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AMSTERDAM TOP 10 SUMMER TIPS

ACCORDING TO BOOM CHICAGO

BEST TIPS FOR AMSTERDAM IN SUMMER SEASON 2022

Don’t listen to some online ticket seller to tell you what is good. Trust smart insiders who are fun, funny and go out themselves! Also, please buy direct from the venue. The people working hard deserve your support, not the middleman. Amsterdam Summer is open and better than ever – enjoy our top 10 Amsterdam Summer Tips!

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
1. Start with the Cultural Big Boys

a group of people standing in front of a building

Van Gogh Museum

Don’t be too cool for school. They’re famous for a reason. Begin with the Anne Frank House  which is important and impressive. There are many great museums, but for the modest art fan, The Van Gogh Musuem is your stop for the only-one-museum visitor. In addition to the permanent collection, the Olive Groves exhibit (until June 12) is a well-visualized, small collection of paintings from his time in the institution in St. Remy. The accompanying human story adds so much to this perfect example of an engaging, modern art exhibit. 

The excellent Rijskmuseum is of course the grandaddy and home to Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Less famous is the Grachtenhuis (HRACHT-en house)/Museum of the Canals, a small museum about the development of Amsterdam’s canals in the historic building where John Adams went to (and got) financing for the American Revolution!

 

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
2. See a World-Famous Boom Chicago Comedy Show

Boom Chicago: Into the Metaverse | Meta Luck Next Time

The creative ensemble has been making sketch and improv comedy for locals (in English) for more than 25 years. Why are their shows so funny? Great talent! Plus drinking and laughing go well together…

Boom Chicago launched the careers of many great writers and performers including Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele, Jason Sudeikis and the other creators of Ted Lasso. Also Amber Ruffin, Ike Barinholtz, Kay Cannon, and Brendan Hunt. We could go on… Best of all, the next generation of superstars is on stage right now.

For their latest show, Boom Chicago goes into the metaverse! Well, to the edge of the metaverse, since it is a live comedy show. Our group including a software developer (techie) and a fashion influencer (not). We all laughed a lot! Meta Luck Next Time plays on Thursdays and Saturdays. 

Fridays Improv Spectacular is the fast and funny improvisation comedy they are famous for. And Wednesdays, Musical Improv Spectacular adds an impressive dimension plus a local hero to tell stories that inspire the action. Rozengracht 117. boomchicago.nl, Shows Wed-Sun.

 

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
3. Bike Out of Town — Three Possible Destinations

a large ship in a body of water

Zaanse Schans

Some people are wimps about biking in Amsterdam. First of all: You can do it. There are proper separated bike paths on most streets. Traffic lights are easy to negotiate, but there are no stop signs. At unmarked intersections, the vehicle (bike or car) on the right has right of way. Right=right. Taxis and Ubers (blue license plates) always follow the rules as do most cars. With this knowledge, the chaos makes more sense.

Biking out of town is even easier. There are three great destinations for those who can bike without getting winded. Do you want zip lines, a bike down the Amstel river or see the windmills from those classic paintings?

One: Bike to Fun Forest. In Amstelveen (Umstel-FEEN), a leafy suburb about 20 minutes away, there is a fun ropes course in the trees with zip lines. Do you have teenage kids? Then you will both like it. Are you active adult friends? Then you will all like it. After a short safety talk and equipment training, you’re off. There are different levels of difficulty starting at scaredy cat up to, bom bom bom: The black course.  

Two: Bike to Oude Kerk aan de Amstel. 45 minutes down the Amstel is a sleepy town that translates to Old Church. More interesting than the old church is the rope ferry where strong Dutch men pull the ferry raft across the river with their muscles. Mmmm… 

All that watching will make you hungry. There are lovely café/restaurants there on the west side of the water for you to get energy and a buzz on for your return ride back to Amsterdam. Go down one side of the river there and take the other side back. You’ll even go by a windmill! Mr. Google will help you out here.         

Three: Bike to the Zaanse Schans (ZAHN-se SKUHNZ). About 80 minutes to the north are the windmills you dream about. They sit on a bend of the river and there are ten of them. You can go in them and feel the power they generate as they rotate near you and shake the building. This power back in the 1500s, in a time before electricity, is what made Holland great. 

