Planning a vacation when you’re gluten free is always a little more complicated. I spent three days in Amsterdam in August 2015 and want to share my recommendations on where to eat and what to see. I relied on blogs and friends’ recommendations to plan my gluten free Amsterdam trip; hopefully this will help you plan yours!
Gluten free Amsterdam, day one:
Arriving and exploring the neighborhood
I arrived at the airport in Amsterdam at lunchtime. My first stop was to buy a multi-day GVB card (72 hours for €17). This allowed me to access unlimited trams and buses. I bought the pass in a little shop called AKO in the airport before exiting the building.
After asking a few people where to find it, I hopped on the 197 bus from the airport to Leidseplein to reach my hotel. My hotel was just a short walk from bus stop. I stayed at D’Amsterdam Hotel, which is just near the Leidseplein. I can’t say I’d recommend it wholeheartedly, but for me it was the right balance of cost and convenient location without being right in the noise of the city center. By the time I finished by 35 minute bus journey I was starving, so I found Eetcafé Compaenen just down the street from the hotel. They mostly had sandwiches, but between my English-speaking waitress and my Gluten Free Restaurant Card in Dutch, I was able to order a club sandwich as a salad. It was beautifully presented and so good.
Once I checked in to the hotel and dropped off my bag, I was off to explore the area. I mostly wandered around the Leidseplein, which is full of shops, restaurants and “coffee shops.” I walked north and passed through the flower market, but it was crowded and I wasn’t really there to buy. I stopped in at an Albert Heijn grocery store and picked up some gluten free snacks, yogurt and fruit to keep in my room, saving money on breakfasts out. After re-grouping at the room, I went back out for a little stroll in the evening, heading west from my hotel. There wasn’t that much to see there, though I did stumble on a little store selling Brazilian specialty foods (I nabbed a can of Guaraná). I had dinner at Jacketz Oud West, a restaurant specializing in topped baked potatoes. It was nothing to write home about but it did the trick!
Gluten free Amsterdam, day two:
Exploring de Pijp, Albert Cuyp Market, and a canal cruise
I started my day with a great cup of coffee not too far from my hotel at Koffie Academie. I liked them so much, I went back the next day too. Then it was on the tram and off to check out the Albert Cuyp Market. This is a large street market filled with stalls selling foods, clothes, really anything you can think of. I stopped for a snack and a coffee at a nearby Bagels and Beans because a friend had told me they had good gluten free bagels. I thought I’d spend longer in this area, but I was done by midday.
I went back to the hotel to figure out my afternoon, and decided to head north, thinking I might check out the Anne Frank house. By the time I did this, I was getting hungry, and I wandered off the tram at the wrong stop. I landed right in front of Tropico, a Colombian restaurant. It was the happiest mistake. I had the most delicious patacones (fried patties of green plantain topped with meat and vegetables.) With a full stomach, I decided to just walk from where I was and check out the surrounding area, which was quite pretty. When I arrived at the Anne Frank house, I realized the line to get in was hours long and decided to skip it.
If you want to go, get there early – by early afternoon, the line was out of control. Instead, I decided it was a good time to take a canal cruise, so I found a little booking office nearby and signed up for an hour-long boat tour. The tour boarded right in front of the Anne Frank house.
The canal cruise was a cool thing to do – you get to see a lot of the city from the water, including the houseboats that line some of the wider canals. Plus by this point I was getting tired of walking, so it was a nice break to sit and enjoy. After the tour ended where it began, I was refreshed and decided to walk a different way back towards the central tram line I was getting used to using. I ended up at Spui, a square in the city center. From there I just followed the tram tracks until I found the next stop. I headed back to “my” neighborhood for dinner and found myself at Zouk, just a few blocks from my hotel. I had fish, potatoes and vegetables – the service was a bit slow but the food was okay.
Gluten free Amsterdam, day three:
Obligatory tourist stops, Vondelpark and taking a break
After another coffee at Koffie Academie, I was off to check out some of the tourist stops I missed in the city center. I took the tram up towards the Royal Palace and National Monument, and walked back from there. I didn’t go in anything, I just sort of looked at buildings and squares. I did quickly check out the courtyard at Begijnhof. From there I was ready for a snack. I’d noticed a little shack selling fries on the first day I was there with a rather long line, so I thought I’d better see what all the fuss was about. Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx is definitely worth a stop – really delicious fries topped with mayonnaise (or whatever you want, they had like 20 sauces you could choose!) The café across the street from them, Café Havelaar, will let you sit at their tables if you buy a drink, so that’s what I did. They also have free WiFi!
For the afternoon, I’d intended to visit the Rijksmuseum, but I was so tired of walking that I changed the plan. Instead, I headed over to Vondelpark with my book in hand. I parked myself at a table on the top level of ‘t Blauwe Theehuis, ordered a soda, and relaxed for a few hours in the shade. This was probably my favorite part of the trip, to be honest. Living in Glasgow, we rarely have warm, sunny days, so it was glorious to sit outside, see blue skies and be comfortable in a t-shirt.
As the sun started to fall behind the trees, I decided it was time to find some dinner. Off I went to Zus & Zus, a lovely café near the southern end of Vondelpark. This was my favorite meal of the trip; I ordered the fish special, and was treated to a lovely sea bass, salad, mixed vegetables and fries. It was all fresh and simply but skillfully prepared. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend a visit!
Three days in Amsterdam, on a map!
That was it for my Amsterdam trip – the next morning, I boarded a train to Berlin. I hope you’ll find some of these recommendations useful when you plan your trip to Amsterdam! Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!