The canal-lined Dutch capital city of Amsterdam is, without doubt, a city whose reputation precedes it. Every year, millions of people pour into the central districts to engage in no-holds-barred debauchery and to take advantage of the city’s famous tolerance for marijuana. The popularity of much of the city with the EasyJet-set has now reached such a critical mass that some city officials are calling for tourists to stay away, arguing that the small city’s infrastructure cannot handle the massive volumes of daily arrivals. With this in mind, those wishing to exercise a more ethical form of travel might want to consider an alternative trip to Amsterdam – one that will take you far away from the oversaturated city centre, towards the parts of town where the locals hang out and where you are more likely to enjoy a truly authentic experience in one of the most tolerant and fun-loving cities on Earth. Without further ado, here is your alternative guide to Amsterdam.
Head Out West
A definite place to start for those looking to avoid the tourist traps of Amsterdam is the western neighbourhoods of the city – particularly the densely populated suburbs surrounding the Westerpark. Here, you’ll find a lack of tourists, wide-open green spaces, dozens of quirky bars, galleries and cafes, as well as a truly unique flavour and atmosphere that you won’t get anywhere else in the city.
Try Off-the-Radar Coffee Houses
It’s no secret that some of the more tourist-heavy coffee houses in the city sell sub-par products, questionable experiences, and a bad attitude. Avoid this by staying away from the central canal district and hitting up friendlier, alternative coffee shops such as Blue Bird, Katsu, and Paradox. Here you’ll find seasoned marijuana experts that will connect you with the right strains and even tell you how to use your stash to create consumables such as cannabis tea, a drink that will most definitely go down a treat. In fact, according to experts, the effects of cannabis last longer (up to eight hours) when drank in a tea rather than smoked, so you might want to listen up.
Go Beach Hopping
Few first-time visitors realise that Amsterdam is surrounded by islands and beaches, all of which are easily accessible by public transport. While some of these get a little crowded in the summer, the best place to hit up any time of year is Blijburg aan Zee, Amsterdam’s newest neighbourhood. This set of artificial islands is home to a number of seriously hip urban beaches and open-air venues, making it the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Support Alternative Artists
While visitors are welcome to get in line and wait several hours to catch a glimpse of the Rembrandts and Caravaggios on display at the likes of the Hermitage and Rijksmuseum, you may find it more enriching to explore the smaller local galleries around the edges of the city. Local art hubs such as KochxBos, Kulter, and Pakt offer the best and most boundary-pushing works of up-and-coming artists in the Netherlands right now. This makes these places a more attractive place to spend your euros.
With these simple tips, you can ensure an engaging, memorable, and a more ethical trip to the Dutch capital. Start with these and see where these destinations take you.