Explore Amsterdam like a local

When you hear Amsterdam, you think – Red Light District! But while exploring Amsterdam, I discovered a few gems I will never forget. Amsterdam’s canals, cultural trends, and the lovely little streets worth exploring are part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Here are some of my favorite experiences while visiting Amsterdam:

Traveling by bike

Amsterdam is very serious about the economical way of traveling. Preferred by locals and most tourists, biking can be therapeutic and fun, especially when traveling to your destination. Don’t be shy and find the nearest rental bike before heading to your chosen destination!

Strolling at their famous Red Light District

Amsterdam is never shy about its liberal and tolerant attitude towards nudity, prostitution, and pornography. When in Amsterdam, take advantage of this exciting experience. Walk past the 300 windows where women work, and you can legally explore this venture.

There are also sex shops, strip clubs, peep shows, and sex theaters that you can go to in this Dutch city. Furthermore, there are a few artistic activities such as the Museum of Prostitution, the Museum of Erotism, or Cannabis. If you’re interested to see this, come late at night when the neon lights are lit and the music is loud.

When in the Red Light District, you are not allowed to take photos or videos of women behind the windows. Signs are posted in windows to inform tourists, so you must be mindful when taking out your camera. It’s also best to go there with someone when “window shopping” or exploring. Enjoy the view or go there for some good coffee around the area.

Bar Hopping at Dam Square

When in Amsterdam, visiting the historic bar near Dam Square where Heineken was first brewed – De Blauwe Parade, is a must. They serve Heineken on a tap! Don’t stop there; head to Cafe Hoppe, immerse yourself with diverse crowds, and enjoy “beer with a two-finger head.” In Holland, a beer without a head is dead.

Many bars are serious about their “beer tasting,” like In de Wildeman, a former distillery near the central station. If you’re a historical buff and a cocktail drinker, the House of Bols serves cocktails just near the Van Gogh Museum. Cocktails are liberally overflowing in Amsterdam. You can tell the bartender what you like, and they’ll craft it for you. Private bars with secret passwords let you into an intimate bar experience. If you’re lucky enough to get a response, you’ll find yourself in velvet couches in signature drinks.

Make sure you watch your alcohol intake. Dutch are crazy about their concoction, and you might be too drunk to get back to your room.

Shopping at De Bijenkorf

With flagship stores in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht and smaller stores in Amstelveen, Eindhoven, and Maastricht, De Bijenkorf (Beehive) is a favorite shopping destination for Dutch and international visitors. Stroll around the mall and take breaks from shopping to enjoy a fresh coffee at cafes or restaurants.

De Bijenkorf is a premium shopping destination. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, and Hermes are staples in this mall. This stop should be on your list if you’re into luxury shopping.

However, you can also find very affordable stuff at Primark. So, if you’re planning to get your loved ones something from Amsterdam, you are definitely in luck.

Vintage thrift shopping at Pijp neighborhood

Not a fan of luxury? Check out this trendy spot! Pijp neighborhood is a treasure-trove of hand-picked vintage clothes. Buy trinkets and clothes in excellent condition while sipping a cup of coffee. Best of all, they are sold by kilogram! You should visit this trendy area if you have a long shopping time because you might forget how long you are looking at those pieces and checking out other shops.

Trying Dutch cheeses and their famous coffee shops!

Bruin cafés are to Amsterdam what pubs are to London. They are cozy and warmly welcome passersby, serving local food and a fine selection of beers. Whether for a coffee, breakfast, or beer, these secluded spots are a cozy place to use as a base for planning your day in Amsterdam.

You may also want to try some samples of Gouda, Edam, or Leerdammer cheeses at a market stall to get a feel of what Holland cheeses taste like. The Cafe Van Mechelen, located at Sloterkade 96/97, is perfect for eating cheese and trying some new beer (or wine).

Museum hopping

If you want to explore museums, Amsterdam has some of the best museums in the world! However, museums like Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt House Museum, or Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder can be historical and a must-see; they can be heavy on the pocket. There are lesser-known museums that are enjoyable that can bewilder your art enthusiastic heart. Tassen Museum of Bags and Purses, Museum of Spectacles, and The Coffee and Tea Museum are also well worth visiting.

Amsterdam is a great place to stroll, bike, and just marvel. Their canal system is one of the best in the world. You can enjoy coffee on every corner of the street, grab a beer at a nearby pub for brunch, visit a random museum or go shopping for antiques and art pieces in vintage stores.

It is a city worth coming back to. It’s more than just delightful. My Amsterdam experience was truly magical and exhilarating. Are you planning to visit Amsterdam and tick off a few items on your bucket list? Make sure you include that in your Visa Application. Read my blog on how to get your Visa for Schengen to experience Amsterdam.