My first night at Amsterdam started when I entered my hostel’s room door and bumped into a girl with rainbow hair and face full of glitter. She asked me “Would you like to have a beer with us? We are waiting for you downstairs”. So my first night in Amsterdam was with three strangers: LGBT activist from England, an Italian guy who barely spoke English and it was his first time in a foreign country and a Mexican guy who plays a flute. This first evening really represents the Amsterdam vibe, just be ready for some adventures.
Things to do in Amsterdam
Watch out for the bikes! Or be the bike.
Everybody rides a bike here and if you are a pedestrian be careful and look where you are going because you can easily get hit, trust me if you’ll go on bike road bad things will happen. When I first went to the city I thought okay I will probably skip the cycling, because there were so many cars and bikes. Also, almost every cyclist had a phone in their hands, just texting or listening to music. It looks that there are as many bikes as people in this city and they have more rights than pedestrians.
Although, being cheap and hating public transport made me ride a bike. I rented a Donkey Republic bike because I already tried it in Copenhagen and it was so easy to use and the price was logical. In Amsterdam, you pay 6€ for 90min bus/metro ticket or you can pay 12€ for a bike and use it for 24 hours. It was easy to make a decision.
To use Donkey Republic bike I just needed to download an app, check where is the nearest bike, unlock a bike with my phone and when I’m done using it go to the nearest place which is shown in the app where I can leave it.
I loved just wandering in the streets of Amsterdam with this bike and admire the city. I highly recommend to do that and to save some money on public transport.
Amsterdam is always on the move. There are hundreds of different types of festivals and events. My new friend who I met in Amsterdam recommend me to check for festivals, although I didn’t do that. Do not make this mistake and before going to Amsterdam check this website: I Amsterdam It is event guide where you will see all the happening events in Amsterdam and the main info about it.
Canals in Amsterdam
Amsterdam canals: pretty waterways, crossed with curvy little bridges, edged with leaning houses.
The most picturesque canals in Amsterdam are in and around the Jordaan district where I recommend to wander. Sightseeing boats, barges, rowing boats, canal taxis go through the canals throughout the day and night. I highly recommend to spend your time by the water, at a day time it is amazing to have a picnic by the canals and at a night time, there are a lot of bars where you can take a drink, chat with friends or have a date.
Boat trip in Amsterdam
Well, when there are so many canals you shouldn’t miss a trip with a boat.
I took an open-topped, electric boat tour with Flagship along the Amsterdam canals. It was a great alternative to those touristic boats where people are with headphones listening about the history of the city in a boring way. On Flagship the captain and the guide with such energy told the stories, fun facts and jokes about the Amsterdam. It was a great hour, I saw the city from a different perspective and actually learned stuff. Actually, It was idyllic to sit back in the sun while the captain pointed out interesting places and buildings.
You can find Flagship near Anne Frank museum and it is hard to miss them because their main color is orange, you will definitely see them in the city.
If you want to have the whole Amsterdam experience you can rent a houseboat and live in it. It is more expensive than a regular apartment, but it is a whole new experience. You can live in a city center and feel the city vibe from the water. Also, you can find in Airbnb all kinds of houseboats from modern to the old school.
Sex and drugs
Amsterdam Red Light District
Actually, this district was the first which I visited, because I needed some cash for my hostel and it looks that almost all ATMs are in the red light district. This place is one of the oldest areas of Amsterdam. The gothic 13th-century Oude Kerk (old church in the middle of the district), canals, cafés makes it a really pleasant area to enjoy in daylight. At the night time, the streets are filled with people. Goggle-eyed tourists, tour groups, couples, they all are giggling and gasping while they pass women in the window frames who wear sexy costumes and invite them to come inside for some joy. There are some other entertainments like sex shops, live sex shows or prostitution museums.
The city has an unmistakable aroma which is impossible to miss. Amsterdam is known for its liberal attitude to not only prostitution but also to cannabis. If you are looking for some coffee do not confuse it with the coffee shop. A coffee house sells coffee and snacks and a licensed seller of cannabis products is referred to as a coffee shop. It is legal to buy marijuana at coffee shops in Amsterdam, and there are thousands of them in the city. Trust me, you will definitely have no problem finding weed in Amsterdam!
Smoking marijuana in public places is technically against the law, although it is not really enforced. A lot of coffee shops have outdoor smoking spaces, and you will see also locals and tourists smoking joints out in the open. As long as you are not acting foolish and drawing too much attention, it is all okay.
Museums in Amsterdam
Like every city in Europe, Amsterdam has a lot of museums. But none of the others have 400 museums!
Rijksmuseum (I Amsterdam sign)
One of Amsterdam’s most popular places is the Museumplein, where you will find the Rijksmuseum and the most popular ‘I Amsterdam’ sign. It looks like if you do not have a photo of this sign you didn’t visit Amsterdam. Actually, I waited for the last moment to go to this place because I thought that it will be filled with tourists (I was right), I regret it because it is also a majestic place. Nearby is one of the biggest parks in a city where you can take a picnic or just chill for a while.
Anne Frank Museum
I couldn’t go there, because you can buy tickets only online and it is sold out for two months in advance! For my next trip to Amsterdam, I will plan it earlier because all the people who have been there had only good reviews and it is a place worth visiting. It is the former home of Anne Frank and her family in which they hid during much of the Second World War.
Food and drinks
Fries with Mayo (Patat frites )
It is French fries, but it is Dutch way to have it with Mayo. You can buy it on almost every corner and it is great drunk food.
Poffertjes (puffy pancakes)
These simple, fluffy pancakes are made usually with yeast and buckwheat flour. The topping is a combination of butter, powdered sugar, and syrup.
While wandering around the city, you will really often smell an aroma of sweet waffles. Stroopwafels are fun to eat and even the smell is mouthwatering. This popular Dutch dessert is made from two thin layers of dough and “glued” with caramel syrup.
Amsterdam is a great city to get new experience and to meet open-minded people who will help you to question all your life decisions and also to chill about it. It is the city where you can lose in up a bit and after a visit you will come back home as a different person, a little bit more open and happier. I believe that this is the city which you have to visit time to time and every time get lost in the vibe of Amsterdam.
Plan your trip to Amsterdam
Book a flight to Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wondering what to pack? Check out my Packing list
Accommodation: find the best deals for hotels and hostels in Amsterdam
Tap water: you can drink tap water in Italy and there are many drinkable water fountains in the city so don’t forget your water bottle.