Every Tourist in Amsterdam Makes These Same 12 Mistakes

Aug 26, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Amsterdam is notoriously known for its liberal laws and laid back lifestyle, but the city offers so much more than just a place to party. Whether you’re there to cruise the canals or explore one of the many museums, don’t fall victim to the errors made by most visitors.

These are the mistakes every tourist makes when visiting Amsterdam:

1. Confusing a cafe and a coffeeshop.

If the only type of pot you want is a pot of coffee, visit a cafe. If you’d like some cannabis with your cappuccino, head to one of Amsterdam’s many coffeeshops. The shops are licensed establishments that legally sell cannabis, but are not permitted to sell alcohol or any other drugs. Light up the grass all you want, but just don’t try smoking tobacco in these joints (pun intended).

2. Walking in bike lanes.

Fun fact: There are more bicycles than there are people in Amsterdam. Stay out of the bike lanes and pay attention to where you’re walking. The last thing you want to do on your vacation is end up in a hospital room.

Bikes Amsterdam
Photo by Paul Bence/Flickr

3. Waiting in line for the Anne Frank House.

Unless you want to wait in a two-hour long line, purchase tickets for the Anne Frank house in advance on the internet. Anne Frank’s hideaway is a top tourist attraction with a line that wraps around the corner. A limited amount of online tickets are released two months in advance, so snatch them up as soon as you see them available.

4. Only eating indoors.

After taking a tour of the Heineken Brewery, take a three-minute stroll over to the open air Albert Cuyp Market. Try some of Amsterdam’s most famous street food, like poffertjes (tiny pancakes covered in Nutella and powdered sugar) or freshly made stroopwaffles (way better than the packaged ones offered on United flights).

Photo by Franklin Heijnen/Flickr
Photo by Franklin Heijnen/Flickr

5. Drinking Heineken the whole time.

There’s no shame in drinking one or two Heineken on your trip to the Netherlands, but don’t be afraid to try another Dutch beer. Venture out, drink something new and save the Heineken for when you want to reminisce about your trip once you’re back home.

6. Going full-on paparazzi in the Red Light District.

Walk down De Wallen street and you’ll find half-clothed women standing behind glass windows, surrounded by that notorious red light. What you decide to do in the Red Light District is up to you, but the one thing you absolutely should not do is take photos or videos of the women behind the windows. Follow the rules or you may find yourself in a bit of trouble with security.

7. Not indulging in copious amounts of cheese.

Want to have a Gouda time in Amsterdam? Make sure to visit one (or five) of the cheese shops that are scattered throughout the city. The shops offer a large selection of free samples of local cheeses like Gouda, made in its namesake town just an hour away. The unique cheese flavors, like truffle, garlic, lavender and pesto, are sampled alongside a variety of mustards (sounds like a weird combo, but it’s actually delicious). Stop by the Cheese Museum (which is really more of a shop disguised as a museum) to learn about the history of cheese making while you snack on the exhibits.

8. Taking a taxi.

To get from the airport to the city center, take an Uber rather than a regular taxi, which could cost twice as much. Once you’re in the main area, there’s no need to hop in a car. The city is very compact, so walk, bike, or take a tram instead. Many hotels offer complimentary bicycles or will rent them out for a small fee.

9. Eating like a tourist.

Please don’t fly all the way to Amsterdam to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. There are so many delicious options that this city has to offer. Did you know that one of the must-try cuisines in Amsterdam is actually Indonesian? Indonesia was a colony of the Netherlands for hundreds of years before gaining its independence in 1949, so there’s a substantial influence in town. Try a Rijsttafel, which literally translates to “rice table”, for a big feast containing a spread of more than a dozen small dishes.

10. Skipping the I amsterdam card.

If you plan on visiting some of Amsterdam’s museums, purchase the I amsterdam City Card and receive free entry to more than 60 museums and attractions. The card gives you unlimited access to Amsterdam’s public transportation system and includes a free one-hour canal cruise, which definitely should be on your Amsterdam bucket list.

Photo by Juan Rubiano/Flickr

11. Only visiting the big museums.

There are a handful of inexpensive museums that the I amsterdam card does not cover, but are worth a visit. Most of them can be toured in an hour and are a good place to pop in when you have some time to kill. Check out the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum, the Museum of Prostitution, or the Sex Museum. When in Rome… err, Amsterdam.

12. Packing giant luggage.

Packing a large suitcase won’t be a problem at most hotels. However, if you plan to stay at an AirBnB or small boutique hotel be prepared to lug your luggage up multiple flights of steep and narrow stairs. The staircases inside these tall, skinny homes are very tight, which makes carrying a large suitcase a real struggle.

Photo by Javier Melgar via Unsplash

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.