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20 Things Amsterdammers Love About Amsterdam

There's nothing like doing a city like a local rather than a tourist. So we teamed up with British Airways to ask Amsterdam residents where the secret hotspots are.

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1. The secret medieval court behind the city

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Begijnhof court, a hidden group of ancient buildings and private houses, dates back to the Middle Ages. It's a little off the beaten track as it is a residential area but it is quiet, peaceful and steeped in history.

2. Buying Dutch design at Droog or Frozen Fountain

Jordanhill School D&T Dept /Flickr/(CC BY http://2.0) / Via Flickr: designandtechnologydepartment

If you have some holiday spends, head to design store Droog and kit your home out with some fancy Dutch design. They sell everything from teapots to furniture (though you won't fit that in your suitcase!).

Frozen Fountain is another gem of a shop - a real Aladdin's cave of chic homeware.

3. Picnicking at Vondelpark

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Vondelpark was opened in 1865 as a respite from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam.

There's a cafe/bar called 't Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Tea House) nestled amongst the trees which sometimes has events on Saturday nights. According to Ged, our man in the know: "If it's not raining it's a good place to go - it's a bar bang in the middle of the trees in the park."

Over 10 million people visit each year to see the park's open air theatres, shows and events. And they can't all be wrong.

4. Drinking beer inside an old windmill turned brewery

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Brouwerij 't IJ is not only one of the most iconic breweries in Amsterdam – it's located next to the De Gooyer windmill. The beers are all organic and there's a big outdoor terrace to drink on when it's sunny.

5. Renting a bike and exploring the town

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50% of Amsterdam's traffic is made up of cyclists and it's a quick, easy and cheap way to get around town. A good place to rent from is Rent-a-bike Damstraa.

6. Sampling Surinamese cuisine at Dappermarkt street market

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The Republic of Suriname is a Dutch colony in South America. The cuisine is a blend of lots of cultures: think Indonesia, Indian, and Chinese, so there's a lot of seafood, barbecue, roti, curries and cassava on offer.

Dappermarkt is also brilliant for fruit, vegetables, cheese and freshly squeezed juices.

7. Taking a stroll along the canal ring

Jean-Pierre Lescourret / Getty Images

Amsterdam's 400-year-old waterways have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. They're not only scenic, they're packed with hundreds of bars and cafes so you're able to stop for a beer between drinking in the history. Although there's 160 canals and over 1,250 bridges, the biggest four are Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht, Herengracht and the Singel. Don't fancy a walk? Try a canal bus instead.

8. Visiting the Stadsarchief (The City Archive)

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The Stadsarchief is the largest municipal archive in the world. Entrance to some of the exhibitions is free (via the basement) or a guided tour can be booked and paid for. The building itself is pretty magnificent.

9. The Albert Cuypmarkt street market

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Amsterdam is the most multi-cultural city in the world and is home to at least 176 nationalities. Amsterdam's largest street market, Albert Cuypmarkt , reflects this, selling everything from meat to fruit to flowers to sunglasses. It's a smorgasbord of nationalities with Dutch, Moroccan, Indonesian and many others seen haggling over the price of smoked fish.

10. Buying flowers at Bloemenmarkt

Kimberley Coole / Getty Images

The Bloemenmarkt is the perfect place to observe Amsterdam's tulips and pick up a bunch or two if you're staying with a host. They also sell pairs of painted clogs, but true Amsterdammers outside of cartoons probably don't buy them.

11. Partying at Blijburg beach

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Amsterdam isn't located next to the sea, I hear you cry. Well, no it's not, but the Dutch have prevailed and built a beach. Actually, they built an entire island: IJburg, and throw amazing beach parties there.

12. Attending secret free concerts at Concertgebouw

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Every September until June this concert hall offers free concerts on Wednesday lunchtimes. It's a bit of a bunfight to get a seat, so show up as early as you can.

13. Checking out a good read at Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam

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The Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Public Library Amsterdam) is not only the biggest public library in Europe, it has spectacular waterside views over Amsterdam. The OBA has over 500 computer terminals (if you need to Skype someone back home), three restaurants and tinkly live piano music to help you relax.

14. Clubbing at Trouw

@TrouwAmsterdam Right club: Where are the best places to parties in Europe? TROUW , AMSTERDAM , NETHERLANDS

shopswindows@shopswindows

@TrouwAmsterdam Right club: Where are the best places to parties in Europe? TROUW , AMSTERDAM , NETHERLANDS

12:43 PM - 22 May 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

According to locals Trouw is the 'best club in Amsterdam, possibly the world…'.

Calling Trouw a club is doing it a disservice - the space itself is more of an events explosion: offering music, food, exhibitions and general merrymaking.

15. Visiting this secret museum: Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder

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Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder is a 17th-century canal house, house church, and museum. It's a small museum, but a hidden gem, and the clandestine church at the top of the building is well worth a look.

16. Drinking cocktails at Bo Cinq

Ridiculously great wagyu beef burgers at @bocinq Amsterdam tonight. Oh, and this happened #itsnotabar @simonredfern

Corey duBrowa@coreydu

Ridiculously great wagyu beef burgers at @bocinq Amsterdam tonight. Oh, and this happened #itsnotabar @simonredfern

11:08 PM - 26 Mar 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

Bo Cinq is famous for it's chilled out vibe and excellent cocktails. But if you're feeling flush, head over to Hiding in Plain Sight on the corner of Peperstraat and Rapeburg. It is prohabition-themed and a 'real hidden gem' according to our local in the know. The burgers are said to be good too.

17. Haggling at the IJhallen flea market

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The IJhallen is the biggest flea market in Europe.

The entrance fee isn't cheap (€ 4.50) but it's packed with everything and anything you could ever imagine buying. Local rumour has it that if you go an hour or so before opening time you can pay a small bribe and be let in even earlier, thus beating the crowds.

18. Having a late drink at Lux

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Described as bohemian, laid-back and cultured, we have it on good authority that Lux doesn't get busy until around midnight. It's open until 4am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. We were also warned by our mole "I tend to lose a bike after going to Lux".

19. Exploring the creative and art community at NDSM-werf

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NDSM-werf (wharf) used to be known as the Nederlands Dok en Scheepsgebouw Maatschappij or the Dutch Dock and Shipbuilding Company.

It was once the largest shipyard in Europe. Nowadays, it is used for art installations, events, galleries and skateparks.

Make sure you stop and have a drink at Pllek - a beach bar made from shipping crates and rusty boats.

20. Walking through the forest at Amsterdamse Bos

HJBH / Getty Images

Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam forest) is another man-made creation (like the beach above). It isn't actually a forest - it's a landscaped (or 'English') park and contains a pool, a goat farm, running tracks and often hosts festivals and activities.

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