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24th Jan 2017

6 things I wish I’d known before going to Amsterdam

Alice Murray

Ah, the Dam.

If you’re looking for a weekend break, Amsterdam is pretty much the perfect destination

It’s got a little bit of everything, art, music, food, history, coffee (and I do mean coffee, but more about that later).

Plus it’s only a quick flight from Ireland, making it the ideal place for a break away with the girls or your significant other.

Here are some of the things I wish I had known before making my first trip.

Avoid the big boat tours 

The best way to see Amsterdam is definitely on the water. There are loads of boat tours available but try to steer clear of the massive commercialised ones. Try taking a cruise with a smaller company like Those Dam Boat Guys. The groups are smaller, the boats are nicer and the craic is definitely better.

Get up early

I know that’s easier said than done when you’re nursing a hangover from the night before, but the best time to see Amsterdam is first thing in the morning. Places like Anne Frank’s House, the Van Gogh Museum and the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign get really busy from 11 am onwards so go early if you want to skip the queue or get some decent photos.

A photo posted by Sonny Cortez (@sonny_cortez) on

Don’t spend a fortune on expensive tours

Because there are lots of free walking tours available in the city. Most of them leave from the National Monument at Dam Square at various points throughout the day. The tours are normally 2 1/2 hours long and show you all of the main sights along the way. While they are free, you should really tip your tour guide at the end.

Watch out for the bikes

Seriously! Cyclists rule the road in Amsterdam and you are more likely to get run down by a bike than any car. Always make sure you’re walking on the footpath and for God’s sake look both ways when you’re crossing the street. If you do decide to rent a bike make sure you are very careful or better yet take it to Vondel Park where you can cycle in peace.

Don’t turn your nose up at the Red Light District

Okay, it might not be your cup of tea but it’s a really interesting part of Amsterdam and an area that you should definitely go see at least once during your trip. Don’t even think about taking a photo of any of the district’s workers, most of the brothels have security that will happily throw your phone in the canal if you do.

A photo posted by Mou ? (@moudiary) on

If you’re going to go to a coffeeshop, don’t be an eejit

Amsterdam is famous for its weed-selling coffee shops. If you do decide to frequent such an establishment don’t overdo it. Only idiot tourists walk around Amsterdam stoned out of their heads. If you’re not sure about your tolerance talk to a member of staff and whatever you do don’t buy drugs on the street.