If there’s a city in the world that no one hates, this city is Amsterdam. Maybe it doesn’t become your favorite place in the world, but I am sure that you will like it. Because Amsterdam is a beautiful city with many exotics aspects and just experiencing Amsterdam is something unique and amazing. IAmSterdam. WeAreSterdam. EveryoneIsSterdam. If you never been there, add it to your “places to visit before I die” list.

The Canals

Amsterdam is also known as the Venice of the North, due its many Canals. The city has 100 kilometers just of Canals, around 90 small islands and over 1500 bridges. But, different from Venice, it has also large streets and accommodates all kind of transportation: cars, bicycles, buses, trams, motorcycles and, of course, boats. Many of the monuments are along the Canals, so making a boat tour is very interesting in Amsterdam. You can always search for Hop on Hop Off Buses with boats services. The combination will increase your touristic experience in the city.

Amsterdam from Anne Frank, Van Gogh and Heineken

If you have some interest on history, you probably already read a lot about the World War II, a war that it’s not too far from our generation. While reading about the war, the name Anne Frank will always show up. She was a pre-teenager girl that had to hide together with her jewish family from the Nazis. In this house she writes a diary about all the daily challenges of being a pre-teen girl in a time like that. The readers follow how she deals with all the aspects of becoming a teen in a very quiet and scary world. Her diary was found after the war was over and much after she and her family was taken to the Concentration Camp Bergen-Belsen to die.

Anne Frank’s hiding house is in Amsterdam and it’s open for visitation. Pretty much everything was kept the same way like Anne and her family had to live with and it’s a very emotional experience. If you plan to visit Anne Frank’s hiding house, be aware that the line can be long and you might have to wait a little bit until you get to see it from the inside.

After visiting the Anne Frank house, to calm down the emotions from going back in time and facing all what Jews had to do just on trying to survive, you should program a visit to the Heineken Factory. The visitation is a great experience and you won’t regret. Besides trying Heinekens from all around the world and comparing the flavors, you can draft your own beer, learn about Heineken’s history and even experience the connection of James Bond and Heineken along the stories. Take your time to appreciate it.

But, if you are more the art style person and want to cool down the nerves looking to some nice paintings, well, then your place is at the Van Gogh’s museum. The famous dutch painter has a huge place where you can read more about his life and also appreciate his arts.

The Red Light District

For me was the most awkward experiences ever, but a must do before you die thing. Awkward not because of the place or the semi-naked woman behind the huge glass windows calling you in, but because families walk around with the small babies and children or their teenager sons and daughters. It’s kinda creepy to think on how all of that can act on the mind of those kids.

If you have no clue on what I am talking about, the Red Light District is a prostitution area in Amsterdam. The area is composed of few pedestrian streets with several large windows. Every working free window has a red light in front of it, so people know which room is free for fun. On those windows you see women of all types dancing, provoking the audience, in their bikinis or lingeries, some more exposed than that. Sometimes even doing some private stuff like shaving or washing. The rooms have a bed and a curtain, so by the time they get some client, they close the curtain and all the action happens right there.

Like most of all very touristic places, the Red Light District also don’t scape the pick pocketing and drug dealers thing. Keep an eye on your stuff, don’t buy anything from buglers and even less from drug dealers. Above all, follow the only rule on Red Light District: no photos of the windows.

Coffeeshops and Drugs in Amsterdam

The greatest mistake of most tourists that want to go to Amsterdam because of the hallucinogenic experience is to think that all the drugs are allowed around there. This is not true. Even the Mushrooms are forbidden since November/2008 due to its high hallucinogenic and the fact that it causes of different effects on different people. The only drugs approved to be sold in Amsterdam are the Soft Drugs: Marihuana, Hash, Sleeping-Inducing drugs and Sedatives. All the rest is not permitted.

If you want to experience Marihuana in Amsterdam, let’s understand some rules, so you don’t get busted:

  • – You can buy it only in Coffeeshops and a maximum amount of 5 gr.
  • – You can smoke it anywhere you want, except near to kids playgrounds and schools. If someone is annoyed by it, you also can’t smoke near to this person. Also, please, avoid it near to the kids.
  • – You can’t carry around with you more than 5gr.
  • – You can’t buy it on the streets and you can’t sell it.
  • – You can’t buy it for a friend. The Marihuana is only allowed for your Personal Use.

The most common place to smoke and enjoy your Marihuana is inside the Coffeeshop. They are places free of alcohol and they exist basically with this function: for you to buy and enjoy your drug there. So, as a tourist, try to enjoy it there so you won’t disturb anyone else. Those places also offer you also some “Space” specialties. The Space food and drinks are always made with some Marihuana on it. So if you see a Space-Cake, Space-Cookie, Space-Milkshake, you already know what it that about! 😉

More of Amsterdam

Just keep in mind that the Red Light District and the allowance of smoking Hemp is not what make Amsterdam cool. The city is incredible, full of cool things and great attractions. You can explore its parks, walk on those hundreds of bridges and try some pictures with personalities at the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. You can even visit the oldest european Botanical Garden or make a romantic lunch break in one of its thousands restaurant while looking the beauty canals. Everyone loves Amsterdam, because it is a mix of impressive attractions for all kind of people.

The best advice we can give you is to buy and try to schedule all your plans in advance. Amsterdam is one of the most visited small cities in the world and if you don’t prepare yourself, you might spend long hours in lines.

Date of our visit to Amsterdam: August/2008 and December/2009