Amsterdam, The Netherlands


This week I’m in Amsterdam drinking strong black coffee with local Machteld Ligtvoet, who gives me some tips on some of his favourite local haunts – including where you can go to find the best city views.

So, you’ve brought me to your favourite cafe/bar – tell me about it.
We’re at Stanislavski – a sleek and elegant cafe and restaurant which is open all day and serves good coffee, as well as wine and meals. It’s very central and is located in our beautiful city theatre on Leidseplein. It’s very convenient too, after you’ve finished your coffee you can also go to the Last Minute Ticket Shop to buy tickets for concerts and shows that very same evening.

Mmm… this is good, what are we drinking?
We are drinking coffee – good black coffee without sugar or milk. A great way to start a day in Amsterdam.

What are your favourite local dishes?
I would say a bittergarnituur – a plate full of various small savoury bites that go very well with pre-dinner drinks at a bar. Pork, cheese, chicken – there are many varieties.

And where would you suggest I go to find these?
The best bittergarnituur is served in one of the many real brown cafés we have. Brown cafes are to Amsterdam what local pubs are to cities in the UK, everyone has their local and the atmosphere is laidback and friendly. They are called brown cafes because they feature dark wood panels and furniture, and discoloured walls from years of smoking guests.

The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
Amsterdam is best explored on foot and one of my favourite things to do here is to just go for a stroll along the canals. Here you can see lovely 17th century houses, many beautiful bridges and lots of charming shops and coffee bars.

And if it rains?
Go to the EYE Film Institute. You can take the free ferry from Central Station and within 2 minutes you’ll arive at this futuristic building. It really is an eye catcher! Here they serve coffee, but also lunches, dinners and wine. You can have a look at a part of their film collection (free of charge), enjoy the impressive view over the river, and also go to the cinema – all under one roof.

If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
Take a canal boat and enjoy Amsterdam from the water – this is where life in the city really happens, you’ll seem some pretty impressive views too.

Give me a local tip that other tourists wouldn’t usually know…
The Central Library next to Central Station is open 7 days a week and offers an extensive collection of books, CDs, DVDs and newspapers. If you want to see one of the best views of the city, head up to the roof top bar/restaurant.

Image Credit: Amsterdam Mediabank/Constant Broeren