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Top 5 Scenic Drives in Scotland

The best way to enjoy Scotland’s spectacular scenery and winding roads is in a car. These are our picks for the top 5 scenic drives in Scotland.

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Scenic drive in Scotland Glencoe

If you want to experience Scotlands spectacular scenery then choosing one of, or all of, our top 5 scenic drives in Scotland is the way to do it. We often jump in a car and head away from Edinburgh for a long weekend.

Whether it is north through the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Skye or west to the rugged Atlantic coastline there is so much to see. Ruined castles, jagged mountainsides and empty fields as far as the eye can see will greet you on your travels.

And with very little traffic you won’t feel any pressure from other motorists and can take it all in at a slow pace.

So grab a coffee, some roadside picnic goodies, hire a car in the UK and get started on the top 5 scenic drives in Scotland. You might even get lucky and see one of these cute wee Highland Cows

Cute Highland Cow pictures

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland


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Glasgow to Oban

While driving in Glasgow is nothing to write home about, the scenery to the northwest is. Head north along the A82 towards Loch Lomond. This should also be the first stop on your journey.

There are plenty of roadside bays for taking pictures and admiring the views at the foothills of the Scottish Highlands. And it is around here that you will enter Loch Lomond and the Trossochs National Park. There are lots of mountain biking and hiking trails running through these hills so take your time!

After buggering yourself from your adventures, continue north before turning west onto the A85. Slicing through the rugged terrain this winding road will eventually spit you out onto the coastal roads above Oban. One of our favourite towns in the whole of Scotland.

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

Edinburgh to Berwick-Upon-Tweed


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The coastal route between Edinburgh and the northeast of England can be very dull and dreary if you stick to the A1. Instead of driving in straight-lines why not get off the main road and duck and dive between the cutest villages overlooking the North Sea.

While considerably longer, it is a lot more fun and beautiful.

Get out of Edinburgh towards Musselburgh via the A199 or A1. What you are looking for is the much more scenic A198 which will deliver you through Dirleton and on past North Berwick. The best sights along the way are two of the finest Castles in Scotland, Dirleton Castle and Tantallon Castle.

Both castle are mostly in ruins but are open to visitors.

Jump back on the A1 for a short blast before diving off onto the A1107 towards Eyemouth. The perfect place to stop for your lunch overlooking a very cute coastal village and rocky shoreline. And from here it’s not far to the border of England and Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

Isle of Skye


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While we have shown a circular route for the Isle of Skye, there is really no wrong or right route here. All of the Isle of Skye is fantastic to drive around.

If you have a few days to spend in the Isle of Skye, which you should definitely make time for, then our only recommendations are to keep your driving distances short and get out of the car.

There are so many hiking trails around the Isle of Skye, like the Fairy Pools below, that will keep you busy for most of your visit.

Top 5 scenic drives in Scotland

Isle of Arran


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The Isle of Arran has some of the best mountain biking trails in the whole of Scotland. It is just a little harder to get to than some of the other spots around. Crossing over the Firth of Clyde on the ferry is the only option and you really do want a car to explore the coastal route.

Disembarking the ferry head south on the A841 (one of the only roads on the Isle of Arran) and spend the evening around Whiting Bay. There are lots of Bed and Breakfasts to choose from along the shoreline. The breakfasts will also fuel you for an epic day of exploring the coastal road that circumnavigates the Isle of Arran.

Make sure you stop near the ruins of Kildonan Castle to visit the seal colony. As well as take a hike out to the King’s Cave where Sir Robert the Bruce is rumoured to have hid out. Access is from the A841 near Blackwaterfoot via a coastal path.

Scottish Highlands

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One of the most scenic drives in Scotland has to be through the Scottish Highlands. Dramatic mountain ranges are split by narrow winding roads running next to shimmering lochs. There is not even any point in suggesting a route through the Scottish Highlands as there are so many excellent options.

Just make sure you don’t skip stopping for morning cake and coffee in Callander or driving through Glencoe.

Scenic drive in Scotland Glencoe

Would love to hear your suggestions for top 5 scenic drives in Scotland!

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Laurence

    August 31, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Wow, some seriously thorough routes, great work guys. It’s weird that I lived up in Newcastle for so long and never really spent much time up in Scotland. I’m going to blame the fickle weather I think. Great resource post if I do make it though!

  2. Evan McDonald

    August 31, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    Wow, these are some great drives (we did a few during our vacation in Scotland). I love the high quality pictures, especially of the highland cow calf!

