Amsterdam city guide – discover gigs, parties and events:
Duolingo is a fantastic free app for learning languages. Just 5 minutes a day is all it takes to understand the basics before your travel. Click here to see their Dutch course.
As a gluten-free traveller, I recommend using this handy Dutch restaurant card by Coeliac Travel when querying gluten-free options on a menu. Click the image to visit their website.
Why you will love Amsterdam
This city gets such a bad rap. You’d be forgiven for thinking it is one massive red light district filled with naked women in windows, seedy hash bars and aggressive stag parties. That element does exist but it is actually contained to only a few areas, which means there is a whole other city to explore. And what a city! I was struck by how much it combined all my favourite elements of European cities: beautiful cobbled streets, pretty canals, sunny parks and vintage trams. I was swooning from the moment I arrived at how romantic Amsterdam is! I wish I hadn’t taken so many years to visit as it is now one of my favourite places. You can spot the dodgy areas a mile off so just steer clear of them and head to one of the many cute cafes, bars and museums that are spread across the Netherlands capital city!
Things to watch out for in Amsterdam
Yeah, y’know, that stuff – so despite what you may have heard, marijuana isn’t actually legal in Amsterdam. Possession of small amounts is “tolerated” but don’t go walking around with more than 5 grams on you. Buying and smoking should only be done at one the city’s many “coffee shops” – definitely don’t buy anything off the street and always ask before sparking up a doobie at normal cafe or bar.
Harder stuff – magic mushrooms are apparently legal/tolerated as well. Anything stronger (which means basically anything else) is definitely illegal and you should expect to be as much trouble as you would at home. Except your mum will have to come a whole lot further to angrily bail you out.
Rosse Buurten – De Wallen, situated at the heart of Amsterdam, is the largest Rosse Buurt (red light district). There’s also Singelgebied to the west and Ruysdaelkade to the south. Apparently, the main streets of these areas aren’t too dangerous if you do venture into them but probably best avoid going down any side streets for obvious reasons.
Stag parties – so all of the above elements attracts a whole lot of LADS LADS LADS. The good news is they don’t tend to find the rest of the city that interesting so can be easily avoided if you don’t go to any mainstream clubs.
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