Amsterdam is one of those cities that is drenched in clichés. I’ve overheard people saying that they thought Amsterdam was itself a country (Holland clearly isn’t interesting enough to benefit from word of mouth publicity), that the Dutch all wear wooden shoes (imagine the pain!), that Amsterdam is covered in tulips, and that literally everyone smokes weed. All. Day. Long. I’m not here to smash your dreams into a thousand tiny pieces, but that’s plain bullcheese. On the other hand, some Amsterdam clichés are true and are definitely worth giving a try. They aren’t clichés for nothing, am I right?
There is no way in tulips that you can miss the canals when visiting Amsterdam. You could almost see Amsterdam as Venice’s long lost brother, and not factoring the canals into your Mokum expedition would be an absolute shame. Hop on one of the clearly identifiable canal boats near Central Station in the City Center, order a beer, and enjoy (a day in summer or spring is best). Bring a notebook, write down which areas speak to you the most, and enjoy your new city knowledge for the rest of the week. It’s a fairly easy way to get to know the city fast, and there’s beer, so you’re already winning.
2. Try some weed in a coffeeshop
Alright, so let’s not panic here. I’m not trying to convince you to have a joint. Also, if you don’t smoke in general, I get why this would be a no-go for you. But there’s other stuff too. How about a piece of cake? You know, the space kind. The good coffee shops offer flavors from chocolate to carrot cake and a guaranteed laugh to go along with it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the people working there for information. They will be more than willing to explain everything to you. What it will do to you, how long it will take for you to notice anything, and how long it will have an effect on your body. One little warning though: you will get hungry. Very hungry. And that brings me to tip number 3.
3. Eat some Dutch fastfood/streetfood
Sorry in advance to all the fit boys and girls reading this, but you simply have to try a kroket, bitterbal, kaassoufflé, frikandel or frietje – also known as Dutch snack food. They are, as Trump would probably say, just the best. You’ll love it. It’s great. Seriously though, sinking your teeth in one of these Dutch treats is part of the Amsterdam experience. And the best part of getting some greasy food here? You can pull it out of a wall. That’s right. Google ‘Febo Netherlands’ and see what it’s all about. Fun! Oh, and for those of you that do want to stay healthy, try a haring. With onions and zuur of course.
4. Wander around The Red Light District
So, this is a tricky one for me I’m a young lady, and walking through the Red Light District looking at (mostly) unhappy ladies behind their windows doesn’t exactly make me feel happy. It actually still horrifies me. But, the Red Light District has been a part of Amsterdam for such a long time, that it almost became its own neighborhood. Many great bars line the streets here and, frankly, it’s something you shouldn't miss when in Amsterdam.
5. Get your derriere on a bike
I can almost see the heads ‘shaking’ no when reading tip number five. Yes, you should grab that bike by the handlebar and get on. It’s the very best way to explore the city. Do make sure you’re careful and look and listen closely to what the other cars and bikes are ‘telling’ you. The city traffic can be quite chaotic, but once you have it under control, it’s something you don’t want to miss out on!
6. Take a tour of the Heineken Experience
You know Heineken, right? That cute green beer bottle that James Bond drank in his last movie? Well in Holland, it’s a big thing. Moreover, Heineken has a pretty interesting history. And the best way to get to know more about the proud, Dutch brand is to get over to the Heineken Brouwerij in de Pijp. Take the tour, tap your own beer with a perfect ‘schuimkraag,’ and enjoy it on the roof of the building with the most amazing view of the city.
See also: A Day in... De Pijp, Amsterdam
7. Drag yourself into an old bar at the Jordaan
Maybe my favorite one on the list? Getting a good old fashioned drink in the Jordaan. Yes, Amsterdam rates quite highly on the ‘hip’ scale, but the Jordaan will always keep it’s old school cool.This is the place to be if you want to mingle with locals. Walk into a dark bar, have yourself some Heineken, order some bitterballen if they have any, and enjoy the music and the people. It’ll be the cherry on top to round off your trip.