Amsterdam – the city of diversity, the city of freedom.
I went to Amsterdam on a full day trip and I had lots of fun exploring this extraordinary city.
There is so much to see and do in Amsterdam and I know that one day was by far not enough to fully explore it. But for such a short amount of time, I think I saw a lot and I got to feel the vibes of this crazy city.
Here are the things I did and if you are there for only one day as well, it might help you to plan out your itinerary.
1. Van Gogh Museum
My first stop was the Van Gogh Museum. When in Amsterdam you need to see Van Gogh’s masterpieces.
If you are an art lover, this is a great place to learn more about his life since the muesum maintains the world’s largest collection of his works.
It has three floors which are filled with his paintings and drawings, objects from his life and his family’s possessions, most of them collected by his nephew who later donated them to the museum that opened in 1973.
You can also listen to the letters Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, see his family tree, learn about his connections to the other contemporary artists and under each painting, you can read about his artistic progression. In addition you can see several paintings by his contemporaries that had some kind of connection to his life.
Paintings are set in a timeline order, so each floor contains paintings from a certain period of his life and the higher you go, later the paintings were made.
I spent around 2,5 hours there, since I read almost every description under each painting (I personally love this period of art history). But of course the time you will spend there is up to you.
You can purchase your ticket in advance at Tiqets.com, print out the voucher and skip the lines. That is a smart thing to do (if you don’t want to waste your time) since the museum is always very crowded so the lines are usually long.
My personal highlights of the museum were:
– the microscopic view of a part of the Seascape near Les Saintes Maries de La Mer painting (1888), where you can see the sand in the paint since he painted at the beach
– seeing the famous paintings such as:
Sunflowers (1889), The Harvest (1888), The Yellow House (1888), Almond Blossom (1890), Irises (1890) and his self-portraits
– seeing his personal box of wool balls in different colours – he used them to decide which colours fit together best
Duration: app. 2 hours
Price: 17 €
Additional info: It is not allowed to take photos in the museum and you have to leave all your bigger bags and coats/jackets at the entrance lobby. You can try to take pictures with your phone but guards are all around and you might get caught.
2. A walk through the City Centre and the Dam Square
After exploring the Van Gogh Museum, I went on wandering the streets of Amsterdam. I passed the beautiful building of Rijksmuseum, the national museum which name means the Imperial Museum.
It is an art and history museum and it is definitely worth a full day visit since it has around 8,000 objects on display, among which are also some masterpieces by Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer. So that is still on my bucket list.
On the way I was admiring hundreds of typical narrow Dutch houses, some of them dating back to 17th or 18th century.Their uniqueness and details are really impressive.
After app. 20 minutes of walking I arrived to the Dam Square, which is in the historical centre of Amsterdam. There you can see the neoclassical Royal Palace, which served as the city hall from 1655 and in 1808 it was converted into a royal residence. Beside it are the 15th-century Gothic Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.
In the middle of the square stands The National Monument – a white stone pillar which was erected in to memorialise the victims of World War II. Hippies used to gather at this monument and of course, as a hippy at heart, I had to sit there for a while as well, while soaking in the warmth of the sun and the beautiful view of the Royal Palace.
3. Boat Ride through the Amsterdam Canals
After walking further on, I arrived to the famous bridges that run over the river Amstel. There are so many canals and bridges in Amsterdam that it’s not weird that they call it the “Northern Venice”. So what is the best thing to do if you want to really experience Amsterdam?
Take a boat ride through it’s canals.
It was really an amazing and special experience, seeing Amsterdam from a completely different perspective and cruising on the Amstel river, while having some drinks and snacks on the boat (it was included in the boat ride ticket).
Duration: app. 60 mins
Price: from 16 €
4. The Red Light District
After the boat ride I met a tour guide who showed us around the famous Red Light District. That was yet another fun and unique experience. Seeing all the stores selling different types of cannabis seeds and products, as well as sex toys shops was pretty funny. There are also plenty of stores that sell ‘magic’ mushrooms, space cookies etc. I even found a cannabis ice cream! 😀
But the most shocking thing to see is definitely the amount of the half naked prostitutes standing in their cabins, waiting for a customer. Especially for me as a woman, it was really sad to see how they show off their bodies and the way they earn their money. I felt very uncomfortable passing these cabin’s windows.
The guide told us a lot about their job and the system they have established to avoid problems with customers. In case a customer is too drunk or he becomes violent, they have a special alarm button in their room and when they press it the alarm goes off outside of the building so the police comes right away.
We walked through the beautiful streets full of old buildings and vintage lamps, which make Amsterdam so special. The guide was a really nice and funny guy making jokes all the way, which made the tour even more enjoyable.
But of course you can also explore the district on your own and for free. 🙂
Duration: app. 2 hours
Price: from 14 €
After almost two hours of walking in the Red Light District I had a dinner in a nice restaurant nearby. The sun was slowly setting and I was mesmerised by the beautiful scenery of the Dutch houses and water canals in the twilight. It was a magical end of a beautiful day.
I can’t wait to come back and explore more of the hidden streets, places to eat and just to feel the city’s vibe again.
I think that you won’t regret visiting this city.
And for those of you that have been there already, what are your favourite places in Amsterdam?
Do you have any suggestions on what is worth visiting the next time I’ll go there?
Let me know in the comments down below! 🙂