.

 Blue Tea House in Vondelspark
This is the Blue Tea House in Vondelspark, It is brewery and the beers are very tasty! Perfect for a sunny day!

Lunch in Amsterdam

This beautiful dish you can find at ‘the Avocado Show’

After any busy day in Amsterdam you should definitely treat yourself to a tasty lunch. There are some restaurants that are a must visit for lunch. The Avocado show, they have two venues, one is very small right by Vondelpark -perfect for a takeaway to eat in the park. Their avocado dishes are nothing but masterpieces. Another great lunch place is Cabrón, a Mexican food bar on the big market street “Albert Cyup straat”. This Restaurant has several tasty tacos and is very price worthy, I love ordering several tacos and splitting them amongst my company, a lovely way of enjoying your company. The last lunch place is brilliant, the Box Sociaal, this awesome restaurant is Australian inspired. They have both health and more fatty thing on the menu, alongside funky Aussie beers.

Fancy a really unique lunch? I suggest you visit the foodhallen this is a permanent food-market, with 21 stands selling a wide variety of food. This is perfect if you can’t decide on the same thing to eat or if you have to escape the rain a visit here is perfect.

Museums in Amsterdam

After Lunch, a museum might be exactly what you need. Particularly if the weather is acting up and you need to escape the ever returning rain. Here follows my list of the best museums in Amsterdam.

The Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum with the IAmsterdam

This museum is iconic, not so for the content but the building is massive and resemble the central station, this is because it’s the same architect. The Rijks incorporates the ‘Dutch Golden Age’ not only the building, but the museum displays all the Dutch Masters and the crown jewel the Night Watch. In the museum you can walk for hours, it is huge. But a heads up, it is an art museum so you should enjoy watching paintings. Here you can find some more information about the Rijksmuseum.

The Tropenmuseum

You may not have heard of this museum before, it is not at the museumplein (museum square) and its not popular amongst tourists. This Museum deals with the former Dutch colonies, such as Indonesia and Surinam, and of course many more. I think the museum is beautiful and unique, but it does not properly deal with colonisation, the Dutch (not all), can have a lenient view of their colonies and there is definitely a underlaying conflict about their national role in the Dutch society. I would like to hear what you would have to say about that, so if you have had the opportunity to visit it, let me know what your impression was.

The Micropia

If you are a germaphobe, don’t go to Micropia. This museum is filled with rotten and mouldy things, I have never washed my hands as frenetically as I did afterward my visit here. However, it very unique and I have never experienced anything like it. Here you’ll open your eyes to a hidden world.

The Van Gogh

Never ever ask a Dutch person to pronounce the painters name, it will spoil it for you. No worries, the Van Gogh museum and its art though will not be spoiled. His art is beautiful and so is the museum, but you have to be a fan of art to appreciate it.

Other Museums Worth a Mention

There are many, many other museums in Amsterdam, the museum density is high. Surely, you’ve heard of Anne Frank, in Amsterdam you can see the attic where her and her family hid from the nazis. Their home has remained somewhat intact, but a heads up is to book tickets in advance here.

Another unique museum is the ‘prostitution museum‘ of course this museum can be found in the ‘red-light district’. Amsterdam is famous for their huge sex-district and liberal sex-view. So, if you find the girls in the window peculiar, visit the museum and to learn some more about it.

What more you can do an afternoon in Amsterdam

Of course, there are several other things to do then visiting museums. Here you get some of my top picks for an Amsterdam afternoon.

Bridge in AMsterdam
One of Amsterdams many adorable bridges.

Boat tour

One of the by far best way to see the city, I cannot stress this enough. Some of my best afternoons and days have been spent on the canals. This is perfect if you are a bit of a bigger group, because then you can rent a boat on by yourselves. Otherwise, this may be a bit too pricey, but there are so many other fun options for this, not only the hop-on-hop-off alternative. I recommend these two, Boat Amsterdam and Mokum boat. Make sure to bring something tasty to eat and fun to drink, but make sure you follow the traffic rules.

