Before you read this do note that these are tourist traps in Amsterdam according to me. If you still want to visit these places don’t be deterred by me. Personal taste is something which is flexible. I do have Dutch friends, I travelled to Amsterdam and I know many people who have plus I did research to so if you are looking to avoid tourist traps in Amsterdam here’s your guide.
Be careful at Amsterdam Central station
Watch out for pickpockets and keep an eye on your luggage. Go to the tourist information centre which is close by across from the station if you need information. Helpful strangers are sometimes con artists. My friend from the Netherlands told me repeatedly to stay in well-lit areas to be aware at the central station and to keep my belongings on my person at all times when I told her I was visiting Amsterdam.
Avoid Damrak Street
This street leads you to Dam Square if you arrive in Amsterdam via the Central station in order to exit you have to walk past this street. What I noticed on this street is that there were hardly any Dutch people walking in it they were too busy bicycling past it. Skip this street as things are overpriced in Damrak Street.
Skip Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein
These squares are filled with tourists and buskers. They are also surrounded by overpriced restaurants seeking to draw in unsuspecting tourists. I went to Rembrantplein by accident and it was extremely full. For me, it was ok as I was trying to get rid of an unwanted person whom I had met on the street. But, if you are looking to experience Amsterdam and really want to go to these places go but don’t eat there the restaurants in the area are overpriced.
The Heineken Experience is overrated
When I got out of the bus in the Netherlands it was the first place I saw. I skipped it as I had heard that it wasn’t that great and I hate the taste of beer sorry beer lovers. Beer is just too bitter for me. Heineken used to charge €1 to enter the brewery and after the tour, you could drink as much as you like. Now it’s €10 and you have to endure a tour which takes 1 hour and a half which focuses on promoting Heineken. The drinks are also no longer unlimited you only get two half pints. Unless you are a mega Heineken fan like my boyfriend this is a stop that should probably be skipped. Rather support a smaller Dutch brewery in Amsterdam many of which provide tours and beer tastings as well.
Beer and cycling shouldn’t be grouped together
Amsterdam has beer bike tours which basically allow tourists to drink whilst cycling around the city. This “tour” focuses on having you drink a lot and I only ever saw men participating in it sorry guys. These bike rides have been banned in the central area of the Amsterdam as residents hate them. You can get drunk at home if that’s your thing and instead remember your time in Amsterdam instead of blacking out because of booze. On top of it, excessive drinking makes you a target for scammers and thieves. Save your cash, time and skip the hangover and give this one a miss.
The flower market
The flowers look pretty but they are overpriced and are often not freshly picked. Dutch people don’t buy their flowers here on top of it chances are that you won’t be able to bring the bulbs home in your luggage as fauna products from other countries are usually banned. The flower market in Amsterdam is also no longer traditional. The flowers are supposed to be sold from boats and although you might be lucky and spot a few they are no longer popular. My Dutch friend Monique made me aware of this fact. Instead rather go to Albert Cupy, Lindengracht or the Jordaan Quarter of Amsterdam these are markets which locals go to. If you want the bulbs to order them online they will deliver them to your doorstep. Pop in to go see the flowers take photos like I did just avoid buying flowers there.
Don’t hop on to the Hop on, hop off bus in Amsterdam
I kind of love these buses they are very touristy. I don’t care about that at all. I even did this tour in my city with my sister on my birthday and it was brilliant. They give me a feel of the city when I’m travelling alone then I can explore more after or if I need to rush through my trip this tour is convenient. In Amsterdam, I used my common sense and decided against it. Looking around me I could see that some streets were narrow and or packed with mega crowds. And let’s not forget all the cyclists. Amsterdam is too small to explore via bus. You can only see the Red Light District and Nieuwmarkt which are the oldest sections of Amsterdam on foot. Rather do what I did and take a canal tour or rent a boat it’s less congested and you won’t be wasting your time in traffic jams. And after a walk around just don’t forget to take photos of the canals, bridges and bicycles.
Stay warm skip the ice bar
I actually really wanted to go to the ice bar but I figured there would be time for that. I ended up going back to Amsterdam for Kings Day but, I never went. I don’t regret not going as it was €19.50 in 2016 to enter and you got two drinks whilst being inside what’s basically an ice cold freezer with ice blocks and sculptures inside of it. On average most patrons only stay for 15 minutes. On top of it, these bars aren’t good for the environment as they are using water to make the ice and often do not recycle the water in addition to that large amounts of electricity are used to prevent these bars from melting not good for the environment.
Last year I got to go to the Castle Lite Ice Bar in my city for free. It is a pop-up ice bar that sometimes pops up in Cape Town. I didn’t hang around for too long inside because as novel as it was it was mega cold. They clearly advertised that the ice would be recycled but, I saw lots of generators. So I had an ice bar experience and the fun lasted for a few minutes then the cold kicked in and I left. Rather go out and do something much more interesting in Amsterdam or visit in winter drink outside in a space where it’s allowed and freeze for free haha just kidding.
Don’t buy pastries in the Red Light District
Don’t buy pastries at the bakeries in the Red Light District. I was surprised to see these shops and couldn’t understand why they would be there. I also didn’t see anyone buy anything at the pastry shops when I passed them. The district is there for tourists and for potential johns. It isn’t a place that specializes in fresh pastries. The reality is that these goodies are most likely stale and are sold to unsuspecting tourists who have the munchies after visiting the coffee shops of Amsterdam.
The Cheese “Museum” and Tulip “Museum”
The reason why I added the inverted commas to the “museum” is that these places aren’t museums they are large shops posing as museums and they draw in tourists to get them to buy things. The exhibits are small and aren’t really worth it. I walked past them and never entered.
The Erotic and Sex Museum
If you wanted to go see nude images and sometimes graphic sex which is displayed in the Erotic Museum you could just use the internet for that. That goes for the Sex museum as well. In a city where you can go see Van Gogh’s paintings or visit Anne Frank’s house why go to a museum which isn’t really a museum at all. To each his/her own but in my opinion these are tourist traps so I’m just putting it out there.
Discounted package tickets
If you want to save money whilst travelling around Amsterdam don’t buy these package deals. A lot of the things I suggest you skip will be included in them and then you will feel obligated to go there. The free entry to attractions isn’t truly free as you pay for it when you purchase the package.
I Amsterdam City Card isn’t necessary
Unless you plan on visiting at least 3 museums and take a canal cruise all in one day you don’t need the I Amsterdam City Card which allows you to travel on all the public transport systems for free. The thing is Amsterdam isn’t huge you can get around by foot. Just buy tram or bus ticket from the conductor if you need to travel around outside the city centre. The card allows free entry to all museums in Amsterdam except for Anne Frank’s House and the Rijksmuseum which also happens to be two of the most visited museums in Amsterdam. And the card isn’t cheap so maybe don’t buy it unless you plan on visiting a lot of museums it is worthwhile then.
The London branch is bigger and Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam is known for being full of teenagers. If you still really want to go book your ticket online to pay less for it and be aware that is majorly crowded you have to wait in line to enter.
According to locals, it isn’t that scary and it’s also kind of tacky. Amsterdam Dungeon has actors who are meant to scare you and lots of fake torture devices. There’s a one-minute rollercoaster ride after if that tempts you then go ahead. There’s really not much to be learnt from this kind of experience and I don’t scare easily so it wouldn’t be something I’d do. But if you really want to go then do but, do some research the ticket ranges in price according to when, where and how many people you are buying the ticket for.
Thank you for reading and let me know what you think about this post. I really appreciate your comments and if you disagree with my list or want to add to it please let me know.
Wishing you happy travels through the journey of life!
xxx Nikki xxx