If you prefer to avoid all of the touristy traps while traveling and want to discover an authentic version of the city, then this is the only guide you need to experience Amsterdam like a local.
I’ve compiled my best tips for a truly local experience while visiting Holland’s ultra-modern capital. Check out my eight non-touristy things to star on your itinerary before wandering (or cycling) the tree-lined canals of Amsterdam.
Experience Amsterdam Like a Local
Visit De Pijp Neighborhood
Just south of Amsterdam’s core lies the colorful Latin Quarter of De Pijp. A previous working-class neighborhood, De Pijp has now been consumed by young professionals, students, and immigrants, making it one of the city’s most hip and trendy areas. This lively district oozes with bohemian vibes and is bursting with chic local boutiques, sustainable brands, exotic cuisine, as well as plenty of cool cafes. De Pijp is also home to the Albert Cuypmarkt, a bustling 300-stall open-air market that offers everything from trinkets and antique finds to flowers and fresh produce. While there, don’t forget to sample the most delicious stroopwafels you’ll ever taste – they’re handmade and filled with gooey caramel right before your eyes, and served to you warm.
Hop On a Bike
Let’s be honest, you can’t do Amsterdam right if you’re not on two wheels. Renting a bike is a rite of passage if you want to transition from being a tourist to visiting Amsterdam like a local. The Dutch prefer to get around by bicycle – it really is the quickest and most efficient way to navigate the city. Discount Bike Rental offers great service and cheap rates. Plus, you can reserve your bike ahead of time so that it will be ready for you as soon as you arrive in Amsterdam.
Explore the buzzing neighborhood of Westerpark, part of Amsterdam’s west side. This beautiful area is vibrant and energetic thanks to the sprawling Westergas complex. A collection of industrial buildings, cool bars, unique restaurants, entertainment venues, and recreational area, combine to create one of the city’s most exciting neighborhoods. Stop by for a drink, or have a picnic in the park if the weather permits.
Eat Like a Local
Grab some traditional grub while in Amsterdam. Though you can find endless varieties of international cuisine around the city, try going Dutch by ordering some local staples. These include, but are not limited to: poffertjes, raw herring, and bitterballen (Dutch meatballs).
Check Out Foodhallen
A food lover’s haven, Foodhallen is the perfect choice when you want to be one with the locals. Situated far away from tourist hot-spots in Amsterdam’s hip Oud-West, Foodhallen is a culinary adventure offering high-end street food. Dig into Greek gyros, Vietnamese spring rolls, wood-fired pizzas, mouth-watering burgers, and artisan beers when you visit this classy indoor market hall.
Attend a Local Event
If you really want to experience Amsterdam like a local, be sure to keep up to date with what’s going on in the city! Do some research on upcoming concerts, festivals, and city events before your trip. You can check out I Amsterdam’s monthly event calendar – this should give you some extra material for planning a less-touristy itinerary.
If you’re visiting in the summer, hit up Pllek, an area that used to be an old shipyard that has now been revamped into a trendy bar by the beach. You can take the public ferry from Centraal Station to get there and enjoy the views along the way. They offer indoor seating as well as a large outdoor terrace where you can snack on bites from their amazing vegan/vegetarian menu. Pllek is a great place to spend a warm summer’s day away from all of the tour groups in the center of town.
Have a Beer at a Local Pub
Brouwerij ‘t IJ, also known as the brewery below the windmill, is stocked with an incredible selection of local craft beers. Though it might seem like a touristy choice, you’ll find a unique mix of guests sipping on beer at Brouwerij, including many locals! If you’re looking for something a little more under the radar, check out De Spuyt. This hidden gem boasts over 100 different kinds of beers, a cozy atmosphere, and super friendly staff. You can find it around the corner from Leidsesquare.
There you have it! Those are my top tips on experiencing Amsterdam like a local. I learned all of these thanks to one of my friends who was doing an internship in Amsterdam and really got to know the city well beyond Dam Square. Let me know if I missed any cool local spots so that I can add them to my itinerary for my next visit!