  3. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    August 31, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Such a great round up! We did the Glasgow to Oban and up through the Highlands once a few years ago (thanks to 10GBP return flights to Glasgow from London). What an amazing time. No matter where we are in the world, we see a beautiful setting (usually green, mountainous, etc) and we say to each other, hey this looks like Scotland! One of the most beautiful places in the world!

  4. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    September 1, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    Most. Adorable. Cow. Ever. And the road trips look pretty cool too…

  5. Gina

    September 1, 2012 at 5:37 AM

    I looooved seeing the Highland Cows when I was in Scotland, but I never saw a baby one!!! That picture is so cute I can’t stand it.

  6. Turtle

    September 2, 2012 at 8:20 PM

    They all sound like great drives… but, more importantly, the cow!! How cute!

  7. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 3, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Great drive…this sort of trip through Scotland is on our bucket list. Of course, I’ll have the golf clubs in tow:)

  8. EurotripTips

    September 3, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    I remember taking the train from York to Edinburgh, and while it wasn’t exactly a road trip, the view were absolutely stunning. I’m guessing it’s even better by car so you can stop anytime you want for photos!

  9. Angela

    September 3, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    Beautiful pictures, the first one is spectacular 😉

  10. Ali

    September 3, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    These all look really great! I’d love to visit Scotland, and a scenic drive sounds like the perfect thing. Although I’m not sure how I’d handle driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road!

  11. Lillie - @WorldLillie

    September 6, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    Oh my gosh… That animal!!!!!

  12. emma@greenglobaltravel

    September 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    These are some really great ideas for routes guys, thanks so much for sharing! The picture of the cow is just beyond cute too!

  13. Vicky

    September 7, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Lovely pictures and great ideas for scenic drives.

    Vicky

    Celebrating the Great British Coastline

  14. Jeremy Branham

    September 7, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    Very envious of this! I love Scotland! I’ve gone to the Scottish festival here the last couple of years and it’s made me want to go visit even more. It’s probably the top destination on my list. This post made me want to go even more now!

  15. Candice

    September 10, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    Great info! I highly recommend the Isle of Skye (as you do), it is so beautiful.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      We love getting away in to the Highlands. Isle of Skye is just a special place for us!

  16. Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog

    September 18, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    Aww…that’s an adorable cow! Great scenic places in Scotland. Love the Isle of Skye and Tantallon Castle.

  17. cheryl

    September 26, 2012 at 7:27 PM

    Ahhh, you make Scottland look stunning. I really really must visit there soon. Love the photo of the cow, so so much cuter than the average cow. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:34 PM

      Definitely come and visit Cheryl. I am sure we have space on our couch if you need it too!

  18. Michael @ Changes In Longitude

    October 6, 2012 at 3:25 AM

    Nice story. We went on a Scottish road trip this summer, Edinburgh to Glasgow, via the Isle of Skye and John O’Groats. Gorgeous country.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 6, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      Pity we didn’t get a chance to meet up Michael. Glad you enjoyed Scotland though. We love it here.

  19. sally

    October 25, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    We are planning a trip to UK for mid next year, with a week to be spent in Scotland. Do you think we can fit in all five suggested drives? Our time is a little flexible though at this stage. If not what should definitely not be missed?
    I want to incorporate at least one or two walks (say 2-4 hours) any suggestions of how to incorporate those?
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Sally

  20. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    November 7, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Scotland is high on our list for 2013. Thanks for the great tips!

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:51 AM

      You guys would love cruising the Highlands on a road trip Mary. Looks like we are heading away from Scotland though next year so we might miss you!

  21. Liz

    November 16, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Love these pics! I think it’s actually impossible to get a bad pic at Glencoe. Scotland is really amazing, and the people are so nice. A

  22. Shing @ The Culture Map

    November 16, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    OH MY!! I’ve just fallen madly in love with that baby cow! (and I’ve saved it on my desktop so this virtual love cannot by forgotten!)

    I guess Scotland looks okay too 😉

    • LEG13

      February 11, 2013 at 9:41 PM

      I’m going to Scotland in September 2013 and I’m bring that baby cow home with me! Thanks for great posts/itineraries. Cheers.

      • Cole Burmester

        February 12, 2013 at 8:18 AM

        Hahaha as long as you give it a haircut every now and then 😉

  23. David Estarita

    June 17, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    THANK YOU this was so useful in deciding our itinerary. While we were a bit constrained on time, we did this drive in approx. 4 days. It allowed time for on average three 2 hr. walks every couple of days. Strongly recommended!! Your country is stunning, i had heard of it but seeing it with your own eyes is something else. I’m singing Scotland’s praises to everyone!!

