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This post was written by Eliza Shaw and Katie Paterson from Flipit.com Singapore.
As one of Europe’s most visited cities, Amsterdam certainly doesn’t run short of interesting attractions for visitors to enjoy. Although the historical centre, with its network of picturesque canals and bustling café culture, continues to be a very satisfying place to spend your time in the city, heading a bit further afield promises an extremely rewarding alternative way to enjoy the Dutch capital.
Over the last decade, outer areas to the North and West of Amsterdam have increasingly become the more popular hangouts for those seeking to escape the tourist madness of the city’s centre. This year, all eyes are now on the East of Amsterdam – known as ‘Oost’ (pronounced ‘oast’). Not only is Oost the most exciting area to explore in Amsterdam at the moment, as hip new bars and restaurants continue to spring up on every corner at what feels like a daily rate, you can also use your time exploring Oost as an escape from the very well-trodden central tourist path. Here are a few of our favourite ways to enjoy what is quickly becoming one of Amsterdam’s most burgeoning regions – and just like a local!
1. Sink a beer at Amsterdam’s windmill Brewery
Visiting the east and not making a stop at the Brouwerij ‘t Ij is like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower. The Brouwerij ‘t ij is hugely popular amongst locals and tourists alike, and is famed not for its delicious, strong, organic craft beers priced at only 2.60 euro a glass. The brewery is also located under an iconic traditional Dutch windmill, with a large outside patio great for sunny days. Their long bench tables are perfect for accommodating bigger groups – just be sure to get there early to grab a good spot.
2. Hang out in one of the oldest zoos in Europe
Founded in 1838, Amsterdam’s Artis is one of the oldest zoos in mainland Europe. Located within the city’s old Jewish quarter, a visit to Artis is a family friendly activity that will also immerse you in Amsterdam’s complex history. As far as zoos go, this is about as pleasant and tranquil as it gets! Be sure to check out the aquarium and planetarium too, and keep an eye out for any bright green parrots, which you will then start to spot all over the east of Amsterdam. Following a brief escape from the bird sanctuary a few years ago these birds now populate the entire area!
3. Indulge in some local Dutch fusion cuisine
Amsterdam Oost is a really vibrant and multicultural area, and so with this comes some of the best Dutch fusion eateries. Ever heard of a ‘Kapsalon’? A layered concoction comprising of fries, doner or shawarma meat, melted Gouda cheese, salad greens, and topped off with a lathering of garlic- or hot sauce. Kapsalon is the epitome of Dutch-Turkish fusion food, and is something that must be indulged in when visiting Amsterdam. Oost’s Dappermarkt is home of the Kapsalon, so you’ll have a great collection of eateries to choose from. Our favourite is Kervan: the food is 100% halal and 100% delicious, and staff will always greet you with a smile.
4. Enjoy panoramic views of the city
On the 7th floor of what was previously the Volkskrant newspaper building (recently renovated into a hip boutique hotel dubbed Volkshotel) you will find Canvas op de 7e – a rooftop café-restaurant-bar-club with an impressive panoramic view of the entire city. The restaurant serves up some great value Dutch cuisine, but if you’re not hungry, you should at least grab a drink and take in the views. You won’t get the opportunity to see Amsterdam like this anywhere else in the city.
5. Take a wander through the Dappermarkt
Unlike many of the more popular markets in Amsterdam, the Dappermarkt is mostly frequented by locals, and so lacks much of the tacky, overpriced souvenirs found in markets in the centre of the city. The market runs daily (except Sundays) along the Dapperstraat – a long boulevard officially reserved for this purpose, and caters towards the area’s culturally diverse population (giving it the nickname ‘wereld markt’ or ‘world market’). Here you can find everything from clothes, electronics and household items, to flowers, vegetables and locally-farmed dairy produce. There are also great food stalls scattered throughout the market – we recommend the fried fish stands, and also grabbing a cone of dutch fries (frites) with mayonnaise and sambal (spicy Indonesian sauce) is a must.
6. Try out the local Jenever
The Distillerderij ‘t Nieuwe Diep is a small independent distillery which makes 100-batch jenevers (traditional Dutch gin), herbal bitters, liqueurs and fruit distillates from organic ingredients and age-old Dutch recipes. The distillery itself is in an old pumping station in the middle of Flevopark – on of the east’s most picturesque parks – and the outdoor terrace lies adjacent to a small lake which is gorgeous in the spring and summer. They also offer free guided tours every Friday at 4pm.
7. Dine in a greenhouse in the middle of a park
Situated in Frankendael Park between the iconic Rembrandt Tower and the nineteenth century facades of Watergraafsmeer, De Kas offers a unique dining experience within the glass walls of old converted greenhouses. As well as housing hungry diners, these greenhouses are also home to a vast array of seasonal produce, which is grown there and incorporated into De Kas’ diverse and daily-changing menu. They offer a three course set menu at 49.95 euro, and if you’re a real foodie you can enquire about reserving the exclusive table located inside the chef’s kitchen (up to 4 people) for a special set menu (130 euros incl. wine).
8. Catch a movie at Studio K warehouse
Studio K is a cinema, bar, organic restaurant and club – all rolled into one. A whole range of events and activities take place here, so it’s just a matter of checking out their agenda to see what’s going on when you’re in town. The cinema shows both new and golden oldie art house and cult movies, and the restaurant is tasty and affordable. For the night owls, the club opens on weekend nights (and sometimes during the week), playing a hugely diverse selection of music each night – from jazz to techno and R&B.
9. Basque in the sunshine on a man-made beach at Roest
Located in an old industrial estate in the Eastern Docklands, Roest is one of Amsterdam’s best hidden haunts. Hosted in an old steel works factory, you can enjoy dinner, dancing, market stalls, art installations, or hang out with local trendy families on Roest’s man-made sandy beach. With a relaxed bar atmosphere in the evenings, Roest is primarily frequented by Amsterdam’s more laid back clubbing crowd who are keen to avoid waiting in long queues and crave a cheeky little dance to an eclectic selection of music. The atmosphere is unpretentious, it’s free entry all night, and you can huddle round the bonfire, or indulge in a hotdog served from the converted double decker London bus-come-kitchen outside.
10. Take a tour of some of Amsterdam’s craziest architecture on Java Island
Anyone who knows anything about architecture will be familiar with Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands. Originally functioning as a port for Dutch East Indies trade, this area has played host to some of Amsterdam’s most innovative examples of modern architecture since its redevelopment in the 1990s. Be sure to take a stroll around the Docklands before leaving the area. Just trust us on this one – this sort of design is something best seen for yourself than making any attempt to describe!