Amsterdam – the city where flawless looking humans reside, bicycles dominate cobble stoned streets, marijuana aplenty and sex is a way of life for many. It’s a city that’s meant to be explored at least once in a lifetime and it’s one that can teach you many things about a rich culture steeped in history.
If you keep an open mind about the city’s unique offerings you will have A LOT of fun. That being said, beware! There are a few things to avoid when you find yourself in one of the busiest cities in Europe.
For first-timers traveling to Amsterdam, here are ten do’s and don’ts to consider before you pack your bags and travel to greener pastures.
- Go on a bike tour! The bike culture is huge in Amsterdam and it’s one where cyclists bike with zero rules and zero f*$!s given. The bike traffic paired with fast drivers and hundreds of thousands of pedestrians can be daunting for a tourist. I suggest signing up for a bike tour to get comfortable because you won’t beat em (I tried), so just join em. It’s a great way to immerse yourself within the city! Check out the SANDEMANs NEW Amsterdam Bike Tour. A tour guide will lead you through the busy streets, the city’s biggest landmarks, museums and cafes.
- Amsterdam’s Canal Ring. It’s packed full of history and beauty and offers several Instagram photo-ops. Outside of several canal-side museums like the Museum van Loom, there are always a ton of events happening in the ring. If you’re touring during the day, you can also catch local artisans and merchants selling unique goods in canal-side markets.
- Eat a bitterballen! WTF is a bitterballen, you ask? It’s a fried ball of freedom also known as bite-size dutch beef croquettes. MY GOD, they’re good! I found the tastiest bitterballens at the popular live music bar, The Waterhole. Go there for some fried beef balls, crazy good live music, a dance-off or two with a dutchman, and tell them I sent you. There’s a good chance they won’t do anything about it.
- You’re in Amsterdam. Check out a local “coffee shop/cafe!” No not the ones you frequent before work. These are what the locals and tourists frequent for marijuana because yes, it is legal. If you choose to check them out may I recommend The Bulldog Coffeeshop? Great vibes, great music, and I heard the menu is pretty decent too…
- Indulge in a big fat Dutch burger! I suggest Burger Zaken which is located in the middle of the red light district. Their patties are thick and juicy. You can also choose your own toppings but each one will cost you.
- Don’t go on a bike trip past 3pm on a weekday unless you’re Peter Sagan or an experienced cyclist from Vietnam. I made the mistake of booking a tour on a Friday afternoon during rush hour and I almost rode my bike into pedestrians and cars on two different occasions. Soiling myself was almost a thing.
- Don’t smile and make eye contact with a prostitute in the red light district. It sounds like a no-brainer but if you’re a friendly tourist like me with zero intentions of paying for their services, you might get an unfavourable reaction like a full crotch shot on a Thursday morning before breakfast. Why would you want to ruin your breakfast?
- Don’t wear heels. You will never find a reason to wear heels in Amsterdam and you shouldn’t look for one. The city is made up of cobble stoned streets and stairs. Locals are dressed casually chic with trench coats and running shoes for a reason! After falling down a flight of stairs and spraining my ankle on the first day, I quickly understood why.
- Don’t waste your carb quota on street waffles. There are waffle vendors everywhere which can be tempting especially if you have a sweet tooth. But as good as they smell and as tasty as they look, they’re not. They’re so sweet and dense they’ll give you a headache and leave you constipated for a week.
- Don’t waste your time learning Dutch before your trip. Like most of you, I like to prepare myself for trips and part of that prep work includes learning key words and phrases of a national language. 90%+ locals speak fluent English.So, go out there. Have fun and get your bitterballen on!
Remember sharing is caring! If you’ve been to Amsterdam and have do’s and don’ts of your own, please share them in the comment box below. 🙂