Amsterdam is a place you can go for a city break all year round. Located in the Netherlands in Northern Europe it has great airport links to most places in the world.
I have been to Amsterdam a few times, but I because it is a place I keep going back to, I never try to cram all the sights and museums in one weekend.
This time was a last minute get away so I didn’t have much time to plan just book the flights and the AirBnB.
I wanted to go to the Anne Frank Museum, but all the tickets were already sold out online, so I will go next time when I have time to plan better.
We did something different and went on a tour of what Amsterdam is famous for ‘Coffee Shops’ and the red light district.
This tour was not about smoking weed and going to see a prostitute before your mind wanders!
Why did I go on this tour? Because it’s interesting that those two things are legal in Amsterdam.
I wanted to find out the history and why these things are allowed in this city in Europe.
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Alternative Tours in Amsterdam: Coffee Shops
I booked a tour with a private guide called Otto, a local from Amsterdam. He hosts a few private tours and he is very knowledgeable on Amsterdam and is a fun guide to see Amsterdam with. To see his great tours click here.
This was a walking tour so we got our steps in for the day. The tour was two hours long and we were given the history of the coffee shops and the red light district, while we walked around the areas where these places are.
A ‘Coffee Shop’ is not a Starbucks style of coffee shop! It where you can purchase and smoke marijuana. Marijuana was legalised in the 1970s, but that does not mean growing fields of it.
Legally in Amsterdam you can only grow 5 plants and only have 5 grams on your person. The coffee shops are only allowed to store 500g in the shops. As you can see there is a big loop hole!
While walking around the coffee shops and seed shops there is a hidden church and the church rents out little shops outside. Guess what they sell? I give you two guesses, and it wasn’t prayer books!
Alternative Tours in Amsterdam: Red Light District
The oldest profession in the world is legal in Amsterdam, but why? It is to protect the women and men in the profession and so they pay their taxes.
There are two red light districts; one for for locals and one for the tourists. The local ones are in back streets that are in residential areas. The tourist red light district is along the canals so everyone can see.
As much as it interesting to see, remember not to take photos here, to respect the sex workers as that person is someone’s daughter or son and is sad they feel they have to take that route to make a living.
The Amsterdam Museum is fantastic museum all about the history of the city. The best part was there were no lines and no need to pre book a ticket to go inside. So I was happy.
The museum is all about the history of the city and how it was built, as the city is on stilts in the water. The history is from the start of the city to present day.
What I liked about this museum was that an audio guide was included in the price of the ticket, that can be in any language. As you walk around you click the info you would like to hear.
Accommodation in Amsterdam
There are lots of hotels, b&bs, apartments or even a house boats in Amsterdam to stay at. When I was looking I found some great places on booking.com. But we decided to try AirBnB for the first time and we stayed in a great ground floor apartment with a little garden.
The apartment was modern and had everything we needed and it was perfect for our 3 night stay. It was close to the underground and around a 45 minute walk into centre of the city along the Amstel canal.
I had to try some Dutch food, they do like to fry and the food is quite heavy going. It was tasty to try, but I was happy to eat an avocado salad the next day!
Useful Amsterdam Info
- Currency: Euros – Cash and credit cards excepted everywhere
- Language: Dutch, but English is spoken and written everywhere
- Don’t fall in the canals, lots of people do every year!
Amsterdam’s Public Transport
The train and underground are very easy to use, everything is written in English and Dutch.
The underground is easy to use and they have ticket machines at each station.
Closest Airports to Amsterdam
Schiphol Airport is the airport to fly to for Amsterdam. From the airport, the city centre is 30 minutes away by taxi or train. The train is a lot cheaper than a taxi and very easy to use.
Weather in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is in Northern Europe so don’t expect amazing weather. Most of the year is raining and cloudy, as we call it in the UK ‘grey’. Of course you can have nice sunny weather, but even in July when we were there it was not boiling hot. But we were happy to escape the heat wave in Italy.
Average temperatures in Amsterdam:
- Winter: 1*C – 9*C
- Spring: 8*C – 15*C
- Summer: 15*C – 21*C
- Autumn/Fall: 8*C – 15*C
What to Wear in Amsterdam
There is a lot of walking in Amsterdam so I recommend to where flat comfortable shoes for sightseeing and walking around museums. Depending on the season you go in dress for the season, but layers are always good. Remember to bring an umbrella and a rain jacket.
On every trip I go on I always carry a backpack, insulated water bottle and a portable phone charger. This way I have a bag to carry the extras (umbrella, jacket, water bottle, etc) and have some where to put souvenirs or food/wine.
A insulated water bottle is so handy, even when you have buy bottled water as I always decant it as then the water stays cold instead of that awful warm taste when it has been in your bag all day.
How I lived without a portable phone charger I don’t know! Smart phones batteries are not made to last even on power save, so a portable phone charger is a necessity on a day out.
These are my favourites from Amazon the one stop shop:
This trip to Amsterdam opened me up to using private local tour guides as it is great way to experience a city on a one to one basis and really get a feel for the place.
I when I go back to Amsterdam I will booking another tour with a local as you learn so much more.
When I’m cruising I do tend to take tours that pack a lot in, but this was refreshing to take it easy and see what you can on a leisurely manner.
If you would like to see it all in a weekend, you’re not. So, either book a longer trip of at least a seven days to Amsterdam or pack as much as you can in a weekend and come back again.
My tip for Amsterdam is to pre book museum tickets online in advance to guarantee to visit.
The Anne Frank Museum tickets go on sale only up to one month before, this is why I have never made it there, as I have not been quick enough booking.
Standing outside for 3 hours in the hope you may get in, in my opinion is a complete waste of your precious vacation time.
Enjoy your time in Amsterdam!
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Love Lucy x
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