A few short years ago, there were hardly any vegan choices in Amsterdam. Now, the capital city of The Netherlands has become so vegan friendly that there are almost too many places to choose from, as Rhiannon Magor discovers in this comprehensive vegan guide to Amsterdam…
For this guide I’ve looked only at places located in the most central area within the canal belt.
The Vegan Amsterdam group on Facebook has over 5,000 members and people regularly post events and restaurant reviews – facebook.com/groups/590601671005477/.
Where to eat
Vegan Junk Food Bar
The first branch of Vegan Junk Food Bar opened in 2017, and they have grown to four restaurants in Amsterdam plus one in Rotterdam. Aside from signature burgers, they also offer a vegan ‘Kapsalon’, meaning hair-dresser, a dish supposedly first served to a local hairdresser. The lower layer is regular or sweet potato fries, covered with vegan shawarma and cheese cooked together, topped with salad, jalapeños and dressing. The multi-coloured unicorn bread is also popular.
City Centre branch at Reguliersdwarsstraat 57. Open daily 11am-midnight, veganjunkfoodbar.com
Vegetarian falafel chain Maoz originated in Amsterdam where they opened their first store in 1991 and are now a worldwide franchise. In 2018, all their Amsterdam branches became 100% vegan. In addition to falafel, they also sell fries, mushroom shawarma or fried aubergine. With three outlets in the city centre plus another in the Pijp, Maoz offers fast food at a low price.
The city centre branches stay open until 1am/2am. The most commonly ordered dish is falafel in pitta bread with refillable salad, served with or without houmous. Maoz is a basic snackbar with no toilet in some stores and only a few stools, so customers stand or eat on the street.
Muntplein 1 – open daily 11am-1am, Damrak 40 – open 11am-2am, Leidsestraat 85 – open 11am-1am, maozusa.com/restaurants/locations/amsterdam
TerraZen is a Japanese/Caribbean fusion restaurant located on a quiet side street between Centraal Station and Magna Plaza. If this seems a strange mix, these are the nationalities of the married-to-each-other owners.
Dishes include a vegan BLT, tempeh and vegetable sushi rolls, savoury Japanese pancakes, noodle dishes and mixed vegetable plates. Because of the former Dutch colony of Suriname, roti with mild or medium curry is very popular in The Netherlands. TerraZen is one of the few places serving this where you can guarantee it’s 100% vegan.
Sint Jacobsstraat 19HS, open daily 10am-10pm, terrazencentre.com
Mediamatic is an art centre located east of central station, which also serves vegan food. Mediamatic ETEN is the restaurant and bar part and is located in a greenhouse on the waterfront attached to the arts centre. Between Sunday and Tuesday it’s very much worth a visit since they serve some of the best vegan pizza in Amsterdam.
Unlike most places, Mediamatic does not go for any substitutes resembling cheese, yet they still manage toppings which stay on the pizza. The end result is a tasty but often very un-Italian pizza, such as green curry sauce with roasted pepper, onion, black beans and coco-cream. They also offer a sweet option topped with organic dark chocolate and cinnamon sauce, very popular to share as dessert.
Dijksgracht 6, open daily from 11am. Kitchen opens for menu/pizza from 4pm, restaurant closes 10pm Sun-Wed, midnight Thur-Sat, mediamatic.net
Hartbiet Café is a small café and catering company located inside De Nieuwe Yogaschool in the Jordaan. All their meals are vegetarian, and the majority also vegan. They serve soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps as well as shakes, breakfast oatmeal and hot or cold drinks. Hartbiet is especially worth a visit in the summer when guests can sit outside in their enclosed and peaceful inner garden. If you want to practice yoga during your trip, De Nieuwe Yogaschool offers single classes for EUR 15, covering a variety of yoga styles.
Open Mon-Tue 8:30am-8:30pm, Fri 8:30am-7:30pm, Sat 9:30am-5pm, Sun 9:30am-6pm, hartbiet.nl
Delicious Deshima Lunchroom
This is a vegan macrobiotic café close to the Rijksmuseum, serving only organic food. The menu changes daily, but they serve a mix of soups, pasties, condiments and salads, along with meals consisting of grains, tempeh, beans, sea vegetables and pickles.
There is a Deshima organic supermarket in the same building and they organise regular events and courses, so it is worth checking out their website.
Weteringschans 65, open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, macrobiotics.nl/deshima/restaurant.html
Spirit is a vegetarian buffet-style restaurant located east of Centraal Station close to the windmill and tasting room of the Ij Brewery. Everything is 100% organic, and a large proportion of the dishes are vegan. Dishes are clearly labelled so it’s easy to see which are vegetarian rather than vegan. Spirit is a comparatively large restaurant so it’s rarely necessary to book in advance and is suited to large groups.
Czaar Peterstraat 2a, open daily 8am-11pm, www.spiritrestaurants.nl/amsterdam/
Juice Brothers is a chain of juice stores, several serving Van Leeuwen vegan ice cream, including the city centre branch on Raamsteeg, behind Leidseplein. Flavours can be unusual – black sesame or spirulina alongside honeycomb and pistachio. They also sell acai and matcha bowls, cakes and cookies.
