I know this blog is called “the partying traveler” and Amsterdam has a reputation for being one of the world’s top party destinations, but I figured every other blog out there has already beaten Amsterdam’s party scene into the ground. Amsterdam’s red light district, hookers, and weed are definitely the first things that come to mind when you think of the city.
It is a bit of an injustice to the city and its residents when those are the things that people associate most with Amsterdam, but it’s also hard to blame them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen movies, TV shows, blogs, Instagrammers, and travel blogs depict Amsterdam as a party capital of the world. Any traveler going on a Eurotrip knows that Amsterdam is a can’t-miss city, and I was definitely the same way. I was studying in Europe and taking a few days off to go to Amsterdam with a group of friends. I was prepared for a few nights of drinking, smoking, and all-out debauchery.
While it is true that I did get way too drunk and had the cops called on me, it was because I went inside a Burger King and used the bathroom without paying. Those 3 euro bottles of wine packed a bit more punch than I expected. Aside from that unfortunate night, I had quite the wholesome experience in Amsterdam. Part of it was because I was crushin’ on a girl who was significantly more wholesome than I was. So basically, while all my other friends were holed up in coffee shops and candy stores, I was hanging with a girl who wasn’t into any of that stuff.
I did end up finally smoking on my last day in Amsterdam. It felt like a complete waste of a day. Instead of spending the day exploring more of Amsterdam, we just smoked and went to the Magnum store to get some ice cream. If I had more time in Amsterdam, then yeah, I’d be all for it. Who can complain about a lazy day filled with weed and ice cream? But I was really beginning to like Amsterdam, and I wanted to see all of it.
Amsterdam is best taken on with a balance of partying and wholesome activities. Yes, Amsterdam’s nightlife is something you have to experience, even if it is only to have some drunk French fries afterward. If I did have one suggestion for Amsterdam’s nightlife, it is that the Red Light District is an experience that you can’t miss out on. Discover and savor your time in Red Light District by checking out this HotelsCombined blog on The Best of Amsterdam’s Red Light District Nightlife.
However, you definitely can’t just waste your days away smoking and recovering from a hangover. Here are five things you can do to try to have a more wholesome Amsterdam experience.
Even if you’re not into museums, this area is an awesome place to spend the day. Close to the museums is a large field where hundreds of locals congregate to do whatever. Having a picnic, playing football, or tight-rope walking are just some of the things I saw people doing there. I’m sure people-watching the tourists is a popular activity to do there as well. It’s right next to one of the I AMSTERDAM signs so get your picture there and get out of the way so you can do more wholesome activities in the area.
I just Google Maps-ed Museumplein and am a bit upset that I didn’t get more time to explore this area. Some of the nearby museums are the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Moco Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Diamantmuseum, and others. Can I tell you what any of those mean? I can take a guess to what the Van Gogh Museum is, but you should go and discover the others for yourself.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank Museum is up there as one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions. I’ll admit, when we were waiting forever in line (we even got there before it opened), I was wondering what the big deal was. However, it was a much more powerful experience than I expected. Walking there also takes you through some of Amsterdam’s cuter neighborhoods so definitely stop and smell the tulips along the way.
Boat Ride Through The Canals
One thing I did not know was that a big part of Amsterdam has an intricate canal system. It may be a little touristy to hop on one of those boat tours, but you can also rent a smaller boat to take on the canals on your own. It gives you a new perspective of the city from the water. The architecture of Amsterdam is really unique, and seeing them from the water does help you notice a few details that you might miss when you’re walking right next to them.
Bike Ride Through the City
One thing that scared me while exploring Amsterdam was the seemingly infinite stream of bike traffic. Amsterdam is a very bike-friendly city, and if you want to see the city like a local, it’s best seen pedaling away on your bicycle. Whether you’re riding a bike to get to your destination faster, or riding the bike is your destination, you can’t go wrong being on two wheels. There’s plenty of tour agencies offering bike tours, so if you want a more structured adventure, you’ve got options. Learn the bike laws of Amsterdam and then let yourself get mixed in with the hundreds of other cyclists zipping their way through the city.
Catch a football game
The night we got to Amsterdam, we went straight to a match between the U.S. and Dutch men’s national teams. The U.S. ended up coming back from a few goals down to beat the Dutch for the first time in decades. That night was nothing short of epic. The Dutch fans were incredible sports about it, even though I was admittedly being a bit obnoxious in taking pride in a U.S. victory. While the Dutch National Team’s schedule might not coincide with your Amsterdam trip, there are a number of professional teams in Amsterdam.
While the Netherlands football leagues may not be as popular as those in England, Germany, or Spain, there are still some world-class clubs that play in Amsterdam. Ajax is the most famous one, but there are a lot of other teams based in Amsterdam as well. Even if you aren’t that into Dutch football or even sports in general, a great energy always surrounds European football and it’s always a fun experience.
These are just a few of the wholesome activities that Amsterdam has to offer. I know some are pretty well-known, but if you were like me, you might not have even heard of these. Back then, to me, Amsterdam was synonymous with the Red Light District. I want to make sure other partying travelers don’t make the same mistake that many Eurotrippers do by failing to experience Amsterdam to the fullest.
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