travelling to amsterdam

Things To Avoid While Travelling In Amsterdam

travelling in amsterdam

Are you planning your first trip to Amsterdam? Although the Dutch capital is a wonderful destination, there are some common mistakes that visitors often make. While these mistakes may not completely ruin your trip, being aware of what to avoid can ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience in this vibrant city.

In this guide, we’ll tell you about the essential things not to do while visiting Amsterdam. We’ve got you covered on navigating bike-filled streets, discovering unique coffee shop culture, and understanding the rules for visiting the red light district.

1. Things To Avoid Regarding Bicycle:

Walking In Bike Lanes:

In the center of Amsterdam, the lanes marked with bike symbols are crucial for locals. These lanes act like express routes for cyclists, and it’s important not to walk or stand on them to avoid inconveniencing people. If you hear a bike bell, move aside quickly to ensure a smooth flow for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Using Stolen Bikes:

Make ethical choices when embarking on your adventure in Amsterdam, especially with how you get around. Avoid buying a stolen bike to avoid a hefty fine of €160 and contribute to solving the problem of bike theft.

cycling in amsterdam
Street with people on bicycle in the old town of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Biking On Sideways & Not Following Rules:

Exploring Amsterdam by bike is an exciting adventure, but if you’re new to it, remember that sidewalks are for walking, not biking. It can be confusing if you ride on them. Also, be cautious around tram tracks—cross them only when necessary. If cycling, be attentive to avoid getting your bike tires stuck in the tram lanes, as making a mistake here might result in falling over your bike and getting stuck in traffic. 

Follow some unwritten rules: use bike lanes, stay in your lane, and be polite by letting other cyclists pass. Adhere to traffic lights and signs, signal when you turn, and park your bike where it’s designated. Even if locals sometimes don’t follow these rules, it’s crucial for your safety not to copy them, especially regarding wearing a helmet.

2. Avoid Taking Car Into The Center Of Amsterdam:

Driving in the center of Amsterdam can be hard because there aren’t many parking spots, and it can be expensive. The city is strict about parking rules, and they use clamps on cars if rules are broken. Foreign cars might get extra attention. If your car gets clamped, you’ll see a yellow sticker telling you where to pay the fine. Be ready for a fine starting at €200. It’s important to pay quickly because if you wait more than 24 hours, your car might be towed away, and the fine could be even higher, starting from €600.

3. Avoid From Smoking and Consuming Alcohol:

Remember, you can’t drink alcohol in public spaces in Amsterdam. Even though it might be a bit more okay during festivals, weekends, or in certain places like Vondelpark and De Wallen, it’s better to be careful. Drinking openly in public can turn a night out into a visit to the police station. Smoking in public is also not recommended in public areas, and police officers might remind you of this rule. It’s important to be aware of the safety risks of being under the influence, especially with bikes moving fast all around the city.

If you are using trains in Amsterdam, remember that smoking is not allowed on trains, stations, waiting areas or platforms. There are special places called smoking pillars where smokers can go. If you smoke outside these areas, you can be fined €25, and if you throw a cigarette butt on the platform, it can cost you €400. Following these rules not only helps avoid fines, but also makes public spaces more enjoyable for everyone. So, when you’re exploring Amsterdam, enjoy responsibility and follow the city’s rules.

smoking in amsterdam

4. Things To Avoid At Red Light District:

Taking Pictures:

The red light district in Amsterdam is generally safe, but there are some rules to follow. Do not take pictures of people working there. If you try to take pictures of women in windows, you may run into trouble with bouncers and room security guards may ask you to delete them.

Being Disrespectful:

It’s important to be respectful, especially when you’ve had alcohol.  Don’t be the loud and rude visitor who annoys people. Treat the people working in the district with respect and avoid doing anything that might offend them.

red light district amsterdam

5. Avoid illegal Things:

Avoid Dealing with illegal markets:

Stay away from people who might want to take advantage of tourists. Some, especially those who use drugs, may ask you for money. If you want weed, go to a licensed coffee shop, and don’t pay people on the street. Be careful whilst walking in the narrow and uncrowded streets of the district. Pay attention to your surroundings, and look out for scams. Following these guidelines will ensure that you have a safe and respectful experience in Amsterdam’s red light district.

Avoid Pickpockets tricks:

Be cautious of pickpockets in Amsterdam, especially if you’re a tourist. Try not to stand out as a visitor to reduce your risk.

6. Avoid Bad Weather While Visiting Amsterdam:

Pack smart for your trip to Amsterdam as the weather can be unpredictable, with frequent showers even in summer, sometimes lasting all day. Surprisingly, locals still ride bikes in the rain, using umbrellas or practical plastic ponchos. Essential items include comfortable walking or cycling shoes and waterproof clothing. Don’t stress if you forget, because Amsterdam has shops that offer umbrellas and rain gear to keep you both dry and stylish while you explore the city.

7. Things To Avoid Around The Amsterdam Canals:

Swimming In Amsterdam Canals:

Swimming in Amsterdam’s canals is strongly discouraged and in fact officially prohibited. Although the canals add to the charm of the city, they are not designed for swimming. Water quality may not meet safe swimming standards, and canals are active waterways with boat traffic, making it dangerous for swimmers.

Canal in Amsterdam
Canal in Amsterdam

Fishing In Canals:

You can go fishing in the canals of Amsterdam, but there are places where it might not be allowed. It’s really important to follow the rules and stick to the areas where fishing is allowed. The local authorities have set these rules to keep things in order. Some places might need special permits or have specific rules, so it’s a good idea to check and understand them before you start fishing. If you follow the rules, you can have a fun and safe time fishing in the canals of Amsterdam.

Littering Or Throwing Trash In Canals:

When you visit, remember not to throw trash, litter or pee in the canals as it can also cause fines or accidents. It’s important because quite a few people accidentally fall in and drown every year. Respecting local regulations helps maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.


In the end, visiting Amsterdam offers an exciting experience, but avoiding common mistakes makes it even more enjoyable. Learn how to ride a bike properly and understand the unique aspects of places like the red light district. Being careful about illegal things and pickpockets, following rules about alcohol and smoking, and wearing the right clothes for the weather make sure you have a safe and respectful trip. Also, resist the temptation to swim in the canals. By simply following these basic guidelines, you can have a great time in Amsterdam and create beautiful memories.