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.
"Walk. Talk. Eat. Repeat"
Without a doubt my favorite thing to do is travel to a new city alone and find my way around, all the while chomping on whatever local cuisine I can get my hands on. But sometimes I forget that my own city and hometown of New York has so much I have yet to discover. There are so many restaurants, Gelaterias, bars and bakeries constantly opening, but there are also staples that seem to be going strong since the Ice Age. A hard feat to pull off in NYC where rents are sky rocketing and the palettes of New Yorkers are ever changing.
My old pal Dante Mercadante (YES THAT IS HIS REAL NAME!!) and I go back years to where we met in acting class. This guy has charisma, and he followed his passion for great food and love of NYC to create his own food tour, “Nice Guy Tours.”
I joined the Greenwich Village tour, where I learned about the local landmarks, munched on A LOT of NYC classics, and had so many laughs I’m pretty sure I burned off all the calories I’d happily ingested anyway. Here are the places we stopped for a bite!
1. Mamoun's Falafel
Mamoun's is the oldest falafel joint in all of NYC serving hungry New Yorkers since 1971. They had some of the best falafel I've ever tried. Perfectly crunchy, and though it's fried, it is not at all greasy. (They change the oil everyday). My favorite part was the gorgeous vibrant green on the inside!
2. Hudson Bagels
Dante orders a classic NYC everything bagel made fresh on location, boiled and rolled (top and bottom!) in the traditional salt, garlic, sesame and poppy seed topping. With a shmear of cream cheese of course.
3. Artichoke Pizza
Artichoke opened on 14th street in 2008 and has since opened ELEVEN other locations! That success speaks for itself. Their special Artichoke slice is what I can only describe as warm cheesy artichoke dip atop a perfectly crunchy crust. Although the topping is rich and creamy, the slice does not get soggy. These guys know what they are doing and let me tell you, it is WELL worth the calories!
4. Pomme Frites
What takes these authentic Belgian fries next level are two things:
1.They are fried twice making them crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
2. You have a choice of 30 different dipping sauces!!!!
Dante gets their best sellers to sample with your frites (sweet mango chutney and Vietnamese pineapple) and a bunch more. You can also sample as many as you want! Is this real life?!?!
5. Faicco's Italian Specialties
Gooey arancini? Check. A slice of fresh sopressata while you're waiting? Check. Indulge in this lovely rice ball and take in the intoxicating smells of homemade sausages, olive oils and cheeses.
6. Bleecker Street Pizza
Now I am a born and raised Bronx girl who is very loyal to her local Pizzerias. I get very protective of my borough when it comes to comparing slices throughout New York. But I have to say, Bleecker Street's "Nonna Maria's" slice is literally something to write home about. It comes from a family recipe of grandma's sweet sauce, basil, oregano and fresh mozzerella. The crust is dusted with semolina to give it that perfect crunch. It's crispy, gooey and was definitely my favorite part of the tour. It was voted best pizza in NYC by the Food Network 3 years in a row. How could I have missed this all my life?
7. Pasticceria Rocco
This bakery was an improvised last stop and I'm not complaining. It's been run by Rocco and his family since 1974 serving up Rocco's world famous cannoli filled fresh on the spot. The only question is, pistachio cream or chocolate chip?
I had the greatest time on this tour and left with my belly and heart full! Dante will deliver the food, the info and as always a barrel of laughs! Check out link for more info : https://www.niceguytours.com/