Answer to Lifehack question on tips for Amsterdam

Nick Douglas from asks

There are things to do in Amsterdam besides buying weed! It’s a beautiful, bikeable city with canals, with famous museums like the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum. (Buy a museum card.)
Each Monday on Hack Your City, we ask readers for your best tips on a city: driving tips, restaurant recs, things to do, and any other advice for visitors and locals. Then on Thursday, we present the best comments. We’re working our way around the U.S. and around the globe.
Wikitravel has a long guide to Amsterdam, with tips and recommendations that hint at the city’s storybook charm: “Avoid getting your tyre in the tram rails; it’s a nasty fall. Always cross tram rails at an angle.” Or, “Friday night skate: Put on your skates, and join the popular weekly skate tour, a different route every week.” The entry also covers the concept of gedogen, a policy of not enforcing every vice law. (This is why, while it’s illegal to grow or sell large quantities of cannabis, the cops aren’t breaking down the doors of the weed-dispensing coffeeshops.)
But there must be more. What else should people know about Amsterdam? What tourist trap do you just know some other clueless commenter is going to recommend, and where should people go instead? If you do go to the coffeeshops and the red light district, what’s the etiquette? If you don’t, when annoying Americans obsess about them, what do you bring up instead?
What do visitors need to learn about the culture? What’s dangerous or offensive or generally misconstrued? What’s overlooked in the city? When’s the best time to visit? And what’s it like to live there? Are there tricks to getting around, areas best covered by a surprising mode of transportation, streets or subway routes to avoid during rush hour? What makes you love the city?
What’s the situation like for internet coverage, getting a good cup of coffee, booking a room outside of the usual hotels? We want to hear your most surprising, interesting tips, as well as any stories of how you’ve used them. We’ll feature the best in a new post on Thursday. Tot ziens
Caveats aside here are our general tips:
1. Dress appropriately.
Amsterdam = casual, denim and sneakers. If you don’t feel comfortable in Amsterdam you are going to look out of place. If rain or cold weather is forecast some comfortable leather boots/shoes are a good addition.
comfortable shoes, t-shirts, jeans, sweater and jacket - this is all you need and is accepted everywhere in Amsterdam.
2. It’s going to rain -guaranteed - don’t worry about it.
The rain doesn’t last long because most of Amsterdam is below water so the weather just floats past. Rain normally lasts around 10-20 minutes. As soon as the rain starts pop into a cafe and have a tea,coffee, pilsner or chocomel (chocolate milk hot or cold). The only weather app/website you need is
You can literally see the weather approaching and passing on this live satalite imagery.
Local tip - if rain don’t buy/take an umbrella buy a cap. Due to the wind a cap will last longer and be a nice reminder of the trip. One of the local football team Ajax is always good but becareful wearing it in other parts of the country.
3. Make the most of a truly livable city
This means act like its a small town because it is. One of the best things about Amsterdam is its livability and family owned businesses.
Ask people how they are going and what their name is? Visit small business multiple times in a day or a visit. If there isn’t time for a chat this will be made clear - don’t take offense.
Due to the livability people in Amsterdam are a chatty breed. Many will not be Dutch and most of the Dutch will not be from Amsterdam but this has been the nature of the city for 500 years.
Walk - catch the trams and stop at small business that have a good street view. Often you see more by staying in one place. The old bordello come student bar CafĂ© Fonteyn on the Nieuwmarkt is a fine example but you will see many similar establishments around town.
Final remarks
There are many activities to do in Amsterdam depending on your interest. Yes, there are tourist traps but some people like them and that is why they still operate.
In 2011 we calculated the most common Amsterdam activities across 100 top things to do lists and then provided a local perspective. It was updated 2015. It is amazing how most travel writing is built on false foundations and fleeting visits. Your question has inspired me to update this post for Spring 2018. As Noord, east and oud west have all come up in recent years as growth in tourism has suffocated the centre. Take a look at the list much of it still holds true.
Most importantly remember when in Amsterdam...enjoy!

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