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Amsterdam for a day

My wife and I will be visiting Amsterdam on the last day of our trip Europe trip next summer and then flying out from Amsterdam to the U.S. the next day. Now our time in Amsterdam is limited, as we will only be there for a little over 24 hours. With that being said, we will looking to hit all the "top tourist spots" in our one day there. Any thoughts on what top attractions are most worth our time. Also, is it worth it for us to buy the Amsterdam Fast Pass?

I figure we will start the day with a canal cruise of some sort to get a good feel for the layout of the city. And then after that we are just looking what is the best way to use our time. Now we are not real big "artsy" people so I think we will skip the Van Gogh Museum. The other two big attractions I keep coming across are the Anne Frank House and the Heineken Tour...are those worth actually going in and doing?

Any thoughts on how to best use our time would be much appreciated. We are a young couple, so anything outdoors and active (parks, etc). Thanks for your help!

Posted by
2081 posts


There art and then there historical art. i know the van gogh is old but im thinking older. The Rijks has some really nice older art, sculptures, doll houses, carvings and such.

So far ive never takien any of the river crusies anywhere they were offered. They can be fun and useful, but so far ive skipped them in order to do/see more.

you may want to say what you DO like to do/see/activities so that others can recommend something related to your likes.

I used the AMsterdam Card since i was there for 3 days. Dont know whats on the Amsterdam Fast Pass, but like any pass and as Rick Steves says..."do the math". you will have a better idea on what you want to do and if its on the pass.

I havent been to the Anne Frank house, yet. maybe next year.

If you like Parks, Vondelpark in the SW direction and close to the leidseplien/museum area. I stayed near Vondelpark on my first time in AMS but didnt venture into it. Theres a stable nearby, but no rides into the park.

happy trails.

Posted by
9110 posts

The canal cruise won't give you an idea of the layout, so maybe you'd want to do it in the evening.

Heineken is just one more brewery.

The Ann Frank House is well worth your time.

Amsterdam Fast Pass is one I've never heard of, but most of that type of things are deals for museums and transportation. You'll probably walk a lot, you'll only be there a day, and you're not going to museums so . . . .

Posted by
1888 posts

Strongly suggest you get advance tickets to Anne Frank house or you will waste a lot of time waiting in line. Agree with saving canal cruise for night.

Posted by
1976 posts

Agree with the comments about the Anne Frank Huis. If you want a feel for the layout of the city, the best thing to do is walk. The streets curve and you might get a bit disoriented but that's part of the city's charm, I think.

Vondelpark is a big park that's popular with locals and tourists. You can rent bikes to ride in the park and/or the city.

You might be interested in walking through the red-light district, just because it's so different from anything we have in the States.

Posted by
31303 posts


I would also highly recommend a visit to the Anne Frank house, but as the others have said it would be a good idea to reserve tickets. It's a very moving site, and you'll probably find that the mood of the people moving from room-to-room is somewhat "subdued and quiet". Note that photos are not allowed inside.

I agree with the others that a Canal cruise might be better at night and definitely agree with Ed that the cruise won't give you an idea of the layout. In going from one canal to another, after a short time you probably won't have any idea where you are in the city.

If you think you might be interested in having a look at either a Coffee Shop or the Red Light district (both somewhat "unique" to Amsterdam), you might consider using a local Guide (there are some listed in the Guidebook). This will not only provide you with a good "local perspective", but it will also be an efficient use of your very short time.

If you have time, be sure to try some of the great Indonesian food there. MAX Restaurant seems to get consistently good reviews, but Kantjil & de Tijger also seems to be very popular.

Is there any way you could squeeze in an extra day there?

Happy travels!

Posted by
582 posts

All good advice. I agree with the Anne Frank Huis also. Amsterdam is a great walking city and easy to get around. I recommend a tram pass as well. We were there for 3 days so for only 24 hours pick 2 things and then walk the city. RS book on Amsterdam has a great walk of the main areas check it out. We also hit the "Bull Dog" café area twice for the entertainment at noon and later in the evening as well-great guitarists when we were there. Enjoy the city, one of my favorites.

