Driving Inspiration: Netherlands

Driving Inspiration: Netherlands

Get inspired for driving in the Netherlands. Ideas, destinations and things to do on your road trip to the Netherlands.

If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam and want to avoid the tourist traps, follow our guide and eat like a local. You’ll discover some ‘dam fine food!
Eat like a local in Amsterdam

Eat like a local in Amsterdam

  • It's not all about the herring
    There is no better way to really experience a city than to eat what the locals eat. So we have scoured the cafés, markets and restaurants of Amsterdam to give you some ideas on where to find the best food the next time you are in the Dutch capital. As you will discover, there’s more to Dutch food than herring. Although there is still plenty of herring!
  • Driving to Amsterdam
    Driving to Amsterdam from our Calais terminal is a journey of around four hours. The quickest route is via the E40 through Ghent and Antwerp. It’s a great way to see these two beautiful Belgian cities as part of a more leisurely journey. Why not get into the swing of eating like a local before you even reach Amsterdam?
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Be distinctive and go Dutch

Big cities all over the world are filled with tourist-trap restaurants just waiting to tempt you in and rip you off. Avoid the easy option and seek out authentic Dutch fayre – you won’t be disappointed.   

Delicacies at the Dappermarkt

Located in Dapperstraat in East Amsterdam, the Dappermarkt is one of the most celebrated markets in the Netherlands. It snakes for nearly a kilometre down the length of the street and is held six days of the week. Here you will find fresh fish, cheeses, fruit and vegetables and traditional Dutch foods, as well as more exotic delicacies from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe, reflecting the multicultural nature of the Oost area. Most things are priced cheaply, and the market has cafés, bakeries and butchers on both sides of the street.  

It's easy to see why National Geographic Traveller magazine included Dappermarkt in its list of the Top 10 Shopping Streets in the world. People love the colour, the chatter, the smells and tastes as they pass from stall to stall, buying for later in the day or to feed their hunger on the spot.   

Albina restaurant

Suriname was a colony of the Netherlands until 1975, and the South American country has had quite an influence on Dutch cuisine. You will no doubt notice a few Surinamese restaurants on your travels around Amsterdam, but for a truly authentic meal, you can’t go wrong with Albina in the De Pijp district.  

The menu here is quite extensive, featuring dishes from all over Suriname, as well as specialities from China, India and Indonesia, another former Dutch colony. The traditional Moksi Meti, a hearty stew of chicken and pork served with green beans and rice, will fill most bellies. For a lighter meal, try the fish curry dishes, with their delicately complementary flavours.  

This little restaurant is popular not only for the food, but also for the incredibly good value prices! So be prepared to queue at peak times or maybe try your luck at Albina’s sister restaurant, Nieuw Albina, which is located just down the road. 

Café Onder de Ooievaar

Amsterdam has many ‘brown cafés’, the Dutch answer to the British pub. So called because they are usually long established watering holes, where there is little concession to modernity. They are atmospheric places serving local tipples and simple food. Café Onder de Ooievaar is one of the best. It has a friendly, laidback atmosphere, an excellent lunch menu and is centrally located, not far from the Rijksmuseum.  

Stop here for lunch whilst you’re out sightseeing and sample the tasty selection of sandwiches or one of the specialities on offer, such as the delectable Dutch meatballs known as ‘gehaktballen’. Later in the evening this cosy café becomes a lively place for a beer. With around 50 different kinds on offer, you will be sure to find at least one that you like! 

Utrechtsedwarstafel restaurant

You’d be hard pushed to find a more unique dining experience than Utrechtsedwarstafel; an institution in Amsterdam, with a reputation that has spread by word-of-mouth. It’s just around the corner from Café Onder de Ooievaar.  

The concept of the restaurant is simple. The chef and the sommelier buy fresh local produce every morning and create a feast of between three and five courses with the seasonal ingredients of the day, pairing everything with its perfect wine partner. 

Half the fun in going for dinner here is not knowing what you will be eating. When making your reservation, let the chef know of any allergies or anything you don’t eat, and he will adapt the menu for you personally. 

Vending machines

All over Amsterdam you will see food outlets with walls of vending machines. Nothing extraordinary about that, you might think, but these have freshly prepared food in them. Automats like these were once a big thing in the US but they are still very popular in the Netherlands. The machines mostly contain hot fast food like croquettes and burgers, and stay open until the late evening or early hours on Friday and Saturday nights. 

The biggest Dutch automat chain is Febo, with 30 outlets in Amsterdam alone. While there may not be anything particularly unique about what you can buy from a vending machine, you really will feel like you are eating as the locals do.  


Herring (Haring) is the Dutch food that most seems to divide opinion. Locals enjoy persuading visitors to try it, even though the idea of salted herring may not immediately appeal. To avoid any confusion, herring is not raw fish – the herring is gutted, salted and frozen, cleaned and prepared at the stalls, called Haringkar, where they are sold. 

The fish is cut into bite sized morsels and served on paper plates with onions and pickles. The traditional way to eat herring in the Netherlands is to throw your head back, hold the fish by its tail and lower it into your mouth, eating it whole.  

In reality, most people eat the pieces one by one, and it is often served in a bread roll. The best herring to eat is Hollandse nieuwe haring, ‘Holland new’ caught between mid-May and the end of June. The fish at this time is at its best weight and tastiest.   

Your Amsterdam foodie adventure starts with LeShuttle

The street food, unique eateries and brown cafés of Amsterdam are only a few hours away with LeShuttle. The crossing from Folkestone to Calais takes just 35 minutes. Buy a Short Stay Saver or Standard ticket and tuck in to Dutch delicacies!   

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