Amsterdam Hidden Gems

Westergasfabriek

This enormous cultural hub lies in the centre of Westerpark and was built inside of an expansive gasworks facility that dates back to the late 19th century. The whole area has a unique, industrial vibe that matches perfectly with its cultural leanings. It is easy enough to spend entire evenings wandering between Westergasfabriek’s long list of attractions, which include restaurants, music venues, an arthouse cinema and the largest coin-op arcade in the city.

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Zootje Sculpture Garden

You’ll find this hidden little sculpture garden near De Plantage, just follow the signs for Zootje Petit Zoo. Believe us when we say that this is no ordinary zoo! The rustic, metal sculptures wait patiently between the grass and plants. This is a wonderful and quirky half-day experience for all the family, just remember to keep your eyes peeled for the dinosaur and the zombie!

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REM Eiland

This unusual, waterborne restaurant is housed inside a renovated offshore platform that once stood around nine kilometres off the coast of the Netherlands. In the 1960s, the platform was owned by a group of pirate radio broadcasters, who had to abandon the structure after the Dutch government raided their operation in 1964. Around four decades later, the platform was towed to Amsterdam’s Houthaven harbour and then converted into a classy restaurant. Today, it is possible to access REM Eiland from a nearby jetty and dine inside its spectacular upper decks.

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Pancake Boat

During tours onboard the Pancake Boat, passengers are presented with an unlimited supply of Dutch-style pancakes topped with syrup, fruits and powdered sugar. This sugar-fuelled excursion starts in Amsterdam’s northern docklands then trails through the city’s famous harbour, allowing passengers to marvel at the area’s stunning architecture while they chow down on some of the world’s finest pancakes. The tour takes 75 minutes and departs from NDSM-Werf several times a day.

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Blijburg aan Zee Beach

There are a surprising number of beaches in Amsterdam that either edge onto the city’s lakes, canals or rivers. While it is worth checking out all of these sandy oases, anyone searching for a classic, beach-bum experience may want to head over to Blijburg. This artificial peninsula juts outs into IJmeer lake and has several attractions that are generally associated with seaside resorts, including golden sand, clear water and even a windsurfing school. There’s also a tiki hut-style restaurant located nearby that caters to beach-goers.

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Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder

After the Reformation in the 16th century, the newly established Calvinist Dutch government officially outlawed Catholicism. Though they faced severe punishments, many followers of Catholicism continued to worship in secret and some even built hidden churches. For instance, the upper three storeys of a townhouse on Oudezijds Voorburgwal canal in Amsterdam were converted into a Catholic place of worship in the 1660s. Unlike most other clandestine churches from this period, this chapel has remained almost completely intact and has been preserved as an historic museum since 1888.

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Cuddle a cat onboard de Poezenboot

This floating cat sanctuary has cared for stray or abandoned kitties for over four decades and welcomes visitors most days of the week. The shelter is moored to the northern banks of Singel canal in central Amsterdam and features a large, lower deck where its feline shipmates are given free reign. Though some cats onboard de Poezenboot aren’t too fussed about humans, others are friendlier and will happily approach strangers. De Poezenboot always welcomes donations and sells some seriously awesome merchandise at its gift shop, including branded t-shirts, posters and tote bags that feature adorable illustrations of its furry residents.

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Amsterdam School’s architecture at Het Schip

While Amsterdam’s older architecture certainly deserves the acclaim it has garnered over the years, the city also boasts many important examples of innovative, modern structural design. For instance, in the early 20th century, a close-knit group of socially conscious architects, known as the Amsterdam School, designed buildings throughout the city that were united by their complex, expressive brickwork and curved, almost organic motifs. There’s an entire museum dedicated to the movement’s history, principles and legacy located near Westerpark. This fascinating museum is housed inside a stunning, residential building that was designed by an esteemed member of the Amsterdam School named Michiel de Klerk in 1919.

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Amsterdamse Bos

This massive park lies roughly 10 kilometres away from Amsterdam’s historic centre and features many diverse terrains ranging from lakeside beaches to dense, ancient forests. Amsterdamse Bos’ size means that there’s plenty of room for outdoorsy activities within its borders, including hiking, jogging and cycling. It is also possible to rent boats inside the park and sail (or peddle) through its many lakes, canals and ponds. There are several other attractions spread around the park, including an open-air theatre and a charming, organic farm where visitors can pet and feed milk-white baby goats.

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Eating the Best Cookie in Amsterdam at Van Stapele Koekmakerij

Crumbly, warm, and still fresh from the oven: “the best cookies in Amsterdam” are often said to be those from Van Stapele Koekmakerij. Located down a little cobbled alley off Spui and close to Amsterdam’s main Begijnhof, you’ll smell this nostalgic sweet shop before you even see it. Often with a long line out the door and decorated in traditional wooden furniture, this is one bakery you won’t want to miss off your Amsterdam bucket list…

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