Bike Hire

Amsterdam is made for biking, seriously. After living here I have become an avid biker and I urge you to join the fad. More importantly, it’s a fun way of seeing the city, it is no joke the fastest way to get around in this city. There are many companies who provide bikes, so you’ll never go without a bike, to mention one try Mac Bike. If you wanna bike in Amsterdam, you have to be prepared of some aggressive locals screaming at you. The Dutch are basically born on bikes and are far better than you are at biking and most get very frustrated at the tourists who destroy their work commutes. Stay safe and keep the tempo up!

Shopping

You could walk along Kalverstraat, here you have all the cheap big brands, H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, Pull & bear, Mango and etc. If you want more poshbrands you have to wander a bit more south, just to the west of museumplein a street called P.C. Hooftstraat. Finally, you have the 9 streets, or de 9 straatjes here you find trendy and pricy brands, such as Acne and Samsø&Samsø, but you also have a vast amount of second hand stores too. The area is adorable, it’s called Jordaan and you can find many nice cafés along the streets.

Keukenhof

Holland is famous for clogs and tulips, and at Keukenhof you can see the latter. At least, during the spring since the season is pretty brief you will have to time this. To get here is a bit of a hassel, it in a different city but there are many resellers of tickets for entry and ride here. If you can’t be bothered? just walk through the famous flower market.

Amsterdamse Bos

This photo is taken from a canoe in the ‘Amsterdamse Bos’

Sometimes you really miss the nature, then the Amsterdamse Bos is the perfect excursion. This is a man-made forest popular amongst the locals, just jump on your bike (or take the metro) and head over. Since it is man-made you have pavements and cafés along the forest, which for me renders it as a wild-grown park rather than forest, but the Dutch thinks of it as a forest. Here you can go to swim and you can hire a canoe or simply walk around enjoying the green trees.

Dinner in Amsterdam

Finally dinner time, and Amsterdam has so many great restaurants to offer, spoiler they are not in the centre. Here follows a list of not only the tastiest but also the most price worth food, since Amsterdam is expensive you can pay 25 euros for a below decent meal in the centre.

Fenan klein

Wow, wow, WOW! This is one of my favourite restaurants ever, which is a big sell. But Fenan Klein really has a uniqueness to them, it’s run by a family and it’s only the four of them working there. The venue feels very homey, like you are in their living room and the service they give is top quality. They serve everything in traditional Ethiopian style, so you’ll eat with your fingers and your group will share a big ‘plate’ all together.

Sharing plate at Fenan Klein
This is a sharing ‘plate’ you get at Fenan Klein, and its AMAZING!!

Barrica Wine & Food bar

This is a bit more pricey, but it is so worth it. This is a Spanish tapas bar with a focus on wine, their staff is very talented and can easily help you with the wine selection. Barrica’s food is well made, using fresh and good ingredients, put together in a fantastic manner. The venue is trendy and dark, with small lights making it romantic and perfect for a date.

De Kas

First course at the kas
One of the many courses at ‘de kas’

This is a very unique restaurant, at de Kas every ingredient is grown their, with a very few exceptions. That means the menu is seasonal, a very fascinating concept , but more importantly, the taste is marvellous. This food is pricey, but it is beyond tasty, so if you have anything to celebrate do it here. The menu actually doesn’t exist, you pay for amount of courses, since they only cook the current seasonal food. The venue is really cool, it goes well with their notion of sustainability.

Umaimon

This is a hidden gem in the centre, a ramen restaurant with not only tasty Ramen but also pricey worth. Umaimon is one of the cheaper options in Amsterdam, you buy a bowl of Ramen and beer for around 20 euros. Perfect before a night out, you get really full and don’t spend to much money, besides its in the middle of Amsterdam so you are nearby everything.

Evening in Amsterdam

After dinner the night is yours, perhaps a walk around the redlight? this is a busy area in Amsterdam with many tourists, because nowhere else in the world do you have anything like this. But, please don’t take pictures of the girls in the windows, its really rude. Around these neighbourhood there are many coffeeshops too, filled with stoned tourists and usually very lively, the ones on the outskirts are more quite.

