Amsterdam Off the Beaten Path: 10 Hidden Gems

After thousands of pictures and feeling like you know the city even before you go for the first time, visiting Amsterdam off the beaten path may sound like a challenge. But it’s and definitely worth it.

Of course, there’s a reason why visitors to Amsterdam flock to its major attractions: the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House and those oh-so-Instagrammable little bridges dotted through the Jordaan (preferably with a paper cone full of fries, or a stroopwafel).

But there is another, less touristy, side to Amsterdam that mustn’t be missed. It’s hiding around the corner, if you know where to look…

Amsterdam off the beaten path streets
When going off the beaten path you’ll still find charming places everywhere. Photo credit: Robin Ooode

The Resistance Museum

The Anne Frank House is an attraction that you need to book weeks in advance to have a hope of seeing. If you want to visit it, make sure to do so.

For those of us who prefer a little more spontaneity (and less lines), there’s another way to experience Amsterdam’s unique Second World War history: the Resistance Museum in the Plantage neighborhood.

You’ll step back in time to hear personal stories from the resistance heroes and heroines who stood for Dutch freedom.

Insider’s Tip: This article is about lesser-known gems, but of course we still highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House. It remains an essential part of both the city’s and the world’s history, so make time for both if you can.

a poster inside the Resistance Museum Amsterdam
Mussert was the leader of the NSB or Nazi party in The Netherlands during the Second World War. Photo credit: Henk Bekker

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer–you’ll hear the names of the great Dutch artists everywhere in Amsterdam, and in the world. What about experiencing the contemporary art scene of the Netherlands, instead?

On Museumplein—the same verdant square in which you’ll find the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum—a lesser-known, but equally impressive gallery is hiding in plain sight: the Stedelijk.

The new wing is shaped like a giant bathtub, and hosts some of the most exciting exhibitions and installations in the city, including big names like performance artist Marina Abramović. 

Amsterdam off the beaten path
Discover the contemporary artists that people will be talking about for the next centuries. Photo credits: Liam McGarry

The Dappermarkt or Nieuwmarkt

Amsterdam’s markets are all frequented by locals and visitors alike, but it’s the Albert Cuypmarkt that’s written up in all the guidebooks. Because of this, expect crowds of tourists, especially in good weather.

If you prefer a little more breathing space, head to one of the lesser known markets. In Oost, the Dappermarkt is great for bargain hunting, whether food, fashion or flowers. And Nieuwmarkt is bang in the center of the city, but it’s brimming with organic goods—not tourists. 

Nieuwmarkt in Amsterdam off the beaten path
Nieuwmarkt is postcard-perfect, central and tourist-less. What else can you ask for? Photo credit: Gouwenaar

Eat the less-Instagrammed food

A quick peruse of the hashtag “amsterdamfood” on Instagram or TikTok will bring up the same few street food treats on repeat: Chocolate-covered strawberries overlooking a canal, stroopwafels posed perfectly, or some fries slathered in mayonnaise and satay sauce.

We’re not saying these aren’t delicious, but if you seek them out from mom-and-pop shops, they’re even more delicious.

Get your freshly pressed stroopwafels at one of the markets, and your fries at a local patat stand. This way, they’ll be half the price, a fraction of the waiting time, and no less tasty. Our Amsterdam street food guide is a good place to start, and our Amsterdam food tour is the perfect way to become a connoisseur well beyond the superficial. 

Fresh Stroopwafels in Amsterdam
Stroopwafels are always delicious, but freshly made, they’re on another level.

Shop until you drop on Czaar Peter Quarter (instead of the Nine Streets)

Perhaps because the Nine Streets are home to so many of those Instagrammable eateries, they’re often packed. Crowded shops are a difficult place to find a great deal. If only there was an alternative, right?

There’s a little known shopping street just east of the center where you’ll find everything, from artisan coffee houses, and posh sourdough bakeries, to boutique fashion and luxury homeware stores.

A dream come true: The Czaar Peter Quarter is generally quiet, never crowded, and has a friendly village vibe that’s hard to come by in a capital city. 

Boutique fashion and luxury
Explore boutique experiences and luxury homeware without crowds. Photo credit: A65 Design

Taste roti instead of rijsttafel (…actually, taste both!)

Amsterdam is famous for its Indonesian rijsttafel–and with good reason. Did you know Surinamese food is also famous in the city?

Don’t leave the city without trying roti: a Surinamese specialty. This flaky flatbread is served with a sauce-heavy curry (usually chicken), spiced potatoes, boiled egg, and kousenband (long and stringy green beans). Add sambal for extra spice.

rijsttafel in Amsterdam
A rijsttafel is something you must try, but explore Surinamese food for a surprise delight. Photo credit: Gourmandise

Relax in Park Frankendael

Amsterdammers are lucky to live in a very green city. During summer, the grass in Amsterdam’s biggest park (Vondelpark) is barely visible for all the bodies and BBQs.

If you really want to experience Amsterdam off the beaten path, head southeast to the leafy Park Frankendael (especially handy for dog owners as it has a lovely off-leash area for them), or west to Rembrandtpark for a more relaxed experience.

Park Frankendael in Amsterdam off the beaten path
During summer, or any time of the year where you want to connect with nature, Park Frankendael is a great option off the beaten path. Photo credit: P.H. Louw

Go north, away from the madding crowds

In the past couple of decades, Amsterdam Noord–the neighborhood that’s on the north side of the IJ River–has changed almost beyond recognition.

What were once old shipyards and disused warehouses are now hipster hubs for culture, creativity and cuisine.

Architecturally, it’s a world away from the quaint canal houses of the center of Amsterdam, which is perhaps why many tourists never make it that far. But they’re missing out: a short hop on the (free) ferry, or one stop on the metro, and you’ll discover a side to Amsterdam you’ve never seen before. 

Amsterdam Noord modern architecture
The modern architecture of Amsterdam Noord is quite a contrast with the images you expect from Amsterdam. Photo credit: François Genon

Rent a boat instead of taking a canal tour

Many people say that the best way to see Amsterdam is from the water. Although, it’s good to remember that getting on one of those giant hop-on-hop-off canal tour boats isn’t the only way to go about it.

Do as the locals do and rent a boat from one of the many sloepverhuur companies around the city. Just make sure one of you stays sober enough to drive it–and don’t forget to follow the one-way signs!

Rent a boat in Amsterdam
Rent a boat in Amsterdam to navigate the canals off the beaten path. Photo credit: Ronni Kurtz

Drink beer at a real Dutch brown café (instead of the Heineken Experience)

Cycling past the Heineken Experience is an exercise in dodging tourists who have strayed into the bike lane. But this does not need to be you.

Forego the Netherlands’ biggest export beer brand (you’ve had it before, anyway), and head to one of Amsterdam’s many brown cafés. Brimming with old-school character, these cafés were so called because of the tobacco-stained walls inside.

Nowadays, of course, you can’t smoke in them—but the décor remains. And so does the beer. Try something you won’t find at home: a Texels Skuumkoppe, a Jopen Blond, or a Natte from Amsterdam’s very own windmill brewery: Brouwerij ‘t IJ.

Brown Bar in Amsterdam off the beaten path
Relax and enjoy your beer. You’ve made it! You’re exploring Amsterdam off the beaten path. Photo credit: Bianca Polak
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About the author

David Farley is a West Village-based food and travel writer whose work appears regularly in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Food & Wine, among other publications. He’s the author of three books, including “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town,” which was made into a documentary by the National Geographic Channel. You can find Farley’s online homes at and

More by David Farley

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