What Not to Do in Amsterdam

June 27, 2013 by

Local Recommendations, Suggested Itineraries, Travel Tips


The Bulldog is Amsterdam’s oldest coffeeshop. Image courtesy of Sherpas428 on Flickr.

Here are a few definite rules about what not to do in Amsterdam; they will ease your stay in the city where almost anything goes.

Don’t buy drugs on the street

A long list of don’ts here. Don’t buy drugs on the streets in Amsterdam. You might discover you’ve been fobbed off with herbs or even sheep dung. Only buy and smoke in designated coffeeshops, and even then only buy soft drugs. Don’t take all your belongings to coffeeshops with you as you may be followed and mugged when you leave. Don’t buy drugs if you are under 18; it’s illegal. Don’t even think about leaving The Netherlands with your stash. You’ll get caught.

Don’t photograph the prostitutes in the Red Light District

It might be tempting to take pictures of scantily clad women posing in windows in the Red Light District but it is strictly frowned upon. You might find yourself hoisted into the nearest canal by the Neanderthal-style pimps who patrol the area. Or you and your camera might get a bucket of water tipped over you by one of the ladies of the night.


Stay out of the bike lanes when walking around Amsterdam. Image courtesy of Akuppa on Flickr.

Don’t walk in the bike lanes

Wandering into bike lanes is a cardinal sin in cycle-obsessed Amsterdam. The locals will not stop but will swerve at the last minute and curse you roundly. I’ve even seen children mown down with no apology forthcoming from the offending cyclist. Likewise don’t hire a bike in Amsterdam unless you are a confident rider who knows the city; your fellow cyclists will have no patience with dithering and sudden stops.

Don’t forget to look for trams

Bikes are not the only road hazard in Amsterdam; trams run everywhere in the city center and they move surprisingly fast and usually have right of way. Always double check before you cross the road – and for British readers, the trams will be coming at you from the right.

Don’t lose sights of your belongings

Always keep your money hidden and never leave anything unattended on the floor in cafés and bars or on benches outside. They’ll be gone in an instant, especially in the Red Light District around the Oude Kerk. A recent scam involves bogus policemen asking to check the validity of your euros and exchanging your real currency for fake notes.

Don’t forget to buy an Amsterdam tourist pass

The I Amsterdam City Card allows discounted entry into most major museums and cost €40 for one day’s sightseeing or €52 for 48 hours. The Amsterdam Holland Pass permits free travel in the city as well as fast-track entry into a number of museums; it can also be used in Utrecht, The Hague and Rotterdam. Prices start at €64.60 for seven museum entrances.

Sasha Heseltine

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