Bars

Best place to go is around Gerard Douplein, near Bar Mash a fun bar with great cocktails. Around here you have many more bars like it, the green butterfly , Pils Vogel, EscoBAR and calle8. These bars gets pumping and people are dancing later in the evenings perfect if you don’t wanna go clubbing but still stay out late.

Rembrandtplein is typically also popular amongst tourists and there are many cheap bars around here, like Coco’s outback an Aussie bar which usually gets rowdy. But you have much more around here, except local Amsterdamers.

There are two other bars worth a mention. If you find yourself here on a beautiful day with a hot sun, you need to visit Waterkant, it will be very busy if the weather is good, so its perfect for a summer party vibe. The other is Reyleigh and Ramsey, a very unique concept where you top up a card and can use it in the wine dispensers, they have about 100 wines and you can buy a taste, half and full glass. It is very funny and the staff is very knowledgeable and will be able to help you with all your wine-questions. It is perfect if you wanna get a bit boozy. in a classy environment.

Reyleigh & Ramsley winebar in Amsterdam
This is my favourite Wine bar, Reyleigh & Ramsley

Clubs

Techno is the trend in Amsterdam, so this is probably what you will encounter at the club. One of the biggest and trendiest clubs is De School, for those who are familiar with Berlin, this club is the closest you get to a Berlin vibe. Another similarish club, but a bit more mainstream is the Marktkantine this is a popular club which fits most people. If you fancy a bit more posh clubs I suggest you visit Chin chin club, which have a karaoke and tree inside. You can also have dinner here, but that doesn’t look to nice since people are very loud around.. But hey that’s up to you!

I hope you’ve found this informative, if you like to see some more pictures suss out my gallery here.

Me drinking red wine.
Cheers! Hope you enjoy your full on day(s) in Amsterdam!

Visiting Stockholm; what to do?

Stockholm at sunset. You can find the picture here.

Travelling can be challenging, since you always strive for the local experience. For people visiting Stockholm, this must be particularly challenging. The Nordic countries are infamous for their coldness, fear not, I will provide you with a full on guide to the real Stockholm.  I grew up in Stockholm, I found that growing up there I never explored the city. There was rarely a time when I discovered new things, and I’ve been to all the museums on school excursions. But I cannot recall anything about my visits to them. There is an innate bias against my home city, with that said, as I’ve become a swede abroad, and on my many returns I have finally been given the chance to explore my beautiful hometown and I have gained some new found appreciation.

Which borough is the best?

This is a fairly straight forward question anyone and everybody ought to ask in a new city. Of course, this may also depend on your own preferences. But I will describe the most relevant ones and what to expect in each borough.

The image is borrowed from here.

Södermalm
Old street at sodermalm stockholm
Typical Södermalm-looking street

This trendy part of Stockholm is home too many popular bars. There is amazing shopping throughout this borough, such as the high-end Stockholm brands like, Filippa K, Acne & Whyred. In the summer ‘medis’ or medborgarplatsen is filled with restaurant seating. Trying a shrimp toast or crayfish sandwich at the legendary ‘Kvarnen‘ is a must. from Slussen the North/East end (towards Gamla stan) to the southern part the street ‘Götgatan’ runs and here you can find heaps of shopping. Don’t miss cool restaurants such as the ‘Bistro Bananas’ who serve delicious vegan food and pizzas (they have meat options too, for those of you who worry).

Lots to see along ‘Hornsgatan’

Running in the opposite direction from Slussen is ‘Hornsgatan’, towards Hornsgatan. At the end of the Island, you find Hornstull, here you have a beach and park where you can swim, drink & have a BBQ. Generally public drinking isn’t allowed in Sweden, but the ‘Tantolunden’ is exempted. At this part of Södermalm you also find ‘Hornhuset‘ which hosts a bunch of bars and restaurants. Perfect for a trendy evening out.

Skinnarviksberget in stockholm
The view from Skinnarviksberget

On ‘Hornsgatan’ you have a bunch of hidden gems. Restaurant ROST a trendy Pizza restaurant with contemporary Swedish Pizzas and tasty semi-local beers. Fancy some Spanish food? Suss out out ‘Ramblas‘ by Mariatorget.  This square ‘Mariatorget’, is home to heaps of bars and restaurants, it’s easy to find some nice places to hangout around here. Nearby ‘Hornsgatan’, you have one of the best viewpoints of Stockholm, on the top of a mountain. So if you feel like a unique point of view, suss out ‘Skinnarviksberget‘.

