Amsterdam is full of fun, cozy, and one of a kind cafes. In this post, we'll tell you about our personal favorite five. All within easy reach from Central Station. These are the places you'll find us when we come to Amsterdam.
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This article may contain affiliate links to products and services we love, which we may make a commission from at no cost to you. We're not compensated in any way for the cafe suggestions. They truly are our personal five.
1. Winkel 43 for the best Apple Pie in Amsterdam, hands down
Our favorite cafe, by far, is Winkel 43. If Herman is coming along than 9 out of 10 times, this is where you'll find us. They have the best Apple pie in the city by any measurement. 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), 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 us, 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 no day for dieting. We can tell you that. When you indulge, do it properly. Unless you've an allergy, then please don't.
If you come on a Saturday, prepare yourself for a line (Saturday is, by the way, a great day to come, with the Organic Farmers market at its front door). People, even in wintertime, use the outside tables. Because on a Saturday there just won't be a table available inside.
During the week, Winkel 43 also serves a simple breakfast menu, but not on Saturday.
You can reach Winkel 43 at the Noordermarkt within an easy 10-minute walk from Central Station along the "Brouwersgracht," one of the most Instagrammable canals of Amsterdam.
Noordermarkt 43, Amsterdam
2. Beans and Bagels at IJdok, a hidden spot on the waterfront
Beans and Bagels is a chain in Holland. Still, we like them a lot, the airy and homey decor, and of course, their bagels. Herman will most definitely go for the cinnamon bagel, probably with fresh banana and real maple syrup. I love the avocado one. They also have a great selection of (specialty) coffee and teas.
What makes this location unique is the fact that it's hidden and directly on the waterfront, you really have to know where it is. When you do, you're in for a treat. Just the view alone! We also appreciate the friendly staff, you're always greeted when you arrive, and service is attentive. And did we already say their bagels are delicious?
It might be hidden, but it's only just minutes from the railway station's North exit. Make a left and keep walking along the water. Then when you see an "island" of highrise buildings and a marina, cross the bridge. The street running through here is called IJdok. This is where you'll find this flagship location of Beans and Bagels.
Inside, you'll have plenty of seats with views over the water. The "IJ river" is a busy waterway full of 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.
We love to start our day in Amsterdam this way (especially if it's still too early for apple pie yet), because that means it's a perfect time to enjoy breakfast here.
IJdok 49, Amsterdam
Money tip #1: A low cost travel debit card is the best way to pay your coffee (or tea). A card like this can hold different currencies, to use when you travel. Our favorite is the Transferwise Bordeless Debit Card. We use it ourselves on every trip we take. Click here to learn more.
3. The rooftop cafe at the Amsterdam Public Library
This cafe is a gem for those in the know. You wouldn't instantly think about a library when you need a coffee break, right? But this library is not your ordinary library. It's a modern structure, and it's a destination by itself. I (Gerjo), for example, love to go here just to write for the blog. Watching the old Amsterdam skyline and seeing boats passing by just helps to get into the flow of writing.
If you go to the top floor, you will find a large cafe and restaurant. They offer a modern healthy cuisine, unique coffee variations, and the same applies to the tea offering. But the real reason to take your break here is for the breathtaking view over 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). Take the city center exit and make a left. Keep the water to your right. Walk past the Doubletree hotel, the Mediamarkt (electronic store), Starbucks, and the Albert Heijn supermarket (get yourself some Stroopwafels here :). Right after Albert Heijn is the library. It's called OBA (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam), which stands for Public Library Amsterdam.
Oosterdokskade 143, Amsterdam
Money tip #2: the best way not to lose time while finding your favorite cafe is to have an affordable data bundle for Europe on your phone. That way you're able to use Google Maps on the go. Read our post about the best SIM card for Europe here to find the best deals!
4. Bbrood at NDSM, a former shipyard turned into a revitalized hotspot
When we don't come to Amsterdam by train, and we take our car instead, we always park near NDSM island on the northside of town. This area still offers free parking, and we're Dutch, after all. We watch our pennies. (Well in Amsterdam really euros, because parking isn't cheap in this town.)
Anyway, we regress, from NDSM, you'll have to catch a ferry to get to Central Station and the city center. The Ferry is just SO much fun in itself. The boats are free to use. It's a 10-15 minute sailing with fantastic views, passing all kinds of the cool buildings. It's on the way back home when you can usually spot us at Bbrood. A cozy cafe/bakery right at the dock with great snacks!
You basically walk straight into Bbrood from the landing dock. They use ingredients that are locally sourced and mostly organic. Their sausage roll (Sauzijcenbroodje) or gevulde koek (almond paste filled cookie made with real full cream butter) are just two of the fantastic snacks you can choose.
The gevulde koek is what Herman and I consistently order. The sandwiches are also excellent choices. They even tell you where they source their cheese and meat. Another great thing about Bbrood is that they use profits to build bakeries in Africa.
Enjoy the views from the upstairs seating area over the busy waterways. Or when the weather is pleasant, have a seat outside at the fun courtyard for some good old-fashioned people watching (and bike watching). This is where you see the city commuting at its best.
Ferries leave four times per hour between Central Station docks and the NDSM wharf. Just make sure, on your way back, to board the Central Station ferry (it will say so on the front of the boat).
(TIP: If you're looking for a meal, the next-door IJkantine or the other restaurants at NDSM are all great options for dinner. This is also where the Pancake cruise departs, as in unlimited Pancakes ;-), click for more info.)
One thing not to miss when you're at NDSM is the Anne Frank grand mural street art painting, it's terrific. It just past Bbrood. If you can't find it, ask someone. It's a well-known site by locals.
Ms. van Riemsdijkweg 30, Amsterdam
5. The Tolhuis Tuin Cafe (THT) a former Shell workers food court
Again a location in North but you need a different ferry to reach this cafe. The THT cafe is just across the water from Central Station. You're only a few minutes on the boat that goes straight across (destination: "Buikslotermeerweg.")
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 "Sir Adam". 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!).
We love to stop here on a sunny day, order a glass of wine, and some Bitterballen and just take in the atmosphere. Read our post about Bitterballen and 50+ other Dutch specialty foods here). You can do much worse than spending a lazy afternoon at The Tolhuis Tuin Cafe.
PS don't confuse the THT cafe with Cafe de Pont right opposite the ferry. The THT is a large building a bit further to the left.
IJpromenade 2, Amsterdam
Before we go we have to close with a "warning": as a tourist you might be mistaken to enter a coffee shop if you're looking for a break and some 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 leavy plants.
This is a mistake quite a few of our friends from overseas have made before. Thankfully we can help you not to make this mistake as well.
You're looking for a nice cafe instead, and Amsterdam has plenty of these too. Just like the five cafes in this article that we love to visit.
Did this post help you?
We hope this post made it easier for you to find a nice cafe in Amsterdam on your next trip.
Which spot sounds best to you, and why? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you. Most definitely reach out if you used this article to plan your next trip to Holland. Letting us know will make us happy.
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