Drain a polder to make farmland? Mill grain to make bread before we had the word factory? Or just get the local ladies’ hearts to flutter. There was nothing a windmill couldn’t do in the old days. And it’s great to see them in action up close. There are museums there and lovely towns with shops and cute cafes. It’s like the metaverse but real. If you don’t want to bike back, there is a train there that runs twice an hour and you can bring your bike on it. Google the bike directions. Trains go from Zaandijk Zaansche Schans twice an hour to Amsterdam Centraal (also possible with a bike — Technically you need an additional bike ticket. Technically.) Walk 15 minutes through the cute town to the station. 

For a no bike solution, Connexxion Bus 391 (GVB tram/bus tickets and NS train tickets are NOT valid) goes right there from Centraal Station usually four times an hour skipping the town. No bike transport.

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
4. Eat Brunch Seven Days a Week

a group of people sitting at a table in a restaurant

Dignita Hoftuin

Dutch Brunch is much better than what you are used to. It takes the peerless, American brunch DNA and adds a quirky Amsterdam flavor. Enjoy the expected eggs, pancakes, and things with avocados plus surprises that you will not find in New York. For drinks these places serve affordable bubbles, G&Ts, Bloody Mary’s and undoubtably a fun cocktail menu. These days dry drinkers are not teased, but catered to. What a world we live in!

Small places can be hard to get into so reserve online for sure. Any of these places will make you happy and most do brunch every day. Bakers and Roasters (no planning or reservations; get in line online when you want a table). Gs Brunch Boat  adds a hip hop flavor. All three Dignita locations are good, but the one behind the Hermitage Museum is truly lovely in an interior courtyard (The powerful National Holocaust Names Monument is also next door and worth a stop). A hair less impressive, but still good is Breakfast Club. Drovers Dog is vaguely more Australian, kinda sorta.

 

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
5. Explore New Experiences Across the IJ (EYE)

Eye Museum

Let us be the hundredth person to tell you how hot Amsterdam North is. In addition to cool bars, restaurants and creative spaces, you can also explore trippy new worlds in Noord. From top quality flying theaters to digital museums to state of the art free-range VR, it’s all a free ferry ride away. 

Take your bike on the frequent, free ferry F3 across to Buiksloterweg (or walk). See if bar/venue Tolhuistuin  is worth a stop on your way to EYE Film Museum/Cinema. Watch and celebrate Art and classic films, traveling exhibits and frequently an (also in English) exhibit about a quirky Dutch filmmaker. That’s the (occasional) hidden gem here. Kids under 17 are free in exhibits (but they will usually be bored). They have a nice café and restaurant with a view. Eyefilm.nl

Then go (or skip) the A’dam Tower and its fine observation deck with (upcharge) swing ride. Better is This Is Holland, a flying theater style attraction in the spirit of Disneyland’s Soaring. Don’t be snide. This tourist attraction is good. €17 or 3 people for €42. Thisisholland.com

Next, it’s on to Lightning VR, the first big free roam VR operator in Amsterdam. No disrespect to Beat Sabre and other VR arcade games, but to impress us you have to be able to walk around a room to feel immersive. Mini VR games (like the fun Beat Sabre) are included as a warm up to the 20 minute main event. €25 per person. The newest experience is The Heist so probably start there. This is also a short walk from Noorderpark metro station (line M52). Afternoon and evening hours. Closed Mon & Tue. Lighningvr.com

Finally, a block farther is NXT Museum  (pronounced Next), dedicated to new media art with large, multi-sensory exhibitions. Their first production was Shifting Priorities, a loose collection of eight separate works created by artists, designers, scientists, musicians and technologists, whatever they are. The exhibit explored ‘human experience and interaction in the face of social and technological change.’ I’m sure that will also describe their as of yet unannounced new exhibit for the summer. Still, we expect it to be cool! Full price tickets €24,50. Open 10:00 – 20:30 or longer. nxtmuseum.com. Asterweg 22. Also a short walk from Noorderpark metro station (line M52).

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
6. Enjoy Hip Eating and Drinking in Noord 

a group of people sitting at a dock

Cafe De Ceuvel

After the digital fun, it’s time for food and drinks. Accessible by free ferry F3 and F4 or from Noorderpark metro station (M52), there are not just cool restaurants but cool districts to explore. All of these restaurants are excellent and most will not even break the bank. In Amsterdam cool places are strangely affordable. Americans remember, tax and half the tip are included in all restaurant and bar prices. With tax and tip, wine costs EUR 5-6 a glass not $15.

Next to NXT Museum, hidden in an industrial area is Bacalar, a delicious Mexican place that is so cool they don’t have their menu on the website. Chrysantenstraat 4.

