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What NOT to do in Amsterdam

July 13, 2023

It’s hard to know what not to do in Amsterdam with so many guides giving contrasting information. This guide is different, here’s what to avoid in Amsterdam. Stick to the below and we’re sure you will have a tip-top trip to Amsterdam!

Laws for tourists in Amsterdam 2020

Travelling to Amsterdam during 2020? Ensuring that you stay on the right side of the law as a tourist is imperative. Here’s a handful of things that you should (and shouldn’t) do as a tourist in Amsterdam:

  1. Although no helmet is required when riding a bike in Amsterdam, obeying traffic rules is. Bikes must have a bell and working lights, and must not run a red light at any time of day.
  2. Don’t smoke outside of unlicensed areas – such as beer gardens or terraces – this is actually considered illegal and incredibly rude by most Amsterdammers.
  3. Nudity is not illegal. Whilst it is uncommon to see people roaming in their birthday suits, once a year you will see people biking through the city spark-naked for The World Naked Bike Ride. 15th March, for anyone asking.
  4. Everybody from the age of 14 must be able to show a valid identity document to police officers and other law enforcement authorities on their request. The documents you can use to prove your identity depend on your nationality. If you are a British national living in or visiting the Netherlands you can use your passport.
  5. Anti-social behaviour is a criminal offence, which tourists can be fined on the spot. Law enforcement officers are issued mobile card readers, which allows them to take immediate payment for fines. Public consumption of alcohol will earn €95 (£85); public urination, disorderliness and littering, meanwhile, will draw fines of €140 (£125).

Now we’ve covered the legal stuff, here’s what we recommend you avoid in Amsterdam for good measure:

1. Don’t confuse coffeeshops for a place to grab a coffee

When exploring the city of Amsterdam, you will at some point probably fancy a caffeinated beverage to perk you up a bit. In Amsterdam however, cafes and Coffeeshops are two very different entities. One is world-renowned for selling cannabis and the other, coffee. Just to add to the confusion, many of the Coffeeshops that specialize in cannabis also sell pretty good coffee. So to clear things up, if you are looking to get ‘stoned’ head to a ‘Coffeeshop’, but if you are looking for a good ole’ fashioned cup of joe, and a tasty pastry then head to a regular cafe or ‘coffeehouse’.

Smokey Coffeeshop
Image source: The Telegraph

2. Don’t walk in the bike paths

Bike traffic in the city of Amsterdam is serious business – there are more bikes in the Dutch capital than people, so keep your wits about you when walking about. At peak times like rush hour, things can get pretty hectic and the locals are notoriously unforgiving to those that get in their way.

Cyclists on a cycle path
Source: International Locals Amsterdam

3. Don’t visit museums in the afternoon

Amsterdam is the perfect city for culture vultures, it’s jam-packed, top to bottom with awesome museums and galleries. To make the most of these stunning attractions and to avoid the crowds we strongly recommend visiting in the morning. No one likes battling against the crowds to see your favourite Van Gogh painting!

Clink recommends: don’t forget to book your Anne Frank House tickets beforehand, as you cannot purchase tickets on the day.

4. Don’t only eat fast food

It’s all too easy after a day of city exploration to wander into a fast-food chain and tuck into a boring old burger and chips. Sure, a visit to your favourite fast food restaurant might hit the spot, but that’s no way to act when you’re on the road! From Stamppot and Stroopwafells to Chunky Dutch Chips and Snert, Amsterdam is packed to the rafters of scrumptious food – make sure you make the most of it!

Dutch food in Amsterdam
Image source: The Amsterdam Pass

Looking to eat like a local in Amsterdam? Check out our guide here! 

5. Forget to explore the less touristy areas

This one’s a bit of a no brainer but none the less worth reminding you of. If you’re looking for memorable travel experiences its best to avoid the tourist traps and well-trodden paths. Check out our guide to Amsterdam’s top hidden gems here.

There you have it, the top things to avoid in Amsterdam. Steer clear of the above and you’re sure to have a great visit!