Amsterdam in 1 Day: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

If you've only been able to get one day off work and wanted to escape to Amsterdam, you're in luck! This beautiful city has a lot of history and sights to offer you and below I will condense the must-sees into a single day.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

14 min read

Amsterdam in 1 Day: a guidebook for getting the most out of your visit

Amsterdam canals | ©Adrien Olichon

Many tourists decide to take advantage of the flight offers and come just 24 hours to discover this incredible city. If that's your case, arm your backpack because we leave to know the major attractions you can see in Amsterdam; from the center and Dam Square, to the house of Anne Frank and the Flower Market, ending with one of the most typical plans: the Red Light District. Let's start!

  • Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum Tickets
  • From $27
  • At your own pace
  • See more than 200 works by Van Gogh and other artists such as Gauguin and Monet.
  • Access without queues
  • Audio guide
  • Book now
  • Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter Anne Frank Tour
  • From $36
  • At your own pace
  • Tour the Jodenbuurt, the Anne Frank House and the Jordaan district.
  • Small groups
  • Local guide
  • Book now
  • Amsterdam Canal Cruise
  • From $20.
  • 1h
  • You will pass near the narrow bridge, the Anne Frank House, the rich Golden Curve and the red light district.
  • Medium sized groups
  • Audioguide
  • Book now

Start your day visiting the Van Gogh Museum

Exterior of the Van Gogh Museum| ©Marcelo Campi
Exterior of the Van Gogh Museum| ©Marcelo Campi

You have just arrived in Amsterdam and you have the whole day ahead of you to discover the city. The Van Gogh Museum opens at nine in the morning, so visiting first thing in the morning is the best way to make the most of your morning.

Amsterdam has much more to see, but it is interesting to spend some time to see the huge collection of paintings gathered in this impressive museum. You can choose to buy your ticket for the Van Gogh Museum a few days in advance to avoid the queues and enjoy paintings such as The Sunflowers, The Yellow House, Almond Blossom, The Bedroom at Arles, The Potato Eaters, among others. If you love art and want to know the collection much more in depth, book a guided tour may be an interesting option for you.

To get to the museum from the place where you are staying, you can take the streetcar and get off at the Museumplein stop. From there, you are only a 15-minute walk from the tourist center of Amsterdam.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: the museum is located at Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam.
  • How much does it cost: 27.
  • Visiting time: I recommend you to dedicate 1 hour to see the most important things.
  • What does it offer: one of the most complete collections of Van Gogh's work. Ideal for art and culture lovers.

Buy a ticket for the Van Gogh Museum

Stroll through the Flower Market

At the Flower Market| ©Gerard Stolk
At the Flower Market| ©Gerard Stolk

Once you have left the museum, you will certainly want to move around a bit and get to know the essence of the streets of Amsterdam. Surely you know that in this city, flowers, and more specifically tulips, are internationally famous. Therefore, there is no better plan for your morning in Amsterdam than going to know the Flower Market or Bloemenmarkt.

It is a whole experience to learn how they traded in the city and the enormous importance of the canals. In total, 18 floating stalls located just 15 minutes walk from the Van Ghog Museum where they sell all kinds of seeds and bulbs that will leave you fascinated.

At first, traders were dedicated to move with their boats on the canals selling their flowers but, seeing the enormous fame they were gaining, they decided to settle in a fixed point of one of the beautiful canals of central Amsterdam and offer their products, becoming one of the most visited flower markets in Europe.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: along the Singel canal.
  • How much does it cost: the market is free and, if you want to buy some flowers or seeds, the price is very oscillating, depending on the type and quantity.
  • Visiting time: the ideal is to take a walk of about half an hour to get to know it.
  • What it offers: it is one of the most important and photographed flower markets in the world.

Book a tour of Amsterdam

Take a break and try some authentic fries

Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx Fries| ©John D
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx Fries| ©John D

There's still a long day ahead and you're sure to want to recharge a little energy by now to be able to last the whole day on your feet. There is nothing better for these hours than buying a real cone with, what they say, are the best fries. The Dutch boast for years of being one of the countries where the concept of "French fries" was created and they know how to exploit it in the best way.

