Amsterdam is a magical place.
Before I dive into the good stuff, I would like to first acknowledge the beauty of the city itself. It’s a shame that because most people only hear about the red light district and how stoned everyone is in Amsterdam.
Just wander around the city and you will find beautiful water canals cutting through the streets, incredible European architecture and some of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen. It’s almost like every single street corner is picture perfect out of a magazine.
Amsterdam is a place where you will just lose all concept of time and fully enjoy everything the city has to offer. I strongly recommend renting a bike and roaming around the city, because Amsterdam is the most bicycle-friendly capital city in the world. 60% of all trips around the city are made by bike, so the city has thousands of well-kept bike lanes.
Yes, there is a wild side to Amsterdam.
The city has some of the least strict marijuana laws in the world, and boasts some 200+ “coffee shops” around town. Not to be confused with cafes, these coffee shops are a place where you can purchase and smoke weed, as well as hang out and enjoy the atmosphere. They have been around since the 1970s and are an integral part of Dutch culture. You’ve gotta experience what they are like. I won’t say too much more about them here, but you can check out this article to see what to expect.
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Language: Dutch, although English is widely spoken
- Population: 900,000 (city), 1.5 million (metro)
- There are over 18 million bicycles in Amsterdam. Every single day, over 500,000 cyclists ride more than 2 million kilometers.
- According to the Quality of Life Survey, Amsterdam is the 22nd safest city in the world.
- Amsterdam was originally a small fishing village in the 12ch Century
- The name “Amsterdam,” comes from Amstelredamme- referring to the city’s origin as a damn on the Amstel River
- The Amsterdam Stock Exchange is the oldest stock exchange in the world
- Amsterdam has 165 canals that span over 100 Kilometers (60 miles)
- Amsterdam has 1,281 bridges and 2,500 houseboats
- Over 6,500 buildings in Amsterdam were constructed from the 16th-18th Centuries
Culture & People
The people that make up Amsterdam are amazing. You might be surprised to hear that some 10% of people (100,000 people) living in Amsterdam are expats. Everyone – both locals and expats – are so friendly, welcoming and (not surprisingly) they all speak perfect English. I was shocked by how easy it was to make friends at the bars, and how open the people were. The Dutch will accept you no matter who you are, and will respect the life you want to live. Take any “social status” and throw it out the window, because the sense of freedom in Amsterdam will make you feel like you own the world.
Most Dutch people are experienced travelers and polygots, meaning they can speak at least 3 languages fluently. The most popular languages that they know (aside from Dutch) are English, German and French. The people are also REALLY tall and beautiful. I felt like a midget walking around on the streets.
Amsterdam is home to a number of festivals, cultural events, cafes, street performers and public parks that enrich the environment with positive vibes. You can’t go wrong no matter when you are visiting this city. I had a smile on my face the entire time I was there.
I strongly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and make some new Dutch friends! Click this link to learn the Top 10 Dutch Words to keep in your back pocket
What to Do?
The coffee shops are a must. Amsterdam is the only place in the world where it is perfectly legal to purchase and smoke marijuana freely. If I could give you some advice, avoid the big touristy coffee shops. It’s the small, local ones that are the finest!
Click this link to view my post on the top 7 coffee shops in Amsterdam.
There are some cool museums that I recommend checking out, like the Heineken factory, the Van Gogh, Anne Frank House, and the Rijksmuseum (one of the best art museums in the world).
Hanging out in Vondelpark amazing and a great place to spend the afternoon. Located just Southwest of the city center, it’s enormous size attract thousands upon thousands of people when the weather is nice. Everything about this park is stunningly beautiful. When I was there, I saw countless people relaxing, smoking joints, and having a picnic with their friends. No wonder why this park attracts over 10 million annual visitors every year.
Check out the Red Light District at night. It’s a one-of-a-kind place that you’ve gotta see with your own eyes to believe.
Take a canal cruise! They are only €10 Euros for an hour, and the views from the canals are amazing. You can see a lot more of Amsterdam via the canals, as opposed to just on land. The tour guides are usually great and funny, so you can learn some things while getting a geographical idea of the layout of the land.
Rent a bike and explore around the city! That was the best way to adventure around and discover new places.
For a more complete list, check out my post on 10 Things to do in Amsterdam.
Dutch Food is magnificent- which makes perfect sense because it has to accompany for all the munchies you will have! Get yourself some Dutch pancakes or a waffle with ice cream on top and you’ll be in heaven. The Dutch don’t eat a lot of meat (compared to neighboring countries like Germany and France), but rather fresh seafood and a nice variety of vegetables. Additionally, desserts and pastries are commonly eaten after nearly every meal.
If you want to discover some more amazing local foods, then please read my post on 5 Dutch Foods to Try.
Before I went to Amsterdam, my ignorant thoughts (along with my friends) was that everyone would be too high to go out drinking and there isn’t much of a nightlife. But my gosh, was I proven wrong! The nightlife in Amsterdam is pretty awesome.
Little did I know that Amsterdam exports the largest proportion of beer per capita. Heineken, a local Dutch beer, is the 3rd largest beer producing company in the world and it is commonly enjoyed in every bar around the city. People drink a lot more than I thought they did!
This city has a thriving nightlife, with bars and clubs all over the city that are filled with a lively young crowd. The people are very friendly, and there is no language barrier because nearly everyone speaks perfect English. Don’t get too high during the day, so you can at least make it out one night! It’s so much fun
For a list of some fun places to party, check out my Ultimate Guide to the Nightlife in Amsterdam.
Make sure to give yourself a substantial amount of time in this city (at least 4-5 days) so you can fully experience Amsterdam!
*Thanks for reading! Have you been to Amsterdam before?
*Please comment because I’d love to hear about your experiences!