Things to do in the Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets)
The bustling streets straddling Amsterdam’s grandest canals form one of the most photogenic neighbourhoods. Known to locals as De Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets), this area is known for its boutiques and speciality stores selling everything from upscaled vintage accessories to retro furniture. The area is also home to a wealth of foodie hotspots, fascinating monuments and stately canal house museums.
Visit the city’s first photography museum
Undoubtedly one of the city’s best-hidden gems, Huis Marseille is housed in a magnificent canal house that was the former residence of a wealthy French merchant. Spread throughout the opulent period rooms, visitors can immerse themselves in a rich and varied programme focussing on leading international photography. The exhibitions extend into a space at the end of the stunning courtyard garden, and there is a specialist bookshop where you’ll be tempted to spend way more than you budgeted for.
Learn how Amsterdam’s iconic Canal Ring was developed
The Grachtenmuseum (Museum of the Canals) offers a fascinating glimpse into the development of this city built on water. Follow the audio guide route through the period rooms, passing through a range of multimedia exhibits demonstrating how the canals were engineered over the last 400 years out of an area of swamp. You’ll find a beautiful garden at the back that is bursting with flowers and tranquil spots to take a break.
Sample jenevers in a historic tasting room
Occupying a covetable canalside location on the historic Herengracht, Proeflokaal van Wees is the tasting room for the van Wees Distillery. Opened in 1973, it's a prime spot to get acquainted with Amsterdam’s homegrown jenever culture and traditional Dutch cuisine. Inside, the cavern-like building oozes authentic charm, from the original pump displayed behind the bar to the stone floors. On the menu, you’ll find an assortment of jenevers, old-Dutch liqueurs, and bar snacks like bitterballen and croquettes. They also offer tastings and guided tours of the Ooievaar Distillery in the neighbouring Jordaan.
Step aboard a traditional houseboat
The Woonboot (House Boat) Museum is a miniature floating museum that allows guests to experience what life was like onboard a traditional Dutch houseboat. Located on the Hendrika Maria, a former cargo ship from 1914, the vessel has been transformed into a cosy living space where visitors can poke around before enjoying tea and cake in the retro armchairs. It's a charming spot for all ages to explore, with welcoming staff who can tell you everything they know about living on the water.
Catch a free concert in Westerkerk
Westerkerk, a 17th-century Protestant church built in 1631, is the largest of its kind in the Netherlands. Over the years, the building has witnessed countless historical moments, including the marriage of Queen Beatrix and the burial of Rembrandt van Rijn. Westerkerk is also only footsteps away from the Anne Frank House, and its church bells are mentioned several times in her famous diary. Along with religious services, keep your eye on the agenda for concerts and recitals (many of which are free to attend).
Pay your respects at the world’s first gay rights monument
Sitting proudly on the Keizersgracht, the Homomonument was the first gay rights monument to be built in the world. The design consists of three interconnected pink triangles with a line of poetry that reads, “Such an endless longing for friendship”. Since 1987, the monument has provided a space for contemplation, with flowers frequently laid to commemorate those persecuted in the past and present for their sexual orientation. It's also a central meeting point for activists throughout the year, particularly during Pride Amsterdam in August. Next door, you’ll find Pink Point – Amsterdam's official LGBTQI+ information kiosk. Staffed by friendly and knowledgeable volunteers, it presents a wide range of information and flyers from local organisations.
Eat in lavish dining rooms and trendy new hotspots
The Negen Straatjes is home to some of the most well-regarded restaurants in the city centre. Take Restaurant Jansz, for instance, in a historic building on Reesstraat, where the menu showcases beautifully crafted dishes inspired by modern-Dutch cuisine. Likewise, Shaffy Restobar serves up oysters and cocktails from a stunning high-ceilinged dining room overlooking the canal. In recent years, the neighbourhood has welcomed various new hotspots, including Deus Cantina for laid-back brunches or Chun Café for boba tea, bulgogi toasts and matcha lattes.
Discover sustainable brands and unique boutiques
If you’re interested in unearthing new trends and local brands, the Negen Straatjes, dotted with perfumeries, fashion boutiques, artisanal chocolatiers and jewellers, is undoubtedly one of the city’s best shopping areas. Be dazzled by traditional Dutch cheeses at Kaaskamer and delectable sweets in the Chocolaterie Pompadour. Or, for a sustainable pair of new vegan kicks, head over to the Green Sneaker Store.
Cruise along the grandest canals
Whether you’re a first-time or frequent visitor, Amsterdam’s interwoven network of 165 canals is all the more magical when viewed from the water. Various tour operators pass through the Negen Straatjes along the Herengracht - one of the oldest and grandest canals in the city. Glide past the area’s historical offerings, witnessing 16th-century churches and elegant canal house façades, all the while finding out fascinating information about the former inhabitants and history of the city.
Observe exceptionally rare books up close
The Embassy of the Free Mind is a museum library celebrating the culture of free thinking in science, art and spirituality. Topics covered might include everything from Hermetic philosophy, Freemasonry and Sufism to mysticism, astrology and tarot. There are daily tours to help you become acquainted with the unique collection, along with special talks, lectures, workshops and lunchtime concerts.