8 Things That Are Normal In Amsterdam And Fascinating To Outsiders

Katherine Notman Katherine Notman - Staff Writer

8 Things That Are Normal In Amsterdam And Fascinating To Outsiders

Amsterdam’s got character!

It’s easy to forget how unique Amsterdam really is. Nowhere else in the world is quite like Amsterdam, and that’s why we love it so much. So many tourists visit every year to experience this outstanding city, but some of the things that are completely normal to Amsterdammers are not so normal to everybody else.

1. Eating from a FEBO automatiek


There’s nothing inherently strange about vending machine food, but FEBO food is a different thing altogether. You might find the odd cafe in London or New York selling hot food from behind a little glass door, but it’s definitely not the norm. That’s where Amsterdam differs because it’s totally normal here to grab a croquet or a burger from a FEBO vending machine and be on your merry way.

2. Free tulips in Dam Square


Everyone in Amsterdam knows that on National Tulip Day residents can saunter up to Dam Square and take 20 free tulips to bring the sunshine of tulip season into their own homes. Now, this is such a fantastic day, and although Amsterdammers are very much used to this lovely phenomenon, it’s astonishing to envious foreigners. There’s no free rose day in the UK!

3. Munching on a HEMA rookworst


You could be forgiven for thinking that every HEMA in the world might have a little metal stand full of these U-shaped sausages, but we’re here to tell you that this isn’t the case. Although HEMA may have spread its wings and opened stores in several different countries, it’s very much a Dutch thing to gobble a rookworst at HEMA.

4. Navigating the streets of Amsterdam with ease


For an outsider, coming to Amsterdam can be so confusing. The city is quite unique in that there are so many different, designated paths for different modes of transport. However, it’s not the trams, cars, or pedestrians that confuse the hell out of outsiders, it’s the cyclists who fearlessly and expertly navigate the streets whilst bewildered tourists wander into their paths.


5. Talking about sex work openly


In Amsterdam, it’s completely normal to have a frank and honest conversation about sex work. Now, setting aside any political debate here, just the mention of sex work in the newspapers can be quite eye-opening to those who don’t live in Amsterdam and the city is pretty unique in how freely it talks about sex work.

6.  The wonky, narrow houses


The city is balanced on 11 million wooden poles. 11 million! The city is actually built on clay, so those wooden poles are needed to stop the city from sinking. In fact, a large portion of the Netherlands sits just a few feet above water level, and that fact alone is mind-blowing to lots of people.

7. The wild parakeets


In lots of European capitals, like London and Madrid, there are wild parakeets. However, in Amsterdam there are over 4000 rose-ringed parakeets, and if you’ve ever seen a beautiful flash of green in Vondelpark. accompanied by a loud, squawking noise, it was probably a wild parakeet. It’s crazy to think that these birds can survive the temperamental, and often cold Amsterdam weather.

8. Eating hagelslag on toast

Freckle & Fair

Hagelslag on toast is a very Dutch thing. Nowhere else in the world is it normal to eat chocolate sprinkles on toast for breakfast, but in Amsterdam nobody will think you’re odd at all if you start your day off with a lovely sugary topping of hagelslag on your toast.

Read more: 10 Lovely Restaurants In Amsterdam With Beautiful Terraces

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