Throughout your visit to Amsterdam you will discover that there are many shops and kiosks that offer the famous cones with various sauces and modalities. Just near the flower market you will find one of the Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx chain just 3 minutes walk away.

Who doesn't want to snack on some crispy fries in the middle of the morning? Indulge yourself and recharge your batteries as you continue your day in Amsterdam.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: it's a chain but the closest one from where you are is at Voetboogstraat 33.
  • How much does it cost: approximately 5€ per cone.
  • Visiting time: it is a refreshment stop. About 30 minutes.
  • What's in it for you: try one of Amsterdam's star products and take a mid-morning break.

Book a tour of Amsterdam

Visit the center: Dam Square and Royal Palace

Dam Square| ©Travelinglao
Dam Square| ©Travelinglao

With your stomach a little fuller and having warmed up, you are ready to visit one of Amsterdam's most important landmarks and a must-see of the city; Dam Square, just a 5 minute walk from the Flower Market, is one of the major meeting points, from where many of the Amsterdam tours depart. This place is one of the major meeting points of the city, from where many of the tours of Amsterdam depart.

There are also other buildings of interest such as the Nieuwe Kerk church and the Amsterdam Wax Museum. You can take pictures and even do some express shopping at one of the most famous stores in the city: De Bijenkorf.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: Dam Square and the whole complex is located at Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 147.
  • How much does it cost: access to the Palace costs $18.
  • Visiting time: you can visit the square and walk around the main buildings for about 1 hour or enter the Royal Palace and spend more time there.
  • What does it offer you: to know the center of Amsterdam and one of the most important buildings in the country as the Royal Palace. You can also take the opportunity to do some shopping.

Book tickets to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Enjoy lunch time

Visiting The White Room| ©Ad W
Visiting The White Room| ©Ad W

After a busy morning getting a first taste of Amsterdam and getting to know its streets, you're sure to have worked up an appetite. You can take advantage of the fact that you are in the heart of the city to stop for a typical Dutch lunch.

Near the square there are numerous places for all tastes. From inexpensive offers for a quick and plentiful meal to more gourmet restaurants with several forks. These are some of the most popular and less than a minute's walk from where you are:

  • The White Room, a Michelin Star restaurant. A culinary experience to round off your Amsterdam getaway.
  • ROYAL 98, with international dishes and a nice terrace where you can eat overlooking the entire city center.
  • De Nieuwe Pilserij, a Dutch restaurant-pub with typical, economic and abundant dishes. Ideal to try new flavors.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: all restaurants are less than 5 minutes walk from Dam Square.
  • How much does it cost: between 20€ and 100€.
  • Visiting time: lunch time is usually around 1-2 hours.
  • What does it offer: typical Dutch food adapted to all budgets and right in the center.

Get to know Anne Frank's house

Exterior of the Anne Frank House| ©Daryl Mitchell
Exterior of the Anne Frank House| ©Daryl Mitchell

After lunch you have to continue in order to make the most of your Dutch visit. For this time of the day I have reserved for you one of the most solemn and well-known places in the city: the Anne Frank House Museum. Undoubtedly, a visit you can not miss although, I warn you, it can be a little strong because in this house lived the famous Anne in hiding with her family during the Nazi invasion.

Being able to visit what for her was a hiding place for 2 years makes anyone's hair stand on end. Despite this, I can assure you that it will be one of the visits that you will never forget of your visit to Amsterdam and book a tour of Anne Frank in the Jewish Quarter is a great option to deepen the experience and complete the visit to the area.

The museum is open until five in the afternoon, so it will be a perfect activity for after lunch, avoiding all the hustle and bustle of the mornings. Even so, I recommend buying your ticket in advance to avoid wasting time waiting. From Dam Square, it will only take you 10 minutes walking, the time it takes you to bring down the food and get into a little piece of Amsterdam's history.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: Anne Frank's house is located at Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV.
  • How much does it cost: about 10
  • Visiting time: with the guided tour you can spend up to 1 hour inside.
  • What does it offer you: to get to know a very sensitive part of Amsterdam's history and to see in first person a place of memory.

