Discover Amsterdam’s Canals, Lekker Culinary Delights, and Cultural Gems for the Perfect Getaway in the Netherlands
by Stefanie Michaels
When it came to the growth of a civilization, canals were once the preferred means of transportation. Still to this day, Venice is to Italy, Suzhou is to China, and Bangkok is to Thailand –Amsterdam is that city for the Netherlands.
In fact, Amsterdam has been dubbed the most watery city in the world with more than 25% of the city’s surface still devoted to navigable waterways. With 165 canals, and 1281 bridges to cross them, Mokum is one of those cities where everywhere you look, photo opps abound. And, when in such a picturesque town, you can’t help but to paint the town red – whatever hue of your liking.
On a recent trip to the Netherlands capital city, let’s just say that Phil and I opted for a far less crimson shade, but lekker all the same.
The Dutch have a word for something tasty may it be a person, place or dish – Lekker. In our case, Lekker was on the tip of our tongue as we savored the Dutch palate.
Standing in front of the Instagram-famous fry shop – Fabel Friet – there’s no question what this place is all about. Locally-grown potatoes piled high in the window nod to the shop’s attention to sourcing the very best ingredients. Fabel Friet’s specialty is the fries with fresh grated Parmesan and homemade truffle mayonnaise.
If you know that Gouda is what makes Dutch cheese so, um, gooda, a stop in at Amsterdam Cheese Company is a must. Here more than 20 Dutch varieties of Gouda and goat cheeses are always on the ready. And, while wine is the perfect pairing for cheese, Bar Centraal offers a mindful selection of natural wines along with a menu featuring elevated Dutch bistro fare.
Boasting a beautiful terrace view of the Prinsengracht, the breakfast through dinner Black Restaurant is the perfect French twist pinned by dishes to suit carnivores and herbivores alike. We savored macarons and coffee one morning while enjoying the gezellig (Dutch slang for nice time) of it all.
Also on the Prinsengracht, Café het Molenpad has been a local favorite for decades. It’s where we enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails while listening to live music, before heading to nearby Villa Maria Steakhouse for dinner. Serving traditional Argentian steakhouse fare, there are also excellent pescatarian and vegetarian menu offerings such as vegetarian empanadas, a variety of grilled skewered vegetables, fried squid and grilled tuna.
As you probably know of the most infamous way to “play” in Amsterdam, coffeeshops are abundant and are where to purchase cannabis. But, whether you choose elevation of an unaltered state, experiencing the town is a no-brainer with the city card which gives you access to top attractions, including more than 70 museums, city-wide transportation, a canal cruise, and bike rental. (Starting at 60 euros for the day.) And, to get the most out of the card, download its app to map out your day.
Fast fashion isn’t really a thing in Amsterdam. Instead, you’ll find an entire neighborhood devoted to boutiques called Nine Streets (9 Straatjes). Dating back to the 1600s this community sits on the edge of the canal rim where you could easily spend an entire day. Catwalk Junkie is now bookmarked on my online shopping tab, as the boutique focuses on sustainable, ethically-sourced and produced statement pieces.
Still within the Nine Streets district, The Dylan is where we found 5-star luxury accommodations. Located on the renowned Keizersgracht Canal, it opened as Amsterdam’s first boutique hotel in1999 and now boasts 40 uniquely designed rooms within a 17th century canal house.
The boutique hotel features the Michelin Star-awarded Restaurant Vinkeles among its amenities. Also, well within walking distance of the Hermitage, Ann Frank House, Flower Market, and Van Gogh Museum, we found our stay to be one of total cultural-immersion.