I friggin’ love Amsterdam but we are getting so many tourists nowadays! My biggest tip when visiting Amsterdam is to get out of the center. There is so much to this incredible city, but you have to get away from the crowds to really feel that special vibe. The coolest part is, each neighborhood has a different vibe. Don’t worry, they are all awesome! For this post, we’ll explore Amsterdam Oost, which means Amsterdam East.
The east side is still a large size and has even smaller pockets of neighborhoods and for this post, we’ll look at it all! We started our Amsterdam lives in Oost. In our little part of the city, it was very family friendly. Neighbors actually spoke to each other and there were schools everywhere. We had the bigger grocery stores and large parks nearby. It was a great place to get the real feel of Amsterdam when we only knew the touristy side up until then.
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How to get to Amsterdam East
If you have internet on your phone when running around the city, use Google Maps or Citymapper to find the right tram, metro, or bus. Depending on where you are in the city, you can take the metro to tram, or just a tram. Metros 51, 53, 54 all run from Central Station and will get you to the edge of the east side. Trams 1, 3, and 19 also service the area. Just depends on where you want to go.
Once there, you can walk a good portion of it, but you can also take tram 19 up and down the main street if you prefer to move a little faster.
Things to do in Amsterdam East
Brouwerij ‘t IJ
You could go to regular bars and have a drink, or you can have a full Amsterdam beer experience at Brouwerij ‘t IJ. It’s for locals and visitors alike. An iconic view entices beer-lovers in, and the local brews keep them going back! To make it more fun, it’s housed under the De Gooyer windmill in an old bathhouse. They have an entire range of beers including some organic ones. Go on a nice day and hang out on the terrace with the locals or scooch in and take in the atmosphere by the bar.
Distilleerderij ‘t Nieuwe Diep
Get really far away from the tourist path and try some Genever, a special Dutch spirit. This tasting room is right next to the distillery and it also has a terrace which is lovely on a summer’s day. You’ll find this gem in Flevopark next to a pond in an old pumping station. This neighborhood is full of repurposed buildings!
Now for the culture. I’m not the biggest museum person, but the Tropenmuseum is kind of cool. It’s not stuffy with a bunch of frames hanging on the walls. Some exhibitions might be interactive and there will always be something that surprises you. Of course, things change as exhibitions do, but the constant is that everything there showcases something about people and culture. And aren’t humans just fascinating creatures?
Oosterpark (Eastern Park)
This is the first garden created by the city of Amsterdam in 1891. The architect of Oosterpark was a Dutchman named Leonard Anthony Springer and he created an English-style garden. It’s a fairly peaceful park and is excellent for a picnic. Sometimes when traveling, a cheap lunch from the grocery store (or one of the spots listed below!) is in order and a park is a perfect spot to eat it. There’s a pond in the middle and a few sculptures and monuments that are sprinkled throughout. This park is a perfect break from walking or sightseeing.
Artis Amsterdam Royal Zoo
This might be my favorite thing about Amsterdam Oost. Artis isn’t just one of the oldest zoos on mainland Europe, it’s a planetarium, aquarium, and a microbe museum. See flamingos, walk through a warm corridor with monkeys, discover the stars above, the fish below, and the microbes that make up every piece of the planet. It’s eye-opening, it’s educational, it’s pretty fun, too.
Where to eat
Looking for healthy, tasty, and calming for breakfast or lunch? Benji’s might just be the place for you! Their Insta has some of the most drool-worthy photos I’ve seen. Don’t worry, though. They have a sweet section if you’re not looking to go *that* healthy. Just a cool atmosphere to spend some time in and it’s also important to me to show you that Amsterdam isn’t all that you think you know and expect.
This family-run business is one of Sean’s favorites — they do smoked meat, fish, and cheese incredibly well! At first, I thought it was a place you could only buy food to go, which is perfect if you want to head to Oosterpark. But Frank’s Smokehouse is so much more! They have an actual restaurant serving lunch and dinner throughout the week. Can you imagine the smell of the best smokehouse in Amsterdam? Devine.
Alex + Pinard
Classy and chill is how I describe Alex + Pinard. They have a seasonal menu with good prices and focus on small and artisanal producers. You walk in and just get that vibe…the one when you know you’ve come to the right place. It’s not a super extensive menu because of how they create the dishes along with the season. That just means they take special care and only makes what is best.