A 15 minute walk or a short bike ride away is a bunch of great places in the creative, but still lightly industrial area further north. Our favorite is the Corner Store (not to be confused with The Corner in Amsterdam Zuid). It has modern food and affordable wines in an industrial–sober décor. DJs spin vinyl on real record players. Although it attracts a beautiful crowd, it is accessible at the same time. Papaverweg 11. 

Very close by is Ceuvel (KEAU-vil), a cool but casual, hippyish bar/café on the water. It’s a great place to sit in the sun and is unique enough to work in the rain too. Some funky galleries and offices also sit on that terrain. Korte Papaverweg 2, deceuvel.nl 

And around the corner you’ll find Taverno, a German restaurant that straddles the line between kitch and real. Of course anything German outside of Germany is somehow a little funny. Papaverhoek 31,

The last three are a ten minute walk from Noorderpark metro station (line M52) or take Connexxion buses 391 or 394 from Centraal Station to Mosplein. GVB tickets not valid on Connexxion buses. Cash not accepted on buses. 

In NDSM, a different part of the North, enjoy the fantastic Heiling 7 , the kind of restaurant that Amsterdam does so well. It’s a beautiful, tiered industrial space but with tablecloths. It’s nice and fancy, but in a modest, understated way. While not cheap, the bill is so much less than if it were in any other capital city (OK, Berlin is more affordable). With an outdoor area on the Ij river, it’s even better in nice weather. When you make more money, you graduate from going to Ceuvel to going  here. Take free ferry F4 to NDSM (leaves at least at :15 and :45 after the hour and every 15 minutes during rush hours and on the weekends.) Ride outside in front and enjoy the 15 beautiful, peaceful, wonderful minutes. Then it’s a 12 minute walk.

Also worthwhile in NDSM are Plekk, (yes with two k’s) built out of industrial sea containers. Noorderlicht, a fun but more inexpensive option (closed Mon-Tue).  For a café, our favorite place there is the industrial, but warm Ijver (EYE-fer). They have an attractive, but not arrogant staff (and clientele) who serve 18 beers on tap, good wine as well plus acceptable bar snacks. These three are a short walk from the free F4 NDSM ferry.

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
7. Try High Tech Thrills near Sloterdijk Station

a group of people standing on a stage

VRGH Arena

Back in my day, Sloterdijk (slo-ter-DIKE) was a bland office building neighborhood where you reluctantly stayed to save money at a B-brand chain hotel. Holiday Inn Express anyone? But thanks to the glut of office space, more buildings have converted to (slightly) nicer hotels and now… Here come the cool, trippy attractions! 

Two fun ones have opened up nearby. First VRGH or VR Game House moved to a large space they call the VRGH Arena. With a giant free roam space, they offer more violent shooters and non-violent family games. Their proprietary system tracks the movement of your hands and feet as well as your body with additional sensors. Groups of 2-15 can play at once. €50 per person for the new stuff (includes VR mini games to warm up) €40 for the older stuff. Gyroscoopweg 102,

Then the party and festival organizers ID&T got into the trippy-artsy-visual-audio-gallery-museum-attraction-space this year with Amaze. While it’s no Meow Wolf, it is pretty cool. I’m not saying it’s a place to do drugs, but if you were the sort of person who did… €27 per person or less. Elementenstraat 25.

Both VRGH and Amaze are technically closer to Isolaterweg metro stop (line M50 and M51) than Sloterdijk Station (train and metro M50 and M51). Bus 22 goes frequently from Centraal Station (towards Sloterdijk) to Kabelweg. The metro and bus are run by GVB. The train needs an NS train ticket. But who are we kidding? You’re taking an Uber.

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
8. Dance Music and Graffiti Museums —
Street Culture is All Grown Up

a screen shot of a video game

Our House Museum

It wasn’t that long ago when the dance music scene, although huge, was still underground. Dismissed as a place for kids to do drugs, the scene never had the mainstream respect. Now dance music is big business with well-run festivals with A-list sponsors and big fashion brands. The pills might still be there, but a bit less blatantly. Now they go into your bra or socks at the gate. 

Likewise graffiti has come out from under the bridge and its best creators are appreciated as artists. It too has its very own museum: STRAAT.