Book an Anne Frank tour of the Jewish Quarter

Take a walk through the 9 Streets

9 Streets neighborhood.| ©Gerard Stolk
9 Streets neighborhood.| ©Gerard Stolk

Leaving Anne Frank's house will surely have left you a bit reflective. In order to clear your mind and reconnect with the present, I propose another of **Amsterdam'**s must-see stops. In the heart of Amsterdam, between its popular canals, named World Heritage Site years ago, is one of the most innovative and youthful neighborhoods of the city; the 9 Streets Neighborhood.

Located between the Leidsestraat and Raadhuisstraat, is a neighborhood where all the fashion and design trends of Holland are concentrated. The numerous stores, cafes and galleries will captivate you, and simply strolling along its cobblestone floor will get you to know a little more of the Dutch culture. This neighborhood, in addition, is always included in the many tours that are made by the city of Amsterdam.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: this neighborhood is located between the Leidsestraat and Raadhuisstraat.
  • How much does it cost: walking it is free but the stores and galleries can cost more than 2 zeros.
  • Visiting time: window shopping and getting to know the neighborhood can take 40 minutes.
  • What does it offer you: a new and trendy neighborhood full of Dutch fashion and art.

Book a guided tour of Amsterdam

See the oldest building in Amsterdam

Oude Kerk Church| ©Bmkka
Oude Kerk Church| ©Bmkka

If you manage to get out of this electrifying and picturesque neighborhood in time and you have not been wrapped by shopping and bohemia, I recommend that, to close the afternoon, you go to the Red Light District area, where you will end your visit to Amsterdam, knowing one of its great architectural treasures.

This is the oldest building in Amsterdam, also called Oude Kerk and located just 10 minutes walk from Negen Straatjes. It may seem incredible for a country that is literally built on top of a swamp, but this place is more than 500 years old. Its construction dates back to 1302 and it is a beautiful parish church.

Visiting it from the outside is already a spectacle, but if you want to take a look inside, the entrance fee is usually around 10€. You will have to organize yourself well because it closes at six in the evening but, if you do not extend your visit to the 9 streets, you can have one of the last passes to see inside. You decide, fashion or history?

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: the church is located at Oudekerksplein 23, 1012 GX.
  • How much does it cost: approximately 10 ¤.
  • Visiting time: you can visit from the outside in 20 minutes or spend 1 hour inside.
  • What does it offer you: to visit one of the most emblematic buildings in Amsterdam and the oldest in the whole city.

Take a sunset cruise along the canals

Golden Hour on the canals| ©
Golden Hour on the canals| ©

The day is coming to an end and, before celebrating this round day in Amsterdam with a delicious dinner, I suggest you to do one of the most typical activities of the city: a cruise along the canals. Whether you come alone, as a couple or with family and friends, this is undoubtedly one of the most touristy plans and, although you have gone with just enough time to see everything, I have reserved these last moments of the afternoon to give you a treat and take a boat ride through the canals at dusk.

There are several points from where the cruises depart and many companies that manage it. If you want to improvise, you can buy one of these boat trips on the fly. However, if you want to get a better price and not have to wait too long, it is best to book your Amsterdam canal cruise in advance. The trips are usually 1 hour and are perfect for you from where you are.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: there are different companies and departure points but all of them are close to the canals near the Red Light District.
  • How much does it cost: from 20.
  • Visiting time: it usually takes 1-2 hours.
  • What does it offer you: to tour the center of Amsterdam by boat in one of the main tourist attractions.

Book your Amsterdam canal cruise

Put the icing on the cake with a delicious dinner

Dining at the Vermeer,| ©WILENLIN
Dining at the Vermeer,| ©WILENLIN

After having enjoyed a quiet and romantic stroll along the canals of Amsterdam, it's probably already dark and it's time to say goodbye to this fascinating city. To do this, nothing better than to reward this day with a dinner in the vicinity of the canals where you have disembarked.

