Looking for the ultimate list of things to do with one day in Amsterdam? Well, look no further, for a complete one day in Amsterdam itinerary that covers all the very best things to do in the magical city.
As an Amsterdam resident for the past 3 years, I know what you should see and what’s worth missing with limited time in the city. This itinerary is packed in order to show you the best of what Amsterdam has to offer, so prepare for a day of excitement in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
Amsterdam is the capital city of the Netherlands and the most visited place in the country. This city attracts millions of tourists each year and there is no question as to why. Amsterdam is a city like no other with its maze of canals, quirky houses, unheard-of attractions, and more! You will not get the same kind of beauty, excitement, and uniqueness anywhere else in Europe. Which makes it a great travel destination for all types of people since there truly is something to do for everyone.
Here is the ultimate one day in Amsterdam itinerary for experiencing all the best of the city.
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In This Post
The ultimate one day in Amsterdam Itinerary
Morning: One day in Amsterdam
Breakfast on the 9 streets
To start the day off right it is important to eat a delicious breakfast from one of Amsterdam’s many cafes. One of the most underrated things about Amsterdam is the food. There are so many restaurants with amazing dishes that will blow you away.
It doesn’t matter if you are a coffee and croissant type of morning person because Amsterdam is packed with cafes, here is a list of 20 of Amsterdam’s best cafes. Or if you are the type of morning person who wants to eat a full meal packed with nutrients to fuel you for the day. Amsterdam is ready for you. Check out this list of the best brunch places in Amsterdam.
Although the cafes and restaurants are scattered all around Amsterdam the top area to dine in for the best Amsterdam experience is in the famous 9 Streets (Negen Straatjes). This area is located in the middle of the famous Amsterdam canal belt which is also a UNESCO world heritage site. This area is full of cute shops, stunning views, and amazing cafes. It is the perfect place to head to right in the morning to eat at and continue exploring from there.
Walk around the Jordaan
Amsterdam’s most beautiful area is the Jordaan. It is the best area to spend your time exploring with only a limited amount of time in Amsterdam. After a nice breakfast, it is ideal to simply walk around the Jordaan neighborhood to admire the houses, the stretching canals, and even pop into a few shops!
This is the best place to take photos of Amsterdam as well. Whether you want to be in them or not the background of the canals and houses is something out of a movie.
Anne Frank House or Van Gogh Museum
In the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam sits the city’s most famous museum; The Anne Frank House. This is a museum you cannot miss while visiting Amsterdam. It tells a profound story of a young girl who was hidden in an attic in Amsterdam during WW2 and kept a diary during her days. She was unfortunately discovered and sent to Auschwitz to die but her memory and story live on through the museum that brings you through the actual attic she was hidden in.
Like most European cities World War 2 had a significant effect on it, and this is one way in which visitors can transport themselves back into that time and remember a past that should not be forgotten.
*IMPORTANT: The Anne Frank House has now limited its amount of guests to 1 million a year. As a result, tickets ONLY go on sale ONLINE on the first Tuesday of the Month*
If there are no tickets available for your required date or you prefer a less heavy museum you can also go to the Van Gogh Museum. This is another great option that brings you into the life and mind of Vincent Van Gogh. The museum displays his works of art in chronological order so you can see his spiraling mental state in order.
The best way to see all the attractions in Amsterdam with a discount is with an IAmsterdam city card. This card gives you a ton of perks like unlimited access to public transport, entrance to various museums and more! Below you can find the IAmsterdam city card as well as some museum and historic tours.
Afternoon: One day in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
If you get the IAmsterdam city card that was recommended above then you get a free canal cruise included with your purchase. However, even if you don’t get the IAmsterdam card, embarking on a canal cruise is a must. The best way to see Amsterdam is by boat, and with only one day in Amsterdam, you need to see as much as you can with the limited time you have available.
Luckily, there are a ton of canal cruise companies in the city that will bring you around Amsterdam and tell you all the important historic information. There is so much to learn and see in Amsterdam and a cruise is the best way to soak it all in. Plus, after a morning of exploring it is nice to sit and rest up for a short while.
Amsterdam Gingerbread Houses
Most canal cruises end at the central station which makes walking to the famous Amsterdam Gingerbread Houses very accessible. This landmark is a set of houses in the city that are uniquely formed and look like real-life gingerbread houses. Walking straight down from the central station towards Dam Square will bring you right past them, which makes for the perfect photo opportunity. In fact, this is one of the best photo spots in Amsterdam.
Dam Square is Amsterdam’s largest and most impressive square and is home to the Royal Palace, Madame Tussauds, and the National Monument. It is one of Amsterdam’s most vibrant areas and the square is also full of performers ready to entertain. With only one day in Amsterdam simply viewing Dam Square is enough but if you find yourself having more time you can tour the Royal Palace or enter Madame Tussauds.
Floating Flower Market
The Netherlands as a whole is very well known for flowers, especially tulips, and Amsterdam is no different. People from around the world come to Amsterdam to see the tulips in bloom in the stunning tulip fields. However, these fields are only in bloom from late March – Early May which is a small window of viewing. But there are other ways to see tulips in Amsterdam beyond the fields.
One way is by heading to the floating flower market. This is a long market full of tulip bulbs, flower seeds, and flower souvenirs. The whole market is situated on top of a canal making it the world’s only floating flower market. This is a great place to head to for picking up souvenirs of Amsterdam.
Indulge in Sweets
Amsterdam is a sweet lover paradise with various places to get your sweets craving in check. The best dessert to try in Amsterdam is a Stroopwafel. This is the cities famous treat which consists of two thin waffles stuck together with gooey caramel. There are shops around the city that sell specialty options such as; van Wonderen, or Mellys. You can also find a street market like Albert Cuyp and get a fresh one from there.
