Amsterdam is a vibrant city with a lot of fun and fascinating attractions and experiences, but if you only have 1 day to explore, you can still see the best the city has to offer.
Here are the highlights of Amsterdam that you can see with 1 day:
Visit the Rijksmuseum
The first stop on a 1-day excursion to Amsterdam should be the Rijksmuseum, a world-class museum that holds a massive collection of Dutch artwork. You'll see paintings by renowned artists like Hals, Vermeer, van Ruysdael, Steen and Rembrandt during your tour.
See the Museumplein IAmsterdam sign
The IAmsterdam sculpture is one of the city's newest landmarks and a spectacular photo op. It's located in the Museumplein, the public square near Rijksmuseum.
Stroll around Leidseplein
The lively square of Amsterdam, Leidseplein, is close to the area museums and is full of restaurants and cafes for a lunch break. You'll also come across fun attractions, such as distilleries, food experiences and shops along the way. Before making your way to the next stop, spend some time on the bridge to watch cruise boats and canals travelling by.
Take a canal cruise
After watching the boats from the bridge, you can take your own canal tour to see the city's sights from the water. Amsterdam is full of canals that wind through the city, left over from wealthy merchants in the Dutch Golden Age, and they offer excellent views of picturesque homes and distinctive houseboats.
Take photos of Nine Streets
De Negen Straatjes, or Nine Streets, is a set of aged cobbled streets that connect the canals of Keizersgracht, Prisengracht and Herengracht. The views along the streets are some of the loveliest of traditional Dutch homes in Amsterdam.
Admire the Jordaan neighbourhood
The Nine Streets are close to the Jordaan neighbourhood, which is the most authentic experience in Amsterdam. Jordaan has endless 17th- and 18th-century structures with cosy gardens and streets with charming bars, cafes and shops. Jordaan also holds 2 highlights of Amsterdam landmarks: the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk, a 400-year-old Dutch Protestant church. A number of Dutch painters were laid to rest here, including Rembrandt.
Experience history in the Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is the home in which Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecution during World War II. The secret rooms in the rear of the house became known as the Secret Annex, and though Frank did not survive the Holocaust, she became well-known when her diary of life during wartime and hiding was published.
You can explore the home on your own or take an orientation tour that reveals facts about the family. The lower floors showcase photos, videos and exhibits about Anne Frank, her family, the Holocaust and the war. The upper floors hold the rooms where Frank's family stayed and are furnished with reproduction period furniture.
Shop the floating flower market, Bloemenmarkt
Bloemenmarkt, with flower stalls on houseboats, is the world's only floating flower market. The historic market allows you to buy souvenirs and flower bulbs or to simply stroll around and take pictures of all the blooms.
Marvel at the Dam Square and Royal Palace
Amsterdam's central square, Dam Square, is home to the Royal Palace and is among the most renowned attractions in the city. You can tour the palace and see period furnishings and artefacts, or you can walk around the outdoor area to see the National Monument and Nieuwe Kerk, the New Church.
Walk through the Red-Light District
The Red-Light District is one of the world's most famed attractions, boasting cafes, adult shops, sex shops and other adult pleasures. You can visit during the day, but the true Red-Light District comes out after dark. You can tour on your own or take a guided tour, such as the Private Red Light District and food tour. The 'window shopping' in Amsterdam is fun enough, but you can also see the beautiful architecture, 300-year-old gabled buildings and other picturesque locations throughout the district.
Finish with views of the Amsterdam canals
Amsterdam's nighttime splendour isn't just in the Red-Light District or nightlife spots. The entire city is illuminated at night, which is a beautiful sight from a canal cruise or a stroll along the bridges on the way back to your accommodation.
Amsterdam is one of the most interesting cities in the world, and even with only 1 day, you can see a number of fascinating attractions that are on any traveller's must-see list.