There is another trendy and hidden from tourists area at Södermalm, a square called ‘Nytorget’. Its easy to walk from both ‘Slussen’ and ‘Medis’. But, walking from ‘Slussen’ you’ll have the chance to get a terrific view over Stockholm. Around Nytorget, you’ll find some cool clothing stores and great cafés. Such as this remarkable place ‘Urban Deli’, perfect for both lunch and dinner, they have several locations in Stockholm, but this is my personal favourite, although another one of them have a lovely roof terrace. At Urban Deli, they have an emphasis on good and fresh food, they have their own grocery store. Around this area you have loads of bars too, perfect for a night out.

The hidden gems

Nearby ‘Skanstull’ you have two very local hidden gems. First is the ‘Thaiboat‘ this is a restaurant on a boat who serve thai-food, as the name gives away. On this boat, the food is amazing, but what’s even more impressive is the beach where you can have a delicious cocktail. The decor is exotic and funny, the whole experience is very enjoyable. Just ‘around the corner’ you have one of Stockholm’s best Night Clubs ‘Trädgården‘ this has a more trendy vibe rather than a posh. It has a ‘Söder-vibe’ truly incorporating the Söder-feels. So if you’ve fallen in love with Södermalm, Trädgården is a must to finish the evening off.

Gamla Stan
Thin street in a typical stockholm street
This is a typically smal street in Gamla Stan. You can find the picture here

This small island north of Södermalm is the old town of Stockholm. Here you have the castle and the old church, the ‘Storkyrkan‘ still have a catholic vibe, although Sweden is protestant, the King(s) have chosen to let the church remain decorated in a catholic vibe, the Castle itself is open to visitors and have a museum in the basement, exhibiting the clothes worn by the royals throughout the centuries. The small island also borders to ‘Drottninggatan’ the biggest shopping street in Stockholm. Before that, you will pass a tiny island where the parliament is located. Experiencing this view is amazing, overlooking Grand Hotel and the castle. All the buildings around here are old and colourful, giving a true Stockholm feeling.

The area of Gamla Stan is crawling with tourists, and there are many shops and restaurants directed at the tourist, and many traps. Particularly at ‘Västerlånggatan’ & ‘Österlånggatan’ I’d say; ‘stay clear off’. But, wander off a bit and you will find breathtaking streets with cosy cafés and restaurants. It is a tiny island and you can easily explore every part of it. I did have the chance to go to a ‘touristy’ restaurant, in Gamla Stan, a viking restaurant, with the full decor and dishes. It was amazing, what an experience it was fun (& expensive), I was also surprised that the food was very tasty. I full heartedly recommend this viking restaurant ‘Aifur‘ it truly is an enjoyable experience.

Where the locals go

By the docks, facing the ‘Djurgården’ you have some very lovely bar/restaurants which is a popular spot any warm summer day. Particularly ‘Mr. French‘ is seemingly packed at any given sunny day. The food they serve is delicious too, I definitely recommend a visit at the restaurant.

Norrmalm & Östermalm

This massive borough is mostly divided into smaller parts. Like, Vasastaden, Gärdet etc. Most significant is that this, particularly Östermalm is associated with the posher parts of Stockholm. If you fancy some expensive shopping, here you can visit ‘Biblioteksgatan’ a shopping street, NK (Nordiska Kompaniet) and Mood Gallerian.  The latter two are high-end malls, where you can find any fashion brand imaginable.

In this areas you have some famous landmarks, Hötorget (the Haymarket) where, Konserthuset,  the concert hall is located, a big blue building. This is where the Nobel price ceremony is held. There is yet another high-end mall here too, P.U.B, which bridges Hötorget and Drottninggatan, the biggest shopping street stretching from Gamla Stan through the parliament and beyond Hötorget.

A back-pocket of a Michelin restaurant
This is Oaxen’s lovely outside seating.

