All I had ever heard about Amsterdam from back home, was about hookers and weed, so when I arrived in the city by hitchhiking, I was pleasantly surprised about how beautiful it was. i had booked my stay through HouseTrip and was meant to stay only a week, but that quickly got extended to 2 as I loved it so much.
I was fortunate enough to meet up with some friends that had been living in Amsterdam for quite a while, and they showed me the ins and outs of this amazing city.
Top 10 Things to do in Amsterdam
1. The Anne Frank House is the actual house where Anne Frank hid out for two years during WWII and wrote her famous diary. A very humbling experience!
2. The Amsterdam Purse Museum has a fascinating collection of bags, purses, trunks, pouches, cases and accessories dating from the late Middle Ages. While more suited for the ladies, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum may be more the ticket for the guys, whether or not you are a pipe smoker.
3. The Amstel is the river the city gets its name from. Such a serene waterway for taking a boat, walking, cycling or just sitting and watching all of the bustling activity.
4. Leiden Square is the place to be at night! Surrounded by restaurants, bars, shops and street performers, you will be entertained into the early morning hours. Here, hidden toilets pop up out of the ground at, and that kinda amazed me for some reason.
5. Take a canal cruise. Prinsengracht, Herengracht and Keizersgracht are the three major canals that shape the city. Beautiful place to visit with all the shops and historical buildings. It felt like dejavu walking around the city, and crossing so many canal bridges, but they were so beautiful that I didn’t mind.
6. The Red Light District is definitely a place you have to visit – or experience as the case may be. Watching the working girls tempting the crowds is almost as much fun as watching the crowds being tempted! Warning though! A friend of mine had a bucket of water tossed on him from a brothel door as he was trying to take some pictures!
7. Cycling is a true Dutch means of getting around Amsterdam. Be sure to remember the golden rules. Never cycle next to your friend, put your lights on at night and lock your bike up. For me, watching for bikes while walking around, turned out to be more important while crossing roads, then cars were.
8. Melkweg and Paradiso are Amsterdam’s coziest music venues to visit if you’re short on time and money. The cornerstone of the pop and rock music scene is Paradiso, a former church that often hosts several events in one day.
9. The Heineken Brewery is on the outskirts of Amsterdam. In the old factory is The Heineken Experience, which offers four floors of multimedia exhibits, historical brewing artifacts and a tasting bar.
10. Coffee Shops or Cannabis Shops are all over the city and are indicated with a green and white sign (green-light district??). In these it is legal and accepted to buy and smoke marijuana. One caution though – the THC level in Dutch weed is generally higher than other weeds so has a stronger affect than you may be used to.
Broke backpacker tip: Go into a busy coffee shop and just hang out. They are usually so small that it’s impossible to NOT get high from second-hand smoke.