24 Hours in Amsterdam with Tim Boelaars

by Sabrina Smelko

Amsterdam City Guide

Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, historic architecture and laid-back culture. It’s sometimes even referred to as the Venice of Western Europe. While there is no doubt that Amsterdam is a beautiful city on the outside, designer/illustrator Tim Boelaars believes that it’s the people and lifestyle the city encourages that make it beautiful, saying “I’ve visited a good bunch of other cities in Europe and the United Sates, but I’m still very happy living in Amsterdam.” Tim was born in Haarlem, the capital of North Holland, and has lived in Amsterdam for the past six years. He runs a creative studio in Amsterdam-West where he offers icon, identity, logo, and packaging design, as well as illustration and art direction. He also runs a men’s lifestyle shop with friends and works as a curator and photographer. Today he’s sharing his ideal 24 hours in Amsterdam with us. –Sabrina

Read the full guide after the jump…


One of the reasons I like this city is its people and how they’re treated — there are no crazy differences between the rich and poor. Due to social housing in the city center and the difficulties foreign investors experience in the city center, the city remains to keep a lot of its authentic character. The people that live here tend to have a tolerant view on things and life in general. I’ve also noticed how there’s less of a working-mentality in Amsterdam than in New York or London, for example. I wouldn’t say I prefer one over the other, but I do enjoy that people seem to be a little more present here and spend a bit more time living and a bit less working. People enjoy going out, and I love how the city fills with cafe terraces in the summer, where people drink beers and enjoy the sun.

I think Amsterdam is seen best by bike on a sunny day. If you follow these activities on a bike, I’m quite certain you’ll have fun and also get a great view upon different parts of the city.

8 am: Wake up and start the day off right with an espresso from LOT Sixty One Coffee Roasters on the Kinkerstraat 112.


9 am: For breakfast, head over to the Gebroeders Niemeijer in the city center. It’s located in a weird touristy area, but it’s absolutely worth checking out. Undoubtedly, they bake the best French-style bread in Amsterdam.

10 am: Grab your bike and head over to the most beautiful art museum of Amsterdam. The Rijksmuseum covers a collection of the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. If you’re not much of an old art fan or don’t like crowded / touristy museums, I suggest you go to the Foam — a cool, small photography museum.

11:30 am: In between the museums and lunch, you have some time to visit the Vondelpark. A perfect place for a morning stroll, people-watching or taking a nap in the sun.

1 pm: For lunch, I love getting a good sandwich or two at Small World in the Jordaan area. You’ll most likely be greeted by the friendly Australian owner.

2 pm: You’re now in the Jordaan area, which I consider to be the most beautiful part of the city. It’s not too touristy and is the best place for walking on the canals. So please do so, and check out some of my favorite shops while you’re there. To start off, just around the corner from your lunch place, there is Concrete Matter — a mini-market with must-haves for men, a shop I co-founded which is now run by my two friends.


Next up, try and visit Flesch Records, a smoke-filled little shop, tucked away behind the Noorderkerk, they offer more than classical music, jazz, beat and easy-listening vinyl. Then, head over to Mendo in the 9 straatjes (9 streets) – a well-curated bookstore with the latest books on fashion, photography, architecture, and interior and graphic design. In the same area, there is a store named Velours that carries some very nice Scandinavian clothing for both men and women. In case you’re like me, a sucker for anything stationery, ride your bike and go see the Vlieger store, Europe’s oldest stationer. Tapes, foils and book-binding materials make up the ground-floor’s stock, while upstairs is the domain of all artists and architect requirements. There’s a lot more cool stores to visit, so I’ve added a few more in my favourites below.

5 pm: Now that you’re all worn out from wandering around the canals and clumsily cycling around the city, you have to treat yourself to a good drink. If the sun is out, you should go to Cafe ’t Smalle and order yourself a beer and jenever, a combination known in Dutch as a “kopstoot” (head-butt). Jenever is truly traditional Dutch liquor and has similarities to gin. Nothing beats a nice drink on the terrace of this picturesque corner café in the Jordaan, with little sloops mooring right outside. This is actually where Pieter Hoppe started his first jenever distillery in 1780.

