10 things you didn't know about Amsterdam

Published December 14th, 2012

Think you know all there is to know about Amsterdam? Think again. From beautiful canals to romantic bike rides and museums galore, the capital of the Netherlands is one of our favourite destinations to visit in Europe. With Amsterdam on our minds we decided to list 10 things you might not know about the city.


1.       It  has more museums than any city in the world

51 museums to be precise, which is the most in the world in regards to size ratio. Some of Amsterdam’s most notable museums include the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum. There’s even a museum at the city’s international airport.


2.       The population spans 175 nationalities

As of January this year, Amsterdam's population was recorded to be made up of 50.5% foreigners. As a result Amsterdam is incredibly multicultural, with the city’s culinary scene offering a wide variety of ethnic cuisine.


3.       Amsterdam is built entirely on poles

Because the city lies on muddy ground, Amsterdam’s buildings, bridges and light poles stand on wooden poles that prevent them from sinking into the foundations.




4.       The city’s stray cats live on boats

So prevalent are Amsterdam’s canals that the city has even set up a boat to house their stray cats. Called Poenzenboot, or The Cat Boat, the floating animal sanctuary is a refuge for stray and abandoned cats.


5.       It has more bicycles than people

At last count Amsterdam had 1 million bikes and only 700,000 residents. Each year it is estimated that 100,000 of those bikes are stolen and 25,000 end up in the canals.


6.        The coffeeshops don’t sell coffee

Amsterdam’s famous ‘coffeeshops’ are actually where you can go to legally purchase and smoke Marijuana. Other products with pot as an ingredient, such as brownies, are also sold there. But be warned, just because Marijuana is legal here doesn't mean other drugs are. Don’t test the law and don't green-out.


7.      It’s one of the safest cities in Europe

Despite the red light district and ‘coffeeshops’ Amsterdam is counted as one of the top 25 safest cities in the world.


8.       The airport is four metres below sea level

Like much of the city, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located below sea level. In fact, 20% of The Netherlands is located below sea level.


9.       They eat raw fish

One of Amsterdam’s favourite dishes is raw herring served with onions on top.


10.       Over 70% of the world’s bacon comes from the Netherlands

Not necessarily a fact about Amsterdam, but who doesn’t love bacon?



Lauren Burvill

Australian born but London based, I'm a sucker for big cities and small tropical islands. When travelling, I like eating like a local, dressing like a local, but staying in 5 star style. Have a travel story to share? Tweet me @laurenburvill.