Amsterdam, often known as ‘Venice of the North’ is home to historic buildings, iconic museums and a unique vibe that escapes most other tourist cities. This 17th Century capital is unlike any other city in the world with its singularly creative art and culture scene. There's nothing quite like a stroll through its cobbled streets and narrow lanes. Each turn gives way to a new surprise; a cafe offering homemade pastries, a bookshop selling trinkets made from local items found in the city or a flower shop with a dazzling bouquet of multicoloured tulips. This city is also home to world-famous attractions like the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and much more.
Don’t be overwhelmed with everything Amsterdam has to offer! There's a lot you can experience in one day. Our Amsterdam in a day guide has been carefully designed to give you the best experience possible.
One Day in Amsterdam - The Highlights
With endless experiences waiting for you, exploring Amsterdam in a day can be challenging. From identifying must-see experiences to getting around the city, there’s plenty to plan! Here’s where we come into play: Our one day Amsterdam itinerary has been crafted to ensure you discover the best parts of this city without worrying about time.
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Anne Frank House
Van Gogh Museum
Begin your day in Amsterdam with a little history! The Dutch national museum, Rijksmuseum, was founded in the Hague on 19th November 1798 and moved to Amsterdam in 1808. Located at the Museum Square, it is home to over 8,000 pieces of art and history, including masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Van Ruysdael and more. Ideally, you'll need about two hours to explore the Rijksmuseum, but if you're short on time, you can also opt for a quick one hour tour.
As one of the most popular landmarks in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum is generally crowded and the waiting line at ticket counters is usually long. Avoid this by pre-purchasing your tickets online. Rijksmuseum is open between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. For children under 18 entry to Rijksmuseum is free, while adults have to pay €19.
The Van Gogh Museum
Dedicated to the works of art maestro Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries, the Van Gogh Museum is one of the most visited attractions in Amsterdam. Since its inception in 1973, this art museum boasts the largest collection of paintings and drawings by Van Gogh in the world and offers a memorable experience to both art aficionados and casual visitors. The museum consists of two buildings: the Rietveld building, and the Kurokawa wing, that feature artworks by Van Gogh’s contemporaries like Auguste Rodin, John Russell, Emile Bernard, Maurice Denis, Paul Gauguin and more.
The museum closes at 6:00 PM from Saturday to Thursday, while on Friday it closes at 9:00 PM. Last admission to the museum is 30 minutes before closing time, so plan your visit accordingly.
Head to Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest and most famous public park, for a few peaceful hours amidst nature. Centrally located, the Vondelpark attracts more than 10 million visitors annually. Apart from its natural beauty, you can also enjoy free concerts which are organized at the open-air theatre or the park's bandstand. Other attractions at Vondelpark include a statue of the poet Vondel, the Groot Melkhuis with a playground for children and the cast iron music dome. You can also visit the Blauwe Theehuis, a popular ring-shaped cafe, for a refreshing drink.
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
Anne Frank House
Continue your day in Amsterdam by visiting one of the most famous and historic hofje in the city: Begijnhof. Hofje in Dutch means courtyard. Back in the day, hofjes were closed communities where widows and seniors lived together. Begijnhof was a little different from your typical hofje and functioned almost like a nunnery, although the women were free to leave the order and get married. Visit Begijnhof to get a truly authentic look at Amsterdam with a church, ancient houses and more housed within a beautiful courtyard, right next to the bustling city center.
Begijnhof is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and entry is free of charge.
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
An experience you must have while in Amsterdam is a cruise through its Golden Age era canal system. It’s a pleasant sight to witness the beautiful city from a boat. Given their popularity, you'll find countless canal cruise options to choose from. There are semi-open boat tours, evening canal cruise, hop-on hop-off canal cruise, an Amsterdam culinary cruise and many others. A canal cruise is also a great way to explore the city without having to walk too much.
