Amsterdam for Art Lovers.  The beautiful homes on the canals, bikes and tulips.  Ciel and Lune.

What’s special about Amsterdam is that the city is able to connect worlds that are not otherwise connected.

Marcel Wanders


Amsterdam is one of those cities that is full of surprises. Although it is best known for its lax marijuana laws, raging night life and infamous Red Light District, it has a lesser-known, but equally flourishing artistic side– a softer, cerebral and vibrantly creative alter-ego. After all, it was the home of Rembrandt and the painters I adore, the Dutch Masters. Here is our guide: Amsterdam for Art Lovers, Artists and Designers.

A few blocks from the chaos of the Red Light District are gabled houses, uniquely Dutch in style, that flank peaceful canals. These 16th and 17th century homes retain the beauty and patina of days gone by, but most have been updated with modern conveniences. Many of these elegant examples of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque architecture are work/live spaces with artists’ ateliers downstairs and their living quarters upstairs.

The Hop On/Hop Off Boat in Amsterdam.  Beautiful homes facing the canal.  Amsterdam for Art Lovers.  Ciel & Lune.
The Hop On/Hop Off Boat in Amsterdam


The best way to see and appreciate the architecture is by walking the narrow pathways along the canals. This way you can stop and admire the different styles and see how the growing wealthy merchant class lived in the 17th century. The adornments on the doors and windows give hints at who originally lived in the homes. For example, a stork painted on one home meant the midwife lived there.


Gliding along the canals is another great way to peacefully enjoy the architecture of Amsterdam. There is a Hop On- Hop Off boat along the Prinsengracht which gives you the true canal experience without committing to a full tour. There are, however, tour operators who can give you an in depth overview of the city by boat.


  • Keizersgracht (the emperor’s canal) is a beautiful stretch of canal, as its name implies. The homes here are gorgeous.
  • Herengracht has more beautiful homes including mansions on the prestigious Gouden Bocht (Golden Bend).
  • Prinsengracht (named after the Prince of Orange) is another nice walk with cute boutiques, restaurants and hotels on the lower level of beautiful Dutch homes.
  • Reguliersgracht connects the upper three canals with a series of 7 famous bridges. This is a picturesque place to take photos.


Map of Amsterdam neighborhoods. Amsterdam for Art Lovers Ciel & Lune Travel.

I think Amsterdam is a bit difficult to navigate, so the best way is to choose 2-3 neighborhoods that are close to each other (per day) and explore the items on the list in those neighborhoods. Then the next day go to the other side of the city and explore another 2-3 neighborhoods. It’s the best use of your time and the easiest way to see the top art & design-related attractions in each part of the city.


Chic cafes & shops in Amsterdam.  Ciel & Lune.  Amsterdam for Art Lovers.
Tulips, Gartine Café, pavers, Sukha Amsterdam, white carved coconut votives, Restored Concept Shop (clockwise from top left)

The Jordaan is a vibrant, quaint part of town. It has retained its Dutch charm and is a hub for many artists and designers. The center of this neighborhood is Noorderkerk, a beautiful church and surrounding square.


  • Noordermarket (on Saturdays) has a cornucopia of vintage, antique and new finds in the square surrounding the Noorderkerk church. Everything from mother-of-pearl buttons, handmade paper journals to chandeliers and shoes. I scored a few beautiful vintage leather bags for between $10-$20 Euros. A steal, I think.
  • PomPon is perhaps the most intriguing flower/plant shop I have ever seen. Huge long-stemmed dahlias in varying shades of orange and yellow sprouting from tall, bulbous vases, plus other unique arrangements. Next door is PomPon’s Forever Flowers… Realistic faux arrangements that look real, in the same gorgeous style.
  • Sukha Amsterdam is my favorite shop in all of Amsterdam. It’s a concept store with a clean, white, organic aesthetic and a commitment to supporting female artisans. This place is stunning and sells ceramics, handcrafted jewelry, designer clothing, drawings, coffee table books and some furniture. I could easily live here.
  • Restored is a smaller concept store with some nice finds. True Dutch style- minimalistic with handcrafted accessories for the home and body. I love their JC Herman line of pottery. Made in Amsterdam and perfectly imperfect.
  • de Weldaad is a mid-sized shop of antiques, vintage and new pieces similar in design to Anthropologie, but without the impersonal touch of a large chain. Find old glove molds, vintage Christmas decorations and a variety of old Dutch Delft tiles and iron locks.
  • HutSpot (on Rozengracht) is a concept store with clothing, accessories, a good selection of coffee table and Amsterdam-centric books.
  • Anne Frank House is, like its name implies, where Anne Frank lived and hid from the Nazi’s during the German occupation of Amsterdam. The house is now a museum. Tickets sell out quickly and must be purchased online.


