One day in Amsterdam
If you have only one day, start by taking a canal boat cruise to get a general overview of the city. Most tours last about 90 minutes and are an excellent way to see many of Amsterdam’s prime sights. You can catch the boats in front of Central Station and at a number of other locations including the Rokin canal near Squi Square, and along the Leidsekade at the entrance to Vondelpark.
After the cruise, take a walk along the historic canal ring to soak up the atmosphere and architecture of Amsterdam’s Golden Age. See our recommended Historic Walking Tour for more suggestions. Stop along the way to grab a bite at one of the many Dutch styled Brown Café’s. For a taste of Holland, order the bitterballen as an appetizer – deep fried croquettes filled with beef and flour. Alternatively, grab some French fries with mayonnaise on the street or (if you’re feeling brave) a herring and onion sandwich from one of the local street vendors.
Next, make your way to Museumplein to visit the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is also nearby if you’re more inclined to the old masters than to the kaleidoscopic impressionism of Van Gogh (Note: most of the Rijksmuseum is closed for renovation until 2008). After the museum, relax in nearby Vondelpark or have a leisurely drink at Leidseplein. If you have the energy, Leidseplein is also the start of the main shopping district which runs from Leidsestraat to the Kalverstraat shopping arcade.
When you get hungry for dinner, head to Chinatown near the Nieuwmarkt. Eat at one of the Thai or Indonesian Restaurants in the area that have become a local favorite and a city specialty. After dinner, wander through the Red Light District in the early evening to experience the electric atmosphere of Europe’s most notorious neighborhood. See our recommended Red Light Tour for some specific suggestions.
Don’t linger too long however as the area can get quite seedy after midnight. Instead, if you’re still looking to party, head to one of the dance clubs around Rembrandtplein or to one of the live music venues near Leidseplein.