While each cruise option follows a different route, you'll be passing by iconic Amsterdam landmarks in all of them. Try booking your Amsterdam canal cruise tickets online to avoid waiting in long lines. You can also take a walk around the canal system after the cruise.
Anne Frank House
This biographical museum is dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank and is arguably one of the most important landmarks in Amsterdam. This museum was originally the Frank family’s escape, where they hid from Nazi persecution during World War II. While Anne herself did not survive, her diary was published in 1947 detailing her time during the war. This museum opened in 1960 and showcases a permanent exhibition on the life of Anne Frank including rare family pictures, the room in which they remained hidden and other authentic memorabilia.
The Anne Frank House is open to visitors from 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Ticket price for adults is €10 and for children aged 10-17, it’s €5. For children aged 9 and below, entry to The Anne Frank House is free. You can buy tickets online to avoid waiting in a line.
The Damrak is an avenue in the heart of Amsterdam, located between Amsterdam Centraal railway station and Dam Square. A partially-filled canal, the Damrak is now Amsterdam’s equivalent of New York's Wall Street. This busy street was once home to Beues van Berlage, the former stock exchange building and other historic buildings usually found on postcards from Amsterdam. Damrak is also lined with cafes, restaurants and tourist shops, making it the perfect stop for a snack or an early dinner.
Walk to the final destination in your one day Amsterdam tour -- Foodhallen, an indoor market that houses some of the best food options in the city. Foodhallen is particularly great for tourists who don't want to struggle to find a good place to eat. Here, you'll find both local and international cuisines in one convenient place; from fresh oysters and lobsters to hot dogs and gourmet pita bread, Foodhallen has all your food cravings sorted. An added bonus of visiting Foodhallen is the chance to interact with locals and attend fun events.
Where to eat in Amsterdam
The food you eat in a new city or country is a big part of your overall experience. In Amsterdam, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to authentic local food. Here are some of our top picks:
- Cafe de Jaren: Experience old European vibes with the large floor to ceiling windows at this bistro. Get stunning views of Amsterdam from your seat on the terrace as you munch on cheese straws and beetroot balls.
- De Bakkerswinkel: Take a break from exploring Amsterdam and step into this bustling eatery for their freshly baked scones served with cream and homemade preserves.
- Winkel 43: Looking for traditional Dutch appeltaart? Make your way to Winkel 43. This trendy cafe is extremely popular and you might have to wait for a bit to get a table. The wait is worth the pie you'll be served, often hailed as the best in Amsterdam.
- Back to Black: A cafe run by two local women, Back to Black is famous for its high quality, house-roasted sustainable brews. The cozy setting, coupled with delicious baked goods, makes this one of the best cafes in Amsterdam.
- The Cottage: If you're in the mood for some British fare, including steak, onion sandwiches and triple ginger cake, The Cottage is the place to be. Featuring English countryside decor mixed with a touch of Dutch gezelligheid to create a warm and welcoming space.
Where to shop in Amsterdam
If you're looking to get your retail fix, Amsterdam will not disappoint! There are different areas in the city, all offering unique shopping experiences. Here are some local markets you can explore:
- The Nine Streets: As the name suggests, this shopping area consists of nine narrow streets called the Negen Straatjes. These streets are full to the brim with art galleries, jewellers, boutiques, vintage stores, and cafes and offer a varying range of styles, prices and trends. Location: Wolvenstraat 9, 1016 EM Amsterdam, Netherlands
- De Bijenkorf: Located just behind Dam Square in a magnificent historic building, De Bijenkorf is one of Amsterdam's best-known departmental stores. The Amsterdam flagship store is spread across 21,000 square meters of designer brands, cosmetics, accessories and more. Location: Dam 1, 1012 JS Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Spiegelkwartier: With over 70 antique shops and galleries, Spiegelkwartier is the official centre for antiques and art in Amsterdam. The area houses an impressive collection of ceramics, glass products, jewellery, Asian collectibles and more. Location: 1017 DD Amsterdam, Netherlands
- The Utrechtsestraat: Located at the eastern edge of Amsterdam's canal belt, the Utrechtsestraat is a shopper's paradise with trendy concept stores, fashion boutiques and the best record stores in the city.
