Updated: May 8, 2020
Amsterdam, where do I start? Well, I've visited Amsterdam on two occasions and I've left with the same impression. It's not really a place for me. I have several friends and colleagues who love this city, but personally, I find it too touristy. One thing I love about travelling is meeting locals and getting an insight into different cultures. But it's not so easy to find that in Amsterdam. It attracts many sex and drug tourists, and walking through the centre I come across more tourists than locals.
The city is quite beautiful, with the tall narrow buildings surrounding the canals and little arched bridges over the waterways. But even though I am a tourist myself and this comes across hypocritical, there are just too many tourists here.
What to see
The Anne Frank House
This is very interesting place to visit. Although it's a tourist attraction, it's obviously not the type of place you'll want to be taking photographs or get any sense of fun from. This is as a lesson from history regarding the atrocities of the Second World War. I think it's a very important attraction for people to see. The story behind Anne Frank is both fascinating and tragic, and I'd be surprised if anyone leaves here without a tear in their eye.
This was possibly my favourite attraction in Amsterdam. This is more than just a brewery.
The start of the tour guides you through the brewing process of Heineken. The same as many standard brewing attractions around the world. But then it turns into a truly interactive experience. You can peddle a bike through the streets of Amsterdam while singing in Dutch, try mixing music or attempt to poor the perfect pint of Heineken. You also get numerous glasses of free beer along the way.
Red Light District
Yes, there will be many sex tourists here, but the Red Light District has become a destination for everyday tourists. So much so that there are now plans to reduce guided tours as it affects the amount of customers the workers get.
On both occasions I took a walk through here and it's certainly something worth seeing. It's actually quite pretty seeing it all lit up. Beautiful girls of all shapes and sizes are sat in little windows, and if you're interested you tap on the window and ask the price. I've heard they can be picky and won't always take every gentleman who inquires. Apparently it's rare, but the girls will tap on the window and call you over if they like the look of you, and on my last visit I had this happen with two girls. It certainly gave me a confidence boost, so I just smiled at them and kept walking. A word of warning though, do not take photos of the girls! Many tourists have lost a camera or mobile phone when an angry sex worker has run outside and thrown it into the canal.
Coffee Shops As most will know, there are numerous coffee shops which sell weed. Although people think weed is legal in Amsterdam, I don't think that's quite true, I think it's more complicated than that and it is still possible although extremely rare to be arrested for selling or taking drugs. As you walk through the city you'll smell these cafes as you pass them, sometimes the smell is exceptionally strong. Drugs are not my thing so I've not ventured into one. But I have heard warnings regarding the cakes they sell. These can take a while to get into your system, and many people over eat. This results in them feeling very ill once the affects start to occur. So my advice is, don't over indulge on the cake, be patient!
Van Gogh Museum
I'm not a huge Van Gogh fan, yet I decided to take a visit to the museum as I do appreciate some of his works. It houses 200 paintings by Van Gogh, as well as drawings and letters written by him. For me some of the work was a little bit samey, although there are some truly beautiful pieces of work displayed here. Unfortunately "Starry Night" which I consider his best work is located in New York. If you're into art and especially if you're into Van Gogh, then you'll not want to miss this.
What to eat
Tony's Chocolonely is a brand of dutch chocolate which opposes slavery and child labour. There are various stores selling the confectionary in Amsterdam including it's main superstore which has many different flavours, including chilli, pretzel and cherry amongst many others. Whereby I didn't think the chocolate was anything spectacular, the shop felt like being inside Willy Wonka's Chocolate factory. And you can try all the different flavours before buying.
Febo A great little fast food place where the food is inside little windows. You chose the number window you want and pay with a card to retrieve your food. They sell all sorts from burgers to small breadcrumb coated treats.
Dutch Pancakes or Poffertjes as they're otherwise known. These tiny little treats are delicious. Many cafes around the city serve these usually with powdered sugar but you can have them with syrup or ice cream.