    All the best, David & Samantha (Singapore)

    https://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&q=loch+lomond+shores&fb=1&hq=loch+lomond+shores&cid=0,0,11702133022089977535&ei=-jm_UbnDC4WtrAeg3oEQ&ved=0CIgBEPwSMAA

  24. Amanda

    July 6, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Wow, the calf! We’re taking your advice, will post photos on our blog once we’re done. Hopefully we get some shots as nice as yours:).

  25. Liz

    July 25, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    Road trips in Scotland are some of the best. We just fell in love with the place. Our favorite was driving in the highlands, specifically the Glencoe area. We can’t wait to go back!

    And…there are some Geocaches up in those hills! Great hiking off the beaten path to find them!

    Happy Travels!

    Liz & Josh

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:05 AM

      Lots and lots and lots of Geocaches spread out around Scotland 😉 Spent a lot of time hunting them down haha.

  26. Suzanne D

    October 29, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    Wow, these are some beautiful drives! I’m heading to Scotland this spring and wondering if you have a recommendation on the three main routes from Inverness to Durness (west via A835 through Ullapool and along the west coast, via A837 along River Oykel, or via A838 through Lairg)? A838 is the faster choice by a bit, but I’d love to hear if one is superior for beauty!

    Can’t wait to be there!
    Suz

    • Cole Burmester

      November 3, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      Hey Suzanne,
      Thanks for your comment 🙂 I would recommend going up the West Coast but I love the seaside and how Scotland meets the ocean there. Very rugged! Stay off the main roads (without getting lost) and you will love it.
      Cheers,
      Cole

  27. D.K.

    September 10, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    Can the Glasgow to Oban trip be a day trip from Glasgow? Or is it too far to get there and back within a day? Thanks.

  28. Janny Johnson

    February 23, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    I love the recommendations! Thank you. Our son is dong a university internship in the Scottish Parliament and we get to stay with them — so free lodging! We will be taking LOTS of day trips. We want ruins and villages. Not castle tours and typical tourist travel. Can you name a few villages that seem to be untouched, and castle ruins that we’d love? We have two weeks. We’ll visit Highlees mount in Ayrshire because that’s where my ancestors worked and lived until 1750 when they left for North America and ended up in Canada.

  29. Rekha Rajan

    October 22, 2015 at 1:47 PM

    Wow these are some amazing routes. Though i don’t drive, I am sure I will enjoy sitting on the passenger seat and looking out the window.

    Scotland is definitely happening soon.

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Europe

Amsterdam Food Guide

If you think of Amsterdam you don’t think of food. However if you try the food here in our Amsterdam food guide you might get lucky.

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Amsterdam Food Waffles

We are total foodies and our travelling has allowed our passion for food to grow considerably (not to mention our waist lines)!  We love trying new food when we visit foreign countries and always make a huge effort to eat the local cuisine. Check out some of the food we ate below in our cheap and delicious Amsterdam Food Guide.

Amsterdam Food Waffles

We had heard from a number of people that the Amsterdam food was nothing to rave about. To be honest food was not really our main interest in visiting but then again neither was an Amsterdam Peep show and we ended up enjoying that!

However we were pleasantly surprised. I think the people whom we had talked to had it wrong. Sure Holland doesn’t really have a local cuisine but once we got over this fact we realised there is still some damn good food to be had from the various Amsterdam Restaurants.

Amsterdam Food

The best meal we had was actually next door to the Red Light district in Chinatown. Crossing the canal to the east away from the neon lights your nostrils are attacked and your mouth begins salivating from the delicious smells wafting along the narrow cobbled streets.

As we walked into Bird Thai restaurant the enticing aroma hit us instantly leaving us drooling in anticipation. It was definitely up there with some of the best Thai food we have had. We went for the classic Green curry, fried rice and duck combo.

The Green curry was so flavoursome with the richness of the coconut milk blending perfectly with the traditional spices.  The duck was cooked to perfection and for the first few minutes of the meal all you could hear was the crunching of the crispy outside layer as we devoured the duck in minutes. Needless to say the fried rice was a taste explosion too!

