VIP Tips for Visiting Amsterdam

This is just one of its 1000+ bridges and 165 canals in Amsterdam

What to Eat, Drink and See in Amsterdam 

Amsterdam - “the Venice of the North” - both the capital and cultural heart of the Netherlands is charming, cozy, architecturally unique, and rich in history. I had always wanted to visit and had the chance to spend three kid-free days there in April for my husband's birthday celebration. In such a short time, we were able to eat and do so much on the cheap. Here are our tips with insights from locals too.

Heading on a bachelor trip to Amsterdam? Check out these Amsterdam Stag Party packages.

Street Food Guide to Amsterdam

Albert Cuyp Market 

Our first foodie stop was to this local street market open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. It is located in de Pijp and there are nearly 300 vendors selling all sorts of items and eats, along with pubs and restaurants on the side streets.


While at the market we took the opportunity to try warm stroopwafels. They are thin crisp waffles/ baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle holding them together. Just look for the blue and white checkered flag at the market or follow the scent of sweetness! You can also buy already prepared ones to go here or at the supermarket for souvenirs to take back home with you, but definitely try a hot one first.

Amsterdam Stroopwafels at Albert Cuyp Market
If you want an Instagram worthy waffle though, you can head to van Wonderen Stroopwafels Kalverstraat 190, 1012 XH Amsterdam, Netherlands. These are dipped in chocolate and have colorful toppings like candy or sprinkles.


In the market and near the canals you'll see vendors selling fresh Herring as a snack like you would hot dogs. Raw herring is a Dutch specialty. You can make it like a sandwich and have it served on bread with pickles and onions, but locals order theirs straight up and start at the tail. I wasn't brave enough, but my husband had it twice, he loved it!

Albert Cuyp Market Raw Herring Stand
Ordering Raw Herring stand in Albert Cuyp Market

Vlaamse Frites 

Belgian style fries stacked in a cone and smothered in sauce. You can pick from mayo, curry, Hawaiian, even pickle sauce! I went with just melted cheese. You'll see windows selling Frites like this near the center by Dam Square along the trolley lines. The most famous hole-in-the-wall shop though is Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx Voetboogstraat 33, 1012 XK Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Vlaamse Frites with Sauce


Free cheese? Yes, please! Also near Dam Square is a cheese museum and plenty of cheese shops with free samples to nibble on. We couldn't stop ourselves from going into three different places and purchased a pesto and sun-dried tomato cheese to take back with us. Yum!

Amsterdam Cheese Shops!

Where to Eat Dinner in Amsterdam

De Koe 

This is a real Dutch restaurant, that's tiny and quaint. De Koe means the Cow, but they serve seafood. A short walk from the Liedesplein area, it's a low-end dive restaurant that both Rick Steve’s and I like ;) The staff is friendly, but the food takes a while to come out, so be patient and take in the views of the kitchen and other locals. The coffee shop next door and bar upstairs are worth checking out too. Marnixstraat 381, 1016 XR Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Eating with locals at Dutch Restaurant De Koe in Amsterdam
Eating with locals at Dutch Restaurant De Koe


Close enough to downtown is a high-end Italian restaurant in an old building called Incanto. Closer to the flower market


This “go-to” easy Indian restaurant for lunch or dinner. Geldersekade 5 HS, 1011 EH Amsterdam, Netherlands


High-End MOMO has great sushi, but warning that it’s expensive. Hobbemastraat 1, 1071 XZ Amsterdam, Netherlands Phone: +31 20 671 7474

Drinking and Smoking in Amsterdam 

Heineken Experience

Very touristy, but still enjoyable is the Heineken Experience tour of their original brewery (sine 1864) in the city center.

TIP: Make a reservation or go to one of their later tours so you can enjoy some time in their downstairs bar sipping free pints before heading out to dinner and more drinking. They close early, so make sure you arrive well before closing so you get in.

Amsterdam Heineken Experience Tour Bar
Amsterdam Heineken Experience Tour Bar

Rooftop Bar

The DoubleTree hotel has a rooftop bar and restaurant with great views at sunset and at night. Find a way to go outside even if it looks like it’s closed off. Oosterdoksstraat 4, 1011 DK Amsterdam, Netherlands

Coffee Shops

We all know a big draw for the city is its illegal activities from marijuana to sex professionals. In Amsterdam "coffeeshops," are local dispensaries for marijuana, and they do NOT sell coffee. You'll want to visit a cafe for that. The Red Light District is where most of the 250 coffee shops are located including the first one - The Bulldog No. 90. However, the ones near here are crowded and a bit overwhelming.

We visited one off the beaten path where the staff even made recommendations more like they would in Denver. HOWEVER, if you're a 5'2 lightweight like me, maybe don't eat a whole "space brownie," even if they say, "no, this won't do anything." It did, and it wasn't fun.

15 Most Famous and Best Amsterdam Coffee Shops

Things to Do in Amsterdam on the Cheap

Visit the Iamsterdam Sign

Be sure and visit the famous IAmsterdam sign near the museum district. You can even sit on the letters. It's great for photos, people watching, relaxing and for seeing tulips!

Iamsterdam sign selfies are a must!

Go to the Top of the Library 

You can go in Amsterdam’s very modern public library for free. Then take the elevator or escalator to the top where there is a cafe and panoramic views of the entire city. However, this was quite a walk from the canals and city center. 

Amsterdam Inside Tip: Free views of Amsterdam at the top of Amsterdam Public Library
Free views of Amsterdam at the top of Amsterdam Public Library

Join a Free Walking Tour 

We took a FREE Sandeman walking tour (just tip your guide and make an online reservation ahead of time) of the city and saw some of its famous attractions like the Anne Frank house, the world's most narrow home, and more. This 2½-hour walking tour covers the main sights of the inner city.

They also have a nighttime Red Light tour as well, which we did too, but it's not free. You can make your reservation for that one though while on the free tour if you'd like. It was nice to have a guide to the Red Light district, less intimidating and I now know more than I ever wanted to know about that! lol.

Blue Boat Canal Tour

With 1000+ bridges and 165 canals, there are a LOT of canal cruises. Many offer drinks for purchase or a free drink with your ride, but before and negotiate that first before you hop on board. I actually didn't want to take a canal tour, but my husband did and it ended up being pretty enjoyable. I'd recommend the Blue Boat Canal Boat Ride, which starts near the Hard Rock CafĂ©.

For your own pocket guide book, I always prefer Rick Steves:

VIP Tips for What to Eat, Drink and See in Amsterdam

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