Somebody recently asked me for tips on things to do, lodging and food in Amsterdam since I was just there, so I figured I'd share it with the internet world. I was only there for about 3 days, so I'm definitely not a local or an Amsterdam aficionado. On the other hand, I did hang out with few kids who have lived, worked, and partied there their entire lives. So this is what I got from those conversations and my venture into the city:
1) Amsterdam is way bigger than you would think it would be from movies and pictures. If you're thinking about going to the Rijksmuseum, going to the Red Light District, and maybe Anne Frank's house all in the same day by foot, I recommend wearing sneakers because your feet will hate you.
2) Go day drinking at De Pijp! It's a cool area with a lot of hip restaurants and cafes to chill at during the day if you need a break from being a tourist. It's a good opportunity to make friends with locals during the day if you're the social type, like me.
3) The prostitutes at the red light district are kind of gross, no offense. I don't really feel the need to explain further. Also, don't take pictures because their pimps will yell at you!!
4) Some coffee shops don't have that many options for edibles, but they all have joints. The best one I went to was one called Feel Good Coffeeshop, because they had a whole menu of edibles separating them by intensity and the strain (sativa/indica). It's kind of scary walking into random ones because they're not all that nice. More like wooden tables and booths where everyone is just stoned and chilling. The BullDog is supposedly Amsterdam's first coffeeshop and it was one of the nicer ones I walked into and the staff was pretty cool looking and not creepy at all.
5) If you're the curious street food type, try out the herring at places like Frens Haringhandel. It's apparently a very traditional Dutch food and it's actually really good. It comes with either onions or pickles. It fills you up so you don't have to sit down and eat somewhere while walking around the city.
6) Get an Airbnb in the city, because trains are expensive pretty expensive. It's about $20 a person, which you could save to use on things like food, souvenirs, drinks, and museum tickets. I always find it best to go into a trip with minimal spending on transportation/lodging so that you have more to spend on fun. The Central train station is pretty cool and historic though.
7) At night time, go to Leidseplein. This neighborhood has some of the best clubs in the city, according to a 27 year old local. There is always something going on there and there are multiple bars and clubs to choose from. I'm assuming most of them are techno.
8) Take a canal cruise and learn a little about the history of the city. I'm usually the last person to recommend a tourist activity like this, but when you have so little time, this is a great way to see a lot within an hour. It takes you through a few of the canals and you have earphones that tell you facts as you pass by distinct buildings and areas of the city. For one, I learned that the buildings are a little tilted forward to prevent rain from collecting in the windows since it's such a a rainy city.
9) Definitely go to Amsterdam in the warmer times. Spring is nice because they have the tulip festival and summer is just cool in general because they have a ton of random festivals happening, as well. The weekend I went happened to be the one weekend that a big cold front came in right before the first day of spring. It was snowing, which is cute and all, but it's not the best for when you're trying to wander around a city.