Cheap and delicious Amsterdam food is easy to come by. With hangovers and munchies affecting your hunger it is no surprise that there are an abundance of Fast Food chains and takeaways in Amsterdam. In fact it was actually more the way that the fast food was served that surprised us as you could buy it out of massive vending machines at Febo!

Amsterdam Food Febo

Hidden workers stand behind the vending machines churning out burgers, fries and sausage rolls so all you has to do is insert a Euro and “hey presto” you have a hot meal in your hungry hands.

Then there were the frites stores which seemed to be on every corner. The first thing you noticed about these was the tantalising smell. There is nothing like the smell of chips straight out of the fryer and covered in salt to get you tummy rumbling. Served in a triangle cardboard carton and covered in mayo which meant that that you couldn’t reach the chips at the bottom without covering your greedy fingers in sauce. Just a tad annoying!

But there is nothing like hot chips to warm you up on a cold day.

Finally, while hot chocolates are not typically food I feel they still deserve a mention especially because the usually come paired with waffles! Ahhhh the perfect breakfast.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate

We loved nipping into a cafe or bar like Cafe Bar Eddy in Amsterdam to warm ourselves up with a hot chocolate. It literally tasted like they had melted chocolate down and added cream. Heaven in a cup. And the choice of waffles was daunting as you could have whatever you wanted. Fruit, chocolate, syrups, cream or all of the above!

If you are heading here then don’t expect to find an array of traditional Amsterdam food. Instead treat yourself to a hot chocolate and waffle for breakfast, grab a quick bite from a vending machine and sample some of the different cuisines found near the Red Light District.

If you stick to this Amsterdam food guide then your taste buds will have a great holiday too!

If you have visited before then what did you think of Amsterdam food?

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Europe

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Check out our guide for the first timer in Amsterdam visiting a coffeeshop.

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How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Before getting started I just want to clarify that we are not drug users. We don’t condone using illegal drugs. And we are not telling you to go and smoke weed in Amsterdam. BUT, our goal of this travel blog is to help advise, educate and provide travel tips for ALL situations. So if you are headed to Amsterdam then we hope our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam will help you out.

And check out this smoker friendly accommodation for your next trip.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam Coffeeshop

When you tell people that you are visiting Amsterdam then they immediately think of one thing and one thing only. Weed. Dope. Herb. Buds. Spliff. Whacky Tobbacky. Pot. Marijuana. Cannabis. 

Call it what you will but just know that the biggest name for it is “ILLEGAL”.

Yes it is actually illegal to smoke weed in Amsterdam. But for now the Netherlands government do tolerate smoking in designated “coffeeshops”. This is slowly changing as the Government tries to moderate the tourism drug trade and in 2013 there will be new laws which we won’t go in to now as they are continuously changing.

In the meantime if you obey the rules, are not a moron and use our guide to smoking weed in Amsterdam then you are going to be fine.

Smoke weed in Amsterdam

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t smoke weed in Amsterdam in public such as on the streets. There are over 300 designated coffee shops where you are tolerated to smoke weed. These places are regulated and everything is done in the open.

Don’t get confused and try to smoke in a koffiehuis (coffee house) which sells coffee and light meals or a café that is a casual restaurant and/or bar.

The coffeeshops are super easy to spot with marijuana leaves in the windows and Bob Marley paintings on the doors. Not to mention the smell wafting through the cold breeze. There will also be the usual tourists that have stupidly over-indulged and are glassy eyed.

We visited one of the five Bulldog coffeeshops when we were in Amsterdam and had no complaints. We even enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate while we were there!

Bulldog Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

Buying weed in Amsterdam

As long as you are over 18 then you will be allowed to buy up to 5 grams of weed in the regulated coffeeshops. Plus you have the added security knowing that your marijuana is not going to be laced with anything else if you are attempting to buy it off someone on the street. And who knows, they might be setting you up to get busted.

We were (and are) total amateurs and had no idea what to do once we actually stepped foot in the coffeeshop. But quickly sussed it out. There will generally be a “dealer bar” with full menu’s and everything for you to choose. So if you are an expert you will probably know what to order! Prices will of course vary by quantity (grams, bags, individual joints) and quality.

For a beginner ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy like we were. Ask the staff what they recommend and what effects each type has. They will know then that you are a newbie and will guide you. Just know that they are very accustomed to tourists who don’t know exactly how to go about the whole process.

What we found out is that it is actually perfectly fine for you to visit other coffeeshops and smoke weed that you have already purchased somewhere else. However, it is considered rude not to at least buy a hot chocolate or coffee if you do this. Coffeeshops do also have some of the best coffee in Amsterdam.