As for lunch, in this area of Amsterdam you can find numerous places to dine something, adjusted to all budgets. Here is a list of some of the most popular and varied for you to choose which best suits your tastes:

  • Vermeer, one of the best restaurants in town with gourmet Dutch cuisine and top-notch chefs.
  • Martine of Martine 's Table, a great local restaurant that has earned a great reputation throughout the city with its delicious menus of Dutch and French food.
  • Bridges, an exclusive restaurant in the heart of the Red Light District with all kinds of international dishes.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: All restaurants are located in the heart of the Red Light District.
  • How much does it cost: prices range from 20€ to 120€.
  • Visiting time: you can dedicate 2 hours to dinner.
  • What does it offer you: try some of the best restaurants in town and be in the heart of the Red Light District at night.

End the day with a drink in the Red Light District

Amsterdam Red Light District| ©Julian Pan
Amsterdam Red Light District| ©Julian Pan

I hope that by now you have been satisfied with your visit to Amsterdam. The city gives for much more but I assure you that you have squeezed the day to the maximum to know all its essentials.

Now that it is night and you've enjoyed a nice dinner, I suggest you take advantage of the last moments in the Dutch capital in one of the neighborhoods that have become more known internationally; the Red Light District of Amsterdam. A place that gets its name from the red lights that have the premises where girls and boys offer their services. Yes, in Holland prostitution is legal and also the consumption of marijuana, and in this neighborhood both things are condensed.

But don't get confused, it is not a conflictive or dangerous neighborhood, on the contrary. It is one of the neighborhoods with more nightlife and leisure activities because both activities are done in a completely regulated and respectful way. I suggest you go to one of the pubs in the area to have a drink after dinner and see with your own eyes this characteristic and curious neighborhood.

Interesting facts

  • Where is it: this neighborhood is located in the center of Amsterdam, bounded by Damrak street to the west and Niewemarkt square to the east.
  • How much does it cost: its pubs and coffee shops have approximate prices between 10€ to 50€.
  • Visiting time: you can spend as much time as you want, but normally it usually takes 2 hours.
  • What does it offer you: to get to know one of the most curious and modern neighborhoods in Europe.

Book a tour of the red light district of Amsterdam

What is the best way to get around Amsterdam?

Amsterdam tram| ©Gary Todd
Amsterdam tram| ©Gary Todd

The tour that I have proposed is designed to be done on foot because the center of Amsterdam is quite manageable without having to give you huge walks. However, do not forget that Amsterdam is the city of bicycles, so it is one of the best ways to get around Amsterdam, as well as the streetcar.

If you want to avoid some walking, you can rent a bike for the whole day to go from one place to another or even book a bike tour of Amsterdam.

Another option is to hire a seat on the tourist bus City Sightseeing: you can get on and off as many times as you want and see the main monuments of the city in a comfortable and fast way.

Book a bike tour in Amsterdam

Basic tips for visiting Amsterdam

Wax Museum entrance| ©Bootuitjes
Wax Museum entrance| ©Bootuitjes

If this is the first time you are going to visit Amsterdam and you want to make the most of your time without any surprises, here is a basic list of tips for sightseeing in Amsterdam:

  • Book in advance to avoid queues: almost all tickets for museums and activities can be purchased at the box office, but I recommend doing it in advance to avoid queues, which can be very long.
  • Always wear comfortable shoes to walk all day.
  • Beware, Coffee Shops may not be what you think: if you are looking for a coffee shop to have a coffee and a sweet, be aware that coffee shops in Amsterdam are the only places where you can buy and consume marijuana.
  • Visit the Red Light District with the respect it deserves: in this neighborhood all the legal prostitution activity is gathered, but it is not a place where anything goes. It is completely forbidden to photograph both girls and boys who are in these red "windows" and it is also frowned upon to be disrespectful.

Amsterdam is a city worth discovering. If you have a gap in your schedule and get a flight to travel, do not hesitate and come and marvel at the city of canals.

Book a seat on the Amsterdam sightseeing bus