A nice relaxing afternoon spot for a healthy drink of Kombucha, a relaxing tea from their tea menu, or a cocktail, because, why the heck not? The menu at Louie Louie is so interesting and there’s something for everyone without it being what you would expect. I am in love with the ambiance here. Come before the evening borrel rush and you’ll get that chill vibe. Come during and you’ll feel the community that is Amsterdam East. No matter when you come, you’ll certainly enjoy.
This is one of our spots when we are craving some good burgers. Smokin’ Barrels has a dark and cozy vibe. Oh, and the burgers are made over real FIRE! Yeah, they make proper burgers here. There are a few places with really good burgers in this city and this is definitely one of them. The sweet potato fries are just perfect with the burger and grab yourself a gin and tonic while you’re there. Treat yourself 🙂
Cafe-Restaurant de Plantage
With a bright open interior and a large terrace in the Artis, it’s a spot everyone can love. Light and airy is the feeling you get when seated at Cafe-Restaurant de Plantage. There’s a good sized menu and prices as you might expect in Amsterdam, in the Artis. But everything we’ve had was pretty good. When you know you’re going to the zoo, just go ahead and make a reservation to be sure you have a spot. Especially on a sunny day!
It took me far too long to get to De Kas. It was one of the first places I said: “We must go there.” We heard murmurs of it, saw how intriguing the building was, and read reviews of it. We even had friends saying you must go! It took four and a half years to make it there. Don’t make our mistake. If you have an evening that you are saving for a special dinner or want to enjoy a mid-day lunch that blows your mind, De Kas is for you. It’s a veggie-forward menu with meats and fish to compliment and it’s always a chef’s menu. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised.
Where to stay
While I haven’t stayed here personally, I know people who absolutely love this hotel. The location is great because it’s just outside the city center so it’s super quick to get back into the hustle and bustle, but you have your own oasis at the Hotel Arena which is along Oosterpark. How lovely is that?
The Manor Amsterdam
I stayed here while on a press trip. I took the opportunity to stay at The Manor Amsterdam since people are always asking me for recommendations for hotels. This one has so much history and you should really ask about it when you’re there. The rooms are very nice and I slept like a rock in my room. There were small details everywhere and those are the kind of things I love. Major chains just don’t have that.
I’ve had a few friends stay at the Hotel Arena and really liked it. The building seems a bit confusing from the inside, but from what I hear, it’s a great hostel with kind people working and great design. If you aren’t into sharing a room, they do have a couple of double rooms with views of Oosterpark. You can see it’s a popular park!
(Monday-Saturday 9 am – 5 pm)
For an alternative to the very crowded Albert Cuyp Market, the Dappermarkt is where it’s at. It has a history going back 100 years and has all kind of goods and food for you to browse and try. Definitely grab a snack while you’re!
(last sunday of the month 11am – 6pm)
The Pure Markt was the first market we ever went to in Amsterdam. We had no idea what it was but quickly grew to love it. It’s an delicious market with food stalls, handicrafts, and fashion. To get a taste of what you’ll find, check out their website for the list of entrepreneurs. What I love about this kind of market is that many people only sell at Sunday markets. That’s just the kind of vibe and clientele they look for. (Not available January & February)
Amsterdam is so much more than you know. I’ve had friends visit the city for years for work and stay in the same spot and create a bit of a bubble around themselves. This tends to mean that you don’t experience the whole city.
Next time you’re in my favorite city, stay outside the center to be able to fall in love with the real Amsterdam. At least the current Amsterdam. The stunning canals and canal houses are incredible, and I’m not denying that. But if you travel here to see what Amsterdam is really like, head somewhere outside the canal belt, like Amsterdam Oost and see what it’s all really about.
Wishing you love and travels!
Ready to take the trip?
Here’s your toolkit full of links so you don’t have to go searching!
- Get more info on your destination through guidebooks.
- Find the right hotel for you on Booking.com through the incredible amount of filters available.
- Discover the perfect experience through GetYourGuide. From transit tickets to food tours, it’s all right here.
- Need a flight? Gotcha covered with Skyscanner (USA people, THIS link is for you).
- Already in Europe and just need a bus or train. We always use Omio because it’s so easy!
Now, go and have an AMAZING time! Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram (@awanderlustforlife) so we can see your memorable experiences.