Admit it – when you read the word Amsterdam, the first thought in your mind was either:
a) legal marijuana
b) a street full of semi-nude ladies bathed in red light
I won’t judge you based on what one popped up first.
Although those two things are Amsterdam’s claim to fame, there is much, much more to this quirky city.
1. The world’s largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s artwork is housed in a three-story museum.
This museum makes it into my top 5. Van Gogh was a pretty fascinating guy, and this museum will help you get to know him outside of Starry Night.
My advice would be to spend a good chunk of time here in the morning and follow it up with brunch at one of the cute restaurants in the area. You can also purchase your ticket online ahead of time to avoid long lines!
2. Purchase your ticket to tour the Anne Frank House as far in advance as possible.
This museum is heartbreaking, humbling, and something you do not want to miss if you’re in Amsterdam.
But be warned – the lines are nuts.
I’ve been to the museum twice, and have the firsthand experience to say buy your ticket online ASAP. The first time I went, I booked my ticket in advance. The second time I waited in the mile-long line outside for nearly three hours. You can guess which one was the better experience. Do yourself a favor and reserve that ticket online before you get on the plane!
3. The canals aren’t always as beautiful as they appear in photos.
Amsterdam’s canals are intricate and beautiful, but when they’re flooded with litter, it’s hard to admire them. I’d imagine this happens more during the summer months when the weather is at its nicest and tourists are coming in herds, because I’ve only seen them this nasty once.
In case anyone needed another reason not to litter!
4. There are URINALS on the SIDEWALK.
Honestly, this made me a little jealous of men. Especially when I was power-walking to somewhere with a public restroom and saw a man relieving himself on the sidewalk in a (somewhat) socially acceptable way.
You don’t really have to look for them either, because when you pass one on a warm summer day, you’ll know it instantly.
5. Riding a bike in Amsterdam is equivalent to driving on the I-10 in Los Angeles during rush hour.
You could’ve been riding a bike since you popped out of the womb, but if you’re not a local, it’ll probably be a little overwhelming.
6. The best place to stay isn’t actually in the city itself.
There are great hostels (I stayed at this one and had a blast), Airbnb’s and hotels in the city center, but the Dutch countryside is the place to lay your head after a long day of indulging in the Amsterdam experience.
My all-time favorite hostel is less than 30 minutes outside of the city center, and I recommend it to anyone looking to visit Amsterdam. I’ve stayed at Lucky Lake the two times I’ve visited Amsterdam, and both times were delightful. The hostel consists of a collection of vibrant caravans turned into bedrooms, and I’ve heard it’s a great place to enjoy any potent purchases you may have made in the city.
7. Weed isn’t the only drug you can buy just by walking into a store.
Truffles are magic mushroom’s little cousins, and they can be purchased throughout the city. Canisters of nitrous oxide, peyote, and salvia are some of the other drugs up for grabs, but just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe, or that you should try it during a 48-hour visit.
8. There are gorgeous churches.
9. The floating flower market is a must-see.
Okay, maybe you have heard about this one, but no one can explain how exquisite it truly is. Make sure this is part of your Amsterdam itinerary.
10. Orange juice. Just keep a jug of orange juice with you.
If you’re planning on experimenting with mind-altering substances, orange juice can help mellow you out if you get past your limits or decide you want to come back down to earth. Or so I’ve been told.