This city has many secrets, and some of them are places you can visit! These Amsterdam secrets are sitting in plain sight but even some locals haven’t discovered them all yet. Here are a few of our hidden favorites.
13 AMSTERDAM SECRETS • HIDDEN PLACES IN AMSTERDAM
Perhaps you have already been to some of these secret spots but hopefully there are at least one or two that are yet to be explored. Enjoy!
De Hollandsche Manege
Definitely one of Amsterdam’s best kept secrets, you may never have noticed de Hollandsche Manege unless you happened to smell horses when cruising Overtoom on a hot summer day. This horse stable and equestrian school is located right next to Vondelpark. But what if you aren’t really interested in riding a horse? Well, de Hollandse Manege also has a beautiful bar on the second floor! You can sip a coffee or beer while watching the horses and riders. How cool is that?
Check out this video from Amsterdam Calling to experience this secret gem:
The Wine Cellar
Taste Argentinian wine under Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk at The Wine Cellar. This cozy location is located below ground at the side of the historic church. To get inside you have to go through a cookie shop and down a spiral staircase. Make a reservation if you’d like to sip delicious wines with your friends in this unique location.
If you like the idea of drinking or dining in hidden parts of a church, check out Koffieschenkerij de Oude Kerk.
What’s more secret and underground than an actual bunker? The Vondelbunker is hidden under a bridge in Vondelpark and hosts a variety of interesting counterculture activities and events including concerts, cinema nights, art exhibits and dinners. There is even a micro beer brewery located here called Bunkerbier. And yes this is an actual bomb shelter from the Cold War. There are many more scattered around Amsterdam, the ultimate secret places.
Amsterdam’s newest park, Schellingwouderpark, is still undiscovered by many Amsterdammers. Maybe part of the reason for that is because it is only reachable by a little boat! It’s located near the end of the charming Nieuwendammerdijk in Amsterdam Noord. Take a picnic and check out the views over Het IJ or go swimming in the summertime.
I actually discovered the area by accident one day when exploring Amsterdam Noord by bicycle. I ended up crossing the river over the Oranjesluizen. Which are also fascinating to check out if you are interested in ships and engineering.
Goats. A whole bunch of goats. There is a biodynamic goat farm in the middle of Amsterdamse Bos where you can interact with the animals and buy farm fresh products including milk, cheese, meat, honey and eggs. Geitenboerderij Riddammerhoeve is a great place to spend an hour or two and come home with the freshest food. While you are there be sure to try the goat milk ice cream, it’s delish! Another favorite hidden farm is Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen next to Westerpark, have you discovered it yet?
‘t Nieuwe Diep
‘t Nieuwe Diep is well-known to some and a complete secret to many. This distillery and bar is housed in an old pump house hidden in the middle of Flevopark in Amsterdam Oost. They make their own jenever and sell beer, soda and snacks. The pretty little house sits on the edge of a pond with trees all around and is the perfect place for a relaxed drink outside in the spring and summer. If you are looking for something in West you can check out De Liefde, which has now become delicious Flora. Another great option is Dignita behind the Hermitage. Or perhaps take a look at our list of favorite garden cafes in Amsterdam.
Ons Lieve Heer op Solder
If we’re going to talk about hidden places we have to mention Ons Lieve Heer op Solder, the 17th century house with a secret Catholic church in the attic. The building is now a wonderful museum where you can visit the original canal house and the old church. They even hold regular Sunday mass here.
A fascinating place where art, science, culture and technology meet, Mediamatic is located just a hop skip and jump from Amsterdam Centraal. They have a big greenhouse and all kinds of innovative projects, exhibitions and events happening all the time. Are you into urban gardening? Check out their big shop. It’s a great place to experience weird and wonderful things and is a bit of a hidden secret that many people have not yet discovered. Want to learn how to make kimchi, brew beer or build an aquaponics farm? Check out their agenda and sign up. Sometimes we list their events on our calendar as well.
Torensluisbrug / Het Spinhuis
Perhaps you’ve had a drink in the sun at Cafe Van Zuylen or cycled over the Torensluisbrug many times and never knew there is an old prison cell beneath your feet. This space has gone by the name Brug9 in the past and has hosted concerts and art exhibits. A few years ago UvA students squatted the empty space and used it for dinners, debates, pirate radio broadcasts and film nights. Check their website for the latest information.
Fruittuin van West
Make your way to Amsterdam Nieuw-West to discover a hidden place where you can get the freshest fruits around. How? Well you pick them yourself of course! Fruittuin van West grows all kinds of berries, cherries and apples and also has fresh chicken eggs that you can sometimes even gather yourself in the bushes.
The island in the Ijmeer known as Pampus was built as part of the Defense Line of Amsterdam in the late 19th century. Now you can visit the abandoned fort and sometimes even have dinner and drinks there during their special events. You can reach the island by ferry from Muiden or Amsterdam. In the months of November and December you can enjoy Winterlicht, an evening of locally brewed beer from the island, dinner based on seasonal products around a fire, and exploring the island and fort at night. So cool!
In the summertime, check out Zomerlicht!
Hotel de Windketel
A hotel room located in its own mini tower in a car-free neighborhood in West Amsterdam, that sounds pretty hidden to me! You might even pass this cute little building and not realize it is possible to sleep there, but you can! Hotel de Windketel was built in 1897 as part of Amsterdam’s water works and is now a tiny hotel.
Hiding in Plain Sight
It’s not exactly a secret but it is one of our favorite cocktail bars that every imbiber should discover. Located on the north eastern side of the city center, tucked in one of the loveliest neighborhoods in town, Hiding in Plain Sight is definitely one of the best cocktail joints around. Service is excellent and you’ll feel you’ve come across a hidden gem.
Zootje Sculpture Garden
If you’re wandering around the Plantage area you might come across a little sculpture garden in a vacant lot. The sculptures are mostly made of metal, are a bit rusty and hide among the weeds and grasses. There’s a kangaroo with a baby peeking out of her pouch, a dinosaur, a monkey and a zombie lady among others. I first discovered this little garden many years ago when walking around the neighborhood near Artis. At that time the artworks were not painted (or repainted?) and charmingly blended in with the plants. There is a little sign that reads Zootje Petit Zoo but I have never been able to find out about the artist who created these fun creatures. Anyone know?
Another cool feature just a few steps away is the charmingly named colorful Nijlpaardenbrug (hippo bridge).
Are you fascinated by strange street art like this? Then head to Java-eiland to look for the houseboat with mannequins on it. It’s creepy-cool.
Tiny Hidden Houses
You cannot go inside their doors but make sure you you take the time to spot these mini houses. Should we tell you where to look or do you want to try to find them yourself? Hint: they are somewhere near the Noordermarkt.
These mini houses have a sweet story. If you look carefully you will notice that the addresses on the street jump from to 70 to 54. A local advertising agency, Natwerk, thought that was odd and needed a fix. So they installed these mini houses to account for the missing addresses.
Who do you think lives in these tiny buildings? Perhaps that is a secret for another time.
We hope you enjoyed learning about some of Amsterdam’s secret places. Do you know an amazing secret place in Amsterdam? Get in touch with us on social media and tell us about it!
Be sure to also check out these 7 Secret Spots in Amsterdam that are excellent alternatives to the popular tourist sights.
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