Winter is, for me at least, the best time to go to Amsterdam. And that’s not because it’s a sunny and warm destination, on the contrary – here is where you are guaranteed to have harsh wind, long rains and bone-chilling cold.
Still, something magical happens in Amsterdam, and especially when it’s getting colder. Inner warmth.
Locals call it gezellig, and my Dutch friends explained that even if the word has no equivalent in any other language, can be translated as cozy, inviting, sociable, welcoming. Well, it seems that in late autumn Amsterdam, maybe more than ever, simply radiates it, even under the heavy sky and never ending rains.
Each street, each canal is home to nice surprises waiting to be discovered: a stylish Dutch-designed fashion store, a cool vintage shop, a flower boutique or a place to taste (oh, so many) local delicacies.
Let’s not forget art: the Van Gogh Museum exhibits the world’s largest collection of the renowned painter, the Rijksmuseum is the destination for Rembrandts and Vermeers, Stedelijk – for Piet Mondrian, while the city’s dozens of independent galleries offer as many visions of contemporary art.
Near the radial canals of the center one can find not only the above museums, but also a fantastic green area, Vondelpark, as well as some of the most avant-garde art galleries, shops, restaurants and bars.
A Route from Jordaan to the Canals District
Starting, for example, along the Prinsengracht (canal built in 1612 and called “the prince” after the prince of Orania), the various stops can turn an hour-long walk into a full-day one.
Within walking distance from the canal is KochxBos, renowned independent art gallery. Here is where I discovered the amazing portraits of Zoé Byland, for instance. Oh and that brilliant poster in the window that reads:
Don’t be afraid, be nice to people, don’t believe in gods, give good answers, try to just understand as much as you can from what is happening around you love art, music, literature, movies and comedies. Your life.
Going further on Prinsengracht and turning on Westerstraat, the Moooi store is unmissable for those passionate about interior design.
Mooi means beautiful, in Dutch, and the founders say they have set out to bring an extra “o” effect to the aesthetics of contemporary interiors.
Making a short detour from my initial route on Prinsergracht, I found one of the best vegan places I’ve ever tried, the Vegan Junk Food Bar. It’s usually crowded and they don’t take reservation so expect a queue, but it’s going to be worth it.
The area around the Vegan Junk Food Bar – a stripe of several streets running parallel with Vondelpark, on one side, and the Jacob van Lennepkanaal, is also worth exploring for architecture, as the neighbourhood is mostly residential.
Turning back to the area where Moooi store is, Winkel 43 can be another inspired stop for the lunch (they are famous for their apple pie but I haven’t tried it, I had a falafel menu instead, one day, and I will definitely return), while Pluk, a healthy destination, is perfect for a delicious vegan dessert.
The list of deli places in Amsterdam is really long, much longer than the time I took to walk the Prinsegracht until I reached the Amstel canal and from where, going towards Central Station, I stopped to enjoy some of the wonders of contemporary architecture, such as the Nemo Museum, designed by the architect Renzo Piano in the form of a ship and with a green roof of more than 1000 square meters, or The Eye, the film museum, a building with an impossible console.
I already got lost in all these details but I think that’s how I managed to catch an essential point: Amsterdam is par excellence a destination for those who love the small details that make up the overall image.