Explore Amsterdam's Quirky Alternatives

In my humble opinion, Amsterdam is one of the best places for a young, independent traveller to visit, thanks to its treasure trove of cool attractions, fun nightlife and impressive art. It is also incredibly easy to explore on foot, and simply strolling through the fairytale-esque streets and soaking up the atmosphere is a highly enjoyable experience. It is a destination that’s well-suited to those who prefer quirky attractions, as opposed to tourist traps. Here’s an overview of some of the cool, unusual and intriguing attractions to discover.

Cafe Sound Garden

This alternative pub is the perfect place to chill out with a few beers and some live music. It is well-positioned on the edge of the canals and boasts spectacular views of the city (especially from the terrace at night). You are sure to make a few friends among the welcoming yet alternative crowd of tourists, ex-pats and locals.


Jordaan is unquestionably one of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets, and it is amazing how few tourists are familiar with this beautiful, former working-class district right next to the city centre. Schedule in an afternoon of meandering the maze of streets, which are lined with charming cafes, restaurants, pubs and boutiques. This is a cool area with a hip vibe and plenty of great shopping opportunities (be sure to check out Noordermarkt Square Market!).

De Pijp

Another former working-class neighbourhood, De Pijp (“The Pipe”) is the Latin Quarter of Amsterdam and a great escape from the city centre. The lively yet cool area is filled with bars and restaurants, which serve all kinds of tantalising dishes. Top tip: visit on a Saturday to see the Albert Cupmarket, which is one of the oldest operating bazaars in Holland.

FOAM Photography Museum

Artistic types will love the FOAM photography museum in the main part of the city. Despite its central location, FOAM is usually very quiet, which can be a refreshing change of pace from the hustle and bustle of the centre. It features an enormous range of beautiful photographs and also has a lovely outdoor garden, which is ideal for a sunny afternoon stroll.

Café In't Aepjen

Quite simply a must-visit, Café In't Aepjen is one of Amsterdam’s oldest cafes. Its name translates to “In the Monkey”, and this unique establishment on the northern point of Zeedijk is a bar that is filled with old paintings, barrels, sculptures and more. It almost feels like stepping back in time when you walk through the doors, and is a wonderful spot for a few beers. Fortunately, it stays open late on the weekends.

How to Get There

Want to hear another reason as to why Amsterdam is ideal for independent travellers? It is really easy to reach! Flights from the UK to Schiphol Airport take under an hour, and many budget carriers offer cheap flights. Make sure that your trip gets off to a smooth start by booking an airport taxi. SchipholAirport is about 30 minutes outside of the city centre. If you are looking to keep costs down, you could book a shared transfer instead of an airport taxi. SchipholAirport can be busy and you do not want to wait around for public transportation, so book in advance and you can get your trip started as soon as you land.

Amsterdam is a terrific place for independent travellers, particularly if you like to go off the beaten path. If this describes you, be sure to check out all of the above!

Author Plate

Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you’re looking for an affordable airport taxi, Schipol drivers are ready and waiting to ensure that you and your luggage get to and from the airport in Amsterdam swiftly and safely.

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