Amsterdam in a day
From morning to night, Amsterdam rocks around the clock. Read on for our top tips on how to spend a day in this spellbinding city
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Europe is chock full of exciting cities offering a wealth of culture and beauty and few cities do culture and beauty quite as well as Amsterdam. With a treasure trove of art and architecture, spectacular food and captivating museums and galleries, it’s the perfect city stopover.
We offer a number of holidays that stop in Amsterdam and many of them stay overnight. To help inspire your travels, we’ve created a morning-to-evening itinerary that will help you get the most out of your time in the Dutch capital.
Morning in Amsterdam
Goedemorgen! There’s no better way to greet the day than with a hot cup of coffee and a pastry, and luckily, Amsterdam takes both very seriously. While in the past a ‘coffee shop’ in Amsterdam may have hinted at more illicit pastimes, today it’s more likely to refer to cafés serving up freshly brewed coffee and delicious baked goods. De Koffie Salon is one of the leaders of Amsterdam’s modern café culture and boasts a number of locations across the city including in the Centrum district (Utrechtsestraat 130). Coffee bar and roaster, Sweet Cup (93hs Lange Leidsedwarsstraat), is another good bet and a peaceful reprieve from the bustling streets of Centrum outside.
Once you’re fuelled up, get the lay of the land by exploring the city’s famous canals. The UNESCO-listed canal belt was built in the 17th century around the old city centre and stretches for more than 100km – in fact, Amsterdam’s canals and harbours fill a full quarter of its surface. The three main canals are Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht. Stretch your sea legs and explore them by foot or do like the locals do and rent a bike.
Afternoon in Amsterdam
On your travels around the canals you might pass by the Bloemenmarkt, located on the Singel canal. The flower market has been in business for more than 150 years and is the only one of its kind in the world. Its colourful and fragrant blooms will set your senses alight. It’s also a great place to shop for souvenirs. If you’re travelling in spring, don’t miss the famous tulips which bloom throughout the city. Why not join a shore experience and take a trip out of town to the Keukenhof, the world’s largest flower garden, where you can experience a riot of colour courtesy of more than 800 varieties of tulips.
By now you’ll surely be ready to refuel. Thankfully, Amsterdam’s street-food scene is well up to the task. For an indulgent snack, sample the world-renowned frites at Manneken Pis (Damrak 41) or track down some bitterballen (crispy balls of deep-fried beef gravy). Herring is a local delicacy and is served raw from street-food stalls across the city. Meanwhile those with a sweet tooth will swoon for stroopwafels (thin layers of waffle with a caramel filling) and poffertjes (mini spongy pancakes).
Once you’ve fed your appetite, it’s time to feed your mind. Amsterdam is famous for its galleries and museums and the Anne Frank House is a good place to start. This is where the young Jewish girl wrote her diary while hiding away with her family from the Nazis during WWII, and where she spent the last two years of her life. If you fancy checking out some of the cities masterpieces, you’ll enjoy a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, dedicated to the Dutch master and his contemporaries. Take in iconic works such as Sunflowers and Almond Blossom. Or venture into the Rijksmuseum, one of the largest art museums in the world and host to works by the likes of Rembrandt and Vermeer. Explore it on your own or join the Rijksmuseum shore experience where you’ll enjoy an organised tour followed by time to wander through the works on your own.
Evening in Amsterdam
Across from the Anne Frank House on the other side of the Prinsengracht canal is the bustling Jordaan district. It’s bordered by the Singelgracht canal and the neighbourhood of Frederik Hendrikbuurt to the west, the Prinsengracht canal to the east, the Brouwersgracht canal to the north and Leidsegracht canal to the south. Jordaan’s narrow streets and charming courtyards make it one of Amsterdam’s most desirable districts and within it you’ll find enough restaurants, pubs and bars to satisfy any appetite. Be sure to sample the local brews – Heineken is proudly Dutch but the city also boasts a booming craft beer culture.
As the sun sets, take in the beautiful views by boat on a canal cruise. The Evening Scenic Cruise shore experience offers a panoramic introduction to these wondrous waterways. Take in the city sights, sampling local cheese and wine as you float along – the perfect end to the perfect day in this world-class city.