One of my favorite things about Europe is just how close everything is; you could be spending a day in Amsterdam and then suddenly decide to hop on a train and be in Paris for dinner—the possibilities are endless!
This freedom of movement is intoxicating, and plans are bound to be made last minute to somewhere exciting, so if you end up booking a train to Amsterdam on a whim, and have no idea what to do there or what to eat, then this is the post for you!
In this post I will guide you through how to spend a day in Amsterdam; what to do in Amsterdam, famous dutch foods to try, tips for visiting, and more.
Useful tips for a day in Amsterdam
Wear layers and carry an umbrella
It will really depend on when you come to visit, of course, but generally speaking, Amsterdam is known for its gloomy and sometimes very indecisive weather. You could be enjoying the most glorious sunny morning and then get caught in a midday shower.
So the best way to prepare for a day in Amsterdam is to prepare for any weather, layers work best for this, you can enjoy the sunny moments in a t-shirt and carry a sweater for a windy evening, and if you want to be extra prepared, I would highly advise carrying an umbrella or a light raincoat.
The last time we visited the weather forecast expected perfect sunny weather for our whole stay, but we still ended up having to use an umbrella a couple of times, and let me tell you, I was so happy I carried that thing everywhere, is not fun to be jumping from café to café trying to stay dry.
Watch out for bikes and the bike lane
The number one rule when walking around Amsterdam is: pay attention where you are walking, and for your own good STAY OUT OF THE BIKE LANE.
The Dutch are some of the nicest people I have ever met, every time I come to Amsterdam I feel so at home with just how genuinely friendly everyone is, but if you step on the bike lane as a pedestrian and you are in the way of the cyclists, you will meet the not-so-friendly side of the Dutch.
Besides getting screamed at, not being aware of where you are walking could also be potentially dangerous for you and the cyclists around, so to keep everyone safe and happy just pay extra attention to your surroundings when crossing the street, and make sure you are always walking on the pedestrian path.
Coffee shop vs. Cafe in Amsterdam
This is a very important distinction to make for any first-time visitor; when walking around Amsterdam and looking for a nice place to sit down and enjoy a cappuccino and maybe a little baked good, you are looking for a cafe, if what you want is a place to sit down and smoke weed then what you are looking for is a coffee shop.
That’s it, simple but very important to know in case you are asking around for a good coffee shop but all you want is a cappuccino.
How To Spend One Day In Amsterdam
I find it almost unnecessary to mention that Amsterdam is a beautiful city that cannot be simplified into a one-day experience—as with any other city—but when time is a luxury we do the best we can with what we have.
So here is my ideal version of how to spend a day in Amsterdam:
Bakers & Roasters: Best brunch in Amsterdam
First things first; breakfast!
I live for breakfast food, so I always do meticulous research about breakfast/ brunch spots anywhere I go, and every single blog that I read recommended setting your alarms extra early to get a table at Omelegg at a sensible hour—now, I am not a morning person, but the hype of this place pushed me to be there by 9:30 am, only to be informed that the next table would be available in an hour and a half… Yikes!
If you are like me, you need your breakfast for fuel, but also for not punching someone in the face early in the morning, so waiting more than one hour for food was not an option, thankfully, I had a plan B; Bakers & Roasters.
Bakers & Roasters is a bustling Kiwi-Brazilian-inspired brunch spot with a focus on organic and ethically sourced high-quality ingredients, which guarantees you are getting the best of the best and prepared in the most delicious way!
We ordered the (Kinda classic) eggs Benny with bacon, the Navajo eggs with BBQ pulled pork, avocado, mango salsa & chipotle cream served with two poached eggs and toast, and two cappuccinos, and it was all just incredible! You can really taste the care they put into the food and the quality of the ingredients!
I haven’t been to Omelegg yet, but I have tried other brunch spots in the city and so far I would consider this one to be the best brunch in Amsterdam, so if you love your sleep too much to wake up at 7 am for Omelegg, or want to try something a bit more off the beaten blogger’s path then definitely pay them a visit.
Things to do in Amsterdam: Exploring the city on foot
I have always believed that the best way to get to know a new city is on foot; getting lost in its streets, allowing yourself to be surprised to what you might find at the turn of every corner, such as chic boutique shops, cozy cafés, and more.
So after breakfast at the Bakers & Roasters location in de Pijp, you can explore this beautiful area of Amsterdam which is full of cute brunch spots and amazing cafes, and later you can make your way over the bridge and find yourself in Museum land, there you will see the Rijksmuseum, the world-famous Van Gogh Museum, Moco Museum for modern art, and the Stedelijk Museum.
