Often-unpredictable weather doesn’t deter Amsterdammers from maintaining a lively terrace culture — it may even encourage it. The moment the sun shines, locals head outdoors to soak up the rays. Pull up a chair and join them at one of these top Amsterdam alfresco spots.
The EYE Film Museum’s relocation in 2012 from Vondelpark to Amsterdam North has been instrumental in putting this previously overlooked borough firmly on the map. Hop on one of the free ferries behind Central Station and travel across the IJ Lake toward the stark white and arrestingly asymmetrical building. Catch an old black-and-white movie in one of the museum’s four screening rooms, then head to the restaurant to watch city life unfold in full color from the stunning waterfront terrace. Take a seat in an array of modern chairs (matching the pristine white of the building’s exterior, of course) and enjoy dishes such as poached plaice fillet with cauliflower purée, turnips and young small potatoes, or ravioli stuffed with mini tomatoes, fried eggplant, beurre blanc, basil oil and artichoke chips, all while sipping a crisp white, red or rosé wine.
A few steps from Kalverstraat (one of the city’s busiest shopping streets) is the elegant and serene Hotel de l’Europe. Make your way through the lobby for a seat on the aptly named Het Terras (“The Terrace”). Wrapped around the back of the building and draped in shade by large umbrellas, the area pairs a menu offering a wide range of international dishes from gazpacho to north sea lobster curry and stewed lambs neck with front-row views of the River Amstel and passing water traffic.
Straddling one of the Canal Belt’s broadest bridges, the Torensluis, the terrace of this traditional, wood-paneled bar and café offers picture-perfect vistas of Amsterdam’s historic center and hours of unimpeded sunshine. Visit in the late afternoon and join the after-work crowd for a crisp mojito or Cosmopolitan and snack of smoked chicken sandwiches, hot wings, cucumber sticks and more.
Occupying another piece of prime riverside real estate is the InterContinental Amstel. Dating back to 1867, this is the hotel of choice for visiting celebrities, including the Ocean’s Twelve cast, which stayed here during filming in 2004. The hotel’s recently opened A Bar serves exclusive small plates and classic cocktails — from the Clover Clubs (Nolet dry gin, raspberry vinegar syrup, egg white, Aphrodite bitters, fresh lemon juice) to Downfall Juleps (Roggenaer Aged genever, pineapple, orange, raspberry, maraschino) — in a copper- and-marble-clad interior as well as on its airy terrace, where long couches and sweeping views encourage you to linger.
On the site of a former gasworks in Westerpark, WestergasTerras bar and restaurant offers a memorable experience during any season. In the colder months, the “terrace” is restricted to one of the park’s historic buildings and an open fire keeps visitors snug. Come spring, however, the doors and retractable glass walls are thrown open and wooden tables and chairs are set up between the trees outside, perfect for enjoying a pitcher of beer or a glass of rich Makers Mark.
Photos courtesy of Amstel Hotel, Hotel del Europe and EYE the new film museum in Amsterdam