One day in Amsterdam: How to see everything in Amsterdam in a day
I absolutely love travelling to Amsterdam. It is such a nice city with so much to see and do, you are guaranteed a good time. It is such a compact city it is so easy to see everything you want to in Amsterdam in one day
While there is an abundance of things to do it is possible to do everything you want to see in Amsterdam in a day. I love the cobbled streets and the relaxed atmosphere in this capital.
Plan ahead for your day in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has a tourist card called the IAmsterdam Card which for a set fee you have free access to public transport, museums as well as discounts to different shops and restaurants. This was essential as it meant I didn’t have to worry about trying to buy tickets which meant I saved time at the different museums. Bear in mind there are certain museums that are excluded such as the Anne Frank House and the Heineken Experience.
I suggest looking at what you plan on going to visit and make a plan in advance so that you don’t have to double back to see something in an area you have already been in. This will make sure you get the most out of your time in Amsterdam for the day.
In Amsterdam, they have a really good tram and bus system so even if you want to spend a little less on accommodation that is outside the city centre, with a 10-minute tram journey you will be in the middle of everything. When I went to Amsterdam I went with friends for the weekend.
We flew in on Friday and left on Sunday which meant we only had time to really see Amsterdam in one day. If your limited on time and are planning on staying in Amsterdam you need to stay central. When I was there I stayed in an apartment with the Short Stay Group in the Nieuwmarkt area.
The apartment was really spacious and very reasonable for five people. It was an old style apartment, what you would imagine an Amsterdam apartment to look like with winding stairs and rustic floorboards. (The stairs are not for the faint hearted so if you don’t like steep and windy stairs it may not be the place for you) The Short Stay Group have a desk at the airport so it was so convenient to pick up the keys at the airport and go directly to the apartment.The location of the apartment was excellent, it was very central to everything and we did not use transport once.
Amsterdam in a day: The Itinerary
This is a guide of what I did for a day in Amsterdam. I got up extra early and did a great deal of planning to make sure I saw everything. However, it is pretty full on and you might find it is a little bit too much. Feel free to adjust as needed to see what you want while in Amsterdam. There may be other things you might want to visit and I have included a number of popular places you may want to see instead at the end of this guide.
8:30am – The Anne Frank House
This, of course, is the biggest tourist attraction in Amsterdam. If you want to get this into your day adventure in Amsterdam you need to book well in advance for a 9 am slot when it opens. Be there a half an hour in advance so that you are near the top of the queue. It is a small museum so going in the morning gives you more time and space to look around (and less time in the queue)
10:30am – Tulip museum
It is a really small museum on the canal near the Anne Frank House. You can easily do this museum in half an hour. you will learn how tulips became so popular in the Netherlands. It also has a really nice gift shop to pick up some souvenirs
11:15am House Boat Museum
This is also near the Anne Frank House it is basically a houseboat that you can walk into and have a look around. Tall people beware!! You may have to crouch a lot. Have a look at their website
11:30am: Canal Museum
This museum is really interesting as it gives you lots of information on how the city was built, in particular, the canals in Amsterdam and how they were designed. I only came across this museum by chance and as it was free entry with the iAmersterdam Card. check out more info here
1pm – Lunch in Pancakes Amsterdam
If you like pancakes you will love this place. This restaurant does a mixture of sweet and savory pancakes. If you go get the Bailey’s hot chocolate. It is divine.
2:30pm – Vincent Van Gogh Museum
The Vincent Van Gogh Museum was absolutely amazing, even if you are not really into art, Vincent Van Gough’s paintings are so well recognised, it is great to see the original thing in real life.
4pm- Heineken experience
Go and explore the inner workings of the Heineken brewery and find out how Heineken became so successful. There is also a bar at the end where you get a free pint; even for non-Heineken fans, you will not be disappointed. Get a ticket in advance on the Heineken website before going as you can skip the queue and go straight in.
4pm- Bols Museum
The House of Bols Museum is similar to the Heineken experience but on a smaller scale for Cocktail enthusiasts. There is also a bar at the end where you get a free cocktail as part of the admission fee. The bar staff do really cool cocktail demonstrations
6:30pm – Ice Bar
I had a great time at the Xtra cold Ice bar. As part of the admission, you get three free drinks. There is a bar at the front where you are given warm coats before entering the ice bar. They have amazing ice sculptures and they give you drinks in the bar with glasses made out of ice.