Things to do in Amsterdam: Stop by a museum
If you are in Amsterdam for only 24 you can still squeeze in some time to visit one of the city’s famous museums and see some of the main pieces. Personally, I think you can never go wrong with the Van Gogh museum—it’s a classic.
But if museums aren’t your thing you will surely still enjoy the Museumplein; an open grassy area surrounded by the beautiful architecture of the museum buildings. If you are a bookworm like me, check out the Harry Potter-esque Rijksmuseum Library.
Where to eat in Amsterdam: Lunch at Foodhallen
If you are starting to feel peckish take a turn north and head over to Foodhallen; an old tram station that got renovated into a beautiful and spacious food hall, that is now home to over twenty food stands with cuisines and flavors from all over the world—you are guaranteed to find something delicious!
If you want to stick to the theme of the trip and eat something more local, something you should definitely try at Foodhallen is bitterballen, a famous dutch food that consists of a crunchy fried ball with a warm meaty filling, similar to croquetas—small, but packed with flavor.
Must-see in Amsterdam: Anne Frank’s House
The Anne Frank house, a chill-inducing reminder of history, is now turned into a museum that you can visit to experience the tight space where Anne lived in hiding with her family for over two years.
If you plan to visit the museum, you should really consider booking your ticket at least a month or two in advance, however, if you don’t have time to go in, or forgot to book a ticket, I think the house is still worth visiting from the outside to paint a picture of Anne’s descriptions in her diary.
Must-visit area in Amsterdam: The 9 Streets
From the Anne Frank house, you can walk along the Prinsengracht canal and make your way down to “The 9 streets”, which just as the name suggests consists of 9 small streets that form a picturesque canal-district area full of vintage and designer boutiques, cozy cafés, small restaurants and more.
If you feel like snacking, some of my favorite places in the 9 Streets are:
- Banketbakkerij Het Koekemannetje – Heavenly gooey cookies
- Fabel Friet – Best fries in Amsterdam! Ask for truffle sauce and parmesan on top *chefs kiss*
- Pancakes Amsterdam Negen Straatjes – Wide variety of Dutch pancakes
Amsterdam’s Floating Flower Market
If you decided to go for some fries at Fabel Friet—which I hope you did, they are incredible!— then you can take them for a little stroll along the canals and make your way to Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market.
During spring this place looks like a sea of tulips, and if you are visiting any other time of the year you can buy seeds here to take home and grow your own colorful flower babies.
From here you can explore around and slowly make your way into the red light district while is still daylight if you want to see the famous windows.
Must see in Amsterdam: The iconic Amsterdam dancing houses
Even though you can throw a rock in any direction in this city and find a stunning view, there is one postal perfect image you have to see at least once, and that is one of the iconic dancing houses by the water—an unofficial name that stuck due to their quirky and wiggly look.
If you arrived by train then chances are you already saw them, but even if, they are always fun to admire and photograph, and since at this point of the day you are in the area, why not?
Note: For a sweet little something, just around the corner you will find Tony’s Chocolate bar; a Dutch chocolate brand that focuses on ethically sourced cacao beans and that has a mission of eradicating slavery in the cacao industry, all that while providing delicious chocolaty treats!
Where to drink in Amsterdam: Flying Dutchmen Cocktails
If you are anything like me, then you will agree that there’s no better way to end a full day of exploring a new city than by exploring its cocktail scene, and thankfully Amsterdam has a lot to offer in that area.
Amsterdam has some of my favorite cocktail bars in the world—you can expect a whole blog post on it soon—there are so many incredible options that one day is simply not enough to paint an image, so, for someone spending just a day in Amsterdam I’m going for a bar that is quite central and close to our previous location; the Flying Dutchmen Cocktails.
The Flying Dutchmen Cocktails is a beautiful cozy bar that serves delicious cocktails inside a historical building that was built in 1662, you can even admire a stunning fresco on its ceiling that survived a fire in 1991—the cocktails are great but the place is its own character.
The service was warm and friendly and the bartenders are very knowledgeable and willing to help you find exactly what you want, or make it for you if is not on the menu.
I hope you found this guide on how to spend one day in Amsterdam helpful, and I hope you have more time in the future to explore this incredible city, it sure deserves it! Please let me know if you end up trying any of my recommendations, I would love to hear!