I have a troubled relationship with central Amsterdam. I won’t go into it all here, but thanks to the wrong kind of tourist and the tacky businesses that cater for them, certain parts of the centre can often resemble a Hieronymous Bosch depiction of hell. (I’m looking at YOU, Damrak on a Saturday).
Having said all that, the centre of Amsterdam is also one of the prettiest and most historical parts of the city, with a huge concentration of historical monuments and sightseeing spots. So it’s a shame to discount it entirely. And even the Red Light District has a certain charm, if you ignore the large groups of marauding males and (mainly British – sorry friends!) rotters. There’s something about the way that independent businesses and historical buildings jostle along happily side by side with the oldest profession in the world. Remove the awful tourists and there’s a nice equilibrium to be found there – just look at the area around the Oude Kerk as the perfect microcosm of this.
So if you do find yourself in the centre and looking for somewhere to escape the stag parties, fast food outlets, smart shops, tacky souvenirs and Argentinian steakhouses (what’s with those?) then here’s my pick of some genuinely great places worth seeking out to recharge you batteries over a coffee or bite to eat.
Betty Blue // Spacious cafe with large tables, funky decor (see main image) and excellent cakes. Famous for their red velvet cake. Snoekjessteeg 1-3
Latei // Kitsch cafe on the Zeedijk filled with quirky nick nacks and retro furniture. Zeedijk 143
Cut Throat // Hipster barbershop-come-cocktail bar open all day for (excellent) coffees, diner food, drinks and good times. Beursplein 5
Vascobelo V Bar // Large bookshop coffee bar with healthy lunches and great coffee. Nice and spacious so you should usually get a seat. Rokin 9-15
Cafe Droog // Gorgeous artsy cafe in the designer Hotel Droog with free wifi, a fairy tale garden and fresh, healthy lunches. Staalstraat 7B
De Koffieschenkerij // Right in the heart of the Red Light District, in Amsterdam’s oldest building, the cafe of the Oude Kerk (old church) is a true hidden gem serving good coffee, yummy cakes and light lunches. Oudekerksplein 27
Terpentijn // trendy little hotspot open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and everything in between. Try their homemade ice teas. Rokin 103
Dum Dum Palace // One of my favourite restaurants in Amsterdam, this asian streetfood eatery on the Zeedijk makes for a tasty pitstop at any time of day. I mean you don’t have to get a cocktail. Zeedijk 37
Skek // A nice, studenty cafe bar towards the end (or start?) of the Zeedijk. Good, well priced food and a friendly crowd. Live music some evenings. Zeedijk 4-8
De Jaren // Large, airy cafe in a former bank with magazines, spacious tables and a waterside terrace. Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20
SLA Utrechtsestraat // The best salads in Amsterdam. Hands down. Locations all over the city, but this one is your central(ish) saviour. Utrechtsestraat 10HS
You can see them all on the map below, so find your nearest pit stop and dive straight in.
Posted by: Jayne