Thanks to movies such as Eurotrip, where it is described as the “drug and sex capital of Europe” little peaceful Amsterdam has managed to earn itself something of a reputation as a very ‘lads on tour’ destination.
Amsterdam has more to offer than sex shows involving people doing unmentionable things to bananas and every THC infused byproduct under the sun. In my experience it is a really cool, chill city which offers a chance for backpackers to recharge and hang out, as well as offering several not to be missed attractions.
St Christopher’s – as you may have guessed, this is one of my preferred European hostel chains! Very close to Dam square, social atmosphere, great beer garden with backpacker friendly prices which is ideal for late afternoon beverages. But easy to get drawn into the hostel atmosphere (they have a nightclub attached), make sure you make time to see Amsterdam as well!
Bob’s – slightly cheaper than the more popular, relatively clean (by Amsterdam youth hostel standards, which by the way can be hovels), social yet chilled out lounge area. Close to Amsterdam Centeraal.
Aivengo Youth Hostel – safe and drug free, but more importantly dirt cheap, stay here if you are on a budget and looking for some quiet time. Offers female only dorms.
The Anne Frank house is an extremely sobering experience, it is a well done museum which reminds us of the perils of human nature instead of just another tourist trap, Definitely worth a visit, i would highly recommend! Although the queues can be massive, so make sure you plan this one in advance to avoid spending a whole day queuing, because where is the fun in that?
On an entirely different note, they have this thing called FEBO burger. Basically these are vending machine burgers. You put a few euros in a slot and select your fatty cheeseburger fix. Probably not going to make it in any culinary guides of the city, but definitely a calorie filled awe inspiring experience. Also try the waffles. And the cheese.
Beyond the Bulldog, Green house and backpackers free shooter pub crawls there are some cool little coffee shops which are great to hang out in and people watch, and roll a joint or few if you are in to that. Just remember this is the real stuff you are smoking, and is probably stronger than anything even the biggest stoner you know smokes back home. Just make sure you don’t do the whole typical young backpacking thing of waffling down three spacecakes and forgetting how to walk up stairs. No one wants to be that guy. Cannabis ice cream (!!!) is probably the safer, yummier option
One of the funniest things I’ve ever done in Amsterdam and the highlight from my last trip there in July 2014 is hiring a peddle boat to take out on the canals. Myself and two of my guy mates got absolutely 200% lost, and ended up in one of the main canals which had a clear sign saying no peddle boats. We ended up causing a traffic jam and were stuck back peddling and freaking out whilst the locals looked on, unphased and mildly amused as they went about their late afternoon activities, and being stalked by a group of forty year old housewives who told us they had been stuck on the canal for three days, we were not even sure they were lying either.
Markets. Head to the Waterlooplein flea markets to find yourself a bargain – i brought a genuine leather wallet for my boyfriend at the time for less than 5 euros, and there are couple one-off items which I found and couldn’t afford and still haunt me to this day! They also had some amazing vintage and some rather odd items that you would probably not find anywhere else. For a more curated collection, and if you are short on time and slightly higher on funds head to one of the many thrift and vintage inspired shops, the name escapes me, but there is this one super awesome one I go to every time i visit Amsterdam – they have a lot of American college stuff, crazy fluro jackets from the 80s, and heaps of classic old school denim. I remember it being near another little market that mainly sold clothes, jewellery and CDs and being pretty close to Jordaan. Also the flower markets are worth a visit, as after all tulips are the umm other plant the Dam is famous for.
Probably not the most authentically dutch thing, but they have a Magnum pleasure store where you can customise your own Magnum, which is pretty damn fun.
Even if you are not game for a sex show the red light district is interesting for a night-time wander! If travelling with boys, be sure not to lose them down one of the streets 😉
Van Gough Museum is also worth a visit, and is a must for any Art lover.
The Heineken Experience is rather over priced, if you have been to a brewery before to be honest you would probably be better off buying some Heineken’s from the supermarket and drinking them in one of the parks by the canal, whilst watching the world go by!