How to Spend One Day in Amsterdam
A trip to Amsterdam isn’t just a tour of the coffee shops and tourist traps around De Oude Kerk (The Old Church). The “Venice of the North” is a blend of a small city and an urban jungle: along the Grachtengordel, you can wander past crooked canal-side houses and cute houseboats, as well as browse the trendy fashion boutiques, authentic second-hand shops and real antique treasure troves. Here’s what to do in Amsterdam in one day!
Travel blogger Gesa from Lilies Diary will take you along and show how to spend one day in Amsterdam. She will take you through the 9 Streetjes, to the Oude Kerk in the center, to Amsterdam Noord and a zero-waste supermarket! Because if the Dutch are known for anything, it’s being imaginative and embracing innovation!
We begin our day in Amsterdam in what are surely the most popular streets in the Dutch capital: the 9 Straatjes. The Negen Straatjes, as they are known in Dutch, make up a trendy little neighborhood in Amsterdam’s city center, with a total of nine streets. In this area, along the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht, you can find the best shops, cafés and boutiques, and also explore the sweet little narrow terraced houses along the canals. The Grachtengordel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But be careful! Once you’ve taken a stroll around De 9 Straatjes, you may be overwhelmed with inspiration and want to redecorate your whole house.
In Spring – Autumn, you should definitely consider taking a canal tour by boat. Gesa’s article on that can be found here.
Antiques and interior design
Continuing along the Prinsengracht, past the Anne Frank House in the north of the Jordaan district, to De Weldaad: a typical Amsterdam shop where anybody with a fondness for interior design & antiques, industrial style, and a bit of romance will feel right at home. The shop encapsulates exactly what Amsterdam does best: interior design! Ideally, I’d move in here. But failing that, I usually leave the shop with my hands full.
As it is just around the corner, we will take a look at the zero-waste supermarket Delicious Food and get some inspiration. Are you familiar with zero-waste shopping? This was one of the first shops to open, before the concept became popular further afield. The motto: zero waste. The shops avoid using plastic packaging, thereby reducing waste. Rice, pasta, nuts, fruit… everything you would normally buy, you can simply take without the packaging, leaving you with less waste.
I take a carrot cake in my hand and hope that there’s a shop like this around the corner from me in Germany some time soon.
The center around the Oude Kerk
We continue on to the tourist center of Amsterdam: the streets surrounding the Oude Kerk. Here, you can find the Red Light District, coffee shops, and some more coffee shops. There is also a sex museum and a marijuana museum. Past the Amsterdam Dungeon, we wander into Pappabubble: a sweet factory that shows you the products being made. Here, you can watch the snoepjes being created: little flat candies, usually with a pattern in the center. A big clump of the mixture is spun into thin strands and cut. At the end, you can find a symbol in the center, such as a cherry, a heart, or a hashtag. It’s verging on art!
A few meters further down the road, we make a pit stop at Burgermeester – an amazing burger joint that also offers tasty vegetarian and vegan options.
If you fancy some art & culture, but don’t want to wait in line for 2 hours in front of the Rijksmuseum, you should carry on to FOAM – the Photography Museum of Amsterdam. Sometimes, there may be photos on display here that had remained buried underground for a long time, another time there will be magazine advertisements that have been painted over. Good fun art!
For the rest of the day, we will be taking a look at Amsterdam from the other side of the water. We are going to Amsterdam Noord. It is located on the opposite side of the river IJ. That’s the last we’ll see of the romantic canals. You can take a free ferry over to the other side of the riverbank, which takes 5-15 minutes and departs from Amsterdam Centraal Station. Bicycles are allowed on board. At the old port at Amsterdam Noord, you can look forward to seeing some industrial romance, modern architecture, container restaurants, cool (beach) bars, and a café in an old greenhouse. Another great place to have a good rummage.
At Pllek, situated at a dockyard which is no longer operative, you can have something to eat, drink a beer, celebrate the weekend dancing along to live DJ remixes, or simply just enjoy the view of the IJ with Amsterdam in the background. For that authentic holiday feeling!
We have compiled all of our insider tips for Amsterdam Noord at Lilies Diary.
#4 Evening and late-night
Even late at night, I can recommend exploring Amsterdam Noord. If you’d prefer to head back into the city center, you can also go on a pub crawl around Prinsengracht and Lijnbaansgracht. Fans of electronic music and live Dj remixes should pay a visit to Trouw Amsterdam – a club in a former magazine factory. Paradiso is also worth a visit, a club in an old church.
You can find more detailed insider tips for your trip to Amsterdam here.
Text and images by Gesa Temmen
A visit to Amsterdam can be quite expensive if you don’t plan accordingly. If you are looking for a hostel in Amsterdam, then MEININGER Hotels can offer you big or small dormitories in reasonable prices in the most central locations in order for you to make backpacking Amsterdam on a budget easier and cheaper.