Originally from the southern Netherlands, Shawn Ruth van Heuckelum moved to Amsterdam in 2009. Since then she’s lived in nearly every part of the Dutch capital—a city, she says, that has far more to offer than tulips and clogs.
A passionate writer, explorer, and foodie, Shawn Ruth shares her insider intel about the latest and greatest restaurants, attractions, and experiences with the world as a blogger for Spotted by Locals.
“Amsterdam always surprises me…in the moments when I least expect it,” she says. “Even after years of living here, sometimes I still get lost, not only in the small streets but also in the beauty this city has to offer.”
Here are a few of Shawn Ruth’s favorite things about the place she’s proud to call home.
Amsterdam Is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is for a stroll along the canals toward the de Pijp district to show off the local side of Amsterdam.
Summer is the best time to visit my city because Amsterdam has its own beach and outdoor swimming pool, stunning parks, happy people, and ice-cold IJwit beer from a local brewery. What’s not to love?
Locals know to skip the touristy places and check out the little hot spots outside the city center, such as Café de Wetering, instead.
The Albert Cuyp Market is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. Look for tulips, clogs, candy, and homemade Dutch cheese.
My city’s best museum is the Stedelijk Museum because it reflects the modern vibe of the city.
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that Amsterdam is a bicycle jungle. Join the madness by hopping on a fancy rental bike to crisscross the city and get a taste of how the Dutchies get around.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is at Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s communal backyard. If you prefer a quieter park, visit Westerpark on the west end of town. Make sure to stop at Pacific Parc while you’re there!
My city really knows how to celebrate King’s Day. The city becomes a sea of orange, our national color, as locals celebrate the Dutch king’s birthday and keep the festive fun going with dance parties and outdoor markets.
You can tell if someone is from my city if you see them cycling in a suit or high heels.
For a fancy night out, I go to the Conservatorium Hotel, where dedicated bartenders serve up the best gin and tonics in town.
My city is known for its Red Light District and liberal marijuana policy, but it’s really so much more!
The best outdoor market in my city is the Neighborfood Market.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I book a dinner through Bohobees, a Dutch online platform where travelers and locals can meet up to share a plate and a story. You can always eat for less than €10.
To escape the crowds, I visit the Amsterdamse Bos. If the weather allows, stroll around and get lost in this beautiful forest away from the busy center.
The dish that represents my city best is bitterballen (savory meatballs) or herring and Zatte, the classic beer from microbrewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ, is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Haringstal A. van Dok and Oedipus Brewing respectively.
Grabbing a nosh from a Febo “snack wall” could only happen in my city.
In the summer you should organize a BBQ in Vondelpark. It’s a giant green space where locals play Frisbee, celebrate their birthday, visit the Open Air Theatre, or just chill on the grass with their guitar.
In the winter you should go to Louis to drink red wine and play board games when it’s cold outside.
The best book about my city is Millennium of Amsterdam: A Spatial History of a Marvellous City by Fred Feddes because he makes the city’s history come alive through wonderful photographs and old protest posters.