It’s hard to avoid the cliches about Amsterdam. Reading the experiences of other bloggers provides a mixed perspective. The highly touristed areas such as the red light district and the Dam, Ann Frank house queues, paddle boats, group beer bicycles, speedy 1 hour canal cruises, all of which are uncomfortably overcrowded during summer. Then there are the coffee shops (the smell tells you that it’s not really there to sell you coffee) and the tacky souvenir shops. Stories of junkies, drug use, drunken groups (hens nights/ stag nights/ foreign hooligans etc.) doesn’t really inspire a traveller to visit.
There are also some great blogs- people living in Amsterdam and exploring it’s delights minus the cliches. Search for these.
Like any visit to a foreign city, just ticking the boxes to a list of supposed must-see attractions is such a poor way of getting to know the place.
I like the idea of walking/ strolling/ cycling through a variety of districts to get a better feel for the city. Amsterdam is perfect for this.
Also take the time to stop and sit – in a cafe, on the edge of a canal, on a park bench, on the grass, in a bar and let the scenery pass you by. I have also found that looking up and looking down provides some great perspectives, usually with some surprises.