I need your Amsterdam secrets!
August 9, 2010 3:48 PM   Subscribe

I will be moving to Amsterdam in ten days for academic reasons. I would love to hear any tricks, tips, secrets and anecdotes about Amsterdam to help make the next stage in my life more amazing and exciting than it would be without them.

I do not want to live as a foreigner or tourist for very long, I want to try and fit in as an Amsterdammer as quickly and genuinely as I can.

Any tips on places to visit, cafes and bars to explore, places to see, things to do, basically anything, any secrets, about life in Amsterdam that will make my time there even better than it is already going to be, I would much appreciate it!

posted by tumples to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Get a museum card or borrow a friends if you can't afford it - they never check, only zip it. Honor system and all. And the museums are wonderful. A favorite of mine is the Foam Fotografiemuseum

It's touristy, but you gotta get the sauce and chips at Vleminckx Sausmeesters at least once.

And get a bike you won't mind losing, but that's an obvious one.
posted by alex_skazat at 4:15 PM on August 9, 2010

And I'm having a real hard time thinking your going to have anything but an amazing time in Amsterdam. So jealous-in-a-good-way!
posted by alex_skazat at 4:16 PM on August 9, 2010

Best answer: To avoid getting lost: The 3 main canals are in alphabetical order in a horseshoe. Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht. House numbers go UP as you travel EAST.

To avoid laughing nervously at inappropriate times: Men pee in public. Ignore them.

To avoid getting annoyed: Cafes and whatnot have the slowest service of any country I've been to. Don't go for a quick bite anywhere you don't have time for.

Get a Museumkaart and get a Strippenkaart. You can walk and tram it everywhere, unless you bike which is cheaper. If you walk, it's up to you to get out of the way of bikes - people who don't are really annoying to locals.
posted by shinybaum at 4:51 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

"The Undutchables" is an entertaining guide to Netherlands culture - it is written primarily for expats rather than tourists.
posted by rongorongo at 5:27 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Unless you speak Dutch it will be hard to fit in right away. You'll need a buddy to show you the hot spots. Join a group, society/club of your interest. Lots of info here. There are many English/Dutch speaking foreigners living in AMS who know it inside out and only too happy to share their knowledge and from there introduce you into their native Dutch circle of friends.
posted by sequin at 5:53 PM on August 9, 2010

A strippenkaart will do you no good in Amsterdam, they have recently switched exclusively to the OV Chipkaart.
posted by HFSH at 6:01 PM on August 9, 2010

Get a bike asap and you can hold the city in your palm. It's ridiculously easy to get around on two wheels.

Get an OV chipcard for cheaper train rides.

Don't bother going out to Zaanse Schans. It's just not worth it. Haarlem, on the other hand, is well worth it. An easy bike ride through beautiful countryside.
posted by Sutekh at 12:32 AM on August 10, 2010

I do not want to live as a foreigner or tourist for very long, I want to try and fit in as an Amsterdammer as quickly and genuinely as I can.

Learn Dutch.

Most Dutch speak excellent English (and German and French) and are happy to do so, but as long as you are speaking English you are a tourist.

Buy a cheap bicycle, with an expensive lock, and DON'T WEAR A HELMET. No self-respecting Dutchman rides with a helmet on.

I've never lived in Amsterdam, but I'm working there for a few days every other week for the last three years. If I were to move there, I would definitely look to the Jordaan.
posted by three blind mice at 1:40 AM on August 10, 2010

Oh, and by all means go and see Turkish-Dutch singer Karsu Dönmez. She is awesome.
posted by three blind mice at 1:43 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Avoid Dam square and the Red Light district from Thursday to Sunday, as that's the period between which all the stag (bachelor) parties arrive, get completely wasted and then repeat until they fall over...
It's funny to see the first few times, but then I changed my commute to avoid it!
posted by rothar at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2010

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