I feel like there are a lot articles out there explaining exactly why you should visit Amsterdam. And in my disgust, a lot of them mention only the red light district and weed as reasons. Being Dutch, Amsterdam has a special place in my heart, and branding it as the city of sex and drugs is therefore a little insulting to me.
Yes, the red light district in Amsterdam is big, and to some, shocking. Yes, there are a lot of coffee shops, and even with the new laws, you can probably get your hands on weed and other drugs as a tourist. And yes, unfortunately, there is a big industry around all of this, largely because it attracts so many (of the wrong kind, in my opinion) tourists.
I’m not saying I’m against these things being present in Amsterdam. I actually support the openness of the red light district, and the visibility of this industry in general, because I believe it promotes safety for all those involved. And similarly I think that the Dutch laws on weed are a strong model for other countries to copy, as it diminishes the taboo and secrecy around it. But I do not support a tourism industry based on just these things. Amsterdam, and The Netherlands in general, is so much more than just sex and drugs.
So, today I am listing 5 reasons to visit Amsterdam, sans the above mentioned non-reasons:
1) The museums: There are so many amazing museums in Amsterdam, and if you have time, you should visit them all. Some of my favorites are the Anne Frank house (definitely worth the wait to get in), the Rijksmuseum, FOAM (a great photography museum), and the Hermitage.
2) The architecture: My favorite thing to do in Amsterdam is to just walk around, because it is such a beautiful city. There are some amazing houses along the herengracht and prinsengracht, and even the main train station is beautiful.
3) The food: okay, so we don’t really specialize in intricate beautiful dishes, but we do offer some amazing fried food. And pancakes; lots and lots of sweet and savory pancakes. For my fellow vegans out there, fear not. There are countless of vegan café’s and restaurants in Amsterdam, all equally delicious!
4) The location: Amsterdam is great on it’s own, but it is also close to countless of amazing cities, which are easy to reach on public transport. If you’re craving a day at the beach (on a rare warm and sunny day in The Netherlands…) head to Zandvoort aan Zee, a great local beach. Also make time to visit Den Haag (and visit the Peace Palace if you can!) and Rotterdam. For some classic Dutch windmills, take the 30 minute bus journey to the Zaanse Schans. A lot of people also choose to go to Belgium for the day, which is easy to do!
5) The accepting culture: we’re not just open minded when it comes to things like weed, I would say that the Dutch culture is overall very accepting. Of course we have our flaws, but we generally couldn’t care less about your religion, sexuality, or country of origin. Overall, Amsterdam exudes acceptance and happiness.