Amsterdam is a city of deep historical significance, and yet it is also revered for its modern innovativeness. In recent years, The Netherlands has proven itself to be one of the front runners in sustainability and conscious living. With cycling as the major mode of public transport, a growing shift towards alternative energy, and local-minded restaurants and cafes galore, it’s clear that sustainability is a large part of the city’s narrative.
Rare is it that someone visit this city and leave feeling underwhelmed. Amsterdam has a way of charming you with its beautiful architecture, friendly people, and youthful vibe.
Amsterdam, much like most other major cities, is certainly not lacking in coffee culture. Gezellig, one of my favorite Dutch words, denotes a cozy, convivial atmosphere, and is something that most of the cafes and restaurants in Amsterdam seem to possess (this word can be likened to the more well-known Danish term hygge). The cafes here are places where you linger, with the company of a good friend, a good book, or as a place to work on your laptop for a few hours. In Amsterdam’s coffee culture, atmosphere is just as important as the coffee, and my following recommendations take into account both.
Oud-West | Bilderdijkkade 27
A relaxing place to start your day in a quiet part of the city, Berry offers coffee, tea, fresh juices, and pastries, as well as shelves of reading material.
Oud -West | Overtoom 95
Located just a short walk from Vondelpark, this cafe serves some of the best coffee I’ve had in the city. As a bonus, the barista has no qualms about pouring my oat milk latte into my reusable KeepCup.
Westerpark | Haarlemmerweg 175
Located right on the edge of Westerpark, Koffie Ende Koeck does vegan high tea with the most drool-worthy, 100% plant-based pastries.
Centrum | Reestraat 7
A cozy spot in the Negen Straatjes (9 Streets) District to enjoy a quick bite, a locally-roasted coffee, or a glass of wine.
De Pijp | Sarphatipark 34
A beautiful, minimalistic-style coffee shop that also offers coffee tastings and barista classes. Come in the morning for free smells of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.
Noord | Overhoeksplein 2
Intended as a coffee-centric gathering spot, The Coffee Virus is an establishment where creatives, freelancers, and entrepreneurs meet for coffee, pastries, and light bites. If you’re hungry, be sure to try their vegan pumpkin hummus sandwich.
Where to Eat
Oud-West | Overtoom 409
A health food cafe on the northern edge of Vondelpark serving raw vegan dishes and smoothies.
Bagels & Beans is a casual cafe chain throughout Amsterdam serving… you guessed it- coffee and bagels. They have a vegan hemp burger patty that is served on a bagel, and their coffee is actually very good. Come here for a no-fuss meal in between sight-seeing.
Ooosterparkbuurt | Eerste Oosterparkstraat 91
A beautiful breakfast, lunch, and high tea restaurant serving vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free dishes. Pictured below is their vegan bibimbap bowl. They also have a take-away store next door.
Centrum | Entrepotdok 36
Located in the Plantage area of central Amsterdam, Bloem is an upscale, 100% organic restaurant with several vegan and vegetarian options.
Noord | Korte Papaverweg 4
Cafe de Ceuvel is half bar & restaurant, half sustainability experiment, and you can read about all their initiatives on their website. Between upcycling materials for the building, using solar energy, installing compost toilets, and now building the world’s first “Biogas Boat” which will convert organic waste from the restaurant into fuel, Cafe de Ceuvel is really taking small-business sustainability to the next level. On top of that, the restaurant serves fresh, local food any time of day with a menu that changes seasonally, but which always has vegan and vegetarian options. At night, it’s a great place to hang out with friends over local beers.
De Pijp | Ceintuurbaan 282-284
A two-story cafe with ample seating, a beach-y vibe, and plenty of healthy, vegetarian/vegan options.
Centrum | Herenstraat 23
An organic juice bar that also serves salads, sandwiches, coffee, and desserts.
Oud-West | Bellamyplein 51
A large warehouse turned into a food hall with dozens of individual food vendors, a bar, and ample community-style seating, where you can enjoy your meal and mingle.
Centrum | Kerkstraat 176
Open for breakfast and lunch, Lavinia serves healthy vegan and vegetarian dishes in a bohemian setting.
Oud-West | 1053 KM Amsterdam
Playing on NYC’s Meatpacking District, this all-vegan restaurant will satisfy both plant-eaters and carnivores alike.
Noord | NDSM-Plein 102
Located on the north side of the IJ, Noorderlicht is worth the ferry ride. The building is a converted greenhouse with picnic tables outside right on the water. They offer fresh, locally-sourced dishes with plenty of vegan options.
De Pijp | Saenredamstraat 67
Counter-served, freshly prepared Mediterranean style vegetarian food with vegan options. Open 1-9 PM on weekdays only. Come early for the best selection.
Located at the southwest edge of Vondelpark is this organic juicery, which also happens to be where I had one of the best veggie burgers of my life. Come here any time of day for dishes like oatmeal, salads, wraps, soup, protein balls and more, in addition to their selection of cold-pressed juices and elixirs (which come in glass bottles).
Stach is a small, hipster supermarket selling a selection of beer, wine, and prepared foods. Some locations have a cafe that serves up some decent food and coffee. So if you need a quick sammie and caffeine fix, this is a good place to go.
