It’s known for it’s live sex shows and smoking cafes and it attracts thousands of stags and hens every year. But there is so much more to Amsterdam than you think. It is a beautiful city full of canals, art, music and the tastiest of foods. If you find that you want a day off from the dark side of dam, or you want to avoid it all together, then here are eight things you can do in Amsterdam that don’t involve smoking weed or watching other people have sex.
Gorge on yummy Pancakes
One of the best things about Amsterdam? THE FOOD! Especially the amazing pancakes on offer. For a real treat head to Upstairs Pannenkoeken, known to us Brits as Upstairs Pancakes (read my full review here). It opened in 1962 and they have the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted with over 40 to chose from. And Upstairs Pancakes is officially the smallest restaurant in Europe, with just 4 tables, which means you’re going to want to try and book at least one day in advance. If you can’t get a table, don’t fret, there are pancake houses on every corner in Amsterdam.
Take in some nature at the Botanical Gardens
Anyone who has followed my travels will know how much I LOVE going to Botanical Gardens. Most cities have one, and it’s always a really fun afternoon out of seeing beautiful nature and wildlife. I’m yet to visit Hortus Botanicus, which is Amsterdams Gardens, but I’m very keen to go since finding out that it’s one of the oldest in the world! And from my experience, no two Botanical Gardens are ever the same, not even close.
Visit the Museums
If you’re an arty farty type then you will want to take a trip to the Amsterdam museums, which are central to the cultural life of Amsterdam. There is the Rijksmuseum, the Concertgebouw, the Stedelijk Museum and not forgetting the Van Gogh Museum (which is free!)
Check out some weird animals at the Amsterdam Zoo
I’ll be honest, it’s not the largest of Zoo’s, nor is it the prettiest. But if you find yourself wanting to do something different in Amsterdam, then head along to watch a mountain of monkeys battle it out to be king, a lake of Flamingo’s all looking like they don’t belong there, and some rather disturbing bugs and beetles that will instantly make you itch *shudders* (And try and find the very beautiful waterfall near the Elephants!)
Take a selfie at the I AM/STERDAM Sign
If your near the Rijksmuseum museum, then why not pop to I AM/STERDAM Sign, which is right next to it, and take a selfie? Or in my case, a very BAD selfie (see above). I was alone and so I was attempting to use a selfie stick for the first time whilst also nursing a Skek hangover (see below). The sign is packed with other tourists, so I suggest setting off to super early to get a picture that doesnt have a bunch of strangers posing in the background.
Eat Dutch food & drink Dutch beer at Cafe Skek
And this is how my Skek hangover happened. This little Dutch bar, sat in the middle of the red light district, is absolutely worth a visit. Selling homely-type dutch food and dutch craft beers, this place is a cosy little smoke-free spot to sit down in one of their kooy chairs and watch live music. Thats IF you can find it. My boyfriend and I had a friend take us there, but the next night trying to find it was like running around Labrynth, all the pathways looked the same – Good luck.
Rent a bike and cycle (a lot)
Everyone cycles in Amsterdam, it was like being in Vietnam again, the only difference being that in Amsterdam they ring their little bell before they run you down. I personally am scared of riding a bike (yes yes, I know, I’m pathetic) but there are bike rental places everywhere in Amsterdam, so if riding a bike around the city sounds like your thang, you’ll love be in cycling heaven.
…or walk (a lot)
Like I always do when I travel to most small cities, I walked everywhere. Sometimes one of the best things to do in a new city is to make no plans whatsoever, just grab your bag, your camera and set off to explore. You never know what little hidden treasure you’re going to find.