Local traditions and culture in Amsterdam

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Amsterdam

  • goodfish's Profile Photo


    by goodfish Updated Sep 10, 2012

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    Packing light usually means doing some laundry on trips longer than a week. The nice folks at our hotel directed us to a self-serve launderette just a few blocks away and a nice trundle with our bag of grubbies across the famous skinny bridge. The attendant there didn't speak much for English but cheerfully sign-languaged us through the routine and we trudged back across the bridge a little over an hour later with clean togs for another week.

    This one had GREAT dryers: everything but the heaviest stuff was practically dry in one cycle.

    If you're staying at or near the Bridge Hotel, this is the place we used:

    Bejo Wasserette
    Kerkstraat 375
    1017 HW  AMSTERDAM
    tel.  020-6239375

    A list of other laundries, both self-serve and done-for-you, can be found here or ask at your hotel.


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  • sunshine9689's Profile Photo

    Sauna Van Egmond in the town of Haarlem

    by sunshine9689 Updated Apr 4, 2011

    Haarlem is just 20km West of Amsterdam. A short 15 minutes train ride will get you there for 8 euros or so.
    It has an impressive church with a pipe organ but that`s not why you should go there.

    I have only 3 words for you: Sauna Van Egmond.

    26 euro per person will let you in and let you stay in for as long as you wish (up until midnight when it closes).
    Reservation (by phone) is advised, but we were able to get in without one.

    The website is in Dutch, but I`ll give the link anyway :)

    Before you dial the number, have in mind that it`s mixed and nude. If you have a problem being naked in front of opposite sex, don`t go. But, please, try to go beyond your comfort zone, after 5 minutes it`ll feel normal and you`ll have a great time. I know we did. For 7 hours! :)

    No need to bring anything with you. Shampoo/soap/salt scrubs are free. You can rent a robe, towels, slippers. And you can buy food/beverage in the restaurant there. It`s the only place where you should be dressed - in robe that is.

    BUS: 3 or 5, from Haarlem train station. Ticket costs 1.60 euros one way.
    TAXI: would be about 10 euros.

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  • daarth's Profile Photo

    Zaanse Schans. An outdoor...

    by daarth Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Zaanse Schans. An outdoor museum well worth a visit. Here you can see windmills and traditional houses for this area. You can also see a demonstration of how they make wooden shoes.

    For more info try this link:

    Zaanse Schans
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  • ATLC's Profile Photo

    DIY in Amsterdam

    by ATLC Written Jul 2, 2010

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    Some of the best known DIY shops in The Netherlands are:
    GAMMA - http://www.gamma.com/home.html
    Praxis - http://www.praxis.nl/
    Formido - http://www.formido.nl/
    Hubo - http://www.hubo.nl/

    In a big city like Amsterdam there are usually more than 1 of each.
    If you give the address I can get you the appropriate locations.
    However, if not, you can choose yourself:

    Gamma shops: http://www.gamma.com/zoeken.html?naar=Amsterdam (there are 5 shops)
    Praxis shops: http://www.praxis.nl/bouwmarkten/locatiezoeker?plaats=amsterdam&selpraxis= (there are 8 shops)
    Formido shops: seems there are none in Amsterdam
    Hubo shops:
    1. http://www.hubo.nl/hubo/Vestigingen/Hubo_Bruijnesteijn
    2. http://www.hubo.nl/hubo/Vestigingen/Hubo_Wittenburg

    Words you may need:
    wood = hout
    wall board = eh... I guess that's wood too?
    door = deur
    wall paper = behang
    paint = verf
    tools = gereedschap
    window dressing = raamdecoratie
    building materials = bouwmaterialen
    Lighting = verlichting
    Floors = vloer

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  • deb.workman's Profile Photo

    Chinese food in Uitgeest! OoOoh what a treat! :)

    by deb.workman Written Apr 5, 2010

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    The Dutch family that I stayed with ordered a bit of everything when we requested Chinese food for dinner. To begin the meal, everyone had a spring roll. In the States, spring rolls are roughly the length of a pen (about 4”) and about an inch in diameter. In Amsterdam, the spring roll is about 7” long and about three inches round. Filled with fresh cabbage and veggies, the roll on its own was quite filling! I was nearly full after eating just that.

