It seems that wherever you look, you can only see glowing reviews about Amsterdam, singing its food, art, shopping and architectural praises. But in reality, I believe that Amsterdam is overrated – and in this article I will share with you the main reasons why.
I don’t really know if this is really the case, but it does seem like the most hyped attractions out there manage to disappoint me. This also happened with another praised destination that I had high hopes with, only to consider it meh at best. I am talking about Prague and I wrote here why I think it’s overrated as well.
But back to Amsterdam and its disappointed, as I was walking down its streets, I kept thinking about the glowing reviews and articles about it that I had read online.
I was never really able to validate them with my experiences. I wanted to love it, but just wasn’t able to find my way there. Somehow it’s gotten a reputation it doesn’t deserve… or at least this is how I feel after visiting the place.
Maybe you need more time with it, maybe the first few days are not enough for you to get a clear image about a place… but I usually follow my gut and instincts and there are countless cities that I fall in love with instantly.
But today I will tell you why Amsterdam is not one of them. Here are the top reasons why I think Amsterdam is overrated:
1. It’s dirty and nondescript
The streets are littered (and I’m from Romania!) and the city lacks a defining character.
On the canal tour, which is easily the city’s highlight attraction, I kept anticipating the architectural charm you see in postcards to open up with every turn through the water, but it never really materialized.
Even the most affluent residences were devoid of the ornate distinction you’d expect – and I do blame us bloggers for that. We tend to present a reality that’s completely different from the real thing.
And the waters themselves were dirty too: plastic bottles, cigarette butts and general litter. I was surprised to see that and even though I guess that part of the blame is to be put on tourists, not locals… it’s still not a pleasant sight.
Yes, parts of the city are beautiful and postcard-perfect, but don’t expect all of it to be like that!
2. Can’t get a good meal
There’s no diversity in the menu from one place to another. Moules frites, chicken frites and steak frites rule Amsterdam’s culinary world, which wouldn’t be so bad if the meats were properly cooked and the dishes not so bland.
Even their prized frites, a huge paper cone packed with French fries purchased from kiosk type shops along the main streets, are overrated. Despite the novelty of being able to choose from among 30 toppings, the fries are undercooked and, in the end, they’re still fries if you know what I mean!
3. No wine
Perhaps this complaint is fueled by the fact that I’m a wine lover, but there are no wine bars and the selection at restaurants leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s definitely a beer town, which I appreciated at a pub or two, but a nice glass of wine at dinner was difficult to be had. A lack of importing from neighboring countries speaks volumes.
4. Vacant eyes
The coffee shops must have an influence on all the locals, even those who don’t frequent them, because there’s an overwhelming amount of blankness in their glances.
Coming from an admittedly type A personality, the folks in Amsterdam are a truly laid back lot. Maybe their lifespan bares it out, I don’t know the stats, but it makes you wonder.
Of course, this will definitely not be a con for everybody. Laid back is not automatically a bad thing and I truly appreciate a relaxed state over your regular (and extremely tiring) overexcited persona, but here I thought it was taken to the extreme.
5. Biker caution
If you’re only visiting for a day or two, forget what you’ve heard about biking being a quaint way to get around!
This is a serious mode of transportation for the residents and it’s not for the faint of heart visitor (also refer to point #4).
On the canal tour we learned the fun fact that one car a week drives over the bridge, railing into the canal. I shutter at the thought of the bike stats… especially since I am such a poor bike driver. Hopefully things will change fast though.
6. It’s crazy expensive
Nobody says: “Go to Amsterdam because it’s so cheap!” That is indeed true. But still… the prices you have to pay there are absolutely insane and they seem to be going higher and higher each year.
The cheapest hostels cost as much as 4 or even 5-star rooms do in cheaper countries (even in Europe), while Airbnb rentals are crazy expensive too.
We were looking at a monthly rental before deciding against that: the average price for the time we checked (in July, which is probably the most expensive time of the year to visit Amsterdam) were of around 9,000 Euros. Per month. For a regular apartment. That’s crazy!
Fortunately, the prices of the food and drinks in the city are not as overpriced as accommodation prices are, but you’ll still end up paying a lot more at the end of the day. Or the month, if you afford it, you king (or queen)!
7. It rains all the time
If you don’t like cold weather and especially rain… don’t go to Amsterdam. It’s as easy as that, and I wish I did more research about the weather before going there.
The weather was miserable and it appears that this is how it usually is: you should always carry an umbrella “just in case”.
And, to make things worse, it’s not that refreshing, quick shower that you enjoy during a hot summer’s day. No, we’re talking about cold rain during colder days that make you feel generally miserable.
8. Not just prices are so high…
I think I know (and we all know) why everybody in Amsterdam is so laid back and relaxed. And if you don’t, the smell on the streets will tell you why.
Marijuana is tolerated (although not legal as many believe) and therefore all tourists (and probably locals as well) are just taking advantage of this as much as they can.
Seeds, cigarettes, brownies… there are tons of options out there and everybody seems to be high. Which is interesting and intriguing at first… but if you’re traveling with a young kid, not so much.
So this is again one thing that can be a Pro for the right audience, but in my case, it’s a con.
9. The crowds take away all the fun
When a place is as popular as Amsterdam, you know that you’re going to see a ton of tourists there. This means that you will have huge crowds everywhere and especially where the main attractions are.
As a result, it’s more difficult to enjoy the beauty of the things and experiences Amsterdam has to offer. I don’t like crowds, even though I am – ultimately – part of them.
Now don’t get me wrong: I did not hate Amsterdam by any means. It’s not a place that I wouldn’t visit again and, apart from the delicious cheese, it still has a ton of other things to make you happy. And I’m not only talking about those that your spouse or parents wouldn’t be happy about…
What I feel, though, is that the city is over-hyped. Overrated. It has been put by so many people in such a glowing light that it’s simply doomed to live up to the expectations.
And even though that happens, the prices continue to go up, making it less and less affordable. I believe that this will actually make it even more attractive to other people: if it’s expensive, it has to be good, right?
Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Amsterdam has its advantages, Amsterdam has its charm and personality and nice set of things to offer to all types of travelers, but it’s also overrated.
I realize it’s each traveler to him or her self, but I’m just not seeing it. But what do you think? Have you been to Amsterdam? Are you sharing my views or you liked it much better than I did?