10 things to know before you visit Amsterdam

#1 Cafés aren’t the same thing as Coffeeshops

Coffeeshops and Cafés are two completely different things. As you may or may not know, consuming weed is legal in Amsterdam. You can buy weed brownies, muffins and more in these so called Coffeeshops while Cafés sell Coffee as we know it.

However they aren’t that easy to mistake as the Coffeeshop can be easily identified by its smokey air and colourful lights. Furthermore, you need an ID when entering a coffeeshop as weed is only legal if you’re above 18 years of age.

A Café in Amsterdam

#2 Bikes are everywhere

If you‘ve heard anything about Amsterdam before, it‘s probably that everyone owns a bicycle there. That‘s actually very true, no matter where you want to go, your bike just seems like the perfect way of transport to choose.

Anyways until I visited Amsterdam, I actually never realised just how many bicycles are on the road there. There are bike trails everywhere in the city and as a pedestrian it‘s one of the most difficult challenges, not to get ran over by them. Also, scooters are allowed to use the bike trails, too, so always cross the paths carefully!

Bikes on the road in Amsterdam
Photo by Patrick Röschl

#3 You can spend a day at the beach

You can easily visit one of multiple beaches in Amsterdam by bike or motorcycle. Depending on your vehicle and speed, it takes something from 20 minutes up to 2 hours to get to the best beaches close to the city. 

However, you should know that it gets pretty windy and cold at the beach, so if you were planning to tan or go for a swim, make sure to have some warm clothes to change with you. 

We went to Bloemendaal as our Airbnb host said it was definitely the best choice. As Google maps stated that it only takes about 30 mins to get there by bike, we decided to rent some bicycles and go there. Sadly, it took us about 2 hours (with one break) and was super exhausting, but worth it. The way back seemed a lot more chill and easier, so the reason we took so long when going there was probably the fact that the sun was burning on our backs.

However, thinking back it was definitely one of my favourite days out and I would recommend everyone to go there, too. If you’re a little short in time, or don’t feel like sweating your soul out make sure to rent a motorbike instead of a bicycle and visit the beach.

Bloemendaal beach close to Amsterdam
Bloemendaal beach – Photo by Patrick Röschl

#4 Uber is possible, but chaotic

We didn’t rent a Uber often, just when we were out at night or on our way to the airport. Anyway, if you’re planning to rent one count in that it may take some time until it arrives. Once (in the city) we had to wait for about 15-20 minutes as our Uber had to pass through a lot of small streets. 

Furthermore, due to the huge amount of bicycles in Amsterdam, cars are often the ones who have a harder time getting from A to B. 

Therefor, if you are a person who gets an Uber almost everywhere, I wouldn’t rely on it in Amsterdam. I’d get it after going out at night or to the airport, but definitely not during the daytime. You’re often faster on a bike and it’s more fun. 

A building and a big street in Amsterdam
Two people sitting on a sofa
Clara and me in our Airbnb – Photo by Patrick Röschl

#5 Airbnbs and hotels are both quite expensive

As our stay in Amsterdam was pretty last minute (we went because we wanted to see Eminem in Nijmegen) we didn’t have a hotel until some days before our departure.

However, when searching for a place to stay, I realised that the difference between the pricing of the hotels and the Airbnbs isn’t that big. For our first night, we stayed at a hotel, which was 100€ per room per night. As it was full for the rest of the week, we then stayed in a room at an Airbnb which came at the same price.

When visiting Amsterdam again, I would definitely recommend getting a place to stay a few months ahead. Furthermore, you should not count on cheap pricing as Amsterdam is a rather expensive city.

#6 Schedule a whole day for the Anne Frank house

As the Anne Frank house is one of Amsterdams most famous places, it is frequently visited. There is a queue in front of it every single day and I would recommend booking in advance.

However, you have to wait until you can come in even when getting your tickets beforehand. So make sure to schedule a whole day for your visit, because you never know how many hours you have to wait.

Sadly, I can’t tell you how it was, because we didn’t get in as there were a lot of people waiting.

#7 Eating out is expensive

As mentioned before, staying in Amsterdam can be quite expensive. At the first day of our stay, we actually spent quite some time searching for a restaurant with decent prices.

It wasn’t until the 5th menu we read, when we realised that eating out in general is basically a bit more expensive than in many other european cities.

We paid approximately 30€ for an all you can eat a la carte buffet, 15€ for Ramen and 15€ for breakfast. However, if you want to find out more about all the food we had, make sure to read my previous post: “Food Adventures: Amsterdam”

Vegan Burgers and fries in a restaurant in Amsterdam
a Breakfast table in a restaurant in Amsterdam

#8 You’ll find a lot of Indonesian /dutch merged food

As Indonesia was a former Dutch colony, because of that, a lot of the dutch food you can find in Amsterdam, also contains some typical Indonesian spices or ingredients. At the first glance this may seem weird to you, but the taste of that food is actually quite good and pretty unique.

I would recommend getting some typical Dutch Croquettes. You can get them with all kinds of fillings, also typical Indonesian ones. We got one with Bami Goreng, one with vegetables and one with meat. They were all pretty good and filling and definitely something new we haven’t tried before!

Furthermore, the Indonesian restaurants there are very popular and definitely worth a visit.

Boys playing Basketball in front of Amsterdams Rijksmuseum
People playing Basketball in Amsterdams city – Photo by Patrick Röschl

#9 You can play basketball at the Rijksmuseum

Bring a ball if you like playing, because you can actually play basketball in front of the famous Rijksmuseum.

The atmosphere is beautiful and the park is located in the centre. If you feel like making some new friends in Amsterdam, this is a great way to start!

PS: There’s also a skatepark if you’re not that much into basketball!

Font saying Red light district
Photo by Jordan Merrick on Unsplash

#10 The red light district is a tourist attraction

Once the night breaks in in Amsterdam, a lot of windows start to light up in a saturated red as women are posing in there and waiting for their next customer.

This routine is also a well-known tourist attraction. Many tourists stroll through the streets to visit Amsterdams famous red light district, also called “De Wallen”. It’s set in the city centre, and not hidden from publicity.

However, please don’t take any photographs there and respect that the women don’t want to be shared on social media or similar.

8 thoughts on “10 things to know before you visit Amsterdam

  1. This was a great post! It was super detailed and a wonderful guide to Amsterdam. I’ve never been, but I would love to go one day. I never knew that coffee shops and cafes were different. It’s so interesting.

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