Traveling around Amsterdam
What to see and where to go in Amsterdam?
When you plan a trip to Amsterdam, you must wonder: how many days should I spend sightseeing in this beautiful city? How do you distribute your time wisely to see as many sights as possible?
Relying on our personal experience we will try to help you find answers to these questions.
Itinerary for Day 1: Strolling through the historic center
On the first day, most tourists traditionally go to explore the most interesting thing: the center of Amsterdam. It is there that the most popular attractions are concentrated. And so we will.
Don’t forget you can’t spend the whole first day exploring the city, as you have to spend a lot of time on airport transfers, checking into a hotel/hostel, and other primary matters. And not everyone arrives early in the morning.
We tried to compose a convenient walking route through the historic center, which would cover as many interesting places as possible.
Leidseplein (Leiden square).
Start your walk at Leidseplein. Why here? It’s a small square on the edge of the historic center and it’s a very good starting point to go deep into the old town.
Five streetcar lines intersect here, so if you’re staying away from the city center, it will be quite easy and convenient to get here. The square is very lively and there are many cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets around (such as the Wok to Walk establishment, which we wrote about in the article To Amsterdam cheap), and you can hardly eat after your flight and check-in until then. In short, Leidseplein is the perfect place for a starting point of departure and to satisfy all needs.
From the square we move along Leidsestraat.
We cross the three main city canals (Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht) over bridges and come to a bridge over the Single canal, which forms a small square called Koningsplein. Here is the Frens Haringhandel shop, where you can try the famous Dutch fast food – a hot dog with a herring. The Flower Market on the right is worth a visit: a great selection of souvenirs at the lowest price in town, tulip bulbs, cheeses and free tasting – in general, in spite of the name, not only flowers are sold here, and the place is quite interesting.
Before you turn on the market, we recommend to walk a little to the left and admire the Gothic church De Kritjberg.
After passing through the Flower Market, we turn left and come to the quite famous landmark of the city – the Coin Tower.
Spuy Square and Beguinage
Next, we walk along Rokin Street and then turn to Spui Square.
Here we need to find a wooden door, which will lead you to a very interesting place – the closed courtyard Begijnhof. It is a very picturesque and quiet courtyard surrounded by typical Amsterdam houses. By the way, the place is not so popular among tourists and not many people, but the atmosphere here is amazing.
Then we return to Rokin Street and head to the heart of Amsterdam – the main central Dam Square.
The main sites here are the New Church (Nieuwe kerk), the Royal Palace and the National Monument.
The Red Light District (daytime) and the Audekerk Church
After admiring the expanses of the square, walk along Damstraat, then turn off at Voorburgwal and along the canal head for Amsterdam’s main church, the Audeckerk.
To get inside the church you need to pay 10 euros. Whether it is worth it or not is up to you to decide, but it is necessary to appreciate this oldest huge church at least from the side.
The block we are walking through, by the way, is the famous Red Light District. You will probably get here during the day or in the early evening and you will most likely catch yourself thinking that this place has nothing to do with what you usually expect to see in the Red Light District. Don’t be intimidated. That’s what it’s supposed to be. By day and by night, it’s two completely different places, with a different atmosphere. The architectural splendor of the quarter is unlikely to be seen in the dark, but by day it’s perfect. There are a number of quite unusual and interesting museums nearby: the Museum of cannabis, marijuana and cannabis, the Museum of Prostitution, the Museum of Erotica. You can check out one of them if time permits.
We will return to the Red Light Streets, of course.
After walking to the end of the street we get to the spacious Prins Hendrikkade street.
At first, after the narrow streets along the canals, you will be quite unfamiliar here: too big and open space for Amsterdam. A huge architectural building right in the center is the Central Station.
Here is also the main transportation hub of the city, where three subway lines and many streetcar and bus routes intersect. You may have been here before, as the train from the airport arrives right here (and the bus to our starting point, Leidseplein Square). Read more about transportation in Amsterdam.
On the right side is another noteworthy site, the Church of St. Nicholas – it’s worth checking out.
Stroll along the canals
In front of the Central Station, along Damrak Street, there is a pier from which the Amsterdam Canal boat tours depart.
