In this what not to wear in Amsterdam guide we will round up everything that should be left at home for your visit to this beautiful Dutch city and what the best alternatives are to pack for Amsterdam in any season.
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How do People Dress in Amsterdam
The first thing I want to say in this what not to wear in Amsterdam guide is that there is really very little you can wear in Amsterdam that will cause offense or will be a problem.
The items listed in this guide have been included because either:
· They would be a safety hazard in a city like Amsterdam with its canals and cycling.
· They are impractical or
· Would make you stand out from how local people dress in Amsterdam
However that is not to say you definitely can’t. If you feel good and there won’t be a safety issue then do it.
And for specific weather, special events and dress code guidelines be sure to check out our monthly guides:
- What to wear in Amsterdam in January
- What to wear in Amsterdam in February
- What to wear in Amsterdam in March
- What to Wear in Amsterdam in April
- What to wear in Amsterdam in May
- What to wear in Amsterdam in June
- What to wear in Amsterdam in July
- What to wear in Amsterdam in August
- What to wear in Amsterdam in September
- What to Wear in Amsterdam in October
- What to wear in Amsterdam in November
- What to wear in Amsterdam in December
Stilettos and Thin Heels
But if you want to know what we as ex-Amsterdammers thing you should not pack for Amsterdam then read on.
What Not to Wear in Amsterdam
Although at home you may love a stiletto or a boot with a thin heel this is in my opinion a big no-no in Amsterdam. Why? Because of safety.
Amsterdam is a city full of beautiful cobbled streets. Cobbled streets and thin heels are a disaster waiting to happen.
If you want to wear shoes with heels we recommend going for something with a thicker heel so they won’t get caught in cobbles. Thick but smaller heels are also a more practical choice for cycling so you will see many locals wearing things like low heeled thick ankle boots.
Do yourself a favour and leave the thin heels at home and pack thicker ones in their place.
If I had to define Amsterdam style I would define it as three things
Everything about the Dutch to me is practical. Their clothing choices are the same. So unless you are going to an event that specifically requests that you wear formal wear I would leave yours at home.
Instead opt for more smart casual looks like the below.
I love a Maxi Skirt but not in the Netherlands. Why? Cycling.
If you plan on cycling on your visit to Amsterdam then leave long skirts at home. Long skirts can get caught very easily in your bicycle chain and can cause accidents.
A knee length skirt is much more practical for visiting Amsterdam.
Now it isn’t that short skirts aren’t worn in Amsterdam but again if you plan to cycle (which I definitely recommend you do – no trip to Amsterdam is complete without a cycle ride in my opinion), a short skirt can be uncomfortable to ride in.
Instead if you want to wear something shorter because you are visiting Amsterdam in summer opt for shorts or a short playsuit instead.
Amsterdam is a rainy city, Amsterdam in March is one the rainiest months but you can get rain on any day in Amsterdam. Even if you visit Amsterdam in April which is one of the drier months you are sure to encounter rain at least once on your trip.
Add to that all the canals and activities on the canals there are plenty of opportunities for your suede to be ruined.
If you have alternatives I would definitely leave the suede at home.
Again, it is not that you can’t wear bright colors but you will definitely stand out more as a tourist in bright colors. The Dutch tend to wear muted color schemes such as black, white and tan so bright colors do tend to stand out.
However the obvious exception is the Dutch and their love of Orange. If the football team is playing or you are visiting Amsterdam in April you will see a lot, A LOT of orange.
Kings Day is celebrated in Amsterdam in April where it is almost mandatory to wear orange.
Now I add sometimes to this. If your hotel has a swimming pool then by all means bring a swimming costume with you.
If you are visiting Amsterdam in the summer and are planning on adding a trip to one of the nearby beaches to your Amsterdam itinerary then again feel free to bring swimwear.
But if these two things are not part of your Amsterdam plans then be sure to leave the swimwear at home.
While you may see locals diving off bridges into the canals this is not safe. The canals are full of debris for instance the canals are littered with bicycles that add hazards and obstructions to your swim. Please do not be tempted to do this.
And while there are other wild swim locations in Amsterdam for instance the River Amstel or the lake in the Amsterdamse Bos it is not a good idea. The Amstel in particular is a high traffic waterway and should not be done by tourists.
Therefore I recommend unless you have a hotel with a pool in Amsterdam or are heading to the beach leaving the swimwear at home.
While clogs may be a traditional item of clothes the Dutch do not tend to wear these in Amsterdam.
Clogs are uncomfortable and definitely aren’t worn in cities. People may wear them in more rural areas while quickly nipping outside into the garden but they will not be seen in Amsterdam.
Clogs are definitely on the what not to wear in Amsterdam list.
What not to pack for Amsterdam (Non Clothing)
A Flimsy Umbrella
Amsterdam gets a lot of rain and can be a pretty windy city being close to the sea. A flimsy umbrella will not be your friend in Amsterdam.
Take it from me who has had an umbrella broken in Amsterdam make sure you bring a sturdy umbrella with you.
Now I always say travel with at least one credit card but if you are traveling to Amsterdam be sure to pack a payment method other than just a credit card.
May shops in Amsterdam including big supermarkets like Albert Heijn do not accept certain credit cards. I found this out to my embarrassment the first day we moved to Amsterdam trying to pay for a cart load of shopping. Be sure oyu have some cash and also a debit card with you also.
While Amsterdam does have brown cafes do leave you smoking paraphernalia at home. This can get you in trouble in lots of places around the world so it is best never to travel with it.
Much to many travel bloggers chagrin drones are completely banned from flying in Amsterdam.
It is a waste of time to pack a drone for Amsterdam so be sure to leave this at home and just bring your regular cameras.
FAQs About what to wear to Amsterdam
Can I wear heels in Amsterdam?
In answer to can I wear heels in Amsterdam the answer is that you certaintly can but there are a few provisos.
Amsterdam is a city full of cobbles so thin heels are a big no no and can be quite dangerous.
Also you want find locals wearing very high and thin heels because a most people cycle and you can’t cycle in high heels and secondly the Dutch `re naturally tall so don’t feel the need to wear very high heels.
Have you been to Amsterdam? What would you add to the what not to wear in Amsterdam guide? What would you leave at home next time