Amsterdam in one day: things to see and do

Planning a short visit to Amsterdam and what to see the most of it in one day? Check out our top 15 list of must-see places and must-do things in Amsterdam.

1. Take a canal cruise

Get on a boat and experience Amsterdam from water. If you are visiting Amsterdam for the first time, this is exactly where you should start! Most of the touristic boats provide a multi-language audio-guide. Good chance to learn a bit more about the Dutch capital and pick where you go next!

Our favourite canal cruises in Amsterdam are Lovers (you will see their black/orange boats everywhere in the city).

Canal cruises, tours Amsterdam, book tickets online

Canal cruises Amsterdam, best views, book tickets online

Check my top picks of things to do in Amsterdam on GetYourGuide.com >>

2. Visit the A’DAM Lookout for a bird’s eye view

The A’DAM LOOKOUT (Overhoeksplein 5) is an observation deck with a 360° panoramic view of Amsterdam. From the rooftop you’ll see the historical center, Amsterdam port, the unique Dutch polder landscape and much more!

The thrillseekers can also visit ‘Over the Edge’, Europe’s highest swing at a height of 100 meters at the edge of the A’DAM Tower.

Tip! Free entry to A’DAM LOOKOUT is now included in the I amsterdam City Card!

ADAM lookout Amsterdam observation deck

3. Visit the world famous museums

A visit to Amsterdam won’t be complete without a visit to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. To avoid wasting time in queues, make sure to book your tickets in advance.

Tip! If there are no tickets available for the date of your choice, try booking a semi-private guided tour to the Van Gogh museum.

Van Gogh museum Amsterdam, things to do in Amsterdam

4. Explore the Red Light District

The Red Light District is the oldest part of Amsterdam, close to the train station. It’s worldwide known for its vibrant atmosphere and the red windows that display sex workers offering their services. Everybody is welcome to experience this unique part of Amsterdam!

The Bulldog coffeeshop, Amsterdam

Boat tours, canal cruises Amsterdam

5. Browse the markets

The floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt), the Waterlooplein Market, Amsterdam’s most famous flea market, and the famous Albert Cuypmarkt food market are three great options.

Flowermarket (Bloemenmarkt) Amsterdam, Things to do in Amsterdam, photo: Kristina KutenaFlower market in Amsterdam. Photo: Kristina Kutena, Kutena.nl

Waterlooplein flea market, Amsterdam things to doWaterlooplein flea market in Amsterdam

Albert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam, things to do in AmsterdamAlbert Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam

6. Try the famous Dutch herring

Here is a list of places where you can find it in the center of Amsterdam. Enjoy!

Herring in Amsterdam, Stubbe Haring, Best things to do in Amsterdam

7. Enjoy a cup of a coffee with a panoramic view of Amsterdam

Exploring Amsterdam, you wouldn’t want to miss a moment. Feel like having a short break? Choose a place with the best panoramic view of Amsterdam! We have selected five cafés and restaurants where you can drink coffee, have lunch and enjoy a great view of Amsterdam.

Blue Amsterdam view
Photo: Kristina Kutena, Kutena.nl

8. Take a selfie with the I amsterdam sign

Prior to 3 December 2018, there was a set of letters at Museumplein, in front of the Rijksmuseum. It was very popular among visitors. However these letters were removed at the request of the City of Amsterdam.

Right now there are two locations to find I amsterdam:

  • A permanent set is at Schiphol Airport (Outside Arrivals 1).
  • Another set is touring the city.
9. Walk around the Jordaan area

Here you can witness a non-touristic relaxed life of Amsterdam residents.

Things to do in Amsterdam, visit Jordaan

Jordaan, best of Amsterdam

10. Visit an authentic Dutch proeflokaal

Behind the monument on Dam Square, at Pijlsteeg 31, you’ll find the Wynand Focking tasting room. In around 1679 it started as a liqueur distillery. Soon a tasting tavern was added. To this day all liqueurs and genevers here are still being made using the same 17th century traditional craft methods. Experience it yourself!

Wynand Fockink Proeflokaal Amsterdam

11. Visit the Pathé Tuschinski cinema

Even if you don’t have time to see a movie, check out the cinema hall which has preserved its antique interiors. It feels like travelling back in time. Stunning and impressive! You don’t need to have a ticket to enter the Pathé Tuschinski hall (Reguliersbreestraat 26-34).

12. Visit the Amsterdam Chinatown

It’s a small vibrant neighbourhood between Zeedijk and Geldersekade streets and Nieuwmarkt square. And it’s not only the bright colours and tempting food smells that make this place special.

Amsterdam, best things to do, Chinatown

There is a story behind nearly every door here, from ‘t Aepjen cafe (Zeedijk 1), one of the oldest wooden buildings in Amsterdam, to the He Hua temple (Zeedijk 106-118) Buddhist temple.

Amsterdam, best things to do, Chinatown

13. Visit a 17th century canal-side mansion

Once homes for the wealthy Amsterdammers, some canal houses are now open to the public as museums. Here you can see the old interiors, ans well as various collections ranging from archeological artefacts to the modern art.

Here are some of canal house museums you can visit: Museum of the canals (Herengracht 386), Museum Willet-Holthuysen (Herengracht 605), FOAM museum of photography (Keizersgracht 609).

14. Buy something vintage in De 9 Straatjes (The Nine Streets)

De 9 Straatjes, which in Dutch means the nine streets, is an authentic neighbourhood near the most beautiful canals (Herengracht, Keizersgracht, Prinsengracht) in the city centre. You’ll definitely enjoy a walk through these picturesque little streets! Here you can find it on the map >>

Amsterdam things to do, 9 straatjes

De 9 Straatjes area offers a charming mixture of designer boutiques, art galleries, vintage clothing stores, and places to eat and drink. My favourite shop here is Laura Dols, Wolvenstraat 7, Amsterdam, a cute vintage shop specializing in fifties clothing. Unique dresses, hats, shoes, bags, accessories and an extensive collection of ballroom and wedding dresses.

Things to do in Amsterdam, Laura Dols vintage

Things to do in Amsterdam, Laura Dols vintage
15. Visit The Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)

OBA (Oosterdokskade 143) is very popular among the locals and the tourists, especially with kids. The entrance to the library is free. You can enter,  take a comfortable seat, explore the books collection or just enjoy some peace and silence. On the top floor of he library there is a cafe and a panoramic terrace with a view over the city. Enjoy!

Things to do in Amsterdam, OBA library, free entrance

Have a nice day in Amsterdam, get inspired and… plan a new trip to the Netherlands!

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