When searching for things-to-do in Amsterdam there’s no shortage of recommendations, but sometimes you just need someone to tell you what you shouldn’t be wasting your time on. Now, I only had 4 days in Amsterdam so I can’t give you a comprehensive list of things NOT to waste your time on, but I can tell you what I would do differently if I went back again.
The first thing you should give a miss are those mass boat tours. If you want to sit in a glorified green-house with up to 50 other disappointed people looking out of a smeary window whilst the 5-year-old behind you screams to high heaven, then go ahead, but I personally, consider that kind of experience my own living hell. Instead support a small, local company, such as Those Dam Boat Guys, they’ll give you a much more personal tour, with far fewer people and I can guarantee you’ll have a much better time. You may be paying a little more for this luxury (think €25pp instead of €10) but it is in every way worth it to avoid said greenhouse and screaming child and to actually see the city with someone who sees you as a person and not a filled seat.
The second thing you should give a miss is the flower market. “WHAT!” I hear you say, “Surely the flower market is filled with beautiful fresh-cut flowers and numerous instagrammable opportunities?” I’m sorry to burst that bubble but it isn’t. If you want to buy some dried tulip bulbs then you’ve come to the right place because that’s all you’ll find, along with tacky ‘I Love Amsterdam’ ashtrays and generic postcards. If you really want to see for yourself then designate the flower market no more than 15 minutes of your time as that’s all you’ll need to walk from one end to the other and on to your next destination.
The final thing you should try to avoid in Amsterdam is using public transport. This isn’t because the service is poor (in fact it is excellent) but because you’ll see so much more of the city if you walk. Much like London, most of Amsterdam can be walked easily within half an hour or so. If you’re fit, well and the weather is amicable then I would highly recommend walking over using public transport. Whilst walking around the city I stumbled upon so many hidden gems that I would have missed had I taken a bus or tram; hidden bars, parks, markets and streets just shouting out to be explored disappear when you’re confined to the routes taken by public transport. If you must travel an alternative way then I’d suggest hiring a bike. Bike’s take priority in Amsterdam and you’ll get from A to B in no time as long as you have some sense of direction.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Is there anything else you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments.