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Welkom to the Netherlands!
Learn about the hidden streets, the one-of-a-kind views, and the secret menus that only “insiders” and worldwide locals have the privilege of knowing. Amsterdam is chock-full of local gems, and we are excited to share them with you.
Once a fishing village on the banks of the Amstel River, Amsterdam has grown to become one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. There’s a reason for the city’s success as a place where tourists the world over come to visit. It’s filled with everything: timeless art, beautiful architecture, underground music, scenic canals, amazing food, and most importantly, friendly locals.
Where to Begin Your Journey
Start your journey in Dam Square, the historic heart of the city. Built in the 13th century, a dam was put up nearby to prevent flooding, and as a result, the city flourished. Dam Square is home to street performers and artists, as well as a commercial space where shoppers can find international brands.
Amsterdam is a city of cyclists; most people, if not all, ride a bike here. If you’re visiting for the first time, don’t be an obvious tourist and stand on the bike paths (this is one of the most obnoxious things to do in Amsterdam.) Locals generally don’t slow down, so for your safety and that of others, don’t get in the way of the bikes and always be mindful of where you’re standing.
The Worldwide Local Tip: Make sure to rent your own bike while you’re here as it is easily the most efficient way to get around.
Incredible Amsterdam Museums
For a great daytime activity, head to any of the phenomenal and culturally significant Amsterdam museums. The Museumplein is home to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. There’s so much to see that it’ll probably take a few days just to experience that whole area. But if you’re looking for a daytime adventure off the beaten path, away from the crowds of tourists, take a (free) ferry trip to Amsterdam North. Located on the banks of the IJ are some really amazing spots, known by the locals, that only a few tourists get the privilege of experiencing. Hang out on the man-made beach on a hot summer day, or stop in one of the many restaurants or cafes in the neighborhood.
The Worldwide Local Tip: Make sure to check out the Noorderlicht Cafe, a large bohemian-style cafe, set in a greenhouse furnished with wacky mismatched furniture. The beer garden, outside, is a great way to spend a summer afternoon, enjoying the temperate Amsterdam weather.
Take a Walk Back through Time
For those who like to amble and get lost, take a stroll through the beautiful Jordaan neighborhood. What was once a working-class neighborhood has become home to some of the most sought after of Amsterdam hotels and homes. Simply walking through the area will make you feel like you’ve stepped through time, with its old-style buildings and slim winding streets and alleys. This area is home to many art galleries, atmospheric bars, and the trendiest of Amsterdam restaurants. Visiting this location and mingling with the residents are surely top priorities amongst worldwide locals.
The Worldwide Local Tip: Lose the map and get lost for a few hours here. You may even discover a new antique you just have to have.
Beers, Bars, and Brothels
The city is also home to the Heineken brewery (the popular beer bottle’s label is more recognizable than the Amsterdam flag). Otherwise known as the “Heineken Experience,” the famous brewery offers some amazing tours of the facility. If you want something a little different, head to the Oostelijke Eilanden neighborhood and enjoy a day of local craft beers under one of Amsterdam’s few remaining windmills. Tasting tours of a microbrewery are offered by the Brouwerij ’t IJ brewing company at the De Gooyer Windmill.
Of course, no tour of Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Red Light District, known as De Wallen. This neighborhood has been around since medieval times and is currently home to bars, brothels, and coffee shops. The city has a long history of tolerance towards drug use and sexuality. When visiting this area, you’ll want to be sure you are willing to be open minded. Amsterdam coffee shops are places that sell recreational marijuana along with other drugs such as mushrooms. Edibles and drinks are often sold here, so visitors should always be aware of their limitations when experimenting with these substances.
Despite its “live and let live” attitude, there are rules to navigating the Red Light District. It’s strictly forbidden to take pictures or film the sex workers--know that this policy is heavily enforced with 24-hour surveillance. That being said, the area is safe, and there are many tourists that visit De Wallen but beware that pickpocketing in this area is prevalent. Always be mindful of your things and your surroundings.
The Worldwide Local Tip: If you’re trying something for the first time do not be afraid to ask a local and/or salesperson for advice. This will help make your first time to Amsterdam a good one.
Enjoy Amsterdam. It’s filled with a local flavor that you’ll remember forever.