Hidden Gems of Amsterdam

by Aimee Kinniburgh, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Netherlands

Having lived in Amsterdam now for nearly 9 months, I think I’ve finally earnt the right to talk about some of my favourite, lesser-known places in Amsterdam to go for a coffee, study or for a pint in the all be in very limited, sun. So if you happen to find yourself in Amsterdam feel free to use this list to get away from some of the tourist, and TikTok, traps.

Cafe Festina Lente

I discovered Cafe Festina Lente by accident actually. Me and some friends had planned to go to another bar down the road from here but it was completely full and we stumbled upon this gem. Festina Lente is a beautiful bar and restaurant in the gorgeous area of Jordaan. If a pint in the sun, looking over the historic canals is what you’re after, look no further than here. The bar itself is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets in Jordaan but still boasts stunning views outside, and a warm and inviting inside. They have a range of local beers on offer as well as delicious and affordable tapas bites. We opted for whole-baked camembert and nachos when we ate there and were not disappointed. They also offer free board and card games which makes for a very fun evening with friends. 

Jazz Cafe Alto:

Jazz Cafe Alto is one of my favourite spots in the whole of Amsterdam. Tucked away down a side road off of Leidseplein Square Cafe Alto is a perfect escape from the chaos of central Amsterdam. Walking into this tiny little jazz bar is what I can only describe as the perfect recreation of an authentic 1950s america jazz bar. From the subdued lighting to the interior decor, this cafe oozes a sultry and sophisticated vibe. From Afro-Brazilian to Salsa and improv; this bar has something for everyone. The highlight of this cafe for me however is the musicians themselves. Each time I visit I am blown away by the talent on offer and their ability to capture the crowd. Pictured above was one of my favourite bands, The Wouter Kiers Quartet, performing swing jazz. what better way to spend a Sunday evening? I couldn’t recommend this bar enough, whether you’re a jazz fan or not it’s a must if you’re in Amsterdam. 

Kuuma Noord

A slightly more off-piste suggestion but so fun all the same is the Kuuma Sauna in North Amsterdam. This was suggested to me by a friend, I will admit when she first told me about it I was more than a little apprehensive but I’m so glad I ended up going. Kuuma Noord is basically a self-service sauna company that runs stand-alone saunas in some of the coolest locations in Europe, including one on the banks of the IJ River in Amsterdam Noord. We booked with a group of us and got the entire sauna to ourselves to watch and enjoy the sunset over the city. The sauna is hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city but you are still able to sit back and watch the boats and ferries go by, while you relax to whatever music you choose. If you’re feeling extra brave you can also cool off with the ice buckets outside of the sauna. It sounds unappealing at first but it was actually such a highlight for myself and my friends and is very needed when the sauna inevitably gets a little too hot. Would highly recommend booking yourself in for an hour of relaxation and zen.

Glou Glou

A final spot that I would recommend to any wine lovers out there is Glou Glou. Situated in one of my favourite areas of Amsterdam De Pijp, Glou Glou is a natural wine bar with a huge selection of reds, whites, roses and even orange wine, something I had never heard of or tried before but would highly recommend now. The wine itself is not the selling point of this bar however, for me it was the design of the interior which feels like you’ve walked straight into a Parisian film set. From the chalkboard menus to the quirky stained glass windows, Glou Glou is a perfect place to sit back, relax and forget about life for a while. It’s also a great spot to take visiting friends or family to really show off what Amsterdam has to offer!

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