When it comes to Amsterdam, a lot of people are quick to pass it judgement as Europe’s very own city of sin. From its liberal laws to its big electro music scene, a trip to Amsterdam is often a heavy weekend of drinking and partying for most of us. However, as a Brit who’s been living here for four years, I’m one to advocate that there’s so much more to this charming city. But if you’re just a visitor, you need to know where to look for it.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s quite easy to spend a healthy couple of days exploring the city as you take in it’s quirky buildings, rich history and easy-going culture. So, here’s my top tips for a well-balanced and fit-friendly day in Amsterdam.
Kick things off in the Vondelpark. I’m the kind of gal who needs to trick myself into exercising while I’m still half asleep so a couple of laps around the park is what wakes me up most mornings. Not into cardio? Don’t sweat it (er, actually…) â€“ there’s a whole bunch of boot camps that run throughout the day in Vondelpark too. Even better, there’s something for everyone. From classic full-body sessions with Vondelgym or The Trainers to Pregnant Aerobics and Krav Maga for seniors!
The best thing about exercising early doors? The feast that follows! More and more healthy breakfast hotspots are popping up around Amsterdam. Grab yourself a smoothie at Juice to Boost or Roots (the salted caramel is seriously the bomb), an acai bowl at Pluk or The Meets, or if you’re down to brunch then Staring at Jacob and Bakers & Roasters cannot be missed!
Rent A Bike
When in Amsterdam, cycling is the pretty much the safest and most sensible way to travel. But, if you’re only here to visit, try not to get caught up in the tourist traps. Avoid the brightly coloured and over-priced rental bike chains and instead head to Discount Bike Rental for a Dutch style bike that will help you blend seamlessly into the crowd.
Bouldering, Kayaking, renting a pedalo – Amsterdam plays host to a whole bunch of out-of-the-box activities to keep you moving. Plus, if you want to work out your brain as well, be sure to check out The Port Game for a thrilling mix of creativity, puzzles, and adrenaline.
After all that running around it’s time to take a coffee break and luckily good coffee is something that Amsterdam is not short of. Not to be confused with the city’s infamous coffeeshops, there’s plenty of effortlessly cool and quirky cafes to stop by for an afternoon pick-me-up. Toki, Quartier Putain, Lot Sixty One, Vinnies and Sweet Cup are my top five – plus they’re also full of cosy corners to set up your laptop should you have deadlines to meet!
Wander the Streets
Bicycle and boat may be the two transport options you don’t want to miss out on in Amsterdam, but luckily the size of this city means walking everywhere is also extremely easy. And when every corner you turn offers an Instagrammable canal framed by quirky, crooked houses, it’s nice to slow down the pace and take it all in.
Ease that Hanger
Amsterdam might be well-known for it’s fried goods and hugely popular burgers and ribs scene, but for those days that you don’t want to indulge there are plenty of healthy alternatives for dinner. Check out Bazar for some incredible African and Middle Eastern dishes, hit up Sla for a creative and aesthetic salad that will more than satisfy your hunger, or if you’re feeling like some Latin American then Huis van Lopez is an absolute must-visit.
Treat Yo’ Self
We all know that a healthy lifestyle means balance and if you’re in the mood for something sweet after dinner then there’s plenty of spots to satisfy that craving. On a Summer’s evening head to Monte Pelmo or Het Ijsboefje for some damn fine ice cream, or if cheesecake is more up your street then Festina Lente offers the best in town – and trust me, I’ve done more than my fair share of research! If you’re feeling a little more experimental then be sure to visit Chicks love Donuts in Amsterdam’s Foodhallen for a unique combination of sweet meets savoury – you won’t be disappointed!
And there we have it, a healthy guide to a day in Amsterdam. I hope you enjoy these lesser-known gems and feel free to send me your own favourite hotspots and hideouts!