Amsterdam held a certain interest for me. I wasn't sure what to expect, so when The Professor asked if I wanted to go, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Because we aren't full-time travelers, we always travel on a budget. And our trip to Amsterdam was no different. We found a super cool place to stay and lots of authentic eats for very little money. I've put together this travel guide to help you plan where to stay and eat in Amsterdam for authentic Dutch experiences!
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Where to Stay in Amsterdam
The Professor has a knack for finding fun, modern, and affordable places to stay. And he totally knocked it out of the park in Amsterdam! He discovered an excellent home away from home on Prinseneiland, one of the many small islands that form the city of Amsterdam. When visiting European cities for more than three days, we like to rent apartments, as it gives us the most flexibility.
The Wharf House
Our Amsterdam apartment, The Wharf House, is a super-modern apartment with sleek finishings and an incredible view of a large canal. And even though the property owners were next store, we totally felt like we had complete privacy, something we expect and desire.
I simply loved the layout of the apartment: the bathroom and bedroom were downstairs while the kitchen, dining and living area was upstairs. The elevation and large windows provided a terrific line of sight to the beautiful canals.
The open, airy space partnered with modern furnishings produced a romantic feeling that I fell head-over-heels in love with INSTANTLY. Best of all, we had everything we needed to save a few bucks by dining in for breakfast, munching late afternoon snacks and taking much-needed coffee breaks after long excursions in the rain.
Other Cool Places to Stay in Amsterdam
Some people aren't keen on staying in apartments. Although you can save a lot of money by staying in an apartment, there are also perks to staying in a hotel. You don't have to clean anything, and you have tons of cool amenities depending on the hotel. If you're more of a hotel person, check out these cool places to stay in Amsterdam!
Where to Eat in Amsterdam
One of the things I look forward to the most when traveling is trying local foods. I love tasting foreign delicacies and experiencing new, unfamiliar flavors. Initially, I felt underwhelmed by the lack of variety in Dutch foods. But, over time, I grew to appreciate the cuisine in Amsterdam once I understood the subtle flavors and the difference that FRESH, quality products made.
There were so many yummy things we savored during our stay. But best of all was the beer. I loved the clean, light flavors of Dutch beer, which partners quite well with many of the fried pub-foods offered in Dutch bars.
Overall I would say that our dining experiences in Amsterdam were great. And although we didn't find much variety in the menus, the foods we tried were terrific. I still crave some of the treats we found in Amsterdam!
The amount of fresh fish in Amsterdam was surprising, yet it shouldn't have been. We found fresh fish on every menu, even on the street food menus! We enjoyed a variety of deliciously prepared, freshly-caught fish over the course of our stay.
During our time in Amsterdam, we enjoyed a variety of deliciously prepared, freshly-caught fish. One fantastic local restaurant stands out in my mind: De Gouden Reael.
An institution in Amsterdam, De Gouden Reael offers diners a taste of Amsterdam's rich history. You quickly realize that the restaurant has been there a while (since 1648 to be exact). The lamp-lit, quiet atmosphere of the place makes it feel home-like with a romantic touch.
We were warmly greeted when we arrived, and, I must say, we received excellent dinner service. One thing we tried was plaice, a delicate flatfish.
Traditional Dutch Cuisine
An excellent example of traditional Dutch cooking is Moeders, a sweet little restaurant dedicated to the mothers of the world. Dining at Moeders was an unforgettable experience. Brightly lit and toasty, this place is welcoming from the very start. Yes,
Brightly lit and toasty, this place is welcoming from the very start. Yes, it's crowded, but the overcrowding works in the restaurant's favor. The proximity to your neighbors helps create a home-like atmosphere that perfectly complements the restaurant's theme.
The walls are covered with framed photos of other people's mothers. You can’t help but relax and enjoy your fabulous comfort food when surrounded by pictures of smiling mothers.
My selection was a traditional hotchpotch, or stamppot, which was amazingly warm and comforting after our walk in the misty night air. Think of shepherd's pie but way better. The tables are few, so try for a reservation if you can.
Other standouts were the local sweets. Poffertjes are the most delicious little pancakes dusted with powdered sugar. Pancakes Amsterdam is a great place to enjoy authentic Dutch poffertjes in a bright, cheery atmosphere. Their poffertjes were oh-so-tasty, and their coffee was deliciously strong.
I later discovered fresh stroopwafel at a local outdoor market. This amazingly addictive cookie is made from thin, crispy waffles with a gooey caramel center. And, trust me, finding fresh is so worth your effort. You'll find it hard to stop eating these sweet, gooey cookies!
Amsterdam's Street Food
Much to my surprise, there was a unique street food culture in Amsterdam. By far, my favorite local street food was patat, golden fried potatoes slathered in curried mayo!
The Professor also really enjoyed another local delicacy: pickled herring. We found a sweet little street food stand in the Albert Cuyp Markt that was exactly what he was looking for: unassuming, no frills, local.
I must say, I am not a fan of the herring, but to each his own. This is a traditional food if ever there was one, so you have to try it at least once. So, I gave it a whirl only to find out what I suspected from the start: I'm not a fan of pickled herring.
One of the things I enjoyed most about Amsterdam was the warm and cozy atmosphere of many of the local pubs. Most of the bars we visited were found out of sheer necessity: we had to escape the rain. But each one welcomed us and made us feel instantly at home.
One of my favorites was Cafe Van Daele, situated right off Dam Square near the Royal Palace. The cozy, quiet atmosphere mixed with tasty treats and delicious brews made this place so worthwhile.
Another thing I loved was that each pub had a unique selection of beers and small plates. We enjoyed local pub foods including kroket (meat-filled croquettes, deep fried) and bitterballen (crunchy, deep-fried meatballs).
Most of the pubs offered free WiFi (with purchase). And every single one was welcoming, with friendly, helpful staff and locals.
And let's not forget the amazing Dutch cheeses (did I mention I'm addicted to cheese)! If you like Gouda, you must visit Amsterdam.
One day out of sheer coincidence we found ourselves in the most fantastic little cheese shop ever, De Kaaskamer. There was cheese as far as the eye could see, stacks and stacks of it. You can tell by the gleam in my eye that I was enthralled with it all.
We were able to try samples of local cheeses before making our selection to take back to our temporary home. The staff were welcoming and encouraged us to explore different cheeses and flavors. With their help we found the perfect Dutch cheese to savor for the rest of our stay.
More of Our Adventure in Amsterdam
I'll leave you here, hungry for more! Be sure to read my other Dutch travel guides to find out more about preparing for your trip to Amsterdam and all the fun things to do in Amsterdam! Have you ever been to Amsterdam? Drop a line below telling me your thoughts on Amsterdam. I'd love to hear about your experience.
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