Myths and Facts on Amsterdam - Important Amsterdam Information for Visitors

Looking for facts on Amsterdam? Everyone has an opinion of a city as famous for its liberal policies as this one is, but this resulted in many myths, too.

With all these opinions and 'factoids' floating about it can be hard to know what to believe.

This page tries to provide some clarity.

Also have a look at our pages with fun Amsterdam facts and practical Amsterdam information.

Some Myths Debunked

Despite what many people think, Amsterdam is more than just drugs and prostitution. The city itself is made up of gorgeous old buildings, some dating from the 17th Century or even earlier, and all flanking some of the most picturesque canals in Europe. Amsterdam is also one of Europe's premiere diamond trading centers and an international travel hub of no small importance.

One of the most misunderstood facts on Amsterdam has to do with its liberal weed policies. Every few years there is a new scare, and a constant worry, that the coffee shops will be shut down. Lay your mind to rest; Amsterdam's cannabis shops are not closing anytime soon.

While coffee shops aren't going anywhere, Amsterdam is by no means wreathed in a constant cloud of marihuana smoke. Regardless of what many people think, you can't smoke weed everywhere in the city. You can smoke in coffee shops and in the privacy of your own appartment. But most bar, hotel and restaurant owners take a dim view indeed of tourists sparking up on their premises. And if you smoke cannabis in public and you draw the attention of police, you may get a hefty fine for doing so. Amsterdam is a very liberal but also very ordered city, and all 'freedoms' are cleary confined to their own sphere.

There are some not so fun facts on Amsterdam, too. The city may have a reputation for hedonism, but it's far from an all-night party city. Closing times in Amsterdam are much earlier than many visitors might be used to. Expect to be politely asked to finish up in bars by 1am during the week or 3am on weekends.

And yes, we put mayonnaise and satay sauce on french fries. But hey, until you've tried it, don't knock it!

We are dissecting more myths about Amsterdam and Holland here.

Breakdown of the City

The facts on Amsterdam are more than just the myths that aren't true. Here we present a quick breakdown of the city's different areas and centers of interest.

Areas of Interest

Centraal Station, where most people arrive in Amsterdam from Schiphol airport, is located at north end of the city centre, known as Centrum. Behind the station, and across the river, is Amsterdam Noord, a mostly residential area with some nice parks and forests. Camping Vliegenbos can be found here and is a good solution for low cost accommodation close the Centrum during nice weather.

One of the facts on Amsterdam that a lot of people are aware of is the central ring of canals that holds the city centre. Most coffeeshops, clubs and museums, and hotels can be found here. Prices are often more expensive in the Centrum than in the outlying areas.

The Jordaan is an artistic are full of art galleries and trendy cafes located just west of the city centre. Here you can experience the less touristy side of Amsterdam while searching through flea markets like the one at Noordermarkt. The famous Anne Frank House can also be found here at Prinsengracht 267.

Red Lights and Nightlife

The infamous Red Light District is in the eastern part of Centrum, stretching from Warmoesstraat to Nieuwmarkt. If you're more interested in the 'facts of life' than the facts on Amsterdam, most windows, sex shows etc. are located here, as well as more traditional sights, such as the Oudekerk. Amsterdam's more adult entertainment can also be found in other parts of the city, such as the top of Spuistraat, traditionally catering to this sort of thing.

Rembrantplein and Leidseplein are the main concentrations of nightspots. On Leidseplein one can find a wide variety of bars and cafes, while clubs for strutting your stuff tend to be close to Rembrantplein. Melkweg and Paradiso are notable exceptions, music venues located close to Leidseplein that offer club nights as well as concerts from world famous bands.


Museumplein holds a lot of Amsterdam's museums, but not all. While you can visit the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum here, for the Tropenmuseum a person will have to venture outside the city centre to Linnaeusstraat 2, close to the Artis zoo and the Botanical Gardens.

Smaller museums like the Torture Museum, at Singel 449, and the Amsterdam Historical Museum, with it's own facts on Amsterdam, located at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 373, are dotted through the city centre.

Related Pages: