I only had one full day and night in Amsterdam but it was enough to know that I would have to come back someday. It was like a great first date. You kinda fall fast. There was so much to do but the vibe of the city is so relaxed that I didn’t feel like a stressed out tourist choking on my camera strap as I ran around. Instead, it felt like a great adventure, one experience more exciting than the next. Of course I wish I could have done more, and I definitely will when I go back. Here is a list of the awesome things I recommend with 24 hours in Amsterdam.
Have breakfast outside along the canals
Amsterdam’s canals are over 400 years old and run through the entire city. They are lined with brightly colored flowers, and parked bicycles. The weather in August was sunny and warm and having a cup of coffee alongside these picturesque canals felt like a fairy tale.
Take a boat ride
There’s a lot of ways you can get around the city. You can walk, bike (which I would not recommend as the locals ride their bikes like they are driving cars. Fast and furious. Do not get in their way!) There are also trams and taxis, but getting to see the city from the vantage point of the canals is a great experience. You glide gently, looking up to see the colorful buildings on either side and you get a guided history from your driver. I did a hop on hop off tour which is a great way to see the different sites in a timely manner without having to navigate a foreign city!
Visit the Anne Frank House
Take a self guided tour with an audio device and learn about the history of the Frank family during WWII. You will walk through the apartment behind a bookcase where the family hid for 2 years. It’s a surreal experience.
Do the Heineken Experience
You most definitely don’t need to be a beer drinker to appreciate the Heineken brewery. I actually hate beer but this place is a masterpiece. Learn about the history of Heineken, how it’s brewed, sing karaoke, dance, play video games, put your name on a bottle, the list goes on. Get two free Heinekens with your ticket purchase and enjoy them on the rooftop overlooking the city with a burger fresh off the grill.
Take a picture in front of the Iamsterdam sign and eat a stroop waffle!
There are two or three signs around the city and they are usually always crowded, but it’s a fun tourist picture to take. As for stroopwafels, you can find them in most stores that sell things like candy and cigarettes. Enjoy the chewy caramel cookie as you take a stroll to your next attraction.
Check out a Coffeeshop
Here, it’s legal to purchase and smoke Marijuana like a pack of cigarettes. It was definitely a culture shock to see it sold and enjoyed out on the streets. You don’t have to buy anything but you can take a look inside for your own curiosity!
Walk through the Red Light District
Speaking of culture shock, I was not mentally prepared for this part of town. Rows and rows of store front windows are lined with red florescent lights and standing there are young attractive women. They call out to people passing by and offer them “services.” Someone approaches, there's an exchange, they walk in and a curtain is yanked over to cover up the window. There’s also theaters doing live shows and a lot of sex shops. The area was very lively and fun to walk around. It felt like a really kinky version of Times Square.
Finish the Amsterdam game strong with a late night waffle
After an entire day of sightseeing, sit back relax and treat yourself to a decadent waffle.