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IBC first timer safety kit: mistakes to avoid in the city of sin

The clock is ticking until IBC kicks off for its fiftieth year and with close to 56,000 visitors registered last year, it’s fair to say a big portion of them will be attending the show for the first time.

With its canals, parks, museums, restaurants and bars, Amsterdam is a very attractive location for business and pleasure. Yet, first timers may need a few tips to best navigate the City of Sin.

#1: Get a map of the RAI

With 15 interconnected halls, conference rooms and auditoriums, the RAI is big, and there is always something going on somewhere… the real trick lies in knowing the fastest way to get there, which can prove a bit of a challenge.

Luckily for people with a horrendous sense of directions like me, IBC is a well managed show and has plethora of maps to hand. This has saved me many times, whether to attend award ceremonies, go to a theatre or simply just figure out how to get to Hall 8.

Tip: on your first day, head to one of the information desks. They are fitted with giant maps featuring every single hall.

#2: Use public transport – it’s free!

When travelling for business, most visitors expect taxis to be the fastest way around. IBC defies expectations with a long taxi queue, but a very practical tram system that stops right in front of the entrance of the RAI.

Tip: IBC has negotiated free transportation with the City of Amsterdam. Grab your free tram ticket for free from one of the information desks and hold onto it for dear life – they do run out.

#3: Book everything in advance

It sounds like a no-brainer but this happens every year: people end up wandering with their lanyard on, stamping them as an IBC newbie. To avoid long queues – or worse still, having to get a croquette from one of the odd boxes scattered around the city centre – make sure to book restaurants every night. Whether taking out clients, journalists, partners or colleagues, having your bookings secured means you can avoid logistical nightmares.

Tip: I’m a stickler for Asian food, so my #1 recommendation is Ron’s Oriental on Kerkstraat, who serves delicious yuan hok hai (soft shell crab, oyster mushroom, spinach and coconut). If you’re not in the mood for it though, there are plenty of good Dutch options like Bistro bij Ons on Prinsengracht. Diehard meat lovers will love the Argentinian steak houses or head to the Hard Rock Café on Max Euweplein, which offers its international menu of burgers and ribs.

#4: There’s more to Amsterdam than the Red Light District and coffee shops

If you’re European, chances are you had already visited Amsterdam prior to IBC. If you’re international, you may want to take a detour to the Red Light District, the most famous part of Amsterdam.

Yet, there is a lot more to the city than this: with Anne Frank’s house, the Rembrandt House museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, there is plenty to do for the culturally minded. Shopaholics will love Kalverstraat & Leidsestraat, close to Amsterdam Centraal, where you can find all the big store brands. Independent shoppers should head to De Negen Straatjes between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat, or to Haarlemmerdijk, Utrechtsestraat, or Czaar Peterstraat in Amsterdam East, where independent boutiques, vintage shops and specialty stores abound.

Tip: these are also worth visiting in case your luggage turns up late – we know this happens every year!

#5: Hire a bike!

Amsterdam is the world’s cycling capital and with flat ground, you don’t need any specific skills to be able to ride around town. Cycling lanes are available everywhere, and pedestrians have learned to watch out for a wild cyclist at crossings. Amsterdam has lots of quaint areas to visit, so if you’re one of the lucky few to linger post-IBC, make the most of your time there.

Tip: check out the ‘Cycling in Amsterdam’ page on for your perfect two-wheeled guide to the city.

We look forward to your first trip to Amsterdam this September. Should you have any questions about the show and/or to discover how to cut through the noise, get in touch with us.

By Ségolène Roche