It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in London for close to three years and I only just made it across the pond to Amsterdam. A short 45-minute flight, you’ve barely lowered your tray table before you find yourself touching down in the Netherlands.
It’s arguably one of Europe’s more beautiful cities, and though I was there for work, I did have a day to myself to see what all the fuss was about. Unlike any destination, a few days in Amsterdam is better than a flying visit. But if all you have is a day, here’s how to make the most of your 24 hours in the capital city of the Netherlands.
Where to stay
If it’s within your budget, the Pulitzer Amsterdam is well worth the splurge. Located in the heart of Amsterdam amidst the vibrant and charming Nine Streets neighbourhood, it’s hard to imagine a better place from which to explore the canal city. Created from 25 connecting Golden Age canal houses, there is plenty to delight – from the garden café and florist in the foyer to the bikes and pianos suspended from the ceilings. The hotel even has its own classic 1909 boat ‘the Tourist’, for cruising the canals.
Hit the ground running and …
8am: … beat the throngs of tourists who inevitably descend on the area later on. First up, a breakfast of champions, in true Dutch style at Pancakes Amsterdam, short five-minute walk from the Pulitzer. I highly recommend the maple syrup and bacon pancakes washed down with some fresh mint tea.
9am: Visit Anne Frank’s humble abode – another short stroll back past the Pulitzer. Don’t make the same mistake I did – be sure to have pre-purchased your ticket online beforehand or you’re unlikely to get in.
11am: Grab an Australian standard coffee from Caffe Il Momento where you can sit outside on the benches and watch the passing parade.
12pm: Check out Dam Square and the Royal Palace. If you feel a pull towards history and culture, pay to enter the Palace and experience all it has to offer. But you’d be forgiven for passing on this opportunity and getting sucked into the shops instead!
1pm: Wander through Jordaan – known for its trendy boutiques, cosy pubs and cool eateries – to the aptly named Museum Square where you will not only find (you guessed it) a number of museums to choose from but the famed I Amsterdam sign. After an obligatory photo, check out the Van Gogh Museum or, the more contemporary and controversial Banksy exhibition at the Moco Museum.
3pm: If you haven’t picked up some lunch already, work up an appetite on your walk to G’s Bar where they serve every type of Bloody Mary you can think of alongside an impressive brunch menu.
5pm: Wander through Cuypmarkt to see Magere Brug – commonly thought to be Amsterdam’s prettiest bridge. You’re also dangerously close to the Heineken Experience if you fancy an afternoon tipple – being a tourist is thirsty work!
8pm: Have dinner at Senses restaurant, where the name of the game is creative dishes made daily with fresh and sustainable ingredients. Throw caution to the wind and choose the three or six course surprise menu. Walk home through the Red Light District, purely so you can say you’ve been there – but perhaps don’t try this if you’re travelling alone!
After a good night’s sleep, finish off your visit with an early morning walk around Amsterdam’s main park – Vondelpark, or a cruise around the canals and maybe some more pancakes – after all, when in Amsterdam …