Everyone has heard of Amsterdam and all of the wild-but-totally-legal possibilities that go along with spending a few nights in this city. What you might not know is that besides hitting up the Red Light District at night for a good time (or a good laugh, or an uncomfortable walk through an alley way with far too many gawking tourists..) or heading to a local “Coffee Shop” to partake in illicit activities, there are surprisingly other touristy things one can do here.
In lieu of my incredible discovery of other things to do besides shoving special brownies down your throat in a smokey cafe or letting a prostitute lure you into her cubicle from a window on the side of the street, I present to you my list of things to do in Amsterdam:
1. Buy Food For Every Meal At The Grocery Store And Eat It By The Canal
Want to spend €25 for a simple Indonesian dinner? If the answer is yes, you’re either stupidly rich or just stupid. Amsterdam is definitely no backpacker’s paradise with its insanely expensive price tags on eating out. Now, I don’t mind dropping some bills on a fancy meal every once in awhile, but I do mind dropping that kind of money on a restaurant comparable to T.G.I. Fridays or on ethnic cuisine I know is not worth that amount (have you been to Indonesia? The food may be far from good, but at least it’s cheap). Needless to say, we bought most of our food from a supermarket (discovering the wonders of Lidl grocery store) just outside our hotel.
Time to head to your nearest grocery store (and none of this fancy Whole Foods-esque business) and buy a shopping bag worth of food and booze that will last you a few days, as opposed to paying that much for one substandard meal. Bonus tourist points for eating your meal in a park or along a canal.
2. Get Lost In A Field Full Of Tulips
In case you’re like the thousands of other backpackers who just like to “go with the flow” and not bother doing much research on a city ahead of time, let me give fair warning that if one of your must-sees in Amsterdam are the tulip fields, you need to go at a specific time of year. Like many other plants and flowers, tulips also have a specific season. If you want to
see frolic through rows upon rows of brightly colored tulips then you best be booking your flight to Amsterdam for sometime in April and not past May. Or you could just Photoshop yourself into a field of tulips and pretend you were actually there.
3. Visit The Red Light District And Try Not To Judge Everyone Else While They’re All Trying Not To Judge You
The Red Light District is a “been there, done that” kind of attraction (is it awful that I’m calling it an attraction?). With all the hype surrounding this area of Amsterdam, I was intrigued as to what a night in the Red Light District was all about. Well, let me tell you that it is far from anything I had originally expected.
First of all, the people. And I’m not talking about the prostitutes. The sheer amount of tourists pushing themselves through alley ways to behold the sight of women behind a glass door was overwhelming. So were the crowds of people standing stationary on the sides of streets just staring at them. Next was just how attractive these women were; they were total babes. Though I have heard that if you go into certain, less ventured alleyways, you can find all sorts of women and men on display. Unfortunately (perhaps fortunately is more applicable in this instance) I never had the chance to witness such sights, though if any of you have please share your stories.
4. Indulge Yourself While Learning About Local History At The Heineken Experience Brewery Tour
If you like beer, then you’re sure to enjoy a visit to the Heineken Experience for a hands-on tour through their remodeled initial brewery. The tour has many different components; a touch of history, interactive movies and demonstrations, and activities, all washed down with some cold Heineken. The only thing that could make this experience better? More free beer.
If you want to know more about this tour, read my full review/post on the Heineken Experience.
5. Go On A Canal Boat Tour And See If You Can Notice Any Difference From One Canal To The Next
There might (and by might, I mean definitely will) come a point during your stay in Amsterdam where you find yourself utterly bored and without a clue of what to do. Well, my friend, in case you hadn’t realized, canals are literally everywhere throughout the city. This can only mean one thing: an opportunity to stifle your boredom, if only for an hour, by dropping €15 on a cruise.
There are many different companies to go with and a variety of boats to choose from depending on whether you want a glass roof over your head, a private cruise for the classier folk, or to rent out your own little boat. I highly suggest you check online before wandering the canals of Amsterdam in search of a cruise company, as many of them offer discounted rates if you purchase your tickets online.
6. Get In Touch With Your Emotional Side At The Anne Frank Museum
Most people think of Amsterdam as a pot-smoking, prostitute-loving, hippy-esque city. While this is all very true, Amsterdam does have a lot of history infused into its streets. It would be a shame to miss out on a well executed history lesson compliments of the Anne Frank Museum. You will likely have to wait in a painfully long line, but trust me, the wait is well worth it.
If you want to know more about the Anne Frank Museum, read my full post.
7. See A Windmill In Real Life
Sure, we all know what a windmill looks like, but have you ever seen one in real life? If not, you’re in luck because Holland has a tonne of them. Unfortunately, you will have to head outside of the city center to see the authentic windmills, but you can always do a “3-for-1” by combining a mesmerizing windmill watching session after a special brownie has been ingested while surrounding yourself in a field of tulips. Doesn’t get much more Dutch than this, ladies and gentleman.
8. Rent A Bicycle ‘Cause You’re Too Lazy To Walk And Want To Get In Touch With The “Local Vibe”
Even though Amsterdam is a small city, I wouldn’t exactly call walking around all day on crowded streets and sketchy alleys a good time. Solution? Rent a bicycle and peddle your tourist self to all the sights. Though, if you’re one to easily get sidewalk rage, you have a whole other thing coming for you when biking around this city. Other cyclists will hate you. Drivers will hate you. Pedestrians will hate you. It’s best to thoroughly read the “Bicycling in Amsterdam for Dummies” book ahead of time. Hopefully renting that bike for the day was worth the trouble.
If you’re concerned enough for your well-being while embracing the local way of transport, read my full post on renting bicycles in Amsterdam.
9. Visit Some Museums That You Really Don’t Care About
I know, I know. You want to show your friends how cultured and seemingly educated you are by checking out all these museums that you really couldn’t give a crap about. Lucky for you, Amsterdam houses one of the most well-known museums: The Van Gogh Museum. Even though you probably wouldn’t be able to pick out more than one or two pieces of his work, you should definitely go just to say you’ve been.
If Van Gogh doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty of other museums to check out. Museumplein (where the Van Gogh Museum resides) has a handful of museums you can bore yourself to death in. As an added bonus for spending countless hours looking at stuff that makes you yawn, you can also take far too many photos with the I Amsterdam letters to put on every social media outlet you have, as they’re located smack-dab in the middle of the museums.
10. Explore The City On Your Own Two Feet And Try Not To Get Lost
This is a tough one. Mainly because I’m directionally challenged, but also because every canal and alleyway look the exact same. Once you get to the bigger landmarks, you’re golden, but if you dare to venture into lesser known territory without a tour group (you courageous traveler!), the likelihood of you becoming lost increases by about 99%.
You can turn a walk around the city into a amusingly hazardous game with your friends – Start walking with your friends to a previously chosen destination. No maps and/or phones allowed. Each time you find yourselves lost or need to ask for help, you must take a bite of a special brownie or a hit of something else. To make it really interesting, be sure to choose an obscure location that you don’t even think you’d be able to find under regular circumstances. Hilarity ensues.