How to Spend One Day in Amsterdam

  • UPDATED Apr 07, 2017
People often wonder whether it would be possible to spend just one day in the enigmatic and enchanting city of Amsterdam exploring its beautiful canals, interesting museums and gorgeous architecture and have their wanderlust quenched. If I can be honest with you, a straightforward answer will be NO! I feel you can never end a love affair with the city that just allures visitors. However, the first time I visited the city, I did manage to spend the best one day in Amsterdam with my best friend. Here’s a gist of the itinerary we followed:

Amsterdam Centraal Station:

Image Source: PublicDomainPictures 

The morning began early with a trip to the architecturally stunning Amsterdam Centraal Station which is an attraction in itself. An impressive Neo-Renaissance building, the station was opened to the public in the year 1889 and has been serving the city since then. A landmark in its own right, a visit to the Centraal Station is one of the things to do in Amsterdam in one day. After grabbing a delicious breakfast of kaassouffles and some piping hot coffee from one of the many eateries within the station, we headed over to the next attraction- Bloemenmarkt. 


Step into a floating flower market at Bloemenmarkt, a beautiful place where you will find vendors selling flowers, plants, saplings, seeds, souvenirs, gardening equipment and the likes. During December, the market also sells charming Christmas trees and you should definitely visit it if you want to spend one day in Amsterdam in the winter. By the time we were done exploring Bloemenmarkt, our purses were full of cute souvenirs such as fridge magnets having tiny windmills on them and pens shaped like beautiful tulips!

Anne Frank House:

Have you read The Diary Of A Young Girl? Then a visit to the Anne Frank House will leave you humbled and probably more humane. This is the place where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding and where she sat and wrote her diary in which she poured out her hopes, aspirations, thoughts and fears. If you are one of the few who is unaware of Anne Frank, you should definitely add this place to your Amsterdam 1 day itinerary.

Dam Square:

By this time, it was noon and we were hungry again! And that’s when we decided to head over to Dam Square. If you are wondering what to see and do in one day in Amsterdam, the Dam Square will probably answer your question! Housing lots of museums, quaint cafes (serving the famous weed and hash brownies!), bustling shopping malls, boutiques, shops, fast food joints and architecturally gorgeous buildings, the square also hosts several evening entertainment options. 

EYE Film Institute:


The next on our wishlist of ‘what to see and do in one day in Amsterdam’ was the interesting and engrossing EYE Film Institute. And so we hopped on a ferry and crossed the river to the charismatic building which celebrates and encourages movies, art, culture and more. Apart from the permanent exhibits, we had a blast at the temporary one which had a motion sensor wall. Every time we passed by it, colours lit up the wall according to our movements! 


Crossing the river again, we headed over to the Rijksmuseum. Housed within an opulent building, the museum is a tribute to famous artists over the years. On display at the museum are over 8,000 objects, artefacts, paintings and sculptures which are dedicated to arts, crafts and history with a timeframe of the year 1200 to the year 2000. We were completely impressed by the museum’s collection and did not feel like leaving the building at all! But, time was running out and we still had a couple of more places to visit on our day trip to Amsterdam.



Grabbing a few packets of traditional Dutch waffle biscuits and a couple of mugs of hot chocolate, we next headed over to the beautiful Vondelpark. A popular tourist attraction in the city, during your 24 hours in Amsterdam, a visit to the park is a must. After a quick walk around the park and a few selfies later, we headed out to the next Amsterdam attraction. 

The Torture Museum:


This one was not a planned one. While we were walking around, we stumbled upon the Torture Museum. Now, don’t think I am a sadist when I say that just the museum’s name excited me! While my friend Rashmi opted out of this one, I was all for exploring it! But Alas! I could not stomach the tour of the museum! The objects, sketches and photographs on display sent a chill down my spine and I was out of there in 10 minutes! My visit to Amsterdam could not have gotten quirkier than this!

Red Light District:

And finally, as night fell, we visited the infamous Red Light District! No, we did not do what you guys think we did! We were just curious you see, and thus we headed over to the region famous for its debauchery. We were however pleasantly surprised at how well managed everything at RLD is. And were more surprised to see families taking a stroll along the lanes! That’s when we realised that the district is more than just sex. It is also home to a few cafes, one tempting ice cream parlour, some rather interesting looking buildings and even a couple of museums.

The Famous Canals:


Image Source: Pixabay
All the while spending our one day in Amsterdam, we did keep getting glimpses of the city’s famous canals. So, with a couple of burgers in hand, we spent the night taking a stroll along these. We really wanted to take a cruise as well, but there is only so much we could fit into a single day’s itinerary. Maybe the next time we visit, we’ll begin with the canals. Like I said in the beginning, it is tough to end an affair with Amsterdam!
Finally, is one day in Amsterdam enough you ask? Based on my experience, I would say yes, in a way. We did manage to cover most of the famous attractions, we had food on the go and skipped visiting any restaurant in Amsterdam completely and we also managed to experience the pulse and vibrancy of the city. Having said that however, do plan a longer trip if time permits. And while you are at it, do check out this 3 day trip a friend of mine took to Amsterdam.

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Traveler, writer, reader, bathroom singer, trekker, dreamer, a superhero in the making! Trying to be a good Samaritan because we need more of those. Afraid of roller coasters and flying insects! Living life, one mistake at a time.