Amsterdam has exploded as a tourist destination over the past decade. This puts major pressure on the cities natural and social environment.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city rich in culture and history. Odds are if you’re reding this, you want to be able to enjoy what Amsterdam has to offer, without contributing negatively to the city’s problem with mass tourism.
To be a responsible traveler is to be mindful of the impact made by the choice to visit a destination. This can be anything ranging from the environmental impact to the impact on the daily life of the local community.
By making these mindful choices, responsible travelers take steps to minimize the negative impacts and promote sustainable practices in tourism.
We have a few tips to help you plan your trip to Amsterdam in a responsible and respectful way
RESPECT THE HUSTLE
As much as Amsterdam is a “big city,” it is quite a small on a relative scale to similarly ranking cities. However, this city is DENSE. People here are on the move. Foot and bike traffic can get very congested in the streets. Shops and public transport can get hectic during the peak times. The best thing you can do as a visitor is to respect the fact that local Amsterdammers are on their hustle and don’t appreciate being held up on the sidewalks for photos or having their biking lane obstructed on their daily commute. Best thing you can do, is acknowledge the fact that the locals have things to do, people to see.. So take in your spatial awareness as much as possible
BIKE WITH CONVICTION
Are you 100% comfortable on a bike? Are you aware of the Dutch rules of the road? Can you keep up with the local flow of traffic?
If the answer to any of the above questions is no, you are best off not renting a bike on your own in the city center.
Booking a guided bike tour with a local company is a great way to get your Amsterdam cycling experience in areas where the dangers are mitigated and your likelihood of disturbing the local flow of traffic are minimized.
BE MINDFUL OF NOISE AND WASTE
Amsterdam likes to party; we all know that. But as mentioned earlier, Amsterdam is a dense city. Many residents live within small areas; therefore, noise pollution can effect a lot of people in a small vicinity. The more peaceful and quieter of an environment Amsterdam can preserve, the healthier the relationship between locals and visitors can be. The density also requires diligent waste management. Be mindful to dispose of all waste in appropriate containers to avoid rubbish ending up in the canals and residents’ gardens. Also, please do not litter cigarette butts on the streets! Also, plastic bags are not provided for free in the Netherlands! Be sure to bring your own reusable bags. The tap water is drinkable too, so bring your own bottle
BE A RESPECTFUL PHOTOGRAPHER
There is an eclectic charm about many things regarding life in Amsterdam. You may come across a lot of things you have never seen before. Asking for consent before photographing locals and making sure you’re not blocking the road when capturing scenery is imperative to being a responsible tourist. When it comes to the Red Light District… leave the camera in your bag.
Amsterdam is known for its liberal policies when it comes to many different substances. If you so choose to participate in these activities, make sure you’re purchasing from reputable/licensed businesses and behave within the parameters of the law. Many families visit and live within the city center, so be mindful of the space and company around you.
USE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Leave the car!! Having a car within the city ring of Amsterdam can be tricky, causes more traffic issues, and is overall unnecessary. Utilizing the public transport system is better for the environment, both natural and social. You can get everywhere with use of the busses, trams, and metros. Just be sure to buy the appropriate tickets and don’t free ride on the transport.
GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH
There is a lot that Amsterdam has to offer outside of the city center. So, no need to follow the crowds! Exploring further neighborhoods alleviates the congestion in the center and can help support other projects and businesses outside of the center. Try booking tours that are locally owned and operated that show you some unique areas of the city away from the tourist chaos! Try Hungry Birds Street Food tours for an educational and unique experience, discovering one of the less touristy neighborhoods of Amsterdam.
BE OPEN MINDED
You never know what you might come across in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is known as a progressive and inclusive city and the locals embrace this identity. Being open minded to the walks of life you may encounter in the city is part of what makes the Amsterdam experience so special. Behaving in a way that is free of judgement makes for the welcoming and judgement free environment that we all love about this city.
RESPECT SMALL BUSINESSES AND LOCAL VENDORS
Avoid patronizing the large franchise or chain shops and restaurants. Spend your time and money discovering businesses that are owned and operated by local people. This helps support the local economy and helps Amsterdam keep its charm and uniqueness. There are many multi-generational establishments in the city that require your support to keep them around!
Overall, being respectful is a crucial aspect of ensuring that our travels have a positive impact on the destinations we visit, while also being rewarding and fulfilling experiences for ourselves as travelers. By being mindful of our environmental impact, supporting local economies, and respecting local customs and cultures, we can promote sustainable tourism that benefits everyone involved.
In this article, we have provided some tips for being a responsible tourist in Amsterdam, including being mindful of noise levels, respecting local customs, and indulging in substances responsibly. These tips can help travellers enjoy all that Amsterdam has to offer while also promoting a positive and sustainable tourism industry.