If you want something filling and crazy you can head to Bulls & Dogs for one of their amazing freak-shakes. The best thing is that they have a stroopwafel flavored one so you can combine the two cravings into one!
After overloading on sweets it is best to relax in Amsterdam’s famous Vondelpark. This is Amsterdam’s biggest park that is always full of people on a warm sunny day. It is the best place to bring a blanket and sit and relax in for a few hours. Upon arrival you will understand the draw, it is huge with trees everywhere and a beyond compelling buzz.
Evening: One day in Amsterdam
Dinner in the city
There are very few things as romantic as Amsterdam at night. With the surrounding darkness and house lights casting reflections on the canal, it doesn’t get much better. To start the evening off right it is best to enjoy a full meal. If you are traveling as a couple, going out for a nice dinner in Amsterdam is great for creating a romantic date night.
There are a ton of restaurants in Amsterdam to choose from with a wide variety of different cuisines, settings, and vibes. As a vegetarian, I always head to restaurants with vegetarian and vegan options but there are more than that in the city. If you are looking for vegetarian options in Amsterdam check out this post.
Drinks at In’t Aepjen
There are a ton of things to do at night in Amsterdam. But you can’t beat the classic drinks at a pub. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the Amsterdam environment and spend some time letting loose. You also don’t have to drink alcohol to go to a pub and can just enjoy the surroundings.
However, with only one day in Amsterdam, you have to choose the night’s pub carefully. The best option Is In’t Aepjen, one of Amsterdam’s oldest pubs that dates back to 1519. The name literally means “in the monkeys” because back in the day it was frequented by sailors from distant places who would pay for their stay with monkeys. A few drinks here will have you thinking about all the people – and monkeys – who sat here before you in this beyond historic place.
Red Light District
The Red Light District is one of Amsterdam’s more controversial places to visit. It is entirely up to you if you visit or not but it is unlike anything else and something you can really only see here. It is a very interesting area where you will see the women in red-light windows, bars, smoke shops, and other promiscuous shows. The area does start to feel a little dodgy as it gets further into the night so be sure to avoid heading here after 11 PM. Also be sure to not take any photos of the woman as this is not allowed.
When to visit Amsterdam
Every month in Amsterdam has its charm and enchantment.
- Winter – The months of November – February do welcome significantly more rain, however, it does not often go below 0°. During these months it is much less busy and the prices are lower. If you are visiting in winter check out this Amsterdam Winter Guide.
- Spring – From March-May Amsterdam has its spring season which welcomes some unpredictable weather conditions. You can expect days with a high of 20° and some days with lows of 5°. The spring is very popular as this is when the flowers start to bloom, especially in Amsterdam in April.
- Summer – Summer offers warm templates (20°-30°) and less rain than the other seasons. During the months of June – August the city is very packed with people and the prices for accommodation and flights are more expensive.
- Fall – September, and October are the quick fall months in Amsterdam and are unpredictable weather-wise. Sometimes there is a ton of rain and colder conditions (10°) sometimes you can get warm sun days (15°). Nonetheless, the city is stunning in fall and prices will be lower.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
With only one day in Amsterdam, it is important to stay in the city center near all the excitement. However, the city center is the more expensive option when deciding where to stay, and Amsterdam is an expensive city. Check out this guide and find out the best place to stay in Amsterdam. Here are some additional suggestions.
Amsterdam Travel Tips
For a complete detailed list of Amsterdam travel tips check out this post. Here are some other tips below!
- The currency here is the euro.
- Dutch is the spoken language although almost everyone speaks English.
- Be careful of bike lanes and bikers, they come out of nowhere.
- Tipping isn’t required.
- Tap water is safe to drink.
How to get around Amsterdam
This one day in Amsterdam itinerary is outlined in a way that walking between attractions is easy. If you want you can rent a bike to explore during the day or take the public transport. If you have an IAmsterdam city card you get unlimited access to public transport, or you can get a GVB public transport card (listed below) to get around the city.
One day in Amsterdam is just enough to give you a taste of this magical city. This itinerary will have you exhausted by the end, but your admiration and love for Amsterdam will have begun. After visiting for one day, you will surely be planning a trip back to see more of the city.
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Linda (ld holland) says
We had one very busy day in Amsterdam. We strolled a bit and then took a canal tour. But that was just a teaser to want to see more. We are sorry to have missed the floating market. And it would be great to visit when the tulips are all in bloom. Exploring by bike is definitely on my list for a return trip!
Delphine Mignon says
That’s one busy day in Amsterdam! I would spend at least a week there but your list is perfect for one day. I remember taking the cruise on the canals when I was a child, but I’ve never been to Anne Frank’s House, that will have to be a must-do when I visit Amsterdam!
The Holidaymaker/Renee says
I absolutely love this city! Would return in a heartbeat. I did everything on your list, except we didn’t do drinks at In’t Aepjen. The night life is great, and agree, there is something for everyone. We would always pop into a different bar/restaurant for a drink after our late dinner as we strolled back to our apartment. I should check out your vegetarian food post, as I visited some great options too.
There’s a lot to cover in one day in Amsterdam but it’s compact and easy to get around so I can see if you prioritise what you’re interested in and choose from that then you can cover the main places. We only spent a weekend there so not too much different, I think it is a perfect city for a short break.
We were in Amsterdam last spring and it was so much fun. We did a lot of the activities you’ve suggested – wish I had read your guide then! Missed out on the Anne Frank museum since we coundn’t get tickets, hopefully next time!
This is one city I have dreaming of visiting since I dont know when. I loved going through it with this post and the pictures made my day. The one of the three shakes is just gorgeous – had me salivating!