7 pm: For dinner, I suggest the close-by located Cafe de Curtis, a super small authentic Italian restaurant, by far my favourite in town! If you’re a little more adventurous or looking to dine somewhere with a larger group, grab a cab to cross the IJ river and go to De Goudfazant, an old warehouse with exposed girders, concrete surfaces and a few classic cars parked around; laid-back staff serve French-influenced cuisine beneath a huge glass chandelier.


10 pm: Late-night drinks are calling and they are served best at Vesper, a small cocktail bar located in the Jordaan area. If you’re not a lover of cocktails, and prefer to taste the wide variety of Dutch and Belgium beers, go visit Cafe Gollem.

12 am: If you are not ready for bedtime yet, you can always show some of your dance moves in the Paradiso, an old church transformed into Amsterdam’s most famous concert venue. Check to see what’s playing or check out the Chicago Social Club or Melkweg.

Favorite places:

BAK Restaurant
De Goudfazant

Hotel Not Hotel
Hotel Dwars

Museums / Attractions:
Van Gogh Museum

Tim has also created a Google Map of his favorite places. Be sure to check it out for even more Amsterdam goodness!

Suggested For You


  • I’ve heard so many great things about Amsterdam and I love this little guide. I’ll have to put it away for a visit in the future.

  • Ahh! I could have used this a few months ago. Had an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam. I did stumble upon Concrete Matter on my own, though!

    • Kelsey

      Oh bummer, sorry we were late! Hope you had fun on your layover- did you make it to Frozen Fountain? That’s one of my favs :)


  • Grace,

    Thanks for the tip—I missed that one. Just one more reason to go back someday, though! I’d love to spend some real (non-layover) time exploring.

  • My husband and I are heading to Amsterdam this summer! SO EXCITED. I’d love to hear others’ suggestions too! xoxo

  • I lived in Amsterdam and this is a really nice little guide! But let me suggest The Blue Sheep Bed& Brackfast as the most nice place where to sleep in town!! Enjoy it

  • Very excited to have this information since we will be visiting Amsterdam in May of this year. THANKS.

  • Just spent 12 days in Amsterdam and was completely charmed. Tim’s right about the Jordaan (though he appears to have left out the carrot cake at Small World!), such a lovely area. We also loved Moeder’s, which is Dutch comfort food, has good prices, and is entirely covered wall-to-wall with pictures of customers’ mothers. Amazing! http://www.moeders.com/

  • Hotel Not a Hotel looks nice. We just got back from a few days in Amsterdam at the end of December. I was a fan of the Stedelijk the most.

  • For any treasure hunters – the third weekend of the month is when the most wonderful second hand/junk/antiques market happens across the Ij River. There are also 2 or 3 restuarants/bars with huge terraces and live music right on the water – they are just so very cool dutch and laidback.

    Another good weekly market (local food, 2nd hand clothes) is every Monday on the Niuewe Plain outside the Nieuwe Kerk up in the Jordaan.

    You can also book a houseboat to stay on in the Jordaan area via Airbnb

  • The local market with curiosa, food and second hand clothes is every monday morning on the Noordermarkt. A splendid place for a bargainhunt and a to enjoy breakfast or brunch in one of the cosy cafe’s that surround the market. A good combination with a shopping spree in the Haarlemmerstraat, my favourite street (even better than the 9 straatjes (9 streets), or the Anne Frank house on the Prinsengracht. Don’t forget to visit Foam ( Photography museum Amsterdam) on the Herengracht to see a great exhibition. Have fun!

  • Great guide! I used this last week and visited some really nice places. Particular favourites were LOT Sixty One Coffee Roasters and Mendo. Also went to Melkweg and Paradiso for some great nights. Best restaurant I went to (not sure if this is in your guide) was Envy (www.envy.nl) – crazy good food. They do a great lunch too.