For the best casual lunches I always go to Van Harte or Greenwoods, they have the best sandwiches and a really cosy Amsterdam atmosphere. The canal district in general is good to stroll around when you’d like to grab a bite. The best pizzas I’ve had are at the Italiaan in the Western part of the city, and when you go out there make sure you try the truffle pizza – simply the best. For a slightly more alternative venue you should hop on a ferry to the Northern part of Amsterdam, across the canal. Pop into PLLEK or Hotel de Goudfazant and you will have an amazing time for sure!
For drinks actually the same rule applies; try the little bars in the Nine Streets in the Canal area, you will find a good spot. I prefer places like Het Wolfje, or Blaffende Vis, Proust or Cafe de Tuin near the Noordermarkt. They’re all quite local pubs, no-nonsense spots to have a beer or glass of wine with friends. You’ll find the best cocktails at Vesper Bar and the best wine at Vyne.
Amsterdam has a lot of hotels and hostels, and although I’ve never stayed in one myself, obviously, I know a lot of them are so-so. Ones highly recommended are Maison Rika, a very small guesthouse in the very best area of the city, as well as Canal House, the Dylan hotel and the Toren. All are in walking distance of all things good in Amsterdam, near the old canals.
The best shopping is in the city center. For all high street brands walk up the Kalverstraat and you will find everything. For more high-end shopping, try the little boutiques between the canals, in the Jordaan district. Try Rika or Acne for quality goods and Episode for the best and biggest vintage collections in town. The market on the Noordermarkt is very good on Monday, and once a month there’s the flea market called Ijhallen in the Northern part of town, where you can find anything from interiors to clothing.
You should definitely start off at the Dam Square, it is very central and close to all things interesting. There’s the palace on the square which is quite impressive, and the little streets behind it lead you to the most pretty parts of the Jordaan and canal district. There’s this new film museum called EYE, quite the eye-catcher behind the Central Station. Also, the new Stedelijk museum, Rijksmuseum, and FOAM are really good.
Besides the obvious, I can highly recommend strolling through one of the parks. The biggest one is the Vondelpark – try to walk all the way to the back where it is more quiet and the lunchrooms are located. Also the Eastern part is pretty rad, with one of the coolest clubs called Trouw and Canvas to have drinks at. But whatever you do, make sure you do it the Amsterdam way and rent a bike. The city is quite small, and the best way to see it is the way we see the city as well! And, when you want an even more impressive but really touristic view, grab a boat ride!