Be sure to take a tour! It takes about 60-75 minutes. For a standard multi-passenger covered boat you will need to pay 16 euros, for 19-20 euros you can take a small boat for 10-12 people. The driver of the boat will act as a guide. Learn more about the canals of Amsterdam.
The canal cruise ends where it began, so you will be back in front of the Central Station.
Right across from the pier is the Sex Museum, a popular attraction for visitors to the city. The entrance ticket costs only 5 euros, a walk around the museum takes 20-30 minutes. If you are interested, do not hesitate to visit.
In 10-15 minutes walk from the station is another interesting place – the Science Museum Nemo. A lot of interactive exhibits that you can touch, feel, click and get an idea of how the world works. However, this place is interesting not only as a museum.
The roof of its building is an open panoramic platform, which offers a good view of Amsterdam.
There is a café on this site where you can order yourself a drink, take a break from your walk, and admire the views until dark. A visit to the Nemo Museum, however, can be postponed until the third day. The program for the first day we have pretty full, and it depends on what time you arrived in town, checked into the hotel and started your journey.
Red Light District (in the evening).
After dusk begins to fall on the city, return to the Red Light District. This is where the fun begins, and Amsterdam opens up to you in a whole new way.
If you are visiting Amsterdam just for one day, if you are just passing through and do not need to check into a hotel/hostel, you can walk this route backwards, i.e. start your walk from the Central Station.
Amsterdam in 1 day – itinerary on the map
On the first day you will see the most important sights of Amsterdam, but of course not all of them.
The second day, we mainly propose to devote to the most famous museums of the city. They are concentrated in one place, which, oddly enough, is called the Museum Quarter.
If you live far from the city center, the best way is to go to the familiar Leidseplein. From there, it’s a five-minute walk to the Museum Quarter.
What museums are located here? First and foremost are: Rijksmuseum Art Museum (€17.5) and Van Gogh Museum (€17).
You can visit these museums as part of interesting tours, in the company of Russian-speaking art guides:
- Enjoy a visit to the Rijksmuseum with an art historian
- Understand Van Gogh: Learn about the artist’s life and work at the Van Gogh Museum
There’s also the Diamond Museum (€10), and nearby the Heineken Beer Museum (€16 for an online ticket and €18 if buying on the spot).
Prices, of course, bite – Amsterdam is not known for low prices for tourists, especially for the cultural and historical attractions. Depend on your budget and personal preferences.
Right in front of the Rijksmuseum is the famous I Amsterdam sign, near which you will surely want to take a photo.
A few steps away from the Heineken Museum is the rather popular Albert Cape Market, where you can do a little shopping.
After visiting the museums, we suggest a stroll through the city’s most famous Wondela Park, located nearby.
What to see in Amsterdam for day 2 + map
On the third day, we suggest you leave in the morning for the countryside, in the village-museum Saanse-Schans, 16 kilometers from Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is rightly considered the “land of mills”. Saanse-Schans is a striking confirmation of this.
There are about 10 mills, each of them once produced their own products: oil, mustard, paint, spices, etc. In each of them you can enter, some for free and some for a few euros. In addition to the mills, the village has about 30 buildings, many of which are small museums and souvenir stores, including products that are produced in the mills. In short, a real paradise for tourists.
You can get to the village by train departing from Central Station, so this is where we need to arrive first.
After you return from the village to Central Station, you can go to the Nemo Museum, if you choose not to do so on the first day. In any case, the interesting places in the city are still over.
Directly behind the Central Station is the pier, from which the free ferry leaves for the northern Amsterdam district of Noord. The area itself does not have any interesting tourist attractions, but is mostly residential. But someone may find it interesting to see a very different, non-touristy, Amsterdam.
From the Central Station you can also walk (or take a few streetcar stops) to perhaps the most unusual sight in the city, the Python Bridge.
The amazing places don’t end there. Have you ever drank a beer right in the shadow of a huge old mill? Then the De Goyeer Mill, which houses the Brouwerij’t IJ brewery bar, is the next stop on your Amsterdam trip.
Don’t forget that Holland is a small country. From Amsterdam you can also go to other cities: Rotterdam, The Hague, etc.