Having relocated to Amsterdam from Sydney, user experience designer Helen Arvanitopoulos is our eyes and ears on the ground in the charismatic city she now calls home. Describe Amsterdam in 5 words. A colourful, unpredictable city best explored via foot or bike but be careful, it is quite mad! Favourite hotels/places to stay? Pulitzer Hotel and W Hotel in the city centre, Pillows Hotel next to Vondelpark and Sir Adam in Noord. List 5-10 of favourite restaurants, café’s, eateries and bars. Feel free to describe what type of cuisine and any special or memorable dishes we must try. Scandinavian Embassy– for the best coffee in Amsterdam and their famous cinnamon buns, a must visit. I would grab a take away and sit in opposite Sarphatipark or walk to Albert Cuyp Markets to get a real Amsterdam feel. Café Panache– Vibrant restaurant and bar with an amazing menu any foodie would love. Winkel 43– The most famous Dutch apple pie house. Do not leave Amsterdam without going here. Foodhallen – International food hall market with live music and DJs in the evening. Vesper– Elegant cocktail bar in the trendy west area. Waterkant – When the suns out, want a Sunday sesh or long afternoon drinks along the water – hit here. Glou Glou– Wine bar with an extensive wine list by glass and bottle. Bar Oldenhof– Old fashioned, high end cocktail bar. Brouwerij’t IJ– Amsterdam’s local brewery, get off the tourist map and head to the locals favourite. SOTTO– Italian pizza, one of the best pizzas I’ve eaten in general and I’ve eaten some great pizza’s. Los Feliz– Seriously one of the best Mexican restaurants you’ll find and it’s right in Amsterdam. Where are the best cultural landmarks or historical sites to visit by foot or bike in Amsterdam? Museumplein to visit the museums – Van Gogh, Rijks, Stedelijk and Moco. You can also see the famous iamsterdam sign. Take the ferry from Amsterdam Centraal (which is free) and only takes 2 mins to cross over to Noord to visit the EYE Museum, A’DAM Tower and also visit many outdoor bars/eateries like Pllek. Can’t miss walking or biking and even having a picnic in Amsterdam’s famous Vondelpark. Pick yourself up some cured meats, cheese, crackers and wine from the many nearby supermarkets, grab a blanket and chill out in the park. Heineken Experience in the cities west, which is also close by to the canal tours to see the city via the water. List 3 of the best fashion / design / lifestyle / accessory shopping destinations. De Bijenkorf Hudson Bay We Are Labels Where’s great to go for… Coffee? Toki in Amsterdam west, amazing specialty coffee with a creative menu to match Cocktails? Hiding in Plain Sight A long lunch? Lotti’s at the Hoxton Fine dining? Restaurant De Compagnon Art? FOAM Photography Museum Dancing? Chin Chin Club Top 3 must-visit hubs or districts in Amsterdam. De Pijp Oud West Jordaan Describe the culture, atmosphere (music – traditions – food – vibe) and people. The Dutch are simple but direct people that enjoy a casual lifestyle. From fashion to food, there is always a preference of comfort. Remember everyone gets around on a bike and very fast, no heels here. Sneakers are your best friend with a backpack to match. The food ideology is equally as simple - cheese and bread for lunch and generally a lot of bread with dishes. You can also try their famous bitterballen and for the sweet tooth’s out there – stroopwafels. Secret tip for first time travelers going to Amsterdam? No secret but to dress casual and comfortable to get around easily. Layers also as it’s cold most of the time, however in the warmer seasons always carry a light jacket and sunglasses. You never know. Best weekend escape destination? Jump on the very quick trains the Netherlands have provided for their people and head to the many beautiful cities close by like Haarlem, Utrecht or The Hague. You can find Helen on Instagram @helias 

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