1 Day to Visit Amsterdam
Updated: Aug 12
Amsterdam is famous for many reasons, and is a pull for travellers of all ages. From its beautiful canals, to its little coffee shops, famous museums, and the red light district, it's a city with a lot to offer. Unfortunately we were only there for a few hours during a layover from Helsinki, but we managed to explore its historic centre pretty well. The city centre is a very short train ride from the airport, and the tickets are cheap as well. If you're looking for advice about where to go in the city and how best to get around, there is an I Amsterdam office located in the airport which I'd recommend stopping at, or head to their office in the centre if you aren't at the airport. They provided us with some very detailed maps and information about the various areas in the city. You can also purchase an Amsterdam city card or the Amsterdam transport pass through them which is a great way to save money!
There are a lot of great bucket list locations to visit in Amsterdam. And if you're only in Amsterdam for a few days, you can still check out lots of neighbourhoods outside of the historic centre. These areas aren't as busy which is great for getting photos and relaxing. Oud Zuid is home to some amazing museums and is one of the more elegant neighbourhoods with boutique shops and restaurants. Or if you're looking for a more hip area, Oost has a great cultural mixture of shops and places to eat, as well as clubs if you're looking for a night out! Click here for some more information on unique things to do in Amsterdam.
So, where to go in Amsterdam if you're on a tight schedule? I would recommend making a little list beforehand so you know what you want to see and how far apart everything is. There are a lot of things to do in Amsterdam in one day. There's nothing worse than having a plan set in your mind and realizing halfway through that you won't be able to get to everything. Check out my Amsterdam "one day itinerary" below, and get excited to be exploring one of the best places in the Netherlands to visit!
What To See in Amsterdam in One Day
The first thing you need to do as you step outside of the airport is to snap a photo with the famous I Amsterdam sign. The last time I was in the city it was in the centre, but now you can find it just outside the airport doors. If you have an early morning flight like we did, then there are no people climbing all over it - bonus! It's one of the many free things to do in Amsterdam as well, and that's before you even get to the centre.
The train station is actually a beautiful building, that I'm sure many people don't properly look at when they exit. So, as you walk into the centre, turn around and take a look over the canals at it. Who says you can't do Amsterdam in a day? That's two things down already.
Dam square is located a short and direct walk from the train station, and is home to the royal palace which is open to the public as often as possible. There's a lot of things to do in this area if you have the time and it's always a busy place. If you're looking for souvenirs in Amsterdam, there are loads of shops around here.
Henri Willig is a family run business that honestly makes the best cheese I've ever tried. Not only that, but there are hundreds to choose from! They even have lavender and truffle cheese! Head to one of their stores to sample them, because they put out a lot of samples and encourage you to try as many as you want. So if you want some Dutch cheese to bring back home as a souvenir or gift for someone, this is where you need to head to. You really can't get better cheese in Amsterdam.
There are loads of markets dotted around the city, so if you see one take a few minutes out of your schedule to have a look. We came across a lovely artists market while walking through the city. Even if you're only in Amsterdam for one day, any of the markets you come across are worth a quick peek.
These are the country's famous "cookies" and date back to the 16th century. Spices were brought back by Dutch trade ships and used in a new kind of bread. This was later changed into the cookies that are still sold today. There are loads of Peppernut flavours to choose from and they're very tiny too, making them easy to store away in your luggage. If you're looking for things to buy in Amsterdam, sure tulip bulbs are popular, but peppernuts will tickle your taste buds and are a great souvenir.
Speaking of taste buds ... If you're wondering about where to eat in Amsterdam, I've got you covered. The Avocado Show makes everything out of avocados. Literally everything. It's probably one of the coolest places to visit in Amstedam. Here's their take on a salmon poke bowl, which was almost too picture perfect to eat.
An avocado burger? Yes please! The bun is replaced with the two halves of the avocado, and the sauce sits in the hole where the pit was. Safe to say it was amazing. Although this isn't on your list of typical "things to see in Amsterdam", it's very unique and a fun experience.
Avocado waffles! I never thought to put them on waffles, let alone add chocolate to them but it tastes incredible! You can probably add this to a list of strange things to do in Amsterdam. But, it's also one of the best things to do in Amsterdam too! You can buy their cookbook and try out all their recipes at home as well (guilty of this purchase). If you're planning a day trip to Amsterdam, and love avocados, or are in the city for only 24 hours, you will regret not going here!
Is it really a trip to Amsterdam without taking in the iconic canals? Nah. We were only there during the day, but took a walk through the famous red light district anyways, which is beautiful in the daytime! If you have two days in Amsterdam, the canal cruises are very popular and a memorable experience. The canals are definitely the best of Amsterdam, and you really can't miss them as you're walking around the city's historic streets. I would also highly recommend going to visit Anne Frank's House. The only reason that it wasn't on my list of things to do in Amsterdam in 24 hours is that it can take quite a bite out of your day with the lengthy queues and the time it takes to go around the museum itself. It really is one of the key places to visit in Amsterdam and an eye opening experience.
If you're visiting Amsterdam and have any questions regarding things to do or places to eat, please drop me a message or contact me on Instagram! If you're thinking of heading to southern Spain, check out 10 Unique Places to Visit in Andalusia. And don't forget to click here to read about our next destination - Milan.
P.S. Please watch out for the cyclists when you're walking because THEY WILL NOT STOP FOR YOU! Honestly, they will run you over.