10 things which drive us mad about tourists in Amsterdam

Are we alone in being driven crazy by the sound of little suitcase trolleys being wheeled across the pavement by groups of tourists in search of their Airbnb location somewhere down our very ordinary street? Here are some of the other things which annoy us about tourists in Amsterdam – and yes, we know they bring in big bucks and we do like them really, but just sometimes we want to shout ‘go home’.

1. They spend money on really crap souvenirs which means more and more Amsterdam shops are being taken over by fake Delft blue, smoking accessories and those stupid hats with hash leaves on them.

The stag-night tourist is well catered for

The stag-night tourist is well catered for

2. They rent bikes when they can’t cycle properly and wobble all over the road.

3. They cycle in groups the wrong way down the cycle path when you are speeding to get to work on time. Bike traffic jams bad, bike traffic jams when stuck behind a parade of yellow or green or whatever coloured bike tours – very bad.

4. Then there are all the other weird forms of transport they use. Like the beer bike – what is that all about? And the Segway – what bright spark thought Segway tours were a smart move in Amsterdam? There is the horse and cart… which fills the entire road and is impossible to overtake. And, of course, we should not forget the coach tour. Very odd considering you can’t drive a coach round the best bits of the city.

5. They believe the Amsterdam floating flower market really sells flowers, even though only two stalls do. For some reason, the city council continues to promote this collection of shops full of tourist tat and dead bits of bamboo and weird roots as an attraction. And you can’t even really call it floating… the stalls are all on concrete pontoons not romantic barges.

The Dutch love a bargain

The Dutch love a bargain

6. They like clichés. These means as well as the ‘floating flower market’, we have the Amsterdam cheese museum and the Amsterdam tulip museum which are just excuses to open shops on the Prinsengracht selling more cheese and tulip bulbs. Then there is the hash museum, the sex museum, the erotic museum… and doubtless soon we’ll get the clog museum – but then, perhaps we should open it.

A taste of home

This is not real, people, it’s entertainment

7. They think it is cool and exciting to smoke Dutch weed and hashish. And they make a huge show out of it, while looking furtive at the same time.

8. They need somewhere to stay – so we have more and more apartments being taken over as ‘short stay’ or ‘bed and breakfast’ or whatever other fancy term they come up with to describe making a quick buck on your flat when you’ve moved in with your girlfriend. And that means more and more processions of little suitcases on wheels outside our window and groups of weed smoking stag-nighters on the balcony next to our bedroom at 3am.

9. They walk all over the road when they are wandering around looking at the canals with their nose in the guidebook. We were once told by a bunch of lovely tourists that ‘you can’t cycle here. It’s a tourist area’.

They just can't get enough

They just can’t get enough

10.  They all take pictures of each other posing in front of the I Amsterdam letters, where ever they may be. Doubtless all brilliant for city marketing which only means even more tourists will come here next year. Grrrr



15 thoughts on “10 things which drive us mad about tourists in Amsterdam

  1. Charlie Brown

    Personally, I NEVER do any of those things; except smoke some pot. I hate being a tourist as I too live in a touristic city. I prefer to try to become one with the people; living their lifestyles and following their daily patterns.

    I don’t buy crappy souvenirs. I buy artwork created by local Dutch artists and clothing from locally owned Dutch stores. I’d love to buy some real, antique delft tiles but can’t find a source I trust.
    I long to drive a bike in your city. I do that avidly here at home but realize the nightmare I would create there. I watched a local man on his bike drive over a small child – an accident. I’d never want to be that man. Those groups of tourist cyclists frighten me as well.

    I have no idea what a beer bike is. Segways are stupid. I walk everywhere and have found some amazing little nooks and crannies.

    I too thought the floating flower market really sold flowers. Then I learned it didn’t. I still pass by it once in awhile though…

    I hate clichés. I’m sorry to hear areas are being commercialized to accommodate tourist crap. I’d support any changes to that. I like to local markets where you get real cheeses. Museums bore me; but then, I have ADHD…

    I do not think it is neither cool nor exciting to smoke Dutch pot and never make a show out of it. I do not look furtive whilst doing it. Your pot is as good as ours here; but here at home, I have to be furtive when buying it (soon though…soon)!

    I stay at a lovely four-star, boutique hotel in the De Wallen district. I don’t think you live there. If the wheels on my suitcase bother you, please realize it’s a big one (two really; I stay 10 days) and with the weight, it is difficult to carry with a broken back. When I smoke weed, it’s in the coffeeshop as I have no balcony and the hotel is a smoke-free one.

    I try to be non-invasive but have been known to wander out into the street accidentally only to be berated by bicycle bells. I don’t use a guidebook, it’s a map. I couldn’t find my way around a circle if my life depended on it. Ha!

    And finally, I’d LOVE to take a picture of myself in front of the I Amsterdam letters. Where the F*** are they? But I don’t come back year-after-year in search of them. I come back each year because I live your city. I love the people. I love the freedoms. I love the shopping… I love Amsterdam!

    But for those damned tourists, sometimes I just want to shout “go home”. Grrr.

    1. djveldrin

      You can find them outside of the Rijksmuseum pretty much permanently I believe. The other ones move around. But I never see the appeal! When friends come to stay and I ask them what they want to see, the big iamsterdam letters are usually in the top 3. Bizare.

    2. Mavadelo

      the beerbike basically is a huge transport bike on which they have mounted a “cafe” complete with seats and a beertap. They are not unique to amsterdam of course, you find them in Budapest and Berlin and no doubt in many other cities as well

  2. citizen of the world

    Why not ban all tourists, set up fortress Amsterdam and tell the rest of the world not to bother coming? The moment that the city and other whingers, sympathetic to the article, notice that millions of tourist euros are no longer flowing into the Amsterdam economy, perhaps they might take stock. Love ’em or hate ’em, tourists are a boon to the economy and make the place lively. Those who hate crowds and the rough and tumble of a city that attracts people from around the world should move to Drenthe!

