'Weed Dating' & Trash Picking: The New Tourist Guide to Amsterdam

©. Untourist Guide (used with permission)

The city hopes to combat overtourism by getting visitors off the beaten track and doing more useful things.

The city of Amsterdam has chosen an interesting way to combat overtourism, which is the problem of having too many visitors to specific destinations. It has launched a website called the Untourist Guide to Amsterdam, which encourages visitors to get off the beaten track and try different activities in lesser known neighborhoods.

The guide has a list of experiences, some of which caught this green-minded writer's eye. One is 'From Trash to Treasure,' where visitors spend a couple hours at the Upcycle Store and learn how to transform waste materials into a souvenir. (Just know how you're going to transport it home!)

Amsterdam's upcycle store

© Untourist Guide (used with permission)

Another experience is 'Weed Dating' (no, not that that kind of weed), where you spend three hours pulling literal weeds at an urban orchard and, ideally, making friends with the person crouched across from you. It's promoted as "the most unpretentious way to meet new people," guided by hosts' questions to encourage discussion. The outing includes a bike ride to the outskirts of the city and an apple pie and coffee break.

A visit to the WasteBoard bakery – a place where skateboards are 'baked' from plastic bottle caps on the spot – is another interesting way to spend the day. You could also fish for plastic trash in the canals, joining a Plastic Whale tour.

'Wed & Walk' was the first Untourist experience that caught my eye, although it doesn't have as much of a green angle. It matches solo travellers with a local Amsterdammer, who then participate in a mock wedding ceremony and spend a 'honeymoon' day wandering around the city. Again, the goal is to "explore hidden spots of Amsterdam that are unknown to other visitors," while raising money for local charities. While I'm not sure why a fake wedding is required – I prefer to make friends and hang out with them when I travel alone – it's an amusing idea. (I can't help but wonder if it ever turns into an actual romantic connection, because there's a certain je ne sais quoi about attentive, attractive foreigners...)

Orchards of the West (Amsterdam)

© Untourist Guide (used with permission)

It is great to see cities like Amsterdam taking action to combat tourist congestion and get people out of densely packed areas. As more travellers seek out meaningful and 'local' experiences, these efforts are sure to please.