Offbeat Attractions in Amsterdam

Offbeat attractions in Amsterdam

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Moyen Brenn

It is easy to find things to do in Amsterdam. Guidebooks will always include the tried-and-true spots like Anne Frank House, Van Gough Museum, tulip market, canal boat tours, coffee shops, and more. But, what if you want to skip the crowds and check out some of the more fun, funky, and off-beat spots in this gorgeous city?

It can most definitely be done.

While the main tourist attractions are worth a visit (I know the Anne Frank House brought tears to my eyes), there are plenty of other places worthy of checking out. Simply head out of your Amsterdam hotel and see what this city has to offer!


#CityLove: The Best Coffee Shops in Amsterdam

The best coffee shops in Amsterdam -- add them to your list! via

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: LB

Amsterdam is known for a variety of things: it’s bike-friendly (OK, bike-heavy), the gorgeous canals and boat rides to take, the cultural attractions like the Anne Frank House, the festivals, and — let’s be real — the marijuana tourism.

There are a few things to know before visiting this city, mainly that it isn’t so weed-friendly. Yes, there are coffee shops to go and sample the local goods, but smoking in public isn’t legal (and you can get in big trouble if you do) and having anything more than five ounces can land you in serious hot water. In fact, the topic of drug tourism in Holland has been a hot one lately, as the country made coffee shop owners choose between selling booze or pot. It resulted in many shops opting for selling alcohol, instead. But, drug tourism is still alive and well in the city.


Daily Wanderlust: Amsterdam

Amsterdam and I have never really gotten along. After some moon-cake-related issues in 2002, when my best friends told me they were celebrating their wedding anniversary and one of their 30th birthdays in Amsterdam while I was abroad, I couldn’t say no to a meet-up in a city I hadn’t planned on.

While I, naturally, had some issues with the city yet again (I thought my shin collapsed, but it was really paranoia and the fault of the Dampkring), I did love spending time with my best friends in a foreign country. Aside from the coffee shops, we did some other tourist things, too, like visiting the “i amsterdam” installation, and a canal cruise.

One of the things I loved most about Amsterdam in May? The sunsets at 10 p.m.



Escape of the Week: I amsterdam

“I amsterdam.”

Travelers from all over the world, including yours truly, have made an obligatory pilgrimage to the site. After a particularly taxing day of medical scares, my friends and I made the trek to “I amsterdam.”

Now known the world over, the “I amsterdam” installation was designed as more than a tourist attraction. Did you know it was created as a branding tool for the city? According to it’s Web site, it is designed to promote “Amsterdam’s promise, diversity and wealth of opportunity … “

While I was unaware of any of this when I visited the iconic red and white spot, I did notice how incredibly popular it was.

It didn’t capture my attention for too long … with a city full of really interesting museums, gorgeous parks and coffee shops, it was hard to keep me there beyond taking a few photos. I did think it was cool, and loved the way people could climb on the sign (as evidenced in this shot), but would I go again? Probably not.

Have you been to “I amsterdam?”  What was your experience there?



White widow. Northern Lights. Casey Jones. Joints. Spliffs. Pipes. Hash, hash … more hash.

My eyes were wide. I had seen it all before, in the pretty glass case displays, but had forgotten. For anyone who enjoys a occassional puff of the wacky tobacky, being in Amsterdam is like being a kid in a candy shop.

“Oh my goodness,” I said, as we sat down in the dimly lit coffee shop, teaming with smokers of all ages, most of whom spoke immaculate English.

“Love it.”

“I know!” N said, grinning ear-to-ear.

An hour later we emerged from Smokey’s, taking in the fresh night air, headed to dinner.

Over a bottle of delicious Chianti and some amazing Italian food, we toasted N’s 30th and made plans for the next day — a canal tour of the city.

We awoke, refreshed the following morning, headed to Smokey’s for a pre-brekkie pow wow, to breakfast, and then the canal tour.

After the hour-long tour (side note: while the boat ride is pretty, it is expensive for what you get, and most of the time you are already passed the topic of conversation since the same stories are in four different languages), we checked out another coffee shop (B had wanted to find the Dampkring, made famous by “Ocean’s 12,” but was unsuccessful), and then I introduced B and N to the magnificent and delicious kebab (a staple of my backpacker diet for the past month). Naturally, they loved it.

Harmless, yes?

It was the next day I felt the “get the hell out of Amsterdam” vibe kick into full gear.

We had just finished lunch, following the discovering of Dampkring, and my leg was hurting. Innocently, I reached down to rub it as we were walking along.

Oh my god. My leg. It had become indented. Concave.

“Holy crap,” I announced, fear ripping through my body, “My shin collapsed. It is concave.”

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The city I hadn’t planned on

I sat in the lobby of Eden Hotel in Rembrandt Square, waiting patiently for B and N to walk through the rotating doors.

It had been a long trip from Berlin, made longer by the fact that I was so excited to meet up with two of my best friends in the entire world. In Amsterdam.

I had been looking forward to May 8 for more than a month. It was in Madrid when I received a message from N informing me she and her husband were in fact going to holiday in Amsterdam, celebrating her 30th birthday and their five-year wedding anniversary. I changed my entire route in order to meet up with them, naturally.

After all, B and N knew me from a very different time in my life. It was during the T years they had met me, when I was always sad. Moving into Dulaney Valley was one of the best decisions of my life because it introduced me to them … a couple who were around my age and lived (get this) across the hall from me.

On days and nights when I felt the world falling down around me, when I could barely get myself out of bed, let alone muster a smile, I would crawl across the hall to their door, be let in and instantly feel better. There were so many times I would just be in the room with them, head buried in my hands, sobbing because of the person I had become and mourning the loss of my happiness. They would comfort me. They would tell me everything would be OK.

In a time when I lost so many friends because of the wreck of a person I was, they always stood by me, offering hugs, support, a shoulder to cry on. In the past 10 years of my life, they are two of the only people who have remained a constant. And for that, I am eternally thankful.

I am not a big fan of Amsterdam. The last time I was there I had to kindly escort myself out of the city. I had consumed one space cake too many and thought I was going to have to check myself into the hospital (ahhh … paranoia).


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