The first type is the tourist, who went there with one, maximum two ideas in mind (of course one of them is to see the canals, what did you think?). The second type is the tourist, who on day three developed an incredible intolerance towards the first type, and is not really looking forward to returning any time soon.
It is very unfortunate that this beautiful city attracts too many tourists for very wrong reasons.
So, I decided to go on a quest. I wanted to see what possibilities there are to explore the city in a mindful, green and sustainable way.
Some of the ideas I got from the incredible “Untourist Guide to Amsterdam“. There are some suggestions in it, truly hilarious ones, but I will tell you only about the “green” ones.
I added some extra ideas, just to give you an inspiration.
So, let’s start.
Be a true Superhero on a bike.
There is nothing quite like the experience of riding a bike in the City of Bikes. You will have the ultimate priority and unlimited powers to reach places in no time. Even pedestrians have to move out of your way.
The bike lane network is incredible, the traffic lights are designed to aid cyclists (in most parts), and once you get the hang of it all, it is the best thing you can do.
It is funny how when you walk, the guys on bikes speeding next to you kind of annoy you. However, as soon as you get on the bike, you start feeling invincible. You start to look with pity at people walking, because really they don’t know what they are missing. The only time when you might not feel like a superhero is when a 70+ years old lady, on a bike, overtakes you with an incredible speed. By the time you realize her bike is electric, your ego is demolished. You have to keep it real after all.
Go get a skateboard made from plastic bottles.
I understand that cycling might not be for everyone. However, this should not limit your options when it comes to green and sustainable mode of transport. Meet the WasteBoards. These are skateboards made of caps from plastic bottles. The boards are super cool, very unique, very local and definitely a must-have if you are a fan.
Actually, Amsterdam has some really nice skate boarding parks. If this is your thing, take your WasteBoard there. You will love it!
Go weed dating
Warning. I’m not talking about some kind of psychedelic weed. Here I am talking about an actual weed picking from an urban farm. Honestly, I find this a super fun and unpretentious thing to do. I am sure if you ask someone on such date, they will remember it for a very long time.
It is actually promoted as a great way to pick up dates. You go along and while you are pulling out some unwanted plants from the muddy soil, you get to chat with the charming stranger opposite you.
When you are done weeding, you get to have a coffee and a traditional apple pie, if you are lucky, in the company you were hoping for.
But yes, regardless of whether your dating experience was successful or not, it is a super fun and very nature-friendly activity.
Go plastic fishing on the canals
Run by the Plastic Whale initiative, plastic fishing is a very popular and fun activity. The idea is to clean up the canals from plastic, do some sports (some people call fishing a sport, really), have some laughs with people you do or you do not know, and enjoy a boat ride in the mean time.
The plastic that is collected during the activity is then turned into furniture and more boats like the ones you would be sailing on.
Make your own zero waste souvenir
‘From trash to treasure’ is another workshop you can attend at the Upcycle Store. There are plenty of waste materials , which you can turn into the best and greenest souvenir. Move over fridge magnets.
Take a former refugee boat on the canals
Amsterdam is notorious for its canals. There is no way that anyone visits the city and does not get on one of the guided boats for a quick tour. But how about you do it slightly differently? Lampedusa is a unique boat tour along the canals. What makes it special is that the boats are former refugee boats, and your guide is in fact a refugee.
Great initiative! I love it when I see that people, who had to leave their homes, are able to make it and make a difference no matter where they end up.
Explore the zero waste restaurants
They are just so many of them. I have tried only a few, but my most favorite is definitely Instock Amsterdam. They use unsold produce from local supermarkets and turn it into surprising and super delicious meals. Definitely a must visit for lunch.
Explore the green culture with a local- marry an Amsterdamer for a day.
OK, this I did not do, although I am very sure that I would have gotten the best local green tips.
There are more and more people in Amsterdam, who embrace mindful and healthy lifestyle. Cafes with healthy food, many open green spaces, hidden gems and local markets. It is incredible how fast this trend is growing. Without having the local knowledge it is almost impossible to know it all, and know what is best.
Now, I don’t think it is necessary to marry the local, but I do think it would be great if you could find one to take you around. I did something like this in Osaka earlier this year. The service was called “explore the city with a local friend”. I think it was the best thing I could have done.
These are the top tips from me. I hope you get to test a few of them next time you visit the beautiful Dutch capital. Post your tips to sustainable tourism in the comments. I would love to hear about your experiences and sustainable travel habits.
Image (C) Untouristguide