Posted by
11798 posts

As always, it really depends on what you like most. Personally, I like history and culture (but history prior to about 1600 is most interesting to me, 20th century history isn't a high priority on a trip).

The sight I think is most unique in Amsterdam is the architecture. I'd either take time for a walk around the center, a canal cruise tour, or both.

The other unique sight I'd probably pick in my one day is the Van Gogh museum. Van Gogh did multiple pieces on the same subject. That's why you're likely to see a sunflower in one museum and think, "Didn't I see this somewhere else?". The Amsterdam museum has lots of early work by Van Gogh you aren't going to see anywhere else. I'd recommend it.

Anne Frank house is great but, as I said, it doesn't make my top 1 day list simply because of the time frame and my personal preference.

Posted by
26 posts

To do Anne Frank Huis I'd recommend getting there when they open. I've found that Amsterdam takes a while to wake up so those "must do" things are best finessed at opening time if possible. It was easy for me in October. Maybe not so much in summer. You will have a much better time if you just decide to maybe do one thing and then spend the remainder of the time getting lost in the city. It's all good. You won't tick off a lot of boxes on your to-do list in just one day, but if you decide to just explore without an agenda you will not be disappointed. Amsterdam is flat and an easy walking city and the trams make it even easier. I can't think of a better last day in Europe than to decompress in Amsterdam without an itinerary.

Posted by
837 posts

Order the City Walks boxed set of cards containing maps and descriptions of each walk, for Amsterdan. Publlished by San Francisco Chronicle. Available at Also available for about 5 other European cities.

Posted by
1399 posts

I agree with so many things said here. We liked the Anne Frank house, the architecture, sampling the uniqueness of some of the food, a walk through the Red Light District and the Rijs museum. We like history so loved the history museum.

Posted by
76 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions thus far.

What it comes down to for us is this:
A) Spend 2.5 days in Paris and fly back to the U.S. from Paris
B) Spend 1.5 days in paris...then take an early train to Amsterdam and Spend about 26 hours in Amsterdam and fly back from Amsterdam

Pro's of going to Amsterdam
A) It will be a LONG time before I come back to Europe so I am not sure when the next time I will have the chance to get to Amsterdam
B) Amsterdam seems like a great city to just relax, take in the views and a perfect ending to our trip

Con's of going to Amsterdam
A) Only get 1.5 days in Paris and one day in Amsterdam
B) Extra Travel

RIght now I am leaning on making the extra trip Amsterdam since we will be this close and it seems like a great place to cross of my bucket list of being. My question is, with the fact I am only there 24 hours, do you think its worth it?

Thanks for any advice!

Posted by
2081 posts


Im an enabler.

So. Since you want to go to AMS, GO!

you say you dont know when you will be back. You know what the +/- are and you list them. You cant do Paris justice in 2 or 3 days, but you can get a taste of it. Same with AMS. So, get a taste of both places and hopefully something will take root and give you enough push to want to come back.

I know that everyone has their life and priorities and everyones is different. But if you really want to go back theres nothing stopping you except yourself.

Happy trails and enjoy Paris AND Amsterdam.

Posted by
1399 posts

I would do both - it's such a short time in each that you will only be getting a taste. When United Airlines allowed stops in cities on their flight paths at no extra cost, we were able to spend 3 days in Paris (the very first time) and on another trip 3 days in Amsterdam. I wasn't ready to leave either place, but had such a wonderful time and then did know I wanted to go back and did go back.

Posted by
14408 posts

Although Paris is my favorite city, I also think you should take a day away to see Amsterdam, because it is unique. Aside from the "artsy" museums, there are 2 that I recommend - the Maritime Museum and the Dutch Resistance Museum. You can walk from one to the other in about 10 minutes.

I agree, skip the Heineken tour. In the old days (1972) it was cheap and you got all the beer you could drink at the end of the not very interesting tour. No longer. Just park at a cafe and have one. I did enjoy the "self-guided" tour at the House of Bols and a fun drink at the end. It's across the street from the Van Gogh Museum and open until 10 p.m.