How to smoke weed in Amsterdam

Don’t be an idiot

Number 1 rule: Don’t smoke too much weed in Amsterdam! Even if you are a pot loving hippie from a commune you are probably going to find the marijuana really strong in Amsterdam. Just take it slow.

If you are enjoying a drink as well then again take it easy with the booze. All the coffeshops won’t sell you beer as well as cannabis.

EAT! Don’t go drinking and smoking on an empty stomach as cannabis lowers your blood sugar level and this can turn a fun day into a disaster if you haven’t eaten recently. Check out our Amsterdam Food Guide for some quick eating tips here.

A final word of warning, please watch out for the spacecake! Eating cannabis will knock you on your ass and is much stronger than when smoked.

Finally, enjoy yourselves and for goodness sake obey the rules, laws and customs while you are smoking weed in Amsterdam.

If you have an addiction to drugs then reach out and seek some help.

Check out these Weed Products for your next travel adventure.

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Europe

Four Jandals Visits an Amsterdam Peep Show

Have you ever wanted to visit an Amsterdam peep show? We had the chance to go and embraced it with open arms. Check out our experience here

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Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

An Amsterdam peep show is a must, just like visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Okay slightly different. But you have got to go!

And if you have ever wanted to visit Amsterdam then more than likely you are going to be interested in checking out a peep show in the red light district. It might be worthwhile checking out this Amsterdam’s Red Light District – The ultimate guide.

Amsterdam Moulin Rouge Red Light District

There is something about the red light district that draws the punters and tourists alike in. Maybe it is the bright red neon lights that illuminate the darkened alleyways that pull them in like moths to a flame. Or the bars and coffee shops that let a certain smell waft lazily across the glistening canals.

Or maybe it is just the fact that sex really does sell.

When we visited Amsterdam with a couple of friends we actually spent what I now consider an embarrassingly long time in that same area. The fact is that we seriously could not get enough.

Not like that of course!

We just couldn’t believe that everyone is so open and carefree about what is for all intents and purposes, window shopping for sex. The number of guys knocking on windows and being ushered behind the curtains of every room were staggering.

However, we were not enticed ourselves to fork over $50 euros but were intrigued enough to want to check out an Amsterdam peep show. I just want to clarify here that it was actually Adela that was the most keen. I just didn’t want to let her down so went along with it…

Amsterdam Red Light District

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaynekaye/4792525797

Visiting the Amsterdam peep show

Much to our surprise, there is only one Amsterdam peep show left in the whole city back in 2012!

The very originally named “Sex Palace” is situated on the banks of one of the main canals in the heart of the red light district on Oudezijds Achterburgwal street. Walking under the neon flashing lights into the entrance way your senses are assaulted by sights, sounds and disturbingly smell.

All around the walls are posters and screens showing ladies in various states of undress and positions. A white board lists the movies that you can rent out for your viewing pleasure in one of the many private booths. But we were only there for one thing:

The circular structure sitting slightly to the left of the entrance with a dozen small doors along it’s walls. 

Each of those small doors lead into equally small rooms no larger than a traditional UK phone box. A small covered viewing window blocks your view forward.

The money box clinging to the wall to operate the viewing window only accepts coins. But don’t worry if you only have notes as they handily have a large coin machine dishing out $2 euro coins for ease of watching.

Once you close the door and chuck in your money, the viewing window pops open for 2 minutes and allows you to view the large, slowly-rotating stage on which a scantily-dressed woman displays herself. With her flexibility she could have represented any country in the upcoming Olympics!

Amsterdam peep show Sex Palace

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattmangum/2301545978

I was cracking up laughing the entire time I was in there because you can actually just make out the rest of the “audience” in the opposite booths. I even got a little wave and smile as the girl slowly revolved past my window.

The Amsterdam peep show was a little bit creepy. But even though we were there late on a Saturday night the booths were doing a roaring trade. Obviously nearly everyone else, from the hens parties to the couples, were there for the same reason as us. To check out one or two rounds before heading back into the night giggling like school girls at a sleepover at what we had just done.

The shifty eyed single men on the other hand skulked away to their respective viewing windows again and again with pockets full of coins.

If you ever get the chance then we actually do highly recommend taking the plunge and visiting an Amsterdam peep show. Just make sure that you are always respectful of the women in the shows and the ones on the streets!

Have you ever been to an Amsterdam Peep Show or Sex show? Tell us about your experience below.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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