Thing NOT to do in Amsterdam

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.

 4 things not to do in Amsterdam

  1. 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!

Things NOT to do in Amsterdam

  1. 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.

  1. 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 rent a bicycle- Things NOT to do in Amsterdam

  1. 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.

This is a guest post by Alex and Sebastiaan,  a Dutch couple behind Lost With Purpose. You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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Have you been to Amsterdam? Do you have anything else to add on the things NOT to do in Amsterdam?

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28 thoughts on “Thing NOT to do in Amsterdam”

  1. I know what you mean about cycling through the streets of Amsterdam. I cycled from my home town of Stevenage in the UK to Amsterdam (took under 4 days and over 700km) and the worst part was cycling to the finish at Centraal Station! The locals are crazy, they try to barge us out of the way! Couldn’t they see the sign we had pinned on our backs (written in Dutch) that me and my friend rode all the way from the UK. How many dutchies can say that so they could go out to Amsterdam for a Saturday night drink. 😛

  2. ahahah I can only agree with some of these 😛 Truffles in the city centre is my ideal. ahah A high flying adventure. But everyone is different in these respects. to me its better.

    I can get behind not taking photos in the red light, I don’t think its right to take photos either.

  3. I know what you mean about don’t rent a bike. We live just of the boardwalk in San Diego and there are a lot of tourists renting bikes and cruising around. Some of them haven’t ridden in years. It’s scary bad.

  4. These are excellent and important tips. Trust me, we learned firsthand when my husband accidentally took a photo in the Red Light District and had a prostitute come out and run after him.

  5. I agree with the not biking point. That’s actually something that holds true in many big cities that are foreign to you. It can be dangerous –both to you and those around you. (And this is coming from a very avid cyclist.)

  6. How interesting to learn that people actually do this in Amsterdam especially taking pictures of prostitutes in the Red Light District. That seems disrespectful to do that. It’s great to know about bike riding so I will definitely keep that in mind when I visit Amsterdam in the future

  7. This is good advice all around, not just in Amsterdam. If you’re not familiar with the effects of drugs, it’s always a good idea to be in a quiet place with a few friends. Funny about the bikes though, I definitely saw a few tourists irritating the locals when I was there…

  8. No bicycle driving in the city centre? No, I wanna follow the locals. But it must be quite hard to follow their paste and system, as you say. I will keep my cycling interest for the outskirts of Amsterdam then. In Rotterdam, it is all more relaxed.

    • I would personally think that if you aren’t very comfortable with a bike you shouldn’t try it in te city centre. They go really fast and you won’t be able to look around. For example in the outskirts or in other towns it must be more enjoyable.

  9. It’s also worth pointing out that pedestrians should not wander out into cycle lanes. I studied in the Netherlands and some cyclists will keep on pedalling if they’ve rung their bell and pedestrians fail to get out of the way!

  10. 100% agree with the biking! It’s terrifying!! I would NOT have even tried it without a local and still am afraid to go on my own. They are on a mission and do not like anyone to get in the way, can’t really blame them but dang haha

  11. Drugs are not legal in our country. They are tolerated as long as you only use them for your own. Our “koffieshops” are also not legal otherwise they would call themselfes drugsshop.. toerist from abroad act totally stupid on lots of occasions, Luckily the city of Amsterdam with its beautifull historic inner city is taking staps agains al those lunatics.. Oure own youth knows how to behave “adults” from abroud could learn from them..


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