Photo Credit: Red Morley Hewitt/UnSplash
One Day in Amsterdam: Best Places to Visit
Amsterdam’s aesthetic canals, bridges, and Dutch architecture make it a fairytale destination for travelers. Amsterdam is a vibrant and brightly-colored city with tons of rich history and things to do.
One major attraction for tourists and locals alike is the tulip fields that burst to life every spring in Holland. The most popular place to visit is the Keukenhof flower gardens. Amsterdam also hosts its own Tulip Festival throughout the entire month of April.
In addition to tulips, there are a handful of things to see and experience while you’re in Amsterdam. And the nice thing about the city is that it’s fairly small and easy to walk, bike, or use public transportation to get from one place to another in a short amount of time. So even if you just have 24 hours, you can fit a lot into your day.
Here’s a list of historical landmarks, neighborhoods, and museums in Amsterdam that you can visit in a day—no matter the time of year.
Anne Frank House
Visiting the Anne Frank House is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually see the place Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding during World War II. Frank and her family lived in the annex of the building at Prinsengracht 263 for more than two years. As a visitor, you get to experience the remarkable story of Frank and her family, as well as the other inhabitants of the annex, the Van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer. Through audio tours, videos, photos, and more, their story is brought to life in a way you can’t experience in a textbook.
If feeling like royalty is something that interests you then you’ll want to add the Royal Palace to your Amsterdam itinerary. The Royal Palace is located in Dam Square of Amsterdam and is one of three palaces still used by the Royal Family. The palace is open to visitors for most of the year, except for royal events. Get a taste of the good life, when you walk through the palace’s marble galleries, grand hallways, and prestigious rooms.
After the Royal Palace, make a stop at the Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church located on Dam Square, next to the Royal Palace. Nieuwe Kerk is open to the public as a church and is also used for concerts and private events. In the past, the Nieuwe Kerk has been used for royal weddings and inaugurations. During your visit make sure to check out the impressive Great Organ from 1655, the grand brass choir screen and stained glass windows, and the hundreds of grave slabs on the floor.
Among Amsterdam’s various World War ll tributes, the National Monument is one of the most significant. The 1956 cenotaph is located on Dam Square and stands at an impressive 22-meters high. The National Monument serves as a daily reminder of WWII’s atrocities and the countless lives that were lost. If you happen to be in Amsterdam on May 4th, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit during National Remembrance Day, when the royal family and locals gather to commemorate the casualties of World War II and ensuing armed conflicts.
De Pijp is a hip, avant-garde neighborhood located south of Amsterdam’s city center. This neighborhood has it all: cozy coffee shops, diverse cuisines, beautiful gardens, and a lively collection of bars and pubs. A great area to visit for a day or just a couple of hours, you can easily lose yourself in all its attractions. Visit the Heineken brewery, named the Heineken Experience, for an interactive beer tour. Stop by the largest and most popular outdoor market, the Albert Cuyp Market, and end your day at one of the various bars and eateries.
De Wallen is the oldest and largest red-light district of Amsterdam. Take a trip to De Wallen and check out some of the city’s most picturesque canals and architecture. Whether you’re looking for a cultural experience or a good time, De Wallen has it all—museums, theaters, age-old churches, shops, and nightlife. You can even visit Amsterdam’s very own Chinatown, where you’ll experience Europe’s largest Buddhist temple, as well as a ton of Asian eateries & shops.
Zaanse Schans is slightly outside of Amsterdam located in the Dutch town of Zaandam. Known for its historic windmills and wooden houses, Zaanse Schans gives visitors the quintessential Dutch countryside experience. Discover some of the many artisan workshops, like clog carving, cheese and chocolate making, and pewter casting. Rent a bike and spend the day touring the 18th and 19th-century windmills, which are fully functional and open to visitors most of the year.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of artworks by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in the world. Explore some of van Gough’s most iconic pieces such as “Self-Portrait with Straw Hat” and “Sunflowers.” Take a guided tour and learn more about the legendary and troubled artist, and discover the stories behind some of his most renowned masterpieces.
The Stedelijk Museum (located right next to the Van Gogh Museum) is Amsterdam’s museum of modern art. A fun and exciting museum to visit, the Stedelijk is an innovative museum with a diverse collection of early 20th century and 21st-century artwork. The museum features artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning, Marlene Dumas, Lucio Fontana, and Gilbert & George.
The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands. The museum takes a deep dive into Dutch history, telling the story of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Works from famous Dutch artists, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, and others, are displayed at the museum. In addition to the art and history, visitors can enjoy the museum’s large and beautiful collection of gardens—perfect for strolling and relaxing after a long day of sightseeing.