7:30pm – Food at Bird Thai Restaurant
This is a thai restaurant in the Nieuwmarkt area. I got suggested this place by a local on the way into Amsterdam from the airport. The local suggested there snack bar across the street from the restaurant however when we got there it was very busy and did not have much seating space so we opted to go to the main restaurant instead. The food there was really nice. We all ordered various dishes and were all happy with our meal. you can view the website here
9pm- Boat trip along the canal.
There are lots of boat trips to choose from in Amsterdam. My favourite time to go is at night when all the canals are covered in pretty lights. They usually leave from the Amsterdam Central Station
10:30 pm – End your day in Amsterdam with exploring the local bars
There are a lot of local pubs where people are more than welcome. The old traditional bars in Amsterdam have brown paneling on the inside and sell a variety of different beers most of which is locally made. Many bars have on-site breweries which make their own and also do tour and beer tastings. In De WIldeman serves over 250 different beers and often do beer tastings.
Other things to do in Amsterdam
If boating is not your thing and you want to see the city through a local’s eyes there are many cycling tours that will take you all over Amsterdam city and to the outskirts of the city centre.
Explore the red light district.
Amsterdam is famous for its red light district, where women are on display at windows along the street. Lonely Planet has a great light district guide to help you with the do’s and dont’s for exploring the area. While the best time is to explore this area at night there are tours carried out by the Prostitution Information Centre where ex-prostitutes carry out guided tours
Visit the Vondelpark
This is a beautiful park in the city of Amsterdam. I went to this park with a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful views around me. While I went there in the springtime when it was bitterly cold, it might be better to do this as a summertime activity
Explore the narrow streets of Amsterdam
There is nothing better than just spending the day in Amsterdam than exploring the narrow cobblestone streets. Find a local cafe and watch the hustle and bustle of this beautiful city.
Explore the Rijksmuseum
This is the national dutch art museum where some of the best art collections in the country are on display. This museum is close to the Van Gogh museum and even if you have no interest in art it is a beautiful building to take photos of. It also has a big Amsterdam sign at the front of the museum.
Go on a Craft Beer tour
Heineken is not the only brewery in town. There are a number of local craft breweries that have tours throughout the day. Take the original Amsterdam brewery tour where they will give you the history of beer making in Amsterdam as well as visiting the original building of Heineken. You will also get to sample one or two of the beers yourself.
Do a ghost tour at night
If you want to do something completely different, there is a company that does a ghost walk of Amsterdam. They will take you on a tour of the local buildings and tell you about the local ghost stories and the history of the area. I loved this tour as I learned a great deal about the culture as well as some stories to frighten my friends with.
Restaurants you must try
The Café Piazza restaurant was literally next door to where we were staying so for the sake of convenience we decided to go there one night for a meal. The food there was divine. For starters, I got a beetroot soup with a mushroom coquette.
This is a great place for breakfast. They have a great choice of breakfast items but be aware this place is quite popular so you will need to get there early to get a seat.
Have some local chips/fries
Amsterdam is known for their chips/fries with mayonnaise and there is no better place to try them than at the Manneken Pis. They have 22 types of sauces to choose from which make these the best fries in the Netherlands.
Visit a Local Market
There is a number of local markets that take place over the weekend. My favourite is the one that takes place in the Nieuwmarkt on Saturday morning where you can get fresh food, flowers, and antiques. This market has taken place since the 17th century and is one of the best in Amsterdam.
Tips for your first time in Amsterdam
-Beware of the bike lanes
THere is a significant amount of people who use bike and cycle around the city. Look both ways when crossing bike lanes (marked with white lines and bicycle symbols) and never walk along them.
when you use an ATM money is dispensed BEFORE they give back your credit card. This is the opposite of other countries. Be careful not to forget your card when using the ATM.
There are many eetcafé’s which do traditional Amsterdam meals. They also sell different snacks in you just want to nibble at food and don’t want a big meal. Most of these are very reasonably priced.
-Coffee Shops vs. Café’s
When you are walking around Amsterdam you will notice signs for coffee shops. This is what they call Marijuana bars in Amsterdam. If you are looking for a place to have a cup of tea and a rest from all your sightseeing look for signs with Café’s instead
-Ask for a pint
If you want to get a beer and want a pint, make sure to ask for it in a pint glass as they generally serve beer in half pint glasses unless you ask otherwise.
Amsterdam is a great place to soak up the atmosphere and explore, you will not be disappointed with your trip.
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