CONTRARY TO PULP Fiction lore, there’s more to Amsterdam than hash bars.
Coffee shops are the shit for many an Amsterdam virgin, yet locals view them as tourist traps lacking in “gezelligheid,” or coziness, the cornerstone of Dutch culture. Smoking yourself into a coma at the Bulldog is just fine, but you’re going to miss out.
Follow these ten tips and you’ll do Amsterdam like a local.
1. Immerse yourself in art
View Van Gogh’s life through art, from the Potato Eaters up through the last two months of his life in France.
Holland’s Golden Age is the highlight of the Rijksmuseum. Don’t miss Vermeer’s Milkmaid.
2. Day trip it
For an excursion, the 15-minute train ride to Haarlem is worth the trip.
For eats, kick back at the spacious Café Brinkman on the square, and to top off the day, have drinks at Café 1900 (Barteljorisstraat 10) on the way back to the train station.
3. Drink up
With more than 1200 intriguing pubs to crawl you’ll have more than your fill.
Start at the Heineken brewery (Stadshouderkade 78) to see how famous beer is produced. Check out Café Belgique to taste smooth Belgian brews like La Chouffe and La Trappe Dubbel.
4. Night bike it
Amsterdam is most romantic at night, when the city is aglow from lit up bridges and canals.
Start at Leidseplein and bike down Kerkstraat to the Amstel River, where you’ll find the Skinny Bridge in all its glory.
Cut across Waterlooplein to Jodenbreestraat, which takes you into Nieuwmarkt. Pay a visit to the Waag, a pub/restaurant that once formed the city wall, or brown bar Café ‘t Loosje (Nieuwmarkt 32-34).
5. Club it
For pre-partying, head to Lux (Marnixstraat 403) Bitterzoet (Spuistraat 2), or Seymour Likely (Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250) for live DJs.
Join the dance crowd at Mazzo (Rozengracht 114), Club More (Rozengracht 133), and Paradiso (Weteringschans 6-8). For a laid-back vibe, check out Café Alto (Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 115) for local jazz acts.
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Marla Seidell is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago. She lived in Holland for six years, because even more than she loves traveling, she enjoys living in foreign countries. Check in with her at http://www.mediabistro.com/marlaseidell.