Amsterdam is a destination that attracts millions of visitors each year. From its picturesque canals and historic architecture to its liberal atmosphere and cultural treasures, Amsterdam offers a unique and unforgettable experience. However, tourists can make some common mistakes. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, here are seven mistakes you shouldn’t make in Amsterdam.
Seven mistakes you shouldn’t make in Amsterdam
Ignoring Bicycle Etiquette.
Amsterdam is renowned for being a bike-friendly city, and you’ll quickly notice that locals rely heavily on their bicycles to get around. As a visitor, it’s essential to respect bicycle lanes and signals, as they have the right of way. Avoid walking in the designated bike paths and be cautious when crossing the roads. Familiarize yourself with bicycle hand signals to understand the cyclists’ intentions and prevent accidents.
If you ever drive a car, it is also imperative to always pay attention to the bicycles surrounding you, as they often show up next to your car without much warning.
Many tourists rent a bicycle themselves. That is awesome, but pay close attention to the traffic, especially trams, as you use your bicycle in Amsterdam. Another important thing is to park your bicycle only where it is allowed. There are dedicated areas where you can park your bike and many locations where you cannot leave your bike. If you still park your bicycle in such a location, it will quickly be removed and you will need to spend a lot of time and pay a certain fee to have it returned.
Underestimating Walking Distances.
While Amsterdam is relatively compact and walkable, some travelers may need to pay more attention to the distances between attractions. The best way to explore Amsterdam is on foot as you will see lots of details impossible to discover from canal boats, cars, or as you ride a bike.
Even though Amsterdam might look small on the map, the distances are still worth considering. If you live near Amsterdam Centraal (the railway station), you must walk 3km to reach the famous Van Gogh Museum at the Museumplein. If you’d rather visit the zoo (Artis Zoo), the distance between the railway station and the zoo is 2km.
What is the conclusion? Bring good shoes, and if you worry about the distances, consider buying a day pass for public transportation or renting a bike instead.
Don’t be rude. Behave nicely!
Politeness and good manners are highly regarded in Dutch culture. Always greet locals with a friendly “Hallo” or “Goedemorgen” (good morning) and thank them with a “Dank je wel” (thank you) after receiving assistance. Being courteous will undoubtedly create a more positive experience during your visit.
Nobody expects you to learn Dutch, but learning a few words will make life so much easier, and you will make a good impression on the locals.
You can read more about it further down in this article, but a part of following the Dutch manners also deals with behaving nicely in the street and trying to make life for locals as quiet and peaceful as possible.
Disregarding Cannabis Laws.
Amsterdam is famous for its coffee shops, where you can legally purchase and consume cannabis products. However, remember that some rules and regulations apply.
For instance, you must be 18 or older to enter a coffee shop and consume Cannabis in designated areas only. Public smoking of Cannabis is illegal and can lead to fines, so be mindful of where you’re allowed to partake.
In other words, don’t expect to see people smoking Cannabis on every corner of the city. That is not what you will see because smoking on the street is illegal, meaning you shouldn’t do it, nor should anyone else.
Don’t expect Wild Parties Everywhere.
Amsterdam has a reputation of being a party city. It is partly true, but the town itself is fighting this reputation. Why is that?
Amsterdam has for years struggled with tourists causing more harm than good. Many tourists come to the Dutch capital to party. As a result, they drink a lot of beer, smoke Marihuana, and sometimes combine it with other drugs. Ultimately, they are stoned and in no control of their behavior. The story often ends up causing harm to the interior of restaurants and bars or with visits to hospitals nearby.
Not only is it destructive for the economy and the city, but it disturbs the locals who want to have tourism banned from the city due to crowds of tourists behaving in this manner.
Amsterdam is trying to protect the locals from the extreme behavior of tourists. If you behave nicely, the city will more likely welcome you with open arms in the future!
Behave with respect in the Red Light District.
People come to Amsterdam with very different imaginations about the Red Light District. No matter what you expect, behaving with respect as you walk in the area is important. First of all, the Red Light District is not all of Amsterdam, but instead certain areas in the center of Amsterdam. You can easily end up walking around the Red Light District without looking for it. No matter how you end up in the Red Light District, here are some mistakes you shouldn’t make while walking around the area.
- The people working in the Red Light District is doing so legally. Just like you expect to be treated with respect for your job, these people deserve your respect (and not disgust or condemnation).
- Don’t take photographs of people working in the area, nor of the windows where girls offer their services, without permission.
- Even though it is a party area, you should walk the streets quietly, respecting the locals and the people working there.
- Don’t be tricked into scams. People try to fool tourists everywhere, including in the Red Light District. At the same time, watch out for your belonging and your own safety, especially at night.
Would you like to learn more about the Red Light District? Many walking tours give you insight, tips, and information you will not find elsewhere. You can read more about different Red Light District tours here.
Plan your trip, and book your tickets beforehand!
Amsterdam is a city full of cultural delights. Take the time to visit museums like the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Anne Frank House. Attend a classical concert at the Concertgebouw or experience contemporary art at the Stedelijk Museum. But, do not forget to plan ahead!
The Anne Frank House is one of the most popular places to visit in Amsterdam. Many people plan to visit the museum/house, only to discover that no tickets are available.
If you don’t really care about whether or not you can visit a museum or exhibition, then you don’t need to pay attention to this. But, if an essential part of your stay is a visit to the Anne Frank House, a guided tour to a special location, or a temporary exhibition in the Rijksmuseum, you should definitely do your planning and buy your tickets in advance.
No tickets left for the Anne Frank House during your stay? Do you want to learn more about the girl, the neighborhood, and about the destiny of thousands of Jews in Amsterdam during the Second World War? Several tours are available dealing with Anne Frank and the Jewish history in Amsterdam. You can read more about Anne Frank-related tours in Amsterdam here.
In conclusion, Amsterdam is a city of surprises, and avoiding these common mistakes will help you make the most of your time in this captivating destination. By respecting local customs, being mindful of your surroundings, and embracing the cultural experiences available, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime. So, pack your bags, research, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in Amsterdam!