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17 unexpected things to do in Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is known for a few things – canal boats, coffee shops, gingerbread houses, the Anne Frank annex, that giant IAmsterdam sign, red lights, tulips, space cakes, clogs...

With so many essential things to see, it can be hard to track down the off-the-beaten-track, lesser known spots that make the city what it is. But luckily, that’s what we’re here for.

Here are a few things that you should do – from feasting at the city’s only purveyor of macaroons, to yoga with farm animals, to investigating the causes of the Russian Revolution.

1. Visit Abraxas Coffeeshop

Hidden in an alleyway off one of the city’s most generic shopping streets, the delightfully hippy Abraxas offers everything you need from an Amsterdam coffeeshop – whether that’s espresso or something a little bit stronger.

2. Get your balance with farm animals

With goat yoga at Amsterdame Bos, which is exactly what it sounds like. Cake and (goat’s milk) cappuccino included.

Always a warm welcome before the yoga class at the goat farm:) #yoga#love#farm#Sundaymorning

A post shared by Brenda Bood (@yogalesje.nl) on

3. Be inspired by the Startblok project

Startblok is a “unique housing project for socially involved people”, which sees young people, students, job-seekers and recently arrived refugees aged between 18 and 27 live together and “take initiatives to organise learning, sports and cultural related activities and events” that help them begin their life in the city.

4. Hear stories on the Lampedusa Canal Tour

Canal tours are ten a penny in Amsterdam, but this one is led by refugees themselves and delves into the history of displaced people in the city – from Anne Frank to Spinoza.

5. Drink up at the House of Bols Experience

Avoid the queues at the Heineken Experience and visit the House of Bols, where you can learn about the history of Dutch boozing (a true national pastime) before learning the art of mixology yourself.

mAdNeSs mAKes sAnE #amsterdam #houseofbols #crazypeople

A post shared by Andrea Carocci (@andreacarocci) on

6. Stay at Generator Amsterdam

In just a few short years, Generator has embedded its deluxe brand of hostelling into the most culturally inspiring corners of Europe’s best cities. At Generator Amsterdam you’ll find views of Oosterpark, street art and comfort, all in the heart of creative De Pijp. There’s even an auditorium bar. It’s about more than just sleeping.

Color my life happy #generatoramsterdam

A post shared by Alvin Tjitrowirjo (@alvin_tjitrowirjo) on

7. Uncover the history of the Romanovs at the Hermitage Museum

2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, and the Hermitage Museum is charting how the 300-year-old dynasty fell apart. Until 17th September.

8. See the city from a different angle

Stand in the window at the Red Light Secrets Museum of Prostitution, a tiny and easily overlooked museum – and former brothel – in the heart of the Red Light District. It’s a visit that will make you challenge your preconceptions head-on.

9. Grab lunch at the Yada Yada

Yada Yada is a street food and crafts market at Hembrug Eventpark (also known as Taets), housed in two canalside warehouses near Westerspoor.

Open Friday and Saturday 4pm – 10pm, Sunday 12 noon – 8pm

10. Catch a film in a historic building

The student-run Kriterion film theatre, founded in 1945 by resistance fighters, is a living example of Amsterdam’s often dangerous history.

Dank allen voor jullie komst bij Existentialisme Café, onze samenwerking met Filosofie Magazine. #filosofiemagazine #kriterion

A post shared by Filmtheater Kriterion (@kriterionamsterdam) on

11. Brighten your afternoon with an English tradition

Yes, you can still get afternoon tea in the Netherlands – try those offered at T Eten & Drinken, which are more than a little bit decedent.

12. Recharge with a pile of carbs

Plancius Restaurant, a former rehearsal and performance space founded by Jewish choral society in the late 19th Century, is now full of hearty munch – think pasta, burgers, and everything else you need after a tiring day of history, beer and canal tours.

13. Track down Amsterdam’s only shop dedicated to macaroons

It’s name is Poptasi Pastry, and you need to go there.

Last weekend toughest decisions... So many flavours! #macaron #macaroon #poptasipastry

A post shared by Sooph's Choice (@soophschoice) on

14. Get your game on

At the Arcade Hotel, a hotel dedicated entirely to gamers. Lost weekends start – and end – here.

15. Ponder the past at the Resistance Museum

Aka the Verzetmuseum, the verified best historical museum of The Netherlands, which tells the story of the Dutch population during World War Two.

16. Brunch at Nescio

The corner. #nescioamsterdam #goodfood #genlove #generatorhostelamsterdam

A post shared by Nescio Amsterdam (@nescioamsterdam) on

Pastel tones, art that reflects the city it was created in, local coffee roasters – Generator Amsterdam’s new restaurant allows you to start your day of exploring with anything from a Benedict bagel to a bowl of Coco Pops. Blissful. 

17. Drink and dance before rolling into bed

At Generator Amsterdam’s Oosterbar, the intimate new night bar that features local DJs and where people can come to indulge in music, dance, hang out and have a good time. Book a room upstairs and save on your taxi fare.

Book your weekend at Generator Amsterdam here.

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