    The table was covered with containers of food: pork with a sweet sauce, chicken with veggies and noodles, egg dish with chicken and vegetables, sticky rice, and rice with vegetables. All of which was amazing! The food, in comparison to the US, is more fresh and less greasy. Even the spring roll didn’t show any signs of greasy texture on the outside. Each dish was fantastic and was average in pricing. J

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  • bartmcgee's Profile Photo

    Two Euros on the tram will save tons of groceries

    by bartmcgee Updated Jul 26, 2009

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    When we first arrived in Amsterdam in Rembrantplein (staying in the Schiller hotel for two weeks...another tip on that one to follow..) we found a HEMA food store and besides it was an OKTOGO store where we got our groceries and brought them back to the hotel.
    We found everything to be a bit pricey but it was convienient and we just thought maybe it was hiked up a few cents or so...

    After we moved out of centraal area and into an urban area we went shopping at the local 'DIRK' supermarket only to find that little salad we bought in Rembrantplein for £3 eUROS was £1 euro here...what a difference in everything!!!! Take my word for it , its worth spending 2 euros 60 cents to go outside the Centraal area to grocery shop...you'll save hundreds over a two week period.

    Dirk is a mid range grocery store open usually till 10 pm, the food is good quality and plenty of specials you can even pick up items like BBQ briquttes for the park and such. OKTOGO is a limited express store that imo , is a complete rip off that doesnt get you into a heart of the Dutch cuisine which I find to be one of the best in the world.

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  • walking in th ecity

    by Robin020 Written May 12, 2009

    Amsterdam is a lovely city to have a have walk in , but bear in mind that Amsterdam is a biking city ,so when you walk or cross the streets watch out of the bikes .Actually be aware of bikes more than being aware of the cars or public transportation .

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    Just some interesting facts

    by malianrob Updated Nov 25, 2008

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    The legal smoking age in the Netherlands is 16
    Voting age is 18
    Driving age is 18
    Drinking age is 16 for beer or wine
    Drinking age for hard liquor is 18
    Pot smoking age is 18

    Holidays are:
    January 1 new years day
    April30 Queens Day
    May 4 Commemoration Day
    May 5 Liberation Day
    December 5th Saint Nicholas Day
    December 25th Christmas Day
    December 26th 2nd Christmas Day

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    Free lunchtime concert at the Concertgebouw

    by yooperprof Written Aug 27, 2008

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    Okay, it's really an "open rehearsal" and not a complete concert - but you can't beat the price!

    The Concertgebouw is one of the world's great orchestra's, playing in one of Europe's great (and acoustically magnificent) concert halls, so I couldn't miss the chance of coming to see a final rehearsal for one of the band's evening concerts. The musicians and the conductor (Ivan Fisher) were dressed informally, but they were serious in their music-making. They played two movements of Arnold Schoenberg's transcription of the Brahms' Piano Quartet, and it was fascinating to hear the conductor's occasional comments and corrections.

    Check out the website for the Concertgebouw's schedule - both the orchestra and the hall! If you come to the free lunchtime concert, be sure to arrive early so you can snag a good seat. I recommend the balcony!

    Orchestra rehearsal
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    by DAO Updated Jul 19, 2008

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    The authorities in Amsterdam need to makeup their minds. I have walked around the Red Light District a hundred times. What do I see? Get your He-Man videos here. Then there are gay men escorts. Also gay bars with mostly men dating men. On top of that are prostitutes who are women on top and all man on the bottom and even ‘shake their thing’ at you as you walk by. Then you see this sign in the street.