De Pijp | Daniël Stalpertstraat 61
Come for the Instagram…. No really. While not all the food is something to write home about, their Rose Avocado Toast is undoubtedly the most well-presented avocado toast I have ever encountered. Disclaimer: Save the nachos for a Mexican restaurant.
Flagship Store | Hobbemastraat 8
Centrum Women’s Store | Runstraat 17
Centrum Men’s Store | Prinsengracht 493
While perhaps not explicitly a “sustainable” company, this Amsterdam-based denim brand focuses on quality and timelessness. They have begun incorporating sustainable fabrics like Tencel and Modal into their archive of fibers. What I believe most makes them a sustainably-minded company is their in-house maintenance shop called Service Co. When you buy a pair of jeans from Denham, Service Co. will make sure they stay in tip-top shape, indefinitely, with alterations, repairs, and laundry service. They even use restored vintage sewing machines from the US and Germany.
Centrum | Utrechtsestraat 37
A small, minimalistic storefront near Amsterdam Centrum selling sustainable and vegan fashion apparel and accessories.
A brand you probably recognize, but may not know is sustainably-minded, G-Star Raw just so happens to be headquartered in Amsterdam. By maintaining a responsible supply chain management and using sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, Tencel, linen, hemp, and more, G-Star Raw is proving that even mainstream/ mass-produced fashion can be done responsibly.
Centrum | Nieuwe Kerkstraat 6H
A sustainable lifestyle boutique + eco-friendly hair salon. They sell a range of products including fashion, accessories, books, and beauty products.
Centrum | Haarlemmerstraat 36
A fashion boutique selling only fair-trade and sustainable goods.
De Pijp | Ceintuurbaan 252
Their slogan is “Guilt-Free Goods” and that is exactly what they offer. From fashion, to organic beauty products and home goods, everything in their store is sustainable, fair-trade, organic, and/or vegan.
Oud-West | Admiraal de Ruijterweg 1
Restaurant in the daytime turned bar at night, Bar Spek is the quintessential European neighborhood hangout spot. Grab a seat on the couch, sit at a table, or relax out on the canal-side patio. Whether you’re coming for brunch, lunch, or cocktails, this place won’t disappoint.
Centrum | Prinsengracht 494
Oosterparkburt | Linnaeusstraat 29
With two locations, one in the up-and-coming Oosterparkbuurt and the other in the more frequented Prinsengracht, this beer garden serves a huge selection of both bottled and draft beers, many from local breweries.
Oost | Funenkade 7
One of Amsterdam’s most popular breweries can be visited in the eastern part of the city. Located next to a windmill, their brewpub has a great ambiance for which to sample their latest beers.
Centrum | Dijksgracht 4
Hanneke’s Boom (translated to Hanneke’s Tree) is a cafe/bar situated right on the water that has been built from salvaged material. Drinking beer at one of their picnic tables while watching the boats go by is a perfect way to spend a summer evening.
Noord | Tt. Neveritaweg 59
Located in Noord-Amsterdam, which is just a short ferry ride away, Pllek is as close as Amsterdam comes to a beach bar. Outside is white sand, beach chairs, and bonfire pits, and inside is an open, warehouse-y vibe. This is a great place to hang out on a warm summer night when you’re looking for something a little more relaxed.
Centrum | Marnixstraat 246
A waterside bar with lots of picnic tables outside to get you into the summer spirit. They serve craft beers by the pitcher, an updated-bar-menu (bar food that actually tastes good) and several vegan/ vegetarian options. This place gets very lively on weekend nights so bring your dancing shoes.
Things to Do
Rent a Bike
It almost goes without saying that while in Amsterdam, renting a bike is a must. Not only is it the main way to get around, it is also such an integral part of the Netherlands’ culture that you wouldn’t get the true experience without some fietsen.
Take a Class at Delight Yoga
One of the most beautiful yoga studios I’ve been to, with some of the greatest instructors, is Delight Yoga– which has four locations throughout Amsterdam. Their studios are decorated with a Scandinavian-style minimalistic aesthetic, which makes for a spa-like experience. They offer over 200 classes per week with a variety of yoga styles including Yin, Hatha, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa.
Stroll Through Amsterdam’s Parks
While Vondelpark is essentially the Central Park of Amsterdam (but cleaner, quieter, and less homeless people) there are several other parks throughout Amsterdam worth a visit. In the summer time at Westerpark you can get your feet wet at the Kinderbadje, a paddling pool that contains no chemicals, then sip on a gin & tonic at Mossel & Gin. Rembrandtpark has miles of walking and biking paths, as well as Amsterdam’s oldest petting zoo. Sarphatipark is a small yet beautiful park nestled inside De Pijp neighborhood.
Museum Hop with an Iamsterdam City Card
While Amsterdam has more museums and historical attractions than I could possibly list off or you would be able to visit in one stay, the Iamsterdam City Card gives you a lot of flexibility to pick and choose what you want to see without paying for multiple entrance fees. A one-day pass will run you 57 euro, or you can choose up to a 96 hour pass for 87 euro. The pass gets you entrance into the city’s most noteworthy museums and attractions- including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, the National Holocaust Museum & Memorial, the Botanical Gardens, as well as a free canal boat cruise, and unlimited use of the GVB public transport system (bus, tram, and metro).