The café terrace is to Amsterdam what the piazza is to Rome—a convivial social space where you savor a coffee or a beer while soaking up the sun, chatting with your neighbor, or indulging in some serious people-watching while lingering over a meal. This being Amsterdam, you really want your terrace to have a waterside view, and luckily, there are many options. Here’s our selection of some city favorites, plus a new restaurant where the food is just as impressive as the panaroma.
Locations don’t come much better than that of the-restaurant of Amsterdam’s film museum, EYE ( pictured ; worth a visit regardless, for its screenings, exhibits and spectacular architecture). On the edge of Amsterdam Noord across the IJ bay (take the ferry from behind Central Station to get there), it offers wonderful panoramic views whether you’re sitting outside or inside—thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass wall. With a great selection of bite-size foods on the menu, from shrimp croquettes to Dutch meatballs, grab a seat on the expansive terrace, and get a vivid view of the boats going by.
Grand Café de Jaren
A widespread favorite among locals, the centrally located Grand Café is a great pit stop after visiting the popular Flower Market. The terrace, actually an extended jetty alongside which boats can moor, is at the back, down a small staircase, and offers a perfect canalside view—great for watching the boats and their passengers float by. If the terrace is full, you still have the expansive waterfront balcony upstairs, which rises above a leafy, tree-lined seat. Both offer unbeatable views of the Amstel River.
It’s such an institution that there’s even a book about De Ysbreker, by the Dutch writer Geert Mak. In the past, the old ice-breaking ship (from 1702, no less) was moored on the River Amstel. Today, it’s a lively café restaurant with good food and a lovely sunny terrace on the river—a spot frequented by every imaginable sort of Amsterdammer, and very few tourists. They come for the extensive drinks menu, and sip a beer, wine or spirit while nibbling on a seafood plateau.
Newly opened, MOS offers an impressive menu—it is, after all, the new showcase for the talents of chef Egon van Hoof (formerly of the Michelin-starred Aan de Poel) and sommelier Henry Pattiwael van Westerloo. Though short in length, every intricately imposed plate has an impact on the table. It sports an equally imposing view from its terrace on the IJ. This is yet another venue that makes crossing the water from Central Station thoroughly worth it.
Jane Szita is on the Netherlands beat for Travel + Leisure . She lives in Amsterdam.