Amsterdam. My most recent holiday/city break, and probably one of my favourites to date. Tom and I travelled here in November 2017 for five days, and within our first hour exploring the city, we were in love with it. Where to begin? The canals, the bikes, the bridges, the FOOD, the markets, the total natural emphasis on physical activity – Amsterdam ticked every box. In this travel guide, I’m breaking tradition to date a little by sharing with you my foodie favourites AND my top tips for things to see and do while you’re there. As always, if you’ve been to Amsterdam yourself, I would love to know YOUR favourite places to eat, drink and explore in this gorgeous city. That way, on my inevitable second trip, I’ll have more to check out for myself!
I also wrote an Amsterdam Insider City Guide: The Healthy Version for the wonderful Health Blogger’s Community Magazine this week, and I am so so happy to have it finally live as my first article for the HBC! As you guys know, I won Best Irish Blog in the HBC Health Blog Awards last year, and it was incredible to get to meet some of the gang and founders in person. I’m also honoured to be organising HBC events in Dublin too, with our second one this Friday! Eek! Now, let’s get to my guide!
Tom and I stopped in here on a rainy afternoon – to shelter yes, but also because I had heard there was a gorgeous brew to be had here! We weren’t disappointed. The gang at Lot Sixty One were so friendly – one of the baristas even knew Kerry geography, Tom was delighted! The interior in our cafe was so funky, with sort of two floors to it – it was the kind of place you could spend an hour or a whole day easily.
Breakfast & Brunch
Possibly (actually, probably) the coolest brunch café I’ve ever been to, Koala Republic is, as they say themselves, ‘built on positivity and delicious, nutritious food.’ Their vibes are Australian-inspired – fresh, friendly, and beyond creative. I had checked out this spot on Instagram beforehand after it was recommended to me, so I made sure to grab the well-known high table there – and climbed the ladder to the top, I kid you not! Koalas, get it? Food-wise, the menu is absolutely mouth-watering. I ordered the Falafel Waffle, and it was as amazing as it sounds. The photo says it all really. The Surfer Bowls are also veery highly rated!
There’s always something pretty special about your final meal on a holiday, and Dignita, with it’s ‘Eat Well, Do Good’ motto, did us proud. I may have gotten a little bit emotional over my choice here, purely because it was so delicious – a Chickpea Fritter topped with a Poached Egg, Avocado, Halloumi, and Cashew Dukkah. HOLY. MOLY. Need I say more? I need not. I genuinely can’t call a favourite brunch between here and Koala Republic, but that just shows you how high the standard was. Dignita inspired me to go home and create a dukkah recipe for my blog – nowhere near as good as theirs, but a girl can dream! Dignita is a little bit outside the city centre, located quite close to Vondelpark, but as you’ll see below, Vondelpark is well worth a visit too – so make a day of it, get on your bike and explore on your way here!
Oh Ted’s. Ted’s All Day Brunch is a gorgeous cosy café with the funkiest vibes in town. The menu has something delicious to suit all tastes, from a classic Eggs Benedict to a Chickpea Burger (my choice!) to the totally indulgent French Toast (Tom’s choice!). The tunes are chilled, the atmosphere was happy, and we left blissed out, well fuelled up for a day of exploring.
If you want fantastic food with a view to match, then you have to make a trip to Blue. It’s very centrally located, just opposite the beautiful tulips at the Bloemenmarkt, and does simple but delicious breakfast and lunch fare. Whether you’re a meat-eater, veggie or vegan, you’ll find something to chow down on. The best part about Blue? The stunning panoramic view of Amsterdam that surrounds you as you eat. This place was recommended to us by a group of physiotherapists based in Amsterdam that Tom had heard about, and we owed them for it big-time!
