Amsterdam is by far the most visited city in The Netherlands, and one of the most popular for tourist trips in Europe. Most people go straight to the tourist hot-spots and we think that’s a shame! To help you to avoid some of these tourist traps and spend more time exploring the local culture, we’ll list a few of the most touristy places in the city. They’re really easy to avoid!
Our first tip is: when you arrive at Central Station in Amsterdam and don’t immediately want to get overwhelmed by tourist crowds: take a tram, bus or metro and close your eyes for 5 minutes to avoid the often terrible tourist crowds walking on the Damrak towards Dam square :)
These are parts of the cities that are very crowded. Especially when you walk pass squares like the Dam, Leidseplein or Rembrandtplein. These are squares locals always try to avoid. Usually, they’re full of tourists or Dutch people from other cities that don’t really know how to navigate their way through the city yet.
The cafés located at those squares are totally packed and also overpriced. Instead, try some squares that are less crowded. Like Noordermarkt, Hugo de Grootplein en Beukenplein. In the latter spot, you can find the local café Bar Bukowski, which is definitely worth a visit. But of course, there are plenty more local cafés.
Canal Boat Tours
Amsterdam is famous for its canals and therefore most tourists decide to sign up for the canal boat tours. When you do this, you can’t really decide how long the boat ride is going to be, and you most likely have to share the boat with a bunch of people you don’t even know. A better alternative would be to rent a boat. You have all the privacy you want, and get to share this experience with a better company.
Red Light District
The Red Light District, or as the locals call it: ‘De Wallen’ is the oldest part of the city and famous for its brothels. But are you really going to spend your evening watching women stand behind a window, like many tourists do?
It’s a bit hard to still find authentically local places in this part of the city, but there are alternatives. At the heart of the district, you will find the oldest building called Oude Kerk, which is often used for amazing exhibitions or if you fancy a bite to eat, you can visit Mata Hari.
This museum of wax figures of celebrities from all over the world is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Amsterdam, and almost always has a long queue outside. Why would you want to spend your time in Amsterdam having your picture taken with a wax figure of an international celebrity? We have no idea… An alternative: FOAM, an awesome photography museum that tells great stories through pictures – no wax needed!
Anne Frank House
If there’s one thing Amsterdam is most famous for, it’s probably the Anne Frank House. It’s the most visited museum in Amsterdam, as you can imagine. Which equals a relatively pricey ticket and a very long queue as seen in the picture above (even now that they updated the system, with online tickets only).
Yes, Anne Frank was a very important person, but we think you could spend your time better by reading the actual book, or visiting the not so often visited Resistance Museum.
Clubs for Tourists
The busiest squares like Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are also surrounded by night clubs. Sure you can visit these clubs, but chances are, dozens of other tourists (or Dutch people from outside of Amsterdam) are thinking the same thing.
If you’re looking for places where locals hang out, you could opt for NSDM, a place that you can reach by ferry and is a haven for creative artists. During summertime, they organize music festivals. Make sure to check out their website for a detailed overview!
More local tips? Check out our Amsterdam city guide & app!