Getting around Amsterdam
Getting around in Amsterdam using public transport is convenient and easy on the pockets too. Here are your options:
- Metro: Amsterdam's metro network originates from Central Station and connects to the city's outlying districts including Bijlmer, Amstelveen and Diemen. With over five different routes and 39 stations, the metro is perfect for long-distance travel. You can purchase a one-hour ticket or a rechargeable public transport chip card at GVB service desks or vending machines at metro stations.
- Bus: There are three primary bus operators in Amsterdam: GVB (operating mostly within the city), Connexxion and EBS. The bus network in Amsterdam is pretty comprehensive and well connected with over 42 different routes across the city. Buses are also the cheapest mode of public transport in Amsterdam. You can purchase single-journey tickets or one-hour tickets directly from the driver. A more convenient option would be a 24-hour ticket which grants you unlimited access to the bus network for an entire day.
- Tram: An iconic part of Amsterdam's public transport network, the tram service is best suited for short-distance travel within the city. One of the quickest ways to get around and into the city centre, the tram in Amsterdam is spread across 14 lines and 100+ stops. When travelling by tram, most locals make use of the public transport chip card (OV-Chipkaart). However, if you’re in the city for just one day, you can get a one-hour ticket aboard a majority of Amsterdam trams -- a ticket attendant sits in a booth towards the rear of most trams.
- Ferries: Take a ferry to cross River IJ if you're on a walking tour, or using your cycle or moped. The ferry service is free of cost and a great way across the water to and from Amsterdam Noord.
- Bike: One of the best ways to explore Amsterdam in all its glory is on a bike. You'll find cycles or fiets available everywhere in the city for rent. You can rent a cycle for around €7 for a couple of hours or €9.50 for a day.
If paying for all the modes of transport seems like too much effort, make use of the convenient I Amsterdam Card. This card gives you free access to over 70 museums, city-wide public transport and discounts on restaurants and concerts. If you're nervous about navigating the unfamiliar Amsterdam landscape, there are many apps you can use to plan your travel. Download 9292 route planner, GVB app, NS Reisplanner app, or weCity app to simplify your travel within Amsterdam.
- Given how bike-friendly Amsterdam is, there's a dedicated lane for bikes in the city. Make sure you stick to this lane while riding. Also, don't stop in the middle of the lane to click photographs since you'll be obstructing the way for other riders.
- Amsterdam is one of the few cities in the world where cannabis is legal. You'll find countless Coffeeshops within the city selling marijuana and related products. Note that this Coffeeshop is different from your regular Coffee Shop. Ask around if you're having trouble locating a Coffeeshop.
- Pack regular clothes like jeans, thin sweaters or light jackets, since the city has a very laid back vibe. Also, no matter what time you visit Amsterdam, bring a scarf since it gets pretty windy during the evening.
- Remember to carry an umbrella at all times. Amsterdam weather is often unpredictable and you don't want to be stuck in the rain, especially when you only have one day to explore the city.
- Fridge magnets and keychains aren't the souvenirs you would want to take home from Amsterdam. Instead, you can choose from unique Dutch licorice, candy, cheese or alcohol. You'll also find wooden clogs at Zaanse Schans, funky crockery, cookie moulds and more items specific to Amsterdam.
- Socket Type C, E And F can be used to charge your devices in Amsterdam.
- When planning your trip, book tickets for the attractions you're planning on visiting as well. Booking tickets in advance not only works out to be cheaper but you can also avail discounts and cashback offers.
- Amsterdam is famous for its beautiful, multicolored tulips. Please note that tulips bloom only from mid-March to mid-May. Don't be fooled by sellers offering tulip bulbs in spring.