    1. elegantandrogyne

      Banning tourists? Noooo… there’s a better and simpler solution. Give the city back to cars. A loud, polluted space will no longer be attractive and will drive the tourists away in an instant.

      But seriously:
      This was happening in ’50s towards ’80s. After some demonstrations (“Stop de kindermoord!”) the city council moved away from car-centric infrastructure and made the city more suitable for walking, cycling and staying in the street… and more attractive for tourists as well.

  3. Randy

    Thank god they haven’t found out that we have other cities… However in my Hometown (A’foort) I used to live in the old city in a new app. building and actually had a couple of asian tourists asking if they could have a look inside (which was rather hilarious). I don’t mind tourists in Amsterdam at all, but they can be blatant ignorant in regards to where to walk… I’ve ran over a couple of them on the bike, seen them run into trams and buses just because they didn’t adhere to the normal walking paths.

    The only thing tat really grinds my gears are drunk, loud, stoned and obnoxious Brittons on friday and saturday!

  4. Oyster Traveller

    Wow, that is some angry whining. Most of the behaviours described above don’t specifically apply to tourists but to people at large. Someone needs to move to the country before they self-combust… That said I will soon be a tourist to Amsterdam and will most likely curse at all those things too.

  5. HannahM

    I do understand the frustration but it’s the same everywhere. I think if you live somewhere you don’t appreciate all the beauty around you like new faces and foreigners can. The amount of money tourists put into all economies of cities like Amsterdam is so essential otherwise they would do the the campaigns! I am thinking of going to Amsterdam as I have never been to the Netherlands, and I want a European city break but I have been to Germany and other beautiful countries before but want to go somewhere else to appreciate some beautiful cities. By the way I am English! I think we should embrace the diversity and try and see of much as the world as possible!

  6. ThatTNGirl

    I really hate when the locals bash tourism. I get that most of tourists want to do is cliche and is not the “real” Amsterdam (or whatever city). It’s not different than every person that goes to Tennessee, buys boots and a cowboy hat and wants to go to all of the places they saw on the latest episode of Nashville. It sucks but it’s revenue for your city. If you really want people to see the “real” Amsterdam – show them! Point them in the direction of a local shop or restaurant and help them see what it is you love about your city!

  7. Lizabeth

    I recently visited my friends who live in Leiden and made my way into Amsterdam for 2 of the days during my trip, and as someone who grew up in Boston, US (huge area for tourists) and was a teen living in Disney hell, Orlando (arguably the tourist capital of the world) I made it my highest priority to blend in as best I could and to be as courteous as possible, as I understand how truly annoying tourists can be and I did NOT want to be one of those people. I was a guest of the city and the country after all.
    I researched the area so I would know the streets by memory instead of having a map, and I did not ride a bike in Amsterdam – I got by fine in the smaller cities, but I would have been nothing but a nuance in the streets of Amsterdam. Instead, I walked and/or rode the the tram. I only accidentally wandered into a bike path once parallel to a canal while I was walking in a part of the city as far away from the crowded tourist strip as possible, and I heard the chime of a bell and immediately got out of the way (sorry to whoever you were!). But as someone who has sat in traffic for HOURS because of car collisions from lost tourists trying to get off the right exit for the Magic Kingdom or whatever, I empathize with the frustration that comes from people crowding bike lanes for various reasons, which I witnessed, and I even saw a near collision. I do think that if you rent a bike in Amsterdam, a 30 minute or so class on bike rules should be mandatory.
    I hate buying tourist crap and made sure I went to the local markets where (among other things) I purchased a beautiful original painting by a very talented artist. I did some of the typical tourist stuff, sure, (the I Amsterdam sign, pictures by canals, a canal tour…) but I attempted to partake in as much off-the-beaten-path things/local things as I could. I found it ironic that the only rude encounter I had with anyone was a with a fellow American, clad with headphones for a guided tour and a money belt in the Van Gogh museum.
    I found Amsterdam to be a beautiful and vibrant city, full of history and pride.The locals I spoke with were all very friendly and I couldn’t have enjoyed my time more in the city, or in the Netherlands. I cannot wait to return!

    1. elegantandrogyne

      I also love A’dam, but the Netherlands has much more to offer; smaller cities like Leiden, Alkmaar or Middelburg are also beautiful, still quite cosmopolitan, but less crowded and safer.

      I have yet to have a rude encounter in the Netherlands. People here like when it’s “gezellig” and I think it’s a good thing, let it stay this way.

      As for tourists riding bikes – fortunately, they are recognizable… rental bikes a la Mac Bike look characteristic enough. Brace yourself, a group of Italian tourists is coming! You know what to expect.

      As for me, I come from Łódź in Poland and ride a bike there every day (Gazelle Populair omafiets, if you wanted to know), I’ve been doing it for over 5 years now, and the infrastructure there is almost non-existent compared to XXX. So, it’s mostly riding among cars, and drivers sometimes are rude, if not outright malicious. Amsterdam is a nice change, paths and lanes everywhere, traffic lights with countdown, advanced bike stop lines, counterflow on every one-way street, 30km/h zones all over… I definitely dig it – and I did rde a lot with my friend who lives there. Bike traffic in Amsterdam is like a Critical Mass ride, but faster. You’ve gotta go with the flow, watch out for all directions, and sometimes you can run the red light, as long as no traffic is coming… And to pedestrians on bike lanes, I say “‘t is een mooie onzichtbare fietsje!” ;).
      The only thing I still have to experience is riding a bakfiets. Even better if it’s the old school 3-wheeled beast with fixed gear. They are wonderful.


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