Amsterdam has become a massive tourist hub over the years, particularly for British tourists. A permissive attitude to certain substances and ladies of the night who work from windows in the garish Red Light District have led millions of stag and hen parties, birthday groups and city breakers to a city that’s only an hour-and-a-bit from most UK airports.
Amsterdam is not just sex and drugs, though; far from it. A small city, easily walkable from one attraction to the next for those who are relatively able and welcoming of all, it has art, history and a thriving culture that locals enjoy and are very happy to share with those who visit.
Take a look through some of the attractions you might miss if you stay on the tourist trail and get a real feel for the Amsterdam that the Dutch know and love.
Messing about on the water
With the Amstel River and countless canals and waterways, Amsterdam is more like a series of connected islands than a whole landmass. As such, water plays a vital part in the life of the city.
While the hotels in Amsterdam tend to be extremely costly or cheap and tiny with not much in between, many people overlook the opportunity to spend their stay like an Amsterdammer and take a houseboat. There are hundreds of narrowboats and river barges that are available for short tourist lets around the city and give you more room to relax after a long day exploring the city. Usually sleeping between two and eight people, they’re an ideal way to accommodate a group if you’re travelling together and offer social space that’s often lacking in hotels.
While most tourists are thronging around Dam Square and the Red Light District, take a tram south from Centraal Station and head into de Pijp. One of the most cosmopolitan and thriving areas of the city, de Pijp is popular with locals, and for good reason.
At the heart of the district lies the Albert Cuypmarkt, where over 300 stalls offering everything from cheap clothes to herring and cheeses trades six days a week along Albert Cuypstraat. It’s a perfect place to mix with local people doing their weekly shop for groceries and, if you’re staying on a boat, stock up with food for your own stay.
A short walk from Albert Cuypstraat is Sarphatipark, an open space donated to the city by a local philanthropist in the 19th century. While there are parks in the city that are busier and grander, Sarphatipark is a quiet retreat that’s popular with locals for relaxing and walking their dogs. Surrounded by the characteristic tall, slender town houses, it’s a pretty and peaceful place to spend an hour.
Finally, how about a slightly quirky suggestion but one that will give you a local flavour in the true sense of the word? As you walk around the city you will find that most main streets in the centre of Amsterdam, more frequently that the iconic burger joints, have one of Holland’s own version of fast food. The FEBO kiosks are bright orange and inside have rows of heated cabinets with coin slots to release a burger, croquettes or a toasted sandwich.
Cheap and incredibly kitsch, they’re worth a visit even if it’s only to “admire” the incredibly 80s interiors and marvel at the number of Amsterdammers who flock there late on a weekend night.
While most tour guides focus on the seedy or high-culture sides of Amsterdam, it’s a city that can be enjoyed from a different angle if you take a trip like a local. Enjoy some of the sights off the beaten track and see why people choose to live in this thriving little city.
Author Bio: An article by Alan who suggests when visiting the city checkout Amsterdam flights from cheapflights.co.uk, to save money off your flights.