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Amsterdam is famous for its freedom, this is the city where it’s tolerated for people to smoke marijuana, walk through a Red-Light District and do some other things. Tourists have indeed a lot of freedom in Amsterdam, but sometimes people go too far and end up doing something illegal or dangerous.
This is not a judgmental post, but a guide to things you shouldn’t do while in Amsterdam in order to don’t get yourself into problems (or even other people).
1 – Don’t take photos at the Red-Light District
Don’t take photos or make videos of the girls in the Red-Light District. This is a big no! They have 24/7 protection and taking pictures of them is definitely not allowed. It’s okay to take photos of the canals, but make sure you’re pointing at the canals and not at the girls. Besides, this is disrespectful.
2 – Don’t use soft drugs outside a coffee shop
Many people don’t know, but soft drugs, like hashish and weed, are tolerated only in coffee shops, that means that they’re actually not legalized. There is a big difference here. You can smoke them in a proper place, like the coffee shop, but not on the streets, if you do smoke them on streets you can get a fine of €99, around USD 119. Ouch!
If you want to see how the Red Light and Coffee Shops are like but would like some guidance on that, check the tickets below. These walk tours have very good rates and they are a good way to experience this side of Amsterdam.
3 – Don’t light up your joint in a cafe
Don’t mistake coffee shops by cafes. There is a huge difference between them. In a cafe, you drink coffee, hot chocolate. In a coffee shop, you (can) use soft drugs. Pretty big difference, huh? Just make sure you don’t mistake those two and ask directions to the wrong place.
4 – Don’t buy drugs from street dealers
If you use something stronger, don’t buy it from street dealers. Sometimes they offer one thing and people end up in the hospital – or worse – because it was something else. This happened a lot when I first came to the Netherlands. Some tourists died because white heroin was sold to them as cocaine.
That’s really dangerous because you have no idea what they put in those things. Watch out! This is also valid if someone offers you space cakes (cakes with weed or hash), and when you get high, they get your stuff.
5 – Don’t get too high (or drunk)
Don’t get so high that you can’t watch out for your yourself. Dutch weed is quite strong. Amsterdam is pretty safe, but there are people with bad intentions everywhere. Besides, you’re in a new city, if something happens to you in another country it can really ruin your trip. And you can be fined in €379, around USD 455 for disturbing the public order.
6 – Don’t walk in the bike lane
You know that the bike in Amsterdam is a mean of transport, so don’t walk in the bike lane. A lot of tourists get hurt because they cross it without looking or just keep walking there because the sidewalk is crowded, but you don’t walk on the streets when that’s the case, right? So don’t do it on the bike lane either or you’ll hear many people ringing their bells or cursing at you.
7 – Don’t ride a bike if you’re high or drunk
It goes without saying that driving or riding a bike drunk or under the effect of something is dangerous. Not only for you but also for others. There are countless possible situations that could happen: you can fall in a canal and won’t be able to swim (or if it’s in the winter, you might have hypothermia), you can ride over someone, you can get hit by a car or tram, etc etc etc.
The fine for biking under the influence of something is €109 (around USD 130), and between €309 and €659 for cars.
8 – Don’t drive a car
Don’t drive a car in Amsterdam! And I say this not only because the public transport is really good, but because you can bike everywhere. Also, the city isn’t that big, parking lots are very expensive, and the center is chaotic for cars, trust me. You’re definitely better off without a car in Amsterdam.
9 – Don’t ride a bike at night without lights
Since we’re talking about transportation, you can get fined for not having lights on your bike at night. Like I said above, bikes are a mean of transport in Amsterdam, so people have to use proper lights, or the cars and trams won’t see you. So many people get hurt or die because of something so simple. This is a minor offense in the Netherlands, so you get a fine of €64, around USD 77.
10 – Don’t drink alcohol in the street
Another minor offense that many people have no idea about is drinking in some streets. If you drink beer/ vodka from the bottle (if you drink vodka from the bottle, wow!) in a street with the sign below, you can be fined. I’ve seen many guys being stopped by the police and getting a fine (€99) for that.
11 – Don’t pee in the canals
This is another minor offense, so you get a fine of €149 (USD 179), plus you can fall in the canal (almost like karma, right? Haha!). Most of the people who fall in the canals were trying to pee there. Besides, this is gross. There are so many urinals in the streets at night, from those which are hidden in the ground during the day, you don’t need to take a leak in the cute canal.
12 – Don’t choose a super busy itinerary
Take your time to appreciate the canals, the city. Amsterdam is really beautiful and charming, so have a drink in a terrace along the canals or just stroll along one of them. The Canal Ring is a UNESCO Heritage site, by the way. So don’t go away without visiting it or even better, make a boat tour in the canals. I’m sure you’ll love to see Amsterdam from this point of view, both during the day or in the evening.
Amsterdam In a Nutshell
If you use some common sense and watch out for these tips on what you shouldn’t do in Amsterdam, you’ll have an amazing time in the Dutch capital! Is there something else you would add to this list? I’m curious! Write down in the comments and so we can help other travelers.
*The rates mentioned here might have changed depending on when you read this.
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