The famous square ‘Sergels Torg’ by Central station is also here. but it is not necessarily something you need to see. It is much nicer walking towards Djurgården and through Kungsträdgården. Djurgården is very beautiful and you have both two of my favourite restaurants there, Skroten and Oaxen.

There is a square called ‘Stureplan’ here you have a hectic nightlife and many posh clubs night clubs. Usually the nightclubs have a higher age limit that what’s required by law. Typically its 23-25 y/o, but on Wednesdays you’ll be able to get in if your younger. Of course, if you are 20 etc, you may be let in on a Friday and Saturday too, but then it’s usually better to be on the list or be a bit early.

Something unique

Do you fancy Market Halls? Östermalm has one of Stockholm’s best one, definitely most beautiful Market Halls, ‘Östermalms Saluhall‘ is terrific local market. Lots of great coffees around for those Swedish ‘fikas’ (The verb for having a coffee or tea & Kanelbulle with a friend). The area is also very local and non-touristic, so can get that ‘Stockholm-feel’ and seamlessly melt in the local surrounding. 

Are you looking for dinner in this area? There is a lot of restaurants around these neighbourhoods. ‘Taverna Brillo‘ right at Stureplan is a great dinner place right before a night out. The restaurant is huge, with more casual dinners to proper ones too. It’s a very cool vibe throughout the venue and the atmosphere is excellent. Fancy some meat or fish? I suggest you visit ‘Kött & Fiskbaren‘ the fresh food is of top quality and the staff is very knowing. In addition, they have great cocktails! The last restaurant I will mention is ‘Brasserie Balzac‘ a french inspired vibe with lovely staff and delicious food, what more could you wish for? 

Perhaps you are keen for some bubbles and cheese? Then visit the trendy new ‘Cavabaren‘ There menu includes oysters, iberico ham and many more tapas. Of course there is an emphasis on Cava! The venue is super trendy and cosy. Definitely a place you’d like to hang around at.

Kungsholmen
Stockholm's city hall
This is what the Stockholm city hall looks like at night. Behind it you see the Kungsholmen. You can find the picture here.

Nearby Central station you can see ‘Stockolms Stadshus’, the city hall, with the 3 crowns.  At the beginning of the borough ‘Kungsholmen’, although being more residential, the area has a lot of lovely restaurants such as ‘Orangeriet‘ the atmosphere of the place is incredible.

Walking along the water by the city hall, you see across to the island of Södermalm, a very pretty view. You will see the ‘München Bryggeriet’ and the skinnarviksberget. Along this walk, you’ll pass a lovely café, right on the water side with an idyllic feeling. Definitely worth a visit, the café is called ‘Mälarpaviljongen‘ and at night it turns in to a bar with latish opening hours when the weather allows for it. To visit Kungsholmen definitely accounts for an experience in the real Stockholm. 

Missing trees?

On Kungsholmen there is a huge park, Rålambshovsparken, in this park there is a very unique bar ‘The Boule bar’,  although they do have several locations, this is a personal favourite. The serve, brunch, lunch and dinner, that’s beside the main point of the bar, to play the game boule. It’s a lot of fun to do with a group of friends whilst enjoying some tasty alcoholic beverages.

Feel like you are missing nature and a swim? Then I suggest you visit the ‘Fredhällsbadet‘ a lovely swimming spot right at Kungsholmen. Even though you are in central Stockholm, the nature is very present.

Other Boroughs- also key to the real Stockholm
The beautiful Stockholm Archipelago
This is what the nature in Stockholm can look like. Both at liljeholmen and at Fredhälls. This picture is taken from here..

There are of course other boroughs and much more to see of Stockholm. But these are the main areas you’ll be moving within on your visit. Something that is very unique to Stockholm is its archipelago. It consists of more than 20.000+ islands, and some are Grinda and Sandhamn popular and easy to get to. Here you can spend a night at a Wärdshus, a local in, typically serving amazing food. There are many people living here seasonally, but some are all-year-arounders, regardless life is flourishing in the summers. So, if you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, give it a visit. It’s an experience you won’t regret. 

Want to see some more photos of Stockholm? Suss out my Gallery!