Living in Amsterdam means that the tourists take over a lot of places, so it’s important to have places that feel like homey and quiet. There are some top secret places in Amsterdam, tucked away behind the city’s famous attractions like Dam Square, the Rijksmuseum or Vondelpark. These quieter, lesser-known attractions rarely attract much footfall and are mainly frequented by locals, rather than visitors.
So get stuck in with our list of secret places as well as some really non-touristy things to do in Amsterdam!
As one of the oldest bars in Amsterdam, In ‘t Aepjen can be found on the fringes of the Red Light District close to Amsterdam Centraal Station. Originally, the name of this historic drinking establishment refers to “In the Monkeys”, back in the time of the Dutch East India Company, sailors would return from their voyages from abroad with exotic monkeys and they traded these monkeys in exchange for drinks. In time, the bar became so overrun, the owner eventually had a flea issue and ended up creating what is now the Amsterdam Zoo in order to have a place to put all these monkeys.
The Catboat is the one and only animal sanctuary that literally floats. A refuge for stray and abandoned cats which, thanks to its unique location on a houseboat in Amsterdam’s picturesque canal belt, has also become a place where people want to go!
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
A 17th-century canal house with a Catholic church in the attic. Tucked away in the heart of Amsterdam’s inner city lies a small marvel: Our Lord in the Attic Museum: a uniquely preserved seventeenth-century house from the Dutch Golden Age. Explore the narrow corridors and climb the stairs to historically furnished livingrooms, kitchens and bedsteads, leading literally to the highpoint of the museum: an entire church in the attic.
This Catholic church dates from 1663. While it was prohibited to celebrate mass, the authorities turned a blind eye. Indeed, the church symbolises the characteristic (religious) tolerance of the Netherlands, established by the Dutch in the sixteenth century under Willem of Orange. Freedom of religion and of conscience are central themes at the museum today. It makes Our Lord in the Attic far more than a museum: it is a special place in which to contemplate and to experience.
Tiny Hidden Houses
Hidden within a small gap between number 54 and 70 Westerstraat, you’ll find the tiny adorably cute houses in pint glass sizes of Amsterdam. Originally installed as part of a local advertising agency promotion, the real-life full-sized numbered houses actually disappeared when a courtyard leading to the seven numbers was closed off, and the abodes were merged into the surrounding houses. Today, just be sure to look closely, the miniature tiny houses are easy to miss when strolling along Westerstraat!
Van Stapele is where to eat the best cookie in Amsterdam! Every cookie will be warm from the oven and when you take a bite, it melts in your mouth. Located down a little cobbled alley off Spui and close to Amsterdam’s main Begijnhof, you’ll smell this nostalgic sweet shop before you even see it.
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