Top 5 summer hotspots for Amsterdammers

If you are looking for summer hotspots in Amsterdam simply by googling “things to do in Amsterdam”…I’m sorry. That really makes me sad for you.

Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum, Vondelpark (this one is still ok), Red light district, coffee shops….

ENOUGH! If you want to have fun like a Dammer, you need to first think like a Dammer. This means you need to either A) seek out an amazingly abandoned place that has been totally hipster-fied and up-cycled in an odd location or B) talk to other Dammers. They will tell you where to find the cool kids.

This summer has been beautiful so far with ACTUAL warm days (I know…seriously) so I have put together a list of some of the best places to enjoy the sunshine.

1. Blijburg Beach (Blijburg Aan Zee)

Muiderlaan 1001, 1087 VA Amsterdam, Netherlands ‎

When I heard there was a “beach” in Amsterdam, I was super excited. Besides the Mexican food, the beach is what I miss the most about my past life in Tampa, FL. To get to Blijburg beach you can take a nice 40 minute cycle from Leidseplein to the east side. Towards the end, you pass over a beautiful winding bridge that takes you over the water. The bike ride itself is actually quite nice for a sunny day.

Once you get to the beach, there are lots of people laying in the sand, drinking their beverage of choice, and absorbing every drop of sunshine they can. Note: there is a bar serving cocktails and beer at a reasonable price, and there is also a nice restaurant with real food. Is it vegan friendly? Yes. I didn’t eat there, but I do recall they have hummus, some fried veggies, and maybe even a vegan main option. Total score.

What else is awesome about Blijburg? Well, they have live music. Live music is perfect for the beach, doesn’t matter if it’s a techno DJ, or  bluesy bar band…I’m down for it all! You can also find music festivals on certain days along with Yoga classes, paddleboarding, and windsurfing.

2. Amsterdam Roest

Czar Peter Street 213-B, 1018 PL Amsterdam, Netherlands

+31 6 11286924 (Mobile)

monday-thursday 11.00 – 01.00
Friday 16.00 – 03.00
Saturday 11.00 – 03.00
Sunday 11.00 – 01.00

Roest is a totally rad, up-cycled cafe that you should visit to just lounge around, laugh, talk, and relax while watching the water from your lounge chair on a man-made beach. It is nestled behind some industrial buildings, so you need to follow the trash bins with “ROEST–>” spray-painted on them to actually find it. During the day, they serve several nice cocktails. At night the inside becomes a small disco with cheap beer and beautiful people.

Check out the agenda for the next market, movie night, or festival.  Can’t imagine it? Think: chic, alternative, Portland, Berlin, etc. Vegan Friendly.

3. Tolhuistuin 

Tolhuisweg 5
1031 CL Amsterdam
T: 020-7630650

open Thursday-Sunday 12:00-23:00

Among fellow Dammers, it is pretty normal to turn your nose up at our neighbors to the North.  But after finding the next three spots…I’m beginning to think the joke is clearly on all of us. Well played, Amsterdam Noord.

The great thing about coming to the Noord is the instant depletion of tourists. I’m a people lover, but the slow cycling, lack of turn signals, running out in front of cyclists… it can become really ridiculous in the high season. To reach our first destination,Tolhuistuin, you can simply catch the (FREE!) Buiksloterweg ferry from behind central station, walk 5 minutes straight, then follow the INGANG (entrance) sign to your left. That was easy, right?

Tolhuistuin is a collection of buildings that used to house the Shell corporation in Amsterdam. They have since been converted into creative spaces, including a simple cafe with weekly brick-oven pizza (6 Euro, Thursday) and sandwich (vegan friendly, 5 Euro) carts. They also have a slew of events on the weekends, including DJs, festivals, and more. Like Roest, Tolhuistuin is a great  place to just kick-back in a cozy spot and canoodle with your special pals.

4. Cafe Noorderlicht

tt. Neveritaweg 33


Kitchen open from 11-10pm

So you’ve tried out Tolhuistuin, and you’re still craving some more Noord. This is the place for you. Rather than taking the easy ferry Buiksloterweg, hop on the NDSM ferry that leaves twice/hour from the same location behind central station. This ride is about 15 minutes long, and will take you considerably further to the totally eerie, post-apocalyptic setting of the NDSM-werf. 

If you are easily turned-off by rusty containers, abandoned warehouses, and abandoned submarines, then this is not the place for you. (But it’s all pretty damn cool.)

Unlike most restaurants in Amsterdam, Cafe Noorderlicht boasts a delicious, reasonably-priced menu with portions grand enough for the biggest Dutchie you can find.

5. Pllek

Tt. Neveritaweg 59, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Phone: + 31 20 290 0020


Less hidden than Cafe Noorderlicht, Pllek can easily be seen from the NDSM ferry. Pllek is a large cafe with a man-made beach, huge bean bag chairs, loungers, picnic tables, and plenty of eye-candy.  As for the food, it is classic, rugged, and classy all at the same time. Chips and salsa, oysters, and wild boar sausage with beluga lentils?! Sounds like a schizophrenic menu…but it works. For me Cafe Noorderlicht is better for a proper meal, but Pllek is great for a new, fun place to have a drink.

Where else should I try?


  One thought on “Top 5 summer hotspots for Amsterdammers

  1. August 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

    i’ve never been to noord amsterdam, it looks surprisingly hip! i’ll have to add that to my list. have you been to haarlem or to zandvoort aan zee? they’re both quite close to amsterdam. haarlem is a beautiful little city with lots of charm, terraces, old churches, and some of the best shopping in nl i’m told. and zandvoort aan zee is the nearby beach, which is just lovely with bars and food options as well. as a west coaster i mostly go to scheveningen but zanvoort aan zee is gorgeous too!

    • August 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      You are right sophie, Haarlem is great. Beautiful place for a day trip. I did a beer tasting with work at the Jopen brewery…yummm. Thanks for the shopping tip! I haven’t been there for shopping and I am not a fan of Kalverstraat in the Dam. Hopefully we get plenty more beach days as well.

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