Home Travel Beyond Tulips and Windmills: A Uniquely Dutch Experience – Amsterdam’s Coffee Shops and Local Life

Beyond Tulips and Windmills: A Uniquely Dutch Experience – Amsterdam’s Coffee Shops and Local Life

by Noman Jabbar
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When one thinks of the Netherlands, images of tulip fields and windmills often come to mind. However, there is a side to Dutch tourism that goes beyond traditional postcard views – one that is deeply rooted in the eclectic streets of Amsterdam, where coffee shops and vibrant local life paint the country’s unique and progressive image.

Amsterdam’s Coffee Shop Culture:

In the heart of Amsterdam, coffee shops are not just places to grab a cup of coffee. They are institutions that embody a distinctly Dutch Guided tours in Amsterdam

and recreational activities. Contrary to what their name suggests, these establishments primarily serve as places for the sale and consumption of cannabis. However, it is important to note that soft drug use is tolerated rather than outright legal, adding to the city’s atmosphere of openness and acceptance.

These coffee shops are diverse in atmosphere, from dimly lit cosy corners to modern spaces that resemble art galleries. The atmosphere is relaxed, and patrons often engage in conversation, a game of cards, or simply immerse themselves in the city’s unique atmosphere. For visitors, these institutions provide an opportunity to experience a side of Dutch culture that goes beyond the historical aspect.

Life in Amsterdam:

Amsterdam is a city that lives and breathes diversity. The locals, known as Amsterdammers, have adopted a progressive lifestyle that blends tradition with modernity. The city is a melting pot of cultures, which is reflected in its eclectic neighbourhoods. From the historic Jordan district, known for its art galleries and trendy boutiques, to the multicultural De Page, where street markets and international cuisine thrive, every corner of Amsterdam tells a different story. 

One of the hallmarks of local life in Amsterdam is the reliance on bicycles as a primary means of transportation. Cycling along the city’s narrow streets, charming canals and historic bridges is not just a means of getting from one place to another, but a way of life. The bike-friendly infrastructure encourages both locals and visitors to leisurely explore the city, uncover hidden gems and experience the relaxed atmosphere that permeates Amsterdam.

The concept of gezellighede, a Dutch term that roughly translates to cosiness, is deeply embedded in Amsterdam’s social fabric. Whether it’s enjoying a meal at a canalside cafe, browsing vintage markets, or attending one of the city’s many cultural events, the emphasis on creating warm and inviting spaces is clear.

Beyond coffee shops:

While Amsterdam’s coffee shops add a certain layer to the city’s charm, there’s plenty more to explore for those looking for a different kind of high – one that combines rich cultural experiences and old and new. A unique combination of new

The Rijksmuseum, with its extensive collection of Dutch art and history, invites visitors to explore the country’s cultural heritage. The Anne Frank House, a poignant reminder of the city’s wartime history, offers a sobering but necessary perspective.

For those longing for an outdoor escape, Amsterdam’s parks provide an ideal retreat. Windelpark, in particular, is a haven for hikers, picnickers, and those seeking a peaceful respite from the urban bustle.


Tourism in the Netherlands is a multifaceted experience, and Amsterdam stands as its dynamic hub. Beyond the famous tulip fields and windmills, the city unveils a progressive and open-minded culture, epitomised by its unique coffee shop scene and lively rhythm of local life. Whether you’re exploring the historic sites, indulging in the city’s diverse cuisine, or simply immersing yourself in the Gelegenheid of Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods, there’s an undeniable allure that makes this Dutch gem a global tourist destination. Separates on stage.

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