Luxury Travel Blog

Amsterdam: The city of canals, red lights and all things green

Before our trip there, all I knew about Amsterdam was prostitution is legal as is smoking pot!  This is no Paris!  So I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about this infamous Netherlands capital.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find there is so much more to this amazing city than ladies of the night and ‘coffee shops’ (places you go to buy and smoke weed).

Amsterdam is a city rich in history and culture. With its picturesque canals, stunning architecture and lush greenery this is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to.

Nicknamed “Venice of the North”, the best way to experience this city is by boat along the canals.  You see the city from a different perspective and in all its glory.


Amsterdam: The city of canals


You can walk through the city very easily which is another great way to take it all in.  Bike riding is also very popular there with tourists and locals alike.  However there didn’t seem like there was enough road for the cars and the many many bicycles so we decided to stick with using the canals and footpaths.

Of course, most visitors to Amsterdam want to take a walk through the Red Light District or visit one of the many coffee shops Amsterdam is so well known for.  And we did just that.

Its quite surprising to see the ‘ladies’ standing in the doorways of their tiny rooms waiting for their next customer.  And what’s even more surprising is the smell of weed wafting out from every other shop in broad daylight.  It’s a very surreal situation.  But something I encourage everyone to experience because there are not too many places in the world quite like this!  Do not worry about safety issues; Its very safe to walk through the district and its quite common to see a family strolling through the area. Keep in mind however, you are not allowed to photograph the ladies (unless you want to see your treasured camera thrown into the canal).


Amsterdam Canal at Night



This World Heritage Site is a picturesque body of water and is one of the three major canals that shape the city.

Prinsengracht, which translates to ‘prince’s canal’, is filled with gorgeous houseboats and lined with cafes, galleries and boutique shops and is the liveliest of all the canals.


The Jordaan

Another great World Heritage Site in Amsterdam, the Jordaan is a charming neighborhood in Greenwich Village.  With narrow alleys, picturesque canals and 17th century houses this quaint neighborhood is worth a visit.

Walk through the Jordaan and shop at the designer boutiques, have lunch at a charming café and visit the eccentric specialty shops.


Amsterdam Narrow Skinny Houses Buildings



The city’s most famous park has been around since 1850 and is a popular area for both tourists and locals alike.  A great place for a casual stroll or, for those with more energy to burn, cycling and skating are very popular here.

It’s the largest of Amsterdam’s 30 parks and in the summer months you can struggle to find a piece of lawn for yourself.

A great place to enjoy a picnic on a beautiful sunny day.


Free Amsterdam City Walking Tour

I am a huge fan of free walking tours and this one did not disappoint.

As you walk through the city your guide will share some of the fascinating history with the group and show you some of the best sites Amsterdam has to offer.

They offer different tours, depending on what you are most interested in, which are free (though you are expected to tip). We did the 3 hour city tour which covers a little bit of everything and gave us a great feel of the city. There are also a tour that focus on the Red Light District and a bike tour.

Tours like this are the best way to get to know a city better and to orientate yourself on arrival.


Have you been to Amsterdam?  What did you like / dislike about the city? Any recommendations for next time we go?



  1. thanks so much for sharing! my husband actually goes to amsterdam a lot for work (every few months or so), but he doesn’t actually get to go out and explore- so I’ve never really decided if I want to maybe go with him sometime if I get the time off of work. Thanks for helping me make up my mind! 🙂
    Jessica recently posted…11 more things you probably (didn’t) wanna know about meMy Profile

    • Nicole Connolly /

      Hi Jessica 🙂

      We really love Amsterdam and can’t wait to go back in September. You should definitely go if you get the chance 🙂 I am going to have a lot more information about Amsterdam & Netherlands later in the year so keep your eye out for that – Maybe that will also help influence your decision 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by again Jessica!

  2. I visited Amsterdam for the first time in June and just love the city. So many picturesque canals, squares and parks. Loads of art, museums and of course the city’s edgier side. Need to go back and finish what we started!
    Suzanne (Travelbunny) recently posted…Amsterdam – Sex, Drugs and Pedalos?My Profile

  3. I loved the free ferries that cross the Amstel River and take you to the central station – very handy when your ship is dry docked on the wrong side of the river to all the action!

    The Hague is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

  4. Pat and Carla /

    We are hoping to do a few week long multi-country trip in Europe next year, we would like to visit the Netherlands/Amsterdam. The pot & prostitution reputation are the common associations with Amsterdam but the city looks very beautiful and rich with history. The photo of Prinsengracht is great, it looks like a really neat and fun area. When we finally make it we’ll have to try and make the mentioned places.

    • Michael
      Michael Wright /

      You won’t be making a mistake if you include Amsterdam/Netherlands on your road trip. The pot & prostitution reputation is such a minor part of the country and sometimes overshadows this amazing place.
      Michael Wright recently posted…Underwater at the S.E.A Aquarium in SingaporeMy Profile

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