Amsterdam is an alternative city compared to many other European capitals. But what if you want to see the more alternative side of an already alternative city? If you’ve checked off all of your travel guide’s recommendations and are at a loss what-to-do-next, follow this list for more less-known and alternative things to do in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Magic Show
The Amsterdam Magic Show is the only theater act performed in English that showcases magic and comedy. It’s set in a 20’s styled cabaret theater (think wood paneling and lush, red velvet curtains). The show is unique and stays current as the act changes every month. Every month world-class mentalists, illusionists and magicians from all over the world come together to awaken our childhood beliefs.
It takes place on the first or second Tuesday each month. There are only two shows a night (the early and late show), so make sure to book in advance as tickets sell out quickly!
Internet was founded so it’d connect the global community over a shared adoration for felines. Well not really. But, we can say for sure that some of the most viewed content on the web is in fact, of our furry masters. Anyone who has a cat knows that you do not own one, but it owns you. 🙂
Kattenkabinet is set in a fully restored, beautiful house from the 17th century. Besides being a historical landmark on its own, it hosts an incredible collection dedicated solely to cats in art, culture and history. Even if you’re not an avid cat enthusiast, it’s a welcomed break from the norm.
Commonly known as ‘The world’s first museum of fluorescent art’, the Electric Ladyland is a museum set in a basement. The museum displays a collection of fluorescent minerals, “thermal expansion” paintings (a painting technique discovered by the owner) and mineral artwork. You too, are an active part of the art, in the segment called “participatory art”.
The only thing that overshadows the museum is its owner, Nick Padallino. His vast knowledge on the subject and charismatic personality makes you want to listen to him for hours. If you want to bypass the magic truffles but still experience an Amsterdam trip – this museum is a perfect pick.
Other unusual museums are the Pipe museum, Vrolik Museum, Venustempel Sex Museum, Museum of Bags and Purses, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! and Red Lights Secrets – Prostitution museum.
Amsterdam Light Festival
Another attraction that puts Amsterdam on the map as the capital of magical entertainment. There aren’t any illusionists/magicians involved into organizing this festival as international architects, artists and (light) designers bring the real magic. Festival is held every winter, and it brings together new talent with a unified goal, to make Amsterdam vibrate warmth and pulsate with color during the coldest, darkest nights.
There are a lot of interesting tours on offer. Bike tours or culinary boat tours, just to name a few. Enjoying dutch delicacies and craft beer is a perfect addition to a light spectacle that’s displayed right in front of your eyes.
Probably one of the coolest neighborhoods in Europe, NDSM is a former shipyard now transformed into a creative hub. Kunststad (Art City) is located in the NDSM hangar where artists are continuously keeping busy creating. Alongside the riverbank there are a lot of restaurants, pubs and clubs. Visit IJ-kantine,Greenhouse Café Noorderlicht or try bungee jumping from a crane.
Restaurant de Kas
Majority of the time we completely desensitize from the food on our plate. How much effort and time it takes for that one potato to be on our plate. Restaurant de Kas puts you in a setting where you’re surrounded by the produce that’s going to end up on your plate. They differ from other restaurants, as their menu is created daily and only consists of things in season and harvested from their garden.
The restaurant is inside of a greenhouse that used to belong to Amsterdam’s Municipal Nursery. They describe their cooking style similar to the cuisines of the rural Mediterranean. The vegetable dishes are served in combination with meat or fish from local suppliers, but there are vegetarian options available.
The “dark dining” concept originated in Switzerland in 1999., with Blinde Kuh. Since then it has spread all over the world, from New York to Beijing.
The question you might be posing to yourself is, why would anyone desire to not see what they’re eating? Well, eliminating sense of sight, your other senses of taste and smell are heightened. At the Ctaste, the visually impaired staff will lead you to your table in a dark room. Before you enter you’ll choose a prefixed menu from a selection of cuisines, but the dishes they’ll be serving you are a surprise.
A burger joint located near Albert Cuypstraat in de Pijp. If the name of the restaurant is not self explanatory enough there’s a cow hanging upside down in the window display. So yes, beef burgers all around. What separates the Butcher from other burger joints is the secret bar located in the back. The same concept that made the cocktail bar Please Don’t Tell in New York City thrive among its competition. In order to be granted an entrance to the secret bar – you need to know the daily changed password.
Thanks to globalization, whatever country you’re in, you’ll find an H&M or a Forever21 anywhere. So why buy something at H&M in Amsterdam, when that same collection is probably displayed back at your home country? If you enjoy the hunt of something unique and want to purchase something characteristic of the country you’re visiting – you can never go wrong with street markets.
Antique market Amsterdam
Serious collectors fly to Amsterdam just to navigate through its 1750 square feet of lost artifacts. Don’t bring too much money as you won’t be able to resist.
Here you can get anything from jewelry, clothes to books or art pieces. If you’re in need of some organic ingredients for your dinner – you’re in luck as here you can find a vast array of different organic foods.
If street markets are your scene then you’ve probably heard of the Albert Cuypmarkt, Amsterdam’s busiest market. Whatever you’re in need of, the chances are you’ll find it here. I’d say that to make the most out of it spend at least half a day exploring. If you get hungry there are snack vendors, eateries and cafes all over the surrounding area. Haggling in Netherlands’ largest antique market is an experience of its own.
Other markets worth a visit include Waterlooplein Flea Market and of course Bloemenmarkt.
De Hallen is an early 20th century industrial building, now a center of the arts, fashion and most importantly, food. In this complex you can find a cinema (largest independent cinema), a boutique hotel, stores and Food Hallen – indoor food market with around 20 street vendors and a bar.
As mentioned, Amsterdam and its forward thinking inhabitants are great at putting old, unused spaces to new purposes. These are some of the noteworthy mentions that you should check out or even better stay at, for a different experience.
Faralda Crane Hotel is set in a 50 metres high harbour crane in NDSM shipyard.
Amstel Botel is a floating hotel in NDSM shipyard.
Hotel de Windketel is a private tower and once part of the municipal waterworks.
The Lloyd, world’s first 1-5 star Hotel. Its role throughout the years has been changed often, serving first as a refugee center, detention center, juvenile detention center and artist studios.
Amsterdam is on the pricier side and unfortunately not all of us can afford to stay at Hotel de Windketel. However there’s always a demand for cheap short stay Amsterdam accommodation so you’ll surely find something suitable for your budget.