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  • betako3's Profile Photo

    They like cats

    by betako3 Updated Aug 19, 2007

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    I'm a cat lover and I like animals in general. So I was pleasantly surprised that the hostel where I was staying had its own cute pet - a big, red cat, whose name I can't remember now. He didn't belong to anyone in particular, it was he who chose the hostel, where he evidently felt quite at home. And all the staff loved him, he had his own bowls and a supply of cat's food in the kitchen, you could see him frequently dozing on a stool in the bar, where he could always count on free milk. He wasn't very playful but he didn't mind being stroked by strangers. He really was a star and a great attraction of the hostel.
    The second proof I have that the Dutch love cats is the Amsterdam cats' museum. Just imagine, a whole museum devoted to cats!
    Finally, look at the ad I saw somewhere in the street. I couldn't resist and took a photo. Although the quality is lousy I attach it here along with the picture of the hostel star.

    The star dozing at the bar ....asking for free milk the ad in the street

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    by rita_simoes Updated Jun 25, 2007

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    If you are a coffee addicted like me, you will suffer in Holland!! Dutch 'espresso', although smaller and stronger, sucks! In adition to the fact that it costed 3 times more than in my country, I was never satisfied with it (though the little biscuits that come with it are pretty yummy!).

    Only in the last day did I learn a golden rule: if you want to drink a decent coffee, search for a place that sells italian coffee- or something like italian coffee. Then, MAYBE you will be served something that doesn't taste like boiled water with coffee flavour.

    my last and best coffee in the Netherlands

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  • stevemt's Profile Photo

    Be Prepared for the unexpected.

    by stevemt Updated Apr 28, 2007

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    When in Amsterdam, I decided 1 free night to go to an Organ concert given at Niewer Kirk

    They have 2 organs there, 1 a small one in a trancept, and the main one in the body of the church.

    The concert started with the chamber organ and then moved to the bigger organ, with the audience moving seats.

    The concert was superb, but so was the audience, which included about 1 dozen men in full leather gear (and I mean full, nothing was left to the imagination,) obviously going to the local leather bar after the concert.

    The locals in the audience obviously had seen this before, but for any visitors it was a bit unusual to say the least. At least it was great to see that the mix of people in amsterdam is very well tolerated.

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  • pecsihornet's Profile Photo

    Surinamese cuisine

    by pecsihornet Updated Feb 11, 2007

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    In Amsterdam you can find several Surinamese restaurants as Suriname was Dutch colony in the Carribbean. The Surinamese cuisine is very special and it is characterised by its spices and simplicity. One of the most popular dishes is pom, a casserole of chicken and vegetables covered with a puree of tajer. Another dish is roti, a mixture of vegetables and chicken or meat served with a hearty pancake. You eat this without cutlery by using pancake pieces to scoop up the food.
    You can find cheap and great Surinamese restaurants in the Cuypmarkt.

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  • wiwbulletproof's Profile Photo

    Be Friendly! (It's appreciated and rewarded)

    by wiwbulletproof Written Feb 1, 2007

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    It seems not only is friendliness invited, it's rewarded in Amsterdam.

    In booking a hotel room one night, we started up a conversation with the receptionist and were told the room was 100 Euro. We looked at the room, and decided it was a go. As we were moving our luggage, we noticed another couple looking to stay there who seemed a bit upset and stressed out. They were fairly rude and demanding. They got the same size room as we did for 150 Euro. My fiancee and I noticed a sign by the receptionist stand that said "Prices of your rooms may vary depending on your Attitude."

    Also, as we stayed in Amsterdam for 9 days, we found a few places we enjoyed eating...and ended up eating at them fairly frequently. By the last day, we were paying significantly less than the first day for the same food! It pays to be nice! (And there's no reason not to, everyone is incredibly cordial in Amsterdam)

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Amsterdam Local Customs

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Queensday and Sinterklaas are typical Dutch events that locals celebrated and you are invited to join. A local Amsterdam event is the Gay Parade. And we ride bicycles, eat herring and speak Dutch...
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