Can you guess what you’ll be ordering here? Yep, you got it – Omelettes! You better love eggs, because Omelegg is a specialty cafe that does any kind of omelette you can think of. I have fond memories of this place, as it was our first foodie find on our trip, and we were STARVING when we landed here! Hunger is the best sauce right? You bet it was. This spot is a great choice for a chilled out breakfast, brunch or lunch, and there’s a couple of outlets dotted around the city!
The Pantry is bit of a hidden gem, located a short walk from the Museum Quarter. I include it in my list because it was an special night for us – our first dinner in Amsterdam, AND a total success on our quest to sample authentic Dutch cuisine. The staff couldn’t have been friendlier, and their business was booming. It was obvious why, with delicious Dutch classics on the menu there like Bitterballen to start, Hutspot or Stamppot for a main, and of course, Poffertjes to finish!
Hands up all my hipster foodies? If you raised your hand, then Foodhallen is for you. Although I’m 100% NOT hipster, and I loved it here. Foodhallen is an international indoor food market, set up in a renovated tram depot (too cool). It’s packed full of different cuisines and food concepts, and all you need to bring is a serious appetite! You’ll find a range of signature dishes from many many cuisines – everything from Mexican, to Thai, to Mediterranean, to frozen yoghurt – it’s a true foodie experience. Check it out for lunch on the go, OR make a night of it and head there for dinner, tasting 2-3 different small dishes – plus you’ve got fro-yo there for dessert too!
What To See & Do – In Between Being A Foodie!
Become A Two-Wheeler
The cycling culture in Amsterdam was probably one of my absolute favourite things about the city, and bike rental is both a must-do and no-brainer on your trip, whether it’s just for a day, if not the whole time you’re there. Amsterdam is designed to be cyclist-friendly – clearly marker cycle lanes on every street, cycle-specific traffic crossings – hands down, it was the safest place I’ve ever biked in. Rental of bikes is SUPER cheap, and can be by the hour or day. One of the big benefits, aside of course from giving you a daily dose of physical activity, is that by using a bike to get around, you can see lots of sights in a short space of time, which is brilliant if you want to pack a lot in in a short space of time.
Visit Vondelpark – A Green Oasis In A Green City
Vondelpark was located right behind our hotel, and is west of the Museums Quarter in Amsterdam. It’s a beautiful open park which is filled each day with cyclists, joggers, walkers and picnic-ers. I went for the most peaceful run in Vondelpark during our trip, and loved it there so much I got Tom to take a walk and cycle there with me too. We were lucky to have it so close by, but I would definitely recommend a visit during your stay – bring a picnic!
Markets & Museums – Become A Culture Vulture
I would send you right back if you told me you had visited Amsterdam without seeing the fantastic markets and museums there. My top recommendations are the Anne Frank House, the Rjiksmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum. If you’re a food and craft market fan like me, make sure you stroll the Albert Cuyp Market, and visit the Bloemenmarkt for tulips! Seeing all these sights on foot is a great way to stay active on your trip too – you’ll easily knock out those 10,000 steps in one museum alone! The Anne Frank Museum in particular is a very unique experience not to be missed. Make sure you check out the website in advance to see whether advance ticket bookings are required (we had to!).
The A’DAM Lookout Tower
For all you thrill-seekers that follow me, I’ve got something you won’t want to miss! The A’DAM Lookout is an observation deck with the best panoramic view of the city – I’m talking the full 360 degrees gang. If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, you can also add the ‘Over The Edge’ Experience to your ticket, meaning you get to swing 100 metres high, back and forth over the edge of the Lookout Tower. It. Was. Unreal. Plus, it makes for a fantastic Instagram shot – double whammy! You can easily get to the tower by crossing the IJ River behind Central Station on a free ferry that runs every five minutes, Cyclists can bring their bikes across too!
And that’s a wrap on another Irish Balance Foodie Guide! I hope you’re loving this series as much as me! Where to next I wonder…! Tag me if you visit any of the places I’ve mentioned – @theirishbalance on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook!
Ciara 🙂 x