Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, has a great many things to do. The city is infamous for combining the hedonistic with the culture, and activities range from visiting world-class museums to sitting back in the park with a good joint. But take it from a native Dutchie: there is an unspoken order to the city that is easy to disrupt, and the Dutch will quickly turn sour once you do. To make your stay more pleasant—and to avoid locals’ disdain—there are a couple of things you should definitely not do in Amsterdam:
You might want to check out my Amsterdam 5 day itinerary.
Table of Contents
4 things not to do in Amsterdam
Don’t take truffles in the city centre
Let’s face it: one of the prime reasons tourists visit Amsterdam is for its drugs. Thanks to legal marijuana and lax laws concerning other recreational drugs, it’s often described as a drug wonderland.
Among the legally available drugs are truffles, which are basically magic mushrooms. Their strong hallucinogenic effects can be enlightening and exciting, but readers beware: taking truffles in a crowded place filled with cars, trams, pedestrians, and cyclists is a terrible idea.
Truffles are good fun when you are in a comfortable, relaxed place. If you’re interested in taking truffles, do yourself a favour, and find a nice forest, such as the Amsterdamse Bos. If this is too much effort, at least find more secluded part of the central Vondelpark. Don’t forget to bring water!
Don’t hassle or take photos of prostitutes in the Red Light District
Imagine this: you’re working in a bar or office. Several hours after you start your shift, a bunch of drunk men gather ‘round the front door of your work, hollering and pointing while blocking the door. They grab their cameras and indiscriminately start taking photos of you, your workplace, your customers. Chances are business won’t be good that day, and loyal customers will complain.
The above scene might sound strange, but this happens on a daily basis on Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Throngs of drunk (mostly male) tourists ogle the working ladies while taking photos and shouting obscenities. What people don’t realise is that this is their job. It might be an unconventional job in your opinion, but it’s a job nonetheless. By harassing these ladies and blocking their windows, you are hurting their business. Customers will stay away, and revenues will dwindle.
So please don’t bother the working ladies. Photography is not allowed. If you want to ogle, do it discreetly from a nearby bar. Pointing and shouting in front of the door is both demeaning and hurting their chance to earn a good wage for the day.
Don’t rent a bike to cycle through the city
Renting a bike and cycling through Amsterdam’s canal streets sounds so quaint. It’s the quintessential Dutch experience, right?
There is a problem, however: most tourists hardly know how to cycle the Dutch way. Dutch people were conceived on a bike, born on a bike, and cycled out of their mother’s uterus. They are perfectly adept at avoiding obstacles such as drunk pedestrians and taxis.
Tourists, on the other hand, are not.
Although Amsterdam is a small city, its inner city is congested. Pedestrians, cyclists, metros, taxis, buses; they all share the narrow lanes. Although the way people move about seems random, there is an order to it that locals understand… and tourists disturb this order.
Save yourself a lot of stress, and don’t rent a bike inside Amsterdam. The city is well connected by public transport, and it’s small enough to walk everywhere. If you do want to rent a bike, head to the countryside to do so. It’s much more pleasant, and you’ll be less a nuisance to everyone around you.
Don’t drink and smoke weed at the same time
And so we find ourselves back at our hedonistic starting point: drugs.
It’s difficult to avoid mixing marijuana and alcohol in Amsterdam. Heineken is more readily available than water in places, and there’s practically a coffee shop on every street in Amsterdam’s centre. But trust me: if you’re not an experienced smoker, avoid mixing drinking and smoking. If you want to know why just hang out near a coffee shop after 9 or 10 in the evening. A tourist is bound to stagger out and throw up their breakfast, lunch, and dinner eventually.
Looking for a great day trip from Amsterdam? Check my post about Utrecht.
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