Aside from the history of the Anna Frank House, you will walk through a typical Dutch home of the period. One more reason to see it.

Since you're taking a morning train to Amsterdam, I suggest you store your bags at the train station and go sightseeing, then return when the sights are closed and check in at your hotel. You could even leave most of your luggage at the train and just take an overnight bag to the hotel, since you'll be taking the train to the airport anyway. As I recall, pretty much all the sights close around 5 p.m. Then you'll have the evening for a canal cruise, a nice dinner, and strolling. Then up early to see more sights before heading to the train and home.

Instead of the Pass, consider renting bikes. It quickly makes you feel like real locals and will probably be faster than the tram, since you'll be able to go door-to-door.

Posted by
143 posts

The cafeteria at the Bibliotek (library) is reasonable and has a large selection. If the weather is nice, you can sit outside. The library is a quick 5-10 min walk from Centraal Station; it's all open w/ escalators taking you from floor to floor and sculpture to view as you go up/down. To get to the cafeteria, though, bear right as you come in the main entrance and take the elevator to the top floor.

Don't miss the Anne Frank Huis. Go early as others have said. I think you can get tickets online---check RS book.

The laminated Streetwise or Lonely Planet maps for major cities are smaller and sturdier than paper ones and you can get perspective of the greater city that electronic ones don't show.

Posted by
2081 posts

@ Cary & Tyler

If you need a map you can get one for a couple Euros at the TI office across and to the left from the Main Train station. They have them in vending machines now or as of last Sept when i was there. I got 2. One for use and one to bring home and use.

happy trails

Posted by
2828 posts

If you are going to visit the Anne Frankhuis, make a reservation for a late time slot (or the very first next morning).

Canal tours, contrary to what most people expect, don't allow such good views of canal houses and streets, as boats are very low and you'll have mostly canal walls and other anchored boats on your horizontal line sight.

I consider the Heineken Tour vastly overrated. It is a brewery tour, but not much different from similar tours from other facilities. On a tight schedule, I'd skip it.

If you are up for walking a lot, you can start a long walk on the Plantage area, go to the Museumplein, and then head to Leidseplein and find your way to the Joordan area (which takes you around the Anne Frankhuis). You can also use trams to shuffle around different locations (buy a 48h transportation pass, which allows unlimited travel).

You didn't mention when you are travelling. If that is happening between late MArch and October, you could visit the Amsterdamse Bos

Posted by
11450 posts

Tyler, I would skip Amsterdam and spend the extra time in Paris. Amsterdam deserves more then one day.. and Paris definately needs at least 3 days.. You are likely not an edlerly person with a terminal disease.. so you can look forward to more trips( if its a priority) and you could spend more time in Amsterdam, its a great hub to fly in and out of , so it could be the great beginning or end to another trip where you give it at least 2-3 full days.

If you elect to cram it in.. I would suggest skipping the canal cruise.. walk around , vist Ann Franks house( I consider it a very moving site.) We spent 2 days in Amsterdam last summer.. it was however my third visit.. the previous visits were a week long each, I brought my bf who had never been. He agreed that just walking about was most interesting to him.. we did visit a musuem ( Rik) but it was just wandering the narrow old streets, walking along the canals etc that really made him go "wow, I am in Amsterdam!) . We didn't have time for him to visit Ann Franks house, I didn't pre reserve,, but I have been twice before, so if you elect to visit it do make reservations. .you have no time to waste.

Posted by
7996 posts

Pat said almost exactly what I was going to say. I would definitely skip Amsterdam this trip and stay in Paris. You won't be doing justice to either by splitting your already miniscule amount of time in both places. You'd also save the money it would cost to get to Ams. But if you do go to Ams, walking around the city would be #1 for me, renting bikes and riding around would be super fun and you could see more in the same amount of time as walking, and I would definitely make time for the Ann Frank house. Skip the boat ride, I thought it was a huge waste of time and money.