5 Best Cafes In Amsterdam To Take A Break

Last Updated: April 17, 2023

Gerrit Vandenberg

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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Amsterdam is full of fun, cozy, and one-of-a-kind cafes. This post will tell you about my top five best cafes in Amsterdam. All are within easy reach from Central Station, so they’re easy to get to and the places I will go to when I’m in the city.

I’m not compensated in any way for the cafe’s suggestions. These are my five personal favorites. The affiliate links below are for other attractions and hotels on this page. 

You might also be interested in my post: 6x Best Breakfast in Amsterdam 🍳 and my post on how to tip in Amsterdam including a handy calculator.

1. Winkel 43 for the best Apple Pie in Amsterdam, hands down

Gerrit enjoying Apple Pie at his top choice for the best cafes in Amsterdam.
I’m enjoying Apple Pie at Winkel 43 in Amsterdam – photo: © Hidden Holland

My favorite café, by far, is Winkel 43. They have the best Apple Pie in the city.

You might read in some other blogs or guides claiming “Café Papeneiland” has the best Apple pie in the city because this is the cafe Bill Clinton visited. This isn’t true (the best pie part). Probably that post you’ve found wasn’t written by a local. Nothing wrong with their Apple pie, and yes, Bill Clinton did visit this historic cafe, and he liked the Apple Pie, but it’s certainly not the best according to most locals.

The best, believe me, is at Winkel 43. This is where locals and tourists alike line up to get their hands on a fresh slice of delicious, slightly warm, just-out-of-the-oven apple pie with a healthy serving of whipped cream (that is if you say yes to the whipped cream). DO, when you visit Winkel 43, it’s not a day for watching carbs. When you indulge, do it properly.

If you come on a Saturday, prepare yourself for a huge line (Saturday is, by the way, a great day to come, with the Organic Farmers market at its front door). Just accept the line, it will move fast enough. People, even in wintertime, use the outside tables.

During the week, Winkel 43 also serves a simple breakfast menu, but not on Saturday.

The best apple pie in Amsterdam at Winkel 43.
The best apple pie in Amsterdam at Winkel 43 – Photo © Kate Erickson

2. Bagels and Beans at IJdok, a hidden spot on the waterfront

Beans and Bagels IJdok Amsterdam with view on the water.
View Bagels and Beans cafe IJdok Amsterdam. What a view – Photo: © Hidden Holland

Bagels and Beans is a chain in Holland. Still, I like them a lot, the airy and homey decor, and of course, their bagels. It’s my second choice for one of the best cafes in Amsterdam.

If you have a sweet tooth, go for the cinnamon bagel with fresh banana and real maple syrup. I love their mushroom burger with extra avocado on a whole-wheat bagel. They also have a great selection of (specialty) coffee and teas. Their Hennep Camille and blood orange tea are both my favorite.

This location is unique because it’s hidden and directly on the waterfront. You have to know where it is. When you do, you’re in for a treat. Just the view alone! Service here can be slow if you wait to order in person, you’re not always noticed, but it’s easy to order with the QR code on your table, and then food will be served quickly. The bagels are delicious, and the view is just great. To get there, just exit Central Station North exit and walk towards IJdok.

Inside, you’ll have plenty of seats with views over the water. The “IJ River” is a busy waterway with all types of vessels, from local ferries to container ships, sailing yachts, and the largest cruise ships about to dock at the Cruise Terminal (or just leaving for the open sea again). They all sail right by. I love to start my day in Amsterdam here (especially if it’s still too early for apple pie).

3. The rooftop cafe at the Amsterdam Public Library

View from the Amsterdam Library cafe.
View from the Amsterdam Library cafe – Photo: Mace Ojala CC BY 2.0

This cafe is a gem for those in the know. You wouldn’t instantly think about a library when you need a coffee break. But this library is not your standard library. It’s a destination by itself. I love to go here to write for the blog.

Watching the old Amsterdam skyline and seeing boats passing by helps to get into the writing flow. If you go to the top floor, you will find a large cafe and restaurant. They offer modern healthy cuisine and unique coffee variations, and the same applies to the tea offering.

But the real reason to take your break here is the breathtaking view of the city. On a clear day, you can see for miles all over the old part of town. The library cafe is also a perfect place to have lunch. It’s self-service, and one of the things we love is the variety. You can choose between Dutch classics, burgers, a selection of different healthy sandwiches, or maybe you’re in for a Poke bowl. They’ll have it all.

The Amsterdam Library is a pleasant stroll from the central station (about 10 minutes). Ps, the library is called OBA (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam), which stands for Public Library Amsterdam.

4. 1e Klas Restaurant (First Class) at Amsterdam Central Station, a trip back in Time

1e klas restaurant Amsterdam Centraal.
My favorite stop for a break when at Amsterdam central station Restaurant 1e klas. Photo: Restaurant 1e klas.

One of my favorite places for a break in Amsterdam is inside the central station. Hidden but accessible without a train ticket is restaurant 1e klas (which means first class). This was a former waiting room for first-class passengers back in the day. The walls look like they come straight out of a royal palace.

They offer a wide array of lunch dishes. An “Uitsmijter” (eggs sunny side up with cheese and/or ham on sliced bread) is my favorite if I am looking for something warm. An Osseworst (raw meat) sandwich is another local classic and good. Eating the sandwich is safe, so don’t worry when you read raw.

Ps. Did you know a live parrot lives here on the countertop? His name is Elvis. Make sure to say hello to him.

5. The Tolhuis Tuin Cafe (THT), a former Shell worker’s food court

Amsterdam Tolhuis Cafe Summer.
Tolhuistuin cafe in Amsterdam Noord. Perfect for people-watching – Photo: Fred Romero CC BY 2.0

This location is not in the city center but in a neighborhood called North. You need to take a ferry to get there.

This sounds like quite the undertaking, but you can be here within 10 minutes from the central station. The Ferry is free, goes every few minutes, and the ride only takes a few minutes. It is fun to do.

What makes this cafe unique is its location and its previous occupation. Before this area became a cultural hotspot, it was home to the headquarters of the multinational Shell. The highrise office building right next door became the ADAM Lookout Tower with a viewing platform on the roof and a hotel inside the “Sir Adam” hotel.

BTW did you know each room has a vinyl record player in it, and they’re all music-themed? The lower building was the former employees’ food court and is now the THT cafe.

You’ll have plenty of tasty menu choices, but the real reason to come here is to take in the lovely views over the water from the second-floor terrace and watch people passing by on their way to the Eye Film Museum and the “This is Holland” attraction (Certainly a TIP!).

I love to stop here on a sunny day, order a glass of wine and some Bitterballen, then take in the atmosphere. You can do much worse than spend a lazy afternoon at the Tolhuis Tuin Cafe. PS Don’t confuse the THT cafe with Polly Goudvisch right opposite the ferry. The THT is a large building a bit further to the left.

A Coffeeshop is Not For Coffee

Before I go, I have to close with a “warning”: as a tourist, you might be mistaken for entering a coffee shop if you’re looking for a break for a coffee or tea. However, these establishments are not for coffee at all. Inside you’ll find a sales counter for the derivatives of these strong-smelling potent green leafy plants.

This is a mistake quite a few of my overseas friends have made. To avoid it remember to look for a cafe, not a coffee shop. And Amsterdam has plenty of those, too, like the 5 best cafes in Amsterdam suggestions above.

More about Dutch culture and misconceptions can be found in my article: “Dutch People Are Rude“.

Which Amsterdam Cafe Excites 🌟 You The Most?

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Which Amsterdam cafe sounds most appealing to you? Are you planning on visiting any? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.

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Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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