When in Amsterdam

“Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth it is a city of freedom. And in freedom, most people find sin.”

Cliché as it sounds, John Green’s quote perfectly describes Amsterdam. It is notoriously known for being the ‘sin city’ of Europe. I was actually hesitant to come here as I might find their ways too avant-garde for my conservative beliefs. But our visit and experience of the city have proved that Amsterdam is more than just pots and prostitutes.

Is there sex for sale? Yes! Is marijuana legal? Sure! There’s even a place called Cannabis College. Are there half naked girls on window displays? Yes, along the Red Light District! There are drugs and there are sex (just like all other cities, but I guess only Amsterdam is honest about it) but if you ask me if it’s reflective of Amsterdam, the answer is NO.

when in amsterdam

Remember Anne Frank, the girl who documented her life in hiding during World War II? It happened in Amsterdam. How about Vincent Van Gogh and his famous paintings we grew up learning? He lived in Amsterdam, too. And the labyrinth of canals, picturesque houses, bicycle-friendly streets and beautiful cafes – these are all the other parts of Amsterdam.

The part that exhibits what Amsterdam really is – matured. Different yet historic, beautiful and matured. 

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

With only two and a half days in the city, we skipped the touristy ‘things to do’ and explored Amsterdam the best way we know how… on foot. 

Here are 10 things I observed about the city of Amsterdam.

1) Like Singapore, Amsterdam is a multicultural city. There are a lot of different nationalities to meet – Europeans attending your table, Indians in grocery stores, Australians in cafes, and Asian tour guides, too.

2) The houses have uniform architecture with almost identical style and colour palette.

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

3) The city centre is very walkable. You can easily explore neighbourhoods just by wandering around.

4) If you’re planning to check out Anne Frank Museum, be sure to buy your entrance tickets in advance. We passed by this museum in our two days and the queue is always loooong.

when in amsterdam

5) Dutch love to let the sunlight into their homes. Curtains aren’t commonly used so it’s like IKEA showroom behind those glass windows.

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

6) Bicycles are everywhere! Like everywhere! There’s even a huge, several floors of parking space intended for bicycles.

7) With that said, be mindful of the bike lanes. Locals will be mad at you if you obstruct their tracks. Like we did! :)) Thankfully, the guy noticed that we’re just clueless tourists and pointed us to the right lane.

when in amsterdam

8) Dutch are fluent English speakers and the language is widely used in the city.

9) Cafes and coffee shops are different in Amsterdam. If you’re looking for your daily caffeine fix, head to cafes. Coffee shops, however, are alcohol-free places but where cannabis or marijuana are legally sold and consumed.

when in amsterdam

10) Skip the covered canal boat tours. It’s a major waste of time and money. Go for boat tours offered by locals instead like this one. They seem to be much more engaging and real. I wish I had known this before.

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam

when in amsterdam
The Red Light District
when in amsterdam

I rocked almost 50,000 steps in this time frame. Hopefully, enough to burn all that calories I took in during our fun food tour.

What do you think of Amsterdam?

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  • Great post! I’m visiting Amsterdam later this year – I can’t wait!

  • Lovely photos! I love that quote. Amsterdam isn’t all about the sin – it’s also a beautiful, friendly, canal town filled with cyclists.

  • Great photos! I always see Amsterdam as a super dreamy place. The image I have for this place is way past its “Sin City” image but just all the beautiful things about it that are way more evident and a must-visit hahaha

    marielle was here

    • Good for you! I was so reluctant to come to Amsterdam until I actually got there. Hehe. It’s a bit crowded but it didn’t make us feel less safer. Hope you get to go someday!

  • Bianca Trovela

    Wow, what a stunningly beautiful place!

  • it is so beautiful and it feels like a magical place since many artistic creation came from Amsterdam :)

    Love, kandice.

  • Wow, your pictures and so beautiful, Melai! I’ve seen The Fault in our Stars multiple times and I’ve also read Anne Frank’s Diary. I sure hope to visit Amsterdam in the future! xx

    http://www.itsrenalexis.com

  • I honestly haven’t known that Amsterdam is considered the sin city until I read through a few blog posts. Hahaha. Completely clueless. I just fell in love with how it looked and that’s all I know + the scene in TFIOS! With that said, I’m sure I’ll be having culture shock the entire time I’m there once I get to visit but I’m excited all the same!

    xx, Richel Goes Places

    • The news and media just make it look like it’s worst than it actually is. I didn’t really feel too much difference from other countries, only that it’s legal in Amsterdam. The funny thing is people who actually patronize “these things” are tourists, not locals.