  • Winkel is a must stop for its famous apple pie. I was a skeptic, but the pie is worth it- a crust that resembles a crumble topping more than a traditional pastry. It is delicious.
  • Marqt is an organic food shop with a nice selection of breads, pastries, fruits, veggies, premade salads and drinks. Stop here to grab everything you need for lunch and have a picnic by a nearby canal.
  • Stach is another food shop with wholesome, delicious prepared foods and desserts. It’s what I would consider to be a high-end convenience store, but much better.
  • Tea Bar is the place to be if you love tea. It has hundreds of teas from around the world displayed in a cool, modern way (similar to a candy shop). Buy big bags of tea to take home or sit down for a cup in their upstairs tearoom. My favorite– Woudrruchten. It’s a tropical fruit blend that smells heavenly and tastes even more divine.


Chic Hotels in The Centrum of Amsterdam.  Hotel Droog, Pulitzer Hotel, The Dylan. Amsterdam for Art Lovers.  Ciel & Lune.
Hotel Droog, Pulitzer Amsterdam & The Dylan (clockwise from top left)

The Centrum (City Center) is where the rich merchant class escaped overcrowding and industrialization of the old part of the city in the 17th century. They built opulent homes along new canals (the ones listed above).


  • De Negen Straajes (or the Nine Streets) are 9 streets that are connected to The Singel on the East and the Prinsengracht on the West. These streets are filled with beautiful shops, cafes, ateliers and vintage stores. During the holidays, strands of lights are strung high above the streets making them look even more festive and beautiful.
  • Mendo is a jewel box of a shop with gorgeous photography and design books. See a full list of the best design/art book shops in our Best Design Bookstores Around the World post here.
  • Hotel Droog is not a hotel in the traditional sense, but it’s a concept shop featuring the best Dutch designers (think Marcel Wanders), a chic, but comfy café and a nice meeting place for creatives. It has one guesthouse on the top floor (hence the name Hotel Droog). The courtyard is beautiful.
  • Rika Studios is the atelier of Swedish clothing and accessory designer, Ulrika Lundgren. It’s here that she showcases her colorful, but simple, modern line of clothing and also publishes a magazine, with contributors ranging from Helena Christiansen to Yoko Ono. Upstairs is her fashionably decorated guesthouse, called Maison Rika, that she rents to those in the know.
  • Canals (walk, boat or bike)


  • Gartine is a quaint, mostly locals spot in a tiny alley tucked behind some chain stores. It is a visual delight. The cafe is covered in vines and has a huge chandelier as its main design focal point. The food is simple, organic and grown in the owner’s garden. Breakfast, lunch and high tea.
  • Gebroeders Niemeijer is another locals spot with a cozy, homey feeling and a touch of elegance (original art deco ceiling). The Gebroeders (“brothers” in Dutch) Niemeijer started this bakery using French techniques, organic ingredients, real butter and no additives to bake delicious, fresh baguettes, croissants, and other pastries. I had the most delicious homemade granola with a yogurt the consistency of dripping honey. I have never had anything quite like it– and absolutely loved it.
  • George Bistro was a nostalgic choice for me. I had visited with my family nearly a decade before, and after struggling with croquettes, my kids loved that George Bistro served good, straight-forward bistro food: mussels and frites, grilled fish, a solid burger. When the thought of another cheese-filled croquette isn’t cutting it, this place is perfect.
  • The Dylan Hotel is great for when you need a little break from the hustle of the city and want a chic, but comfortable lounging spot. This luxury 5-star hotel is small and has two restaurants, Brasserie OCCO, plus Michelin-starred Restaurant Vinkeles.
  • Hotel Pulitzer is another 5-star hotel perfect for a respite. Though quite large (it’s a maze of 25 connected canal houses), it has the feel of a smaller boutique hotel. I had a snack and tea in the lobby bar on a rainy afternoon. On dry days, the courtyard is a beautiful place to while away some time and have lunch or a snack. Restaurant Jansz is very popular for a more formal meal.
  • Buffet van Odette is by far my favorite restaurant in Amsterdam. It is very pretty, the food is gourmet and the service is warm, but not intrusive.


The Rijksmuseum, Scandinavian Embassy Café, Pillows by Anna Van Den Vondel and CottonCake Café and concept store in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam for Art Lovers.
Rijksmuseum, Scandinavian Embassy, Hotel Pillows Anna Van Den Vondel & interior of CottonCake Café & Concept Shop (clockwise from top left)

De Pijp/Museumplein is a fun, vibrant, art-filled neighborhood, part of it up-and-coming, part of it very posh.


  • Rijksmuseum is the home of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch and other masterpieces by the Dutch Masters. Exquisite collection.
  • Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of Van Goghs in the world– 3 floors of his work showcasing his extraordinary talent and breadth of skills. It took going to this museum to fully appreciate Van Gogh’s artistic mastery.
  • Albert Cuijp Market is a large street market where Amsterdammers have been shopping for more than 100 years. It’s here that you can find traditional stroopwafels, pickled hering, fresh fruit and veggies, flowers and some new flea market finds. It’s worth a quick gander.
  • P.C. Hooftstraat is the home of luxurious shops in Amsterdam. Think Cartier, Chanel, Hermes, Isabel Marant.
  • Duikelman BV is heaven for the foodie or baker in your life. On one short street is a large shop with everything a cook or baker needs, a separate shop devoted to linens and table decorations, yet another with just coffee and beautiful espresso machines, and one more with BBQs and grilling supplies.
  • Vondelpark is a lovely large park in the Museum District. It has a large pond, some open-air theatres, statues and walking & bike paths. It’s beautiful in winter and summer.
  • Cottoncake is part concept store, part café. It’s quiet and serene and would be my go-to café for getting work done in a peaceful environment.
  • Pillows Anna Van Den Vondel is a beautiful, but small boutique hotel. Nice service, breakfast & location (close to museums, Vondelpark and shopping).


  • Scandinavian Embassy is, contrary to its name, not an embassy. It is a cool, bustling café with good coffee, cakes and lunch. It’s very popular and sometimes difficult to get a table here. I lucked out and got a high-top near the door– perfect for people watching.
  • Bakers and Roasters– a very unusual combination of Brazilian and Australian food and decor, but the food is fabulous and the crowds, too. Try the Mississippi Mud Cake (yes, in Amsterdam). It won’t disappoint.
  • Cottoncake– Coffee, fashion and food, plus a pretty, light-filled interior. What more could you want?


Beautiful church behind an Amsterdam canal.  Ciel & Lune Travel.

I didn’t have a chance to explore this area much, but the Food Hallen (upscale food market) is at the top of my list for next time. So is a restaurant called De Plantage.


Another area for my next visit is Amsterdam East. 4850, Coffee Company and the Botanical Gardens are the first places I will visit.


Thanks for reading our Amsterdam for Art Lovers post. London isn’t too far away. For a great day in London, go here.


Office vibes— modern combined with a little bit of fancy. My office/studio is more maximal than minimal… The only place in the house where things aren’t reined in…

This is where I display artwork my grandmothers painted, coveted watercolors that my dad gave me, my children’s artwork and notes (my priceless treasures), and baskets full of projects in various stages. Paintbrushes, paint, clay, beads, stone and fabric samples all take center stage here. *More photos to come— including BEFORE & AFTER shots.

Do you have a room that reflects your interests and personality? I would love to hear about it. ☺️

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Another entry shot, but with new dogwood blossoms, my favorite new crystal from @spadescrystals and a stack of books given to me by my children. 🤍

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When I’m on vacation, I stop long enough to reflect on life, love, my design business.

Thanks to each one of you for following along! It’s been great making new friends, finding new clients (who most often turn into friends🤍) and sharing all of the things that make me happy— travel, design, art, architecture and, of course, family and friends.

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