In the news just this week Amsterdam is struggling to manage the large volume of tourists. The city is home to 850,000 residents and last year hosted an estimated 18 million visitors. For any neighbourhood that’s a challenge with the city tightening up on hotels, AirBnB and new souvenir shops. The problem expected to get worse. Its almost like the campaign to get visitors to Amsterdam such as iamsterdam and Netherlands Tourism have been too successful.
So, as visitors to this great city what should we do? Do we avoid Amsterdam all together? The Netherlands’s economy has benefited with travel and tourism contributing billions each year as well as supporting employment, investment and exports. Clearly there needs to be a compromise.
In the meantime are there things the average tourist can do? For a start lets treat Amsterdam like our own neighbourhood and respect the locals. Use the live streaming apps to check out when the lines at the popular places like Van Gough Museum or Ann Frank House are the shortest. Avoid areas such as the red light district and marijuana coffee shops. The experts are suggesting to book your accommodation outside of the city centre to reduce congestion and noise. Try and explore places that are not on the usual must see lists. Apparently the canals outside of the city centre are just as beautiful too.
Four years ago, we visited Amsterdam for the first time and we are very excited to be heading back for the third time next month to celebrate Christmas.
Below is an extract from a blog we posted as newbies to the city. Interestingly we didn’t visit either the coffee shops or the red light district, but we did do a canal tour and experience long queues at some of the major attractions. We hope for both travellers and residents alike the city can find a happy balance.
From A Pair Travelling (2013)
No. We did not go to a “Coffee shop”. No. We did not go to the Red Light District.
Right. Got that out of the way. What we did see was a vibrant city with step gables, small house frontages, canals, elegance neighbourhoods and a proud ability to change from English to Dutch and back again in the same sentence. Everywhere we went everyone was more than happy to speak English. Good thing too because our attempt to say “dankjewel” resulted in the response “you want the bill”?
Dutch cuisine appears to be a lot of deep fried food, mayonnaise and beef ground to within an inch of its life forming a paste. We can say, though that they do a pancake that resembles a thin crust pizza that is good. Also, the profferjes and biscuits are pretty special too. Given their penchant for fried foods it’s surprising that there are far less overweight people here than elsewhere! It must be all the cycling!
We were able to take a hop on hop off canal boat to The Rijksmuseum. Recently opened after extensive renovations the building is spectacular and the collection impressive. We got to see Rembrandt’s The Night Watchman – along with 100 others in a small room. Highlights included the Delft pottery collection, and beautiful doll houses
Behind the Rijksmuseum is the Van Gough Museum. 4 floors of one of my favourite painters! While excellent we enjoyed the Kroner- Muller Museum better. Even thou there are less Van Gough paintings there are more of the most famous. They are presented very simply and of course with less crowds.