Amsterdam Guide: Charming Oud West District

If you’ve visited Amsterdam before, or you’ve already ticked the city’s highlights off your bucket list, now it’s time to lose yourself in an off the beaten path neighbourhood. We know parts of Amsterdam can be touristy, but there are pockets of the city that are still undiscovered by most visitors. So we’ve put together the perfect itinerary in a cluster of tiny neighbourhoods in the Oud West district so you can enjoy a taste of Amsterdam like a local. Known for their charming houseboats, repurposed warehouses and tram depots and diverse streets, this area is perfect for eating, shopping and strolling - local style. 

 

Nestled between trendy Jordaan, the colourful Kosterlorenvaart Canal and the houseboats of the Lennepkade Canal is a small cluster of neighbourhoods known as Da Costabuurt, Kinkerbuurt and Van Lennepbuurt. Despite being densely populated, this triangular patch of the city is a breath of fresh air and a rich community spirit, and there’s always something new to discover. Experience local life in this pocket of urban tranquility in the midst of Amsterdam’s Oud West district where a family friendly vibe meets a young, dynamic crowd. Where else in the city could you find an elaborate Turkish mosque only to turn the corner and be met by a row of colourful house boats and traditional terraces? 

 

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Many visitors stumble across the neighbourhood on their way to De Hallen, a former tram depot turned cultural hub complete with a food lover’s market where you can indulge in local dishes and drinks, see the works and crafts of Dutch artists and artisans, browse the books in the library and catch some live jazz music. But don’t make the mistake of just passing through Kinkerbuurt on your way to this popular venue - there’s so much more to discover. A patchwork of quirky boutiques and concept stores, trendy cafes and hipster eateries, traditional Dutch bakeries and a sprinkling of Turkish food stores and cafes, this area is wonderfully diverse and full of hidden gems. 

 

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Whatever time of the day you arrive, start things off with a delicious (and healthy) stack of pancakes at Mook, which you’ll find in the north eastern quarter of Da Costabuurt. Putting an organic and green spin on Amsterdam’s penchant for pancakes, at this cosy cafe they use oat and spelt flour, and there’s vegan and gluten free options galore. Now you’re ready to explore, head west and stroll through the small but charming Bilderdijkpark, a canal-side park which is a spot that’s loved by the community and is actually home to the neighbourhood’s primary school. Cross the Bilderdijkgracht Canal over the De Clercqstraat bridge and you’ll find yourself in Kinkerbuurt, where more gems await. 

 

Meander along the western fringes of the neighbourhood, following the bank of the canal or lose yourself a little as you weave through the charming streets. Kinkerbuurt is a treasure chest of tiny independent boutiques as well as a sprinkling of generations old Dutch stores - but before you do some browsing, soak up the atmosphere away from the bustling shopping streets. As you follow the canal west, you’ll see the classic Dutch terraces that Amsterdam is known for; although much of Kinkerbuurt was demolished and rebuilt in the 1970s, many of its old buildings were preserved. At the corner of Bellamystraat, you’ll see the Westermoskee Ayasofya Camii on the other side of the water. This beautiful Turkish mosque is a relatively recent addition to the area, and with it’s glittering silver domes, towering minaret and white columned porticoes, for a second you could imagine you’re on the banks of the river in Istanbul.  

 

Continue along the canal until the path bends sharply left onto Jacob Van Lennepkade, then take the first left turn back into the heart of the neighbourhood on Lootsstraat. Weave your way along the small streets in this corner of the area and you’ll stumble across Turkish cafes and grocery stores selling intoxicating blends of spices, Turkish coffee and succulent dates. You’ll soon reach Kinkerstraat, the area’s main thoroughfare where cosy cafes sit alongside a mishmash of shops, and you’ll get a glimpse of the everyday local spirit of the area. 

 

Kinkerstraat is a bustling central shopping street, so you won’t find independent boutiques here. But luckily for you, you’re just a few paces from the jewel of the neighbourhood, the Ten Kate Markt which is open every day of the week except Sunday. Forget Albert Cuypmarkt, this is where locals really come to buy everything from garden fresh fruit and veg to bread straight from the ovens of local bakers, bouquets of brightly coloured flowers to rolls of fabric. Stop to buy a freshly squeezed orange juice and sip as you stroll, then pick up some kibbeling, deep fried pieces of plaice, to nibble as you soak up the vibes and check put what’s on offer. This is a diverse, down to earth market where you can taste delicious local food and get a taste of the local community spirit. 

 

From here, you’re just a stone’s throw from De Hallen, and it’s always worth popping in to see what cultural tip bits are on offer - check the programme and hopefully there’s some live music or a workshop to pop back for later. If you’re in need of a little pick-me-up in the form of something sweet, stop by Bakkerij Paul Année on Bellamystraat. At this small and unassuming bakery, wholemeal bread is baked the traditional artisan way, without any chemicals or fertiliser used to cultivate the grain. It’s in the warren of streets just behind De Hallen and this bakery which is where you’ll be able to see where Oud West’s reputation for quirky, independent boutique shopping comes from. 

 

Check out Uncover Lab a one of a kind concept store which went from humble pop up to permanent resident where you can get anything (and we mean anything) engraved. A tattoo shop for objects, just bring along whatever you’d like to be engraved (like your laptop) or buy something in store, as well as a drawing of what you’d like to be carved into said object, or you can design something with the team. Meander a little further along to Gathershop, a Scandinavian style boutique which where you’ll find a collection of handmade jewellery, homeware and accessories by undiscovered designers. They also sell a range of natural skincare products, and stepping inside the white and airy interior feels a world away from touristy chain stores. 

 

Cross the Bilderdijktraat over the Kinkerstraat bridge back into Da Costabuurt to explore the southern side of the neighbourhood. If you head south (by taking the first right after the bridge), you’ll find another of Oud West’s best loved stores: Jutka & Riska. A treasure trove of vintage finds and their own label, everything is organised by colour. Keep going a little further and you’ll find a little piece of Oud West’s history, a reminder of the neighbourhood’s roots and the days when many of the homes here were social housing. Bathhouse Da Costa Kade opened in 1903, and as the only public baths left in the Netherlands it’s run by a team of volunteers. 

 

After so much exploring, your legs are probably in need of a sit down, and you very well might be feeling like something to drink. Happily for you, your final stop is both a) just around the corner and b) named for the way we hope you’re feeling right now. Double back on yourself one block and mosey up Bilderdijkstraat until you find Happyhappyjoyjoy, an eatery which brings the steaming pans and sizzling woks of Bangkok and Saigon to this little corner of Amsterdam. Something of an assault to the senses, you’ll be whisked away to the markets and vibrant streets of Asia as you sip sake, a chilli infused cocktail or a Tsingtao beer and feast on freshly made dim sum, bao buns and steaming bowls of pho. 

 

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