With its famous canals and museums, Amsterdam is a sure stop for the cultural traveler. And, for those looking to discover the city’s quirky side, there’s plenty to see off the beaten path too – it’s just a matter of knowing where to look. Here are 7 hidden cultural gems in Amsterdam you need to see:
Our hidden cultural gems in Amsterdam
1. The Movies
Watch a movie in a screening room that looks like a movie set – The Movies is the Inception of cinema-going experiences. Its gorgeous Art Deco interior has remained virtually unchanged since the cinema opened in 1912. They even have an Art Deco bar and restaurant!
For a great night out, visit The Movies at the edge of the lively Jordaan for a casual, yet totally in-style Asian dinner and an art house film.
The Movies, Haarlemmerdijk 161, Amsterdam. 3-course dinner for €30+. Restaurant open daily 17:30 – 22:00. Check their website for movie screenings.
2. Electric Ladyland
If it’s quirky you want, then quirky you will get. Named after Jimi Hendrix’s third and final album, Electric Ladyland is as electrifying as Jimi’s guitar riffs.
Run by a hippie couple, the Museum of Fluorescent Art turns into a whole different world when the lights go off (and the black lights go on). Together with passionate stories from the owners, this small two-storey museum is a unique experience and well worth an hour (or two) of your day. That is, if you’re up for a psychedelic experience!
Electric Ladyland, Tweede Leliedwarsstraat 5, Amsterdam. Entrance for €5. Open Tue – Sat from 13:00 – 18:00.
3. The Museum of Bags and Purses
Fashionistas need to visit the Museum of Bags and Purses. This stunning 17th-century building is home to over 5,000 historic bags and purses. Who would’ve thought that over 500 years of human history can be told through accessories?
From bible-carriers for men to Parisian glass bead bags from the 18th century, and from Madonna’s Versace bag to Judith Leiber’s ‘the Cupcake’, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje has just about every bag or purse you can think of. And many you can’t even imagine. The Guardian named The Museum of Bags and Purses one of the ‘10 best museums in Europe you’ve never heard of’.
Tassenmuseum Hendrikje, Herengracht 573, Amsterdam. Tickets from €14. Open daily 10:00 – 17:00.
4. Nieuwe Spiegelstraat
If you thought the Museumplein has Amsterdam’s most dense population of museums, think again. Known as Museum Square’s driveway, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is lined with antique shops, each dedicated to its own little niche in time.
With over 70 art and antique dealers, this entire street is filled with museum-worthy exhibitions. Understandably popular with window shoppers, it’s also a destination for international collectors looking for a Medieval lithograph, Ming vase, or dinosaur tooth.
Nieuwe Spiegelstraat, Amsterdam. Opening times vary between shops.
5. Pasta e Basta
And, when you’re done exploring all the museums and artifacts, there’s another unique experience waiting for you along the Nieuwe Spiegelstraat. Pasta e Basta does Italian food the way you like it – traditional trattoria-style with fresh artisanal ingredients, paired with a great range of wines.
And there’s more to Pasta e Basta. The ornate cantina has a gifted singing staff that serenades the diners with songs from opera to pop. They’re as passionate about music as the Italians are about their food, making the dinner show at Pasta e Basta a rich experience for all the senses.
Pasta e Basta, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 8, Amsterdam. Dinner show from €49,50. Dinner show starts daily at 18:00.
Micropia is all about culture in biological terms. As the most innovative museum of 2016, this microscopic wonderland reveals a world that normally remains hidden to the eye. To visit here is to come face-to-face with the usually invisible world of micro-organisms.
Tucked away in the Artis Royal zoo, this other zoo of bacteria and germs shows just how much impact microbes have on our lives! Visit Micropia to get to know the gazillions of cohabitants of your body.
Micropia, ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo, Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, Amsterdam. Tickets from €14. Open Thu – Sat 10:00 – 20:00, Sun – Wed 09:00 – 18:00.
7. The Cat Cabinet
An entire canal house dedicated to our feline friends – this is a hidden gem cat lovers can’t miss! The Kattenkabinet is worth a visit for the canal house itself, which is so impressive it was used in the 2004 movie Ocean’s Twelve. And there’s more to the Cat Cabinet than George Clooney’s lingering aura.
The Cat Cabinet is full of cat-themed artwork, some of which was made by famous artists like Picasso, Rembrandt, and Steinlen. Paintings, sculptures, prints, strange artefacts, and, of course, actual felines purring around the museum too.
Het Kattenkabinet, Herengracht 497, Amsterdam. Tickets from €7. Open Mon – Fri 10:00 – 17:00, Sat – Sun 12:00 – 17:00.
Plenty more to discover!
Did you enjoy our hidden cultural gems in Amsterdam? You’ll find plenty more to discover in Amsterdam here!