Top 10 things to do in Amsterdam

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 12:47 29/05/2014

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Amsterdam is known for its museums, canals, coffeeshops and red-light district, but if you're looking to experience Amsterdam without following the guidebook every step of the way, here are 10 things that are quintessentially Dutch but slightly more obscure.

ALBERT CUYP MARKET

The Albert Cuyp Market is the largest street market in the Netherlands, with everything from tacky souvenirs to clothes and bike chains, and all the flowers and fresh food you could imagine.

The market, which has been operating since 1905, is frequented by locals and tourists.

The stalls bursting with fruit, vegetables, flowers, seafood, cheese, baked goods and sweets add to the colourful commotion of the market, which spans three blocks.

The market is open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm, at Albert Cuypstraat.

CHIPS IN A CONE AND OTHER TRADITIONAL STREET FOOD

Wherever you turn in central Amsterdam there is a hot-chip stall, trailer or shop waiting to help satisfy your appetite.

There's nothing special about these chips, but they come in a paper cone.

While you have to pay almost $1 extra for sauce, the vendors are generous with their saucing and overall they are as cheap as chips.

If you want to try slightly more traditional forms of fast food there are waffles, pancakes, mini-pancake puffs, known as poffertjes, and herrings in a bun.

WALK DOWN UTECHTSESTRAAT

Windowshop, browse, buy and eat at the fashion boutiques, concept stores, cute cafes, bars and delis dotted along this street.

The street, which was built in the late 1600s, became a sustainable street in 2012 after a four-year makeover.

The street has kept its old feel but the pipes have been relaid and smart energy meters have been put in.

The street's entrepreneurs and independent business owners got behind the revamp, which was paid for by businesses and public-private organisation Amsterdam Smart City.

SHOPPING IN THE NINE STREETS

If you aren't shopped out after Utechtsestraat, head to the nine streets, to the north of the central city, for more boutique fashion stores and vintage-clothing shops.

This area is nice for a stroll, with its beautiful old buildings and hanging plants. The area is made up of nine streets divided by the canals.

TAKE A CANAL TRIP

It's horribly touristy but you have to take a tour along the canals during your stay in Amsterdam.

The water is pretty murky, but the ride is smooth and relaxing, passing picturesque buildings and under old stone bridges.

There are several cruises to chose from, whether you want a bit of luxury with drinks, food and entertainment or to just lie back and soak in the sun and sights.

Canal trips last upwards of an hour and can be booked online at information and travel agents or at cruise offices along the main canals.

GET A BURGER AT THE BUTCHER

If you're looking for a tasty, no-fuss meal, The Butcher does burgers bursting with flavour, using fresh ingredients.

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The unassuming burger joint in De Pijp, down the same street as the Albert Cuyp Market, has a casual but cool decor, with eat-in, take-out and delivery options.

There are vegetarian options, as well as beef, chicken, fish and even New Zealand lamb burgers.

The Butcher is open seven days from 11am to late at Albert Cuypstraat 129.

CYCLE THROUGH THE CITY IN THE EVENING

Not only is it quintessentially Dutch, the best way to see the city is from the back of a bike.

Jumping on a bike makes you feel like you're one of the locals, though it's quickly obvious who are the locals and who are the holidaymakers.

Tourists can absorb the sights at a nice place astride a bike, which can be hired around town or from hostels and hotels.

If you're not overly confident on a bicycle, Vondelpark is the perfect place to go for a ride in the evening. There are cycling tracks through the park and, like in the rest of the city, cyclists have priority.

TRY A COCKTAIL AT HUGO'S

After a long day of sightseeing, it's imperative to sit back with a good drink.

The Netherlands is known for its beer, but a host of trendy cocktail bars are popping up around Amsterdam, and Hugo's is popular with tourists and locals.

Hugo's is open seven days from 3pm to late at Hugo de Grootplein 10.

GO TO KIWI CAFE BAKERS & ROASTERS

This little Kiwi cafe is a slice of home away from home.

It's been open for about a year and is popular with expatriates and tourists.

It is situated between Museum Square and the Albert Cuyp Market.

If you're missing New Zealand, or just a good flat white, Bakers & Roasters has all the Kiwi favourites, including a hearty brunch and lolly slice.

Bakers & Roasters is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9.30am to 4pm, at Eerste Jacob van Campenstraat 54

RED-LIGHT DISTRICT AND COFFEESHOPS

This is an experience best saved until the end, not because it's the best but because you could risk getting the wrong impression of Amsterdam if you head straight for this area of town, known to locals as the Rossebuurt.

Tourist reports out of Amsterdam would have you believe it's all weed-laden brownies and prostitutes in neon windows.

While there's an element of that, this area of town is relatively small.

If you are curious to see what it's all about, you can stroll down the streets without partaking during the day or when things come alive at night.

Or you can have a more interactive experience with sex shows, girls for hire and a wide variety of coffeeshops to choose from.

If you want more information on cannabis and coffee shops there are information centres, or you can ask coffeeshop staff.

But remember not to take photos of the girls in the windows when visiting this side of town.

Laura Walters travelled to Amsterdam courtesy of Booking.com.

- Stuff

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