It’s no secret Amsterdam is infamously known as the place to party in Europe on top of boasting two of the most popular attractions in the Netherlands in the Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum. However, I learned from my time spent here that there is much much more to Amsterdam than what the tourist map tells you!
Canals: Wandering the canals is how to stumble upon the best cafes, coffeeshops, and breathtaking views. It’s near impossible to stroll down any of the many canals and not stumble upon a menu or happy hour that catches your eye!
Dam Square: The town center that is always busy and bustling. Take a stroll and make sure to window-shop at the nearby malls and surrounding stores.
The Red Light District: Split into three main areas including the Blue Light District which hosts gay and transvestite prostitutes and the Old Church which hosts black sex workers. Most prostitutes live double lives and work normal day jobs and therefore do not want their identity shared so photos and videos are strictly prohibited and attempting either will generally end with creating a scene or, at worst, getting your ass kicked by their private bodyguards. Because prostitution is legal and taxed in Amsterdam, sex workers are protected by law enforcement and receive free healthcare. The rules for participating are relatively simple, negotiating prices, keeping time (literally setting a stopwatch to make sure you get every minute of what you paid for), and not wearing a condom is very unlikely and could end up with you getting thrown out. Otherwise, bring cash, knock on a window, ask how much for how long, and accept or decline.
The Old Church:
What’s a sex show like? Bizarre. I went to one with a Scottish couple on their random drunken whim that cost 50 euros per person which included two house drinks and around nine acts totaling an hour and a half. It’s not what I expected and what I expected was more a strip club atmosphere with a party mentality, instead I received a movie theater environment with a freak-show atmosphere. Taking pictures and recording will instantly get a patron thrown out and the audience is meant to be quiet and simply spectate for the majority of the show. There were stripteases and lap dances on stage for random picks from the crowd, gay and heterosexual sex that were passionate-less, and female performers who lit up a red light bulb and puffed a cigar with their vaginas. I was baffled and felt sorry for the performers more than anything as it all seemed forced and repetitive and therefore made it harder for me to enjoy watching as a spectator. I didn’t necessarily feel I was gypped but wasn’t really thrilled by the show and wouldn’t return if given the opportunity.
Coffeeshops: Weed and hash are both sold in coffeeshops by grams or prerolled joints but a business cannot legally sell alcohol and drugs only one or the other. Finding coffeeshops in Amsterdam is all too easy as they are widespread throughout town. In terms of finding other hard drugs it is not recommended. It is actually common to be nonchalantly approached by random strangers on the street muttering, “cocaine, ecstasy?” do not trust this sketchy sales-pitch as there are known horror stories of foreign party-goers wanting to buying cocaine and instead unknowingly being sold white heroin and overdosing as a result.
Nine Little Streets:
Rijksmuseum, I Amsterdam letters, & the Christmas market: I was lucky enough to have all 3 of these attractions within feet of each other but fought the tears as I remembered, being a born and raised Floridian, I never learned to ice-skate and the I Amsterdam letters are mobbed by tourists all day, everyday making it impossible to get a clean snapshot.
Amsterdam Museum & Dutch Resistance Museum: Amsterdam is full of history and culture so do not make the mistake of spending all of your time here simply drinking and partying, take a stroll into one of the many museums it boasts and explore – you won’t regret it!
Food: Try new things and stick to the local markets and eateries! Things I wasn’t used to included hot vine, canned water, and wax-coated cheese wheels.