Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

Some of the mistakes people make when visiting Amsterdam won’t usually ruin a whole trip, but knowing what to avoid may ensure you a smooth visit to the Dutch capital. Guiltless misunderstandings are common with experiencing any new destination and local culture, while some other ‘mistakes’ can lead to hefty fines. It’s always better to be on the safe side.

This guide shows you all the things not to do in Amsterdam on your 1st visit. We’ve included things you ought to be aware of while roaming the streets of the ‘bicycle capital of the world’ as well as some aspects you should know about the city’s coffeeshop culture and red-light district. Let it be your handy ‘things to avoid’ list for visiting the capital of the Netherlands.

Walking along the fietspaden (bike paths)

Amsterdam is more of a cyclists’ city than a pedestrian’s

Walking along the fietspaden (bike paths)

Amsterdam is well-known for its cycling culture, with an infrastructure of paths and dedicated lanes built as early as the 1890s. Most of the roads you’ll see will have separate bike paths (fietspaden) alongside. In some areas, there’ll be clearly marked lanes on shared roads. In any case, pedestrians beware – the bikes rule the road here.

Firstly, it’s wise for pedestrians to stay off the bike paths. Then, always look right, left, and right again before crossing – cyclists tend to whiz through crosswalks and often ignore red lights. If you do find yourself walking along a shared-use pavement, walk on the left side and let cyclists pass.

Thinking a coffeeshop is a café

They sell more than just coffee

Thinking a coffeeshop is a café

Coffeeshops in Amsterdam aren’t ‘coffee shops’ in the traditional sense. Well, some of them do sell coffee and other beverages, but they’re most the main places to experience one of the world’s most enduring cannabis cultures.

The history behind the name is basically the same as that of speakeasies. The first coffeeshop was on the site of an old bakery that also served coffee – ‘everything else’ was sold in secret. The police raids and secrecy are things of the distant past, but the name ‘coffeeshop’ is here to stay.

Drinking alcohol and smoking in public

It’s either illegal or frowned upon

Drinking alcohol and smoking in public

Drinking booze in public spaces is illegal in Amsterdam. The police may be more lenient during festivals and weekends as well as in Vondelpark and De Wallen. But if you carry open bottles, drink and get drunk (and cause a scene) in public, you’re simply asking for a free night’s stay at the police station.

Outside the privacy and secure 4 walls of coffeeshops, you’re also urged against smoking in public. Doing so will result in a polite reminder of the rules from a patrolling police officer at best – at worst, you’ll get fined. It’s disrespectful and quite a safety risk to go about the city while under the influence, especially with the ever-present risk of being hit by a bicycle.

Buying and eating any space cake or waffle

These ‘treats’ hit harder than a regular joint

Buying and eating any space cake or waffle

Amsterdam and its cannabis culture may be an exciting new adventure to some, but there are some pitfalls the inexperienced can fall into. Here, if marijuana isn’t rolled and lit, it’s made into space cakes and space waffles. Cannabis-flavoured cookies and lollipops are available, too, though the cute green pops won’t make you high. However, the cakes and waffles often surprise those who are new to cannabis culture as they always take a long time before they hit you. And, when they do hit, they hit hard – digestion makes it easier to get too much of a dose.

Coffeeshop regulars who casually smoke tend to avoid eating space cakes and waffles altogether due to their strength. Keep safe by only buying and consuming in trusted coffeeshops – never on the street.

Renting a bike but not knowing the local rules

You’ll need to get used to Amsterdam’s bike traffic

Renting a bike but not knowing the local rules

The cycling scene in Amsterdam requires getting used to, whether you’re a pedestrian or a cyclist. When you get a bike, you’ll notice Amsterdam’s pace of traffic. More often than not, you’ll be overtaken by all sorts of characters, from mild to aggressive.

Among the basics are keeping to bike paths and staying in your lane, as well as making room and giving way to other cyclists. You should follow all traffic lights and signs, hand-signal before turning, and park respectfully in designated places. You’ll notice that a lot of the locals hardly ever adhere to these and most also don’t wear helmets. However, for your safety, don’t do as the Amsterdammers do in these cases.

Thinking Amsterdam is just Damrak and De Wallen

Venture outside the Canal Ring for some local atmosphere

Thinking Amsterdam is just Damrak and De Wallen

Amsterdam is thankfully flat and navigable by foot, and there’s more to explore beyond only the central neighbourhoods of Damrak and the De Wallen red-light district. There are districts known for their museums and others graced with beautiful architecture and green parks.

Among the cool areas to visit in Amsterdam are De Pijp, with its narrow townhouses and bustling Albert Cuyp Markt. Westerpark, with its vast green park and lovely recreation grounds, also features beautiful 20th-century architecture. Oud-West similarly offers cool escapes with Vondelpark and charming streets like Kinkerstraat and Overtoom.

Taking pictures in De Wallen

It’s very disrespectful to workers in the area

Taking pictures in De Wallen

De Wallen is Amsterdam’s medieval hub and red-light district. It has many bars, sex shops, erotic museums, and over 200 window brothels. Seeing and experiencing De Wallen is often an Amsterdam bucket-list item for many a visitor, even if it’s just for the quirkiness. However, mind that taking pictures of the window brothels or their workers is considered rude and unacceptable.

One of the main reasons is privacy – most workers in the red-light district live double lives and don’t want their friends, families and colleagues discovering this through Instagram. Respect the ‘no photo’ signs. Shopfronts have CCTVs and the area is monitored by police cameras (it’s a safe place!). The workers themselves may grab your camera or phone if they catch you snapping candid shots.

Not pre-booking tickets to some attractions

Unless you don’t mind the hours-long waiting line

Not pre-booking tickets to some attractions

Getting yourself the Iamsterdam City Card (ordered online) is a wise move as it offers you access to major Amsterdam highlights – including entrance to more than 70 museums and public transport. However, there are certain must-sees in the city that you’d need to book in advance separately.

The Anne Frank House, as an example, releases a limited number of online tickets. If you get hold of one of them, you’ll be happy to be able to show up and walk right in. If you don’t, you’ll need to wait in what is usually a very long line.

Missing out on street food

Local Amsterdam flavours add to the experience

Missing out on street food

Amsterdam’s cool De Pijp neighbourhood is home to the colourful (and flavourful) Albert Cuyp street market. It’s filled with stalls selling cheap goods and tasty street food. Among the must-tries are pickled herring (nieuw haring). Not into fishy treats? Hot stroopwafels are perfect for those on the go.

Extra crunchy fries known as frites are another tasty snack not to be missed while in Amsterdam. They’re served with your choice of sauce – instead of the common rich mayonnaise-based sauce, you can try curry, cheese or even peanut sauce.

Not packing right for the weather

Prepare for typical European weather

Not packing right for the weather

It often rains in Amsterdam, so it’s best to pack right for your visit. There are chances of rain even in summer (June–September). During certain times of the year, it may even pour for a whole day. Of course, that doesn’t stop the cycling – you’ll often see locals pedalling through the rain, either balancing an open umbrella against the wind or wearing a plastic poncho.

Besides packing comfy shoes for walking or cycling in the city, waterproof clothing and rainwear are essential for your visit to the Dutch capital. Fortunately, if you forgot to pack any or if your umbrella gets flipped and bent by strong gusts, you can easily buy one in the city.

Source: https://vi.hotels.com/

By Lala