Let’s go back to that all-important California mantra for a moment… location-locatio-location!
Whenever I travel to a city, I look for the spot where I can see the whole. The sweep. The majesty. The church spires. The clock towers. The locals. The flow of moments.
Sometimes that means climbing a tourist-thronged spot like the Eiffel Tower, sometimes it means finding the spot where only the locals go. Sometimes it means following a hunch. Sometimes you have to do the research to find that somewhere… Somewhere that you can see the many facets of a place – because no place is ALL about spires or ALL about ruins or ALL about skyscrapers.
I like trying to go where the locals go :)
So here is a list of spots where you can get a view of Amsterdam (or of different parts of Amsterdam.) All beautiful :)
1. Café Riva, Amstelboulevard
I’ve talked about this lovely café-restaurant before. (Click here for that blog.) A great new spot to sit and enjoy an incredible view of the Amstel river, of the boats coming by, of the locals sipping mint tea or a beer, or the flow of the city. Not only a great spot to enjoy the sun, it’s worth it to go and enjoy the view as well. You may not see the traditional 14th-century church spire, but you’ll get a good sense of what Amsterdam feels like for locals :)
2. Blue°, Kalvertoren
This is a lovely place for views of central and historic Amsterdam, AND to get out of the rain. (Welcome to Northern Europe people!) This café has a 360° view, really yummy tosti options (think toasted paninis, Amsterdam’s version is often with non-panini type bread… here it’s with a thick sourdough. Try my fav, with goat cheese and a pear chutney.) They have two levels where you can enjoy the view. But even more than that, they have GOOD service! A rarity in Amsterdam! The bummer, they close at 6pm every evening :( Still… a good place to take a break from chaos and noise of the shopping areas.
3. Canvas 7, Wibautstraat 150
Situated in what was once the cafeteria of the former Dutch Volkskrant building (a newspaper), this space has an incredible terrace and view of all of Amsterdam -the old, the new and the ugly. And there is LOTS of ugly in the lobby and the elevator taking you up to the café. Just pretend you are in New York City and that the smell of stale booze and sight of tons of graffiti is totally normal… and then you get your reward. Up on the 7th floor is a café with music that is not annoying (at least during the day – in the evening this turns into a disco, hence the graffiti and the smell), as well as good apple tart and a view that makes the bit of grime worth it.
4. Wilhelmina-dok, Noordwal 1
A five-minute free ferry ride from Amsterdam Central train station to cross the Ij River holds lots of possibilities for views, sunshine, and good food. We’ve visited the ride on the Buiksloterweg ferry and the Eye Film Museum before (and Café de Pont’s yummy tapas). But you can also take the Ijplein ferry, walk off and head to the right for the Wilhelmina-dok café and restaurant. If the weather is good, this is a perfect place to sit and watch the boats sail to within a couple feet, watch the crowds over at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t Ij, Amsterdam’s ultra-modern concrete and glass structure which
houses concerts and also a nice spot for a glass of something and a view (and is actually very nice considering the concrete and the glass.) The ambience, the view back towards the city that seems suddenly perfect and peaceful, the water lapping, the almost-decent pizza… all add up to a good evening!
5. Go to the Library! (Amsterdam Central Library, Oosterdok)
You may not be the type to go to this cathedral to books and learning when traveling, but I sure am! The first time I came here I was a visitor to Amsterdam. Now, as a local, it’s one of my favorite places for a cup of coffee, or for a super reasonably priced and very tasty fresh dinner (A FIND in Amsterdam!) in
the cafe on the top floor. I remember thinking, “If all libraries had this much invested into them, we’d have WAY less problems in the world!” I had traveled quite a distance from temporary trailers on bricks that makes up most library structures in San Diego! But not only is this library an incredible architectural space to visit (inside and out), it’s also a place where you can get online easily, and where you can have a great meal with a stunning view of the old and new Amsterdam’s central area. It’s one of my favorites and highly recommended!