The newest museum in Amsterdam is Our House, the first museum dedicated to house music and the incredible role Holland has had in the scene over the years. 40 years later, DJs are now global superstars that can play stadiums and fans can be in their 60s. Time for a museum to celebrate the global phenomenon with such an important Dutch component. Amstelstraat 24, near Rembrandtplein, €24,95 or less. Takes 60-75 minutes

After a 15 minute, wonderful ride on the free ferry F4 from Centraal Station (depart at :15 and :45 after the hour plus :00 and :30 in busy times), you arrive at NDSM for two creative outposts. STRAAT, the Street Art Museum is a legitimate place dedicated to graffiti art. Hidden above the gift shop was one of our favorite parts: a small gallery dedicated to Cornbread, the first graffiti artist in the late 1960s. The story of him graffitiing a plane on the tarmac at the Philadelphia airport why screaming fans focused on the Jackson Five distracted everyone is an amazing story. 

The museum does ask the question if you take street art off the street and put it in a museum is it still street art? We say sure. But the museum also says they are different from a gatekeeper-controlled, curated gallery system. That point is weaker. Theirs is also a commissioned and curated system, just with younger and more diverse artists.

Sharing an anti-capitalist vibe is next door’s NDSM Loods (LOHDS), a subsidized workspace for artists. If you qualify you can rent a shabby chic studio here to work in a variety of media. The creative energy abounds even if these are not public galleries. Still with the right attitude, you can start up conversations with artists and who knows what might happen from there…. There is a modest exhibition space up a flight of stairs with rotating programs and a small bar. NDSM Plein 85

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
9. Floriade and other Flower Options

a group of people flying kites on a flower

Floriade Almere

It’s once every four years once again! And either the lamest or the coolest event is back, depending on your worldview. Floriade is the world’s best flower, garden and green cities exposition which will draw many and bore some.

Now if you think an incredible botanical gardens sounds like a place where old people, with an emphasis on German old people, like to stroll, you would be right. But it’s also beautiful, peaceful, natural and a great half day trip… Chill friends, zen couples, dope smokers, and parents with babies will all love a day in the green on the water in Almere. Yes Almere, the lamest city in the Netherlands where some of the most closed-minded Dutch people live. From Centraal Station, it’s an easy 30 minute intercity train ride (one stop) and then you transfer to a shuttle bus to the fairgrounds. Check out floriade.nl. You will know immediately if it is for you. 

From Almere station, there are two options. Floriade shuttle bus from the station, €5 return. 

Nicer is the Floriade shuttle boat, which departs at Pier Esplande, a ten minute walk south from the station. €4,50 return, 15 minute ride. Try not to just miss either the bus or the boat. The next one could come quickly or not as quickly as you would like.

Finally, if you are starting at Amsterdam Amstel station, skip the train and Almere center all together. Take AllGo Bus 327 to Almere Stad ‘t Oor (het OHR). It runs twice an hour (towards Almere Haven). From there it is a 15 minute walk to Floriade. (No shuttle bus or boat necessary.) Amsterdam GVB tickets are not valid on AllGo. Use your OV card or pay €8,50 for an off-peak return on the bus, valid weekdays 9am-4pm or after 6:30, and all day weekends. No cash accepted on the bus. Only cards with pin.   

For those who want more of a flower ‘attraction,’ there is Floriworld. The people behind the Heineken Experience (not bad) brought their creativity to Aalsmeer, home of the flower auction and the center of the Dutch flower trade. The museum-attraction is fun, but I wouldn’t put it on the must see list, but we liked it. For most people I would see it as an add-on to visiting the early morning flower auction which is something to behold! Take Connexxion bus 357 from Leidseplein or Museumplein. It’s 45 minutes towards Aalsmeer Busstation to the Floriworld stop. Buses run frequently. GVB cards are not valid on Connexxion buses. Cash is not accepted on the bus, only cards with pin.

AMSTERDAM SUMMER TIP
10. Go to the Efteling Amusement Park

a group of people walking in front of Efteling

De Efteling Amusement Park

In America we build Amusement Parks in parking lots. Here they built a great one in a forest: Efteling. Although the rides are not as bigger-stronger-faster as those at Walibi, there sense of magic and enchantment of Efteling is hard to escape. It’s more Disneyland (or Dollywood) than Six Flags, but it’s big and lovely. There are four great roller coasters and the Python a solid, looping coaster built a long time ago. Fantasy rides like Dream Flight, Villa Volta and Symbolica will delight and there is a surprise around many corners. The original section dedicated to fairy tales is still worth a walk, especially if you are high. Well, the whole park is great when you are high. Now about those truffle mushrooms…

A peak admission ticket is only €45 and can even be a few euros less on quieter days. Take that Disney! More info at Efteling.nl

Click here for the best travel advice and the cheapest Efteling tickets (Spoiler alert: It’s not some package tour operator)