Raamsteeg 2, open Mon-Fri 7:30am-6pm, Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 10am-10pm, juicebro.com/location/raamsteeg-2/
The Cold Pressed Juicery
The Cold Pressed Juicery is a juice chain also selling vegan soups, smoothie bowls, take-away salads, sweets and wraps. All their juices are raw, organic and full of vitamins. The salads come in reusable jars and contain a mix of vegetables, grains and beans. The soup menu changes seasonally.
Herengracht 245 or Prinsengracht 154, both open Mon-Fri 7:30am-7pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am- 6pm, thecoldpressedjuicery.com
Men Impossible is a vegan ramen restaurant located close to the houseboat museum in the Jordaan where you can only eat by reservation. Booking can be done online for two people or less, but by phone only for larger groups. For just a ramen bowl with complimentary tea you pay EUR 14, but they also offer course meals with starters for EUR 25.70. This is a very small restaurant and the opening hours do change. They also close when the owner takes a holiday, so it may not always be possible to eat here.
Hazenstraat 19H, open Thu-Sat 5:30pm- 9pm, Sun midday-2pm and 5:30pm-9pm, men-impossible.business.site
Top five places to visit
1. Amsterdam’s Museums — I-Amsterdam Card
Amsterdam has several well-known museums. All charge an entry fee, though from 2020 some will be free of charge one day per month. If you plan to visit the Anne Frank or Van Gogh museum, tickets need to be booked in advance. The Anne Frank House can get fully booked weeks in advance, so plan ahead. Others including the Rijksmuseum, Hermitage, Stedelijk and the Nemo Science Museum do not usually need advance bookings. The I-Amsterdam city card gives you unlimited access to more than 70 museums, as well as free travel on public transport.
2. Take A Ferry
Ferries leave from behind Centraal Station to the north of the city and are free of charge. The most frequent ferry goes to the Eye Film Museum, which sits alongside Adam Lookout, a skyscraper with a swing at the top. Formerly offices of Shell, there is a viewing platform and restaurants at the top. Entry is expensive, but combi tickets with other attractions are available (adamlookout.com).
A different ferry takes you from central station to NDSM Wharf. This former shipyard is now a cultural centre. There is a monthly market here, and other events such as food festivals or live music throughout the year. Even if there is nothing on, you can enjoy a walk around the area. Vegan food is available both at Noorderlicht Café and container restaurant, Pllek. In the summer there are film screenings and an urban beach area in front of Pllek.
3. Enjoy Dutch Beer
Amsterdam is of course famous for Heineken, and the Heineken Experience is a major tourist attraction on Stadhoudeskade. Recently there has been an expansion of small Dutch breweries and many of these are vegan friendly and brewed in Amsterdam. One of the most famous is Brouwerij het Ij. Ij beers contain no animal-based ingredients. They have a tasting room next to a windmill at Funenkade 7 and another in the Vondelpark (brouwerijhetij.nl). Most beers produced by Oedipus are also vegan, though they recommend to check the label in case seasonal or speciality beers contain an animal ingredient. Oedipus beer is sold in many restaurants and bars. There is a tasting room north of the Ij.oedipus.com.
4. The Vondelpark
The Vondelpark is the largest and most famous of Amsterdam’s city parks. Both Café de Roos and Vondel 3 inside the park have good vegan options.
5. Explore the Canals by Boat
There are several operators offering city tours by boat. The hop-on-hop-off boats allow you to cruise the canals, jumping and on and off at different attractions. Stromma give a discount with the I-amsterdam card www.stromma.com.
Where to stay
There is no vegan hotel in Amsterdam, but generally those that provide breakfast can provide plant-based milks, especially if you request it in advance.
Sweets Hotels – This is a new chain of small individual hotel rooms, converted from former bridge houses, some of which are iconic national monuments. These are not for budget travellers – expect to pay at least EUR 120 per night or up to EUR 950 if you want to stay right in the middle of the Amstel River.
StayOkay – A Dutch hostel chain aimed at backpackers and families. Private rooms and dorms are available. Breakfast can be arranged for an extra price, but inform them in advance so that vegan milks are available.
NH Hotels – The NH chain has several hotels in the city centre. Vegan breakfast items can be available on request, but they recommend to check each hotel when booking.
There are daily flights between Schiphol and airports across the UK and the rest of Europe. The Eurostar goes direct from London to Amsterdam in just under 4 hours. Amsterdam has a good public transport system with buses, trams, train and metro. The cheapest way to get around is either to buy a daily ticket or pre-pay transport card, both of which require you to check in and check out. Most residents get around the city by bike. There are extensive cycle paths and bikes are available to hire from most shops
Rhiannon has lived in Amsterdam for almost 12 years. When she’s not chilling out or thinking about food, you can find her at the climbing gym or experimenting with unusual types of yoga. She frequently posts about vegan Amsterdam on her blog amsterdamschat.com