Amsterdam, capital of The Netherlands is famous for it’s vibrant atmosphere. From its magical canals to the hundreds of art galleries and of course the night scene of the Red Light District and its coffee-shops in ever corner… Amsterdam is for everyone. All you want is there but you have to choose: culture or party? Don’t worry! If you are like me and like a bit of both you can combine and see everything the city has to offer in one night!
In this article, I offer you a guide on things to do in Amsterdam in one day only. Before getting there, I thought staying there for one night is not enough. It is indeed not enough but I was able to cover the main spots of the city in a short time.
I got to Amsterdam from Hull, England by ferry. The ferry arrives in the morning around 8.30 in Rotterdam’s Europoort. I then got transferred by coach to the capital.
10.00: Check in at Hans Brinker Hotel
The worst hotel in the world is Hans Brinker. This is how it is described on its powerful marketing campaign. This budget hotel/hostel is located in Kerkstraat and is quite central. Few steps away from busy shopping streets filled with restaurants, shops, supermarkets, fast-foods and all I really needed. Just by walk I could reach the main places of interest in Amsterdam. Rooms have everything as stated during the booking process and the staff remains in the reception ready to help. One of my highlights in the hotel was their buffet in the morning that offers a proper continental breakfast with yoghourt, fruits, pancakes, coffee, tea, jam, toasted bread, cheese, eggs and much more to get full and kick off the day in the city. The Wifi works at the reception however not in the rooms which was a shame. But it is actually enjoyable to stay at the bar to catch the wifi and also the happy hour that offers two for one drinks and cheap dinners. Well, finally not really the worst hotel in the world…
Address: Kerkstraat 136-138, 1017 GR Amsterdam
To stay at the worst hotel in the world, book your bed here: http://www.hansbrinker.com/
11.00: Stop at the poetry bookshop Perdu
Marcel Proust’s novel “À la recherche du temps perdu’’ is from where the name of this bookshop is taken from. I discovered this place randomly by walking around the beautiful canals. It is very calm inside, lot of interesting books and a friendly staff with a smile. This bookshop is linked to a theatre that offers various shows anytime of the year. It is well maintained and if you like poetry and exploring bookshops, you can’t miss this one!
Address: Kloveniersburgwal 86, 1012 CZ Amsterdam
11.45: Van Gogh Museum
The hotel Hans Brinker is located few minutes away from Van Gogh Museum. It’s an interesting and unique building with treasures from the worldwide known Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. From the start of his career, to the techniques he used, till his days at the psychiatric centre, I know everything about him now! Some fabulous paintings that I admired for few minutes left me speechless. But since I had limited time in Amsterdam, I saw the whole museum in less than 2 hours and I finished by having my lunch at their restaurant that offers high quality food but maybe a bit pricey for me, a traveller on budget. On the way back to the historical centre, don’t miss the opportunity to snap a picture in front of the giant ‘iamsterdam’.
Address: Paulus Potterstraat 7, 1071 CX Amsterdam
14.30: Dam Square
Considered as the ‘heart of the city’, Dam Square is located few minutes away from Central Station, the historical centre, the Red Light District and connected with various tram lines. Throughout the year, it is a theatre of entertainment with funfairs, concerts and more. The time I was there, a Christmas concert was offered by the city with the presence of several Dutch celebrities. Something else I have noticed is all the bicycles parked there… hundreds! But to be honest, I didn’t find that square particularly beautiful even though it’s a must-see in Amsterdam because of its history and location.
15.30: Barber and/or Espresso?
Again, while randomly walking around I have noticed a very interesting concept. A shop is divided into two parts… a barber and a café. You can either have you hair done or get a quick espresso or both. Well, or neither… just as I did. I took a look at this special concept that I have personally never seen before. Also, on the same street you might notice the Candomerie shop, a store specialised in candoms, in every color and also… in every shape!
Address: Warmoesstraat 155, Amsterdam 1012 JC
16.00: Jazz Concert at Compagnietheatre
Again, randomly walking around. I have found a venue that plays free concerts quite frequently. That time it was Jazz featuring a bunch of talented musicians and a local radio to cover the event. It was a relaxing moment after a day walking around the city in a slightly cold weather. Also a great time to have a drink and meet with locals.
Address: Kloveniersburgwal 50, 1012 CX Amsterdam
19.00: Shopping around Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market)
Time for shopping maybe? The Bloemenmarkt sells flowers but the area all around is very commercial. Stores seem to attract lot of people with some special sales but they didn’t succeed in attracting me… Although, I gave up and did some shopping at the end. I bought cheese! Holland is famous for its good quality food and especially for cheese. I bought mine at a store named Henri Willig. It was hard to choose what to take home as it might be heavy but with the help of the staff and the samples I tasted I made my choice for a traditional Gouda and an exceptional Pesto cheese.
20.00: Time for the Red Light!
Probably something Amsterdam is most famous about. This district where I felt like everything is permitted. This place is the heart of the nightlife in Amsterdam and also the centre of prostitution, sex and drugs. Indeed, in every corner I noticed strip clubs and windows with prostitutes openly waving to attract clients. And also higher presence of coffee-shops where it is legal to smoke marijuana. However, this place is a bit too touristy but at the same time it feels safer and more like an open-air zone of entertainment where people from around the world witness this liberal environment. This area is great to party till late and have a memorable night in Amsterdam. After this I came back to my hostel.