One of my favorite things about making Amsterdam my home base for a week is that we were able to do a ton of daytrips thanks to the city’s central location and the efficient public transportation system throughout the Netherlands. However we specifically reserved our last day for some final sightseeing, shopping and snacking in Amsterdam. Here’s a snapshot of how we spent a full day in the capital city to help inspire your visit.
10:00 am – Museumplein
This square is art lovers central where you’ll find 3 of Amsterdam’s iconic museums – the Rijksmuseum (old Dutch masters), Van Gogh Museum (the life and work of the artist himself) and the Stedelijk Museum (modern art). This lively square borders a beautiful pond, green space and the iconic “I amsterdam” sign – a must-do photo opp. We chose to visit the Van Gogh Museum (my write up on that coming soon!), but regardless of which museum you pick I highly recommend that you purchase your tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in what can be some pretty long lines.
12:00 pm – Albert Cuyp Market
After the museum we had definitely worked up and appetite so headed next to the Albert Cuyp Market in the De Pijp neighborhood. Part food market and part flea market, it was surprising not crowded the day we were there, which made it fun to browse stands selling items (from beauty products and clothing to watches and quilting fabric) and snack along the way on tasty things like gooey stroopwafels (made fresh before your eyes with the option of smothering chocolate on top for an extra 50 cents) and warm “tosti” sandwiches from Greg Monsieur (basically one of the best pressed sandwiches you could ever have). We ordered a savory triple-layer grilled cheese sandwich with teriyaki steak and mushrooms, tucked neatly into a brown paper sleeve to enjoy as we made our way through the market.
1:00 pm – Bloemenmarkt
Probably one of my favorite spots in the city, our next stop was Amsterdam’s floating flower market. Dating back to 1862, the Bloemenmarkt is considered the only market of its kind in the world and is a testament to the Dutch’s longstanding prominence in the floral industry. Colorful blooms spill out of the barges that line the Singel canal, and depending on the time of year you’ll see everything from a rainbow of tulips during the spring to Christmas trees and holiday decorations in the winter. The vendors also sell a variety of bulbs and seeds to take home (look for the customs stamp on the packaging and check your country’s restrictions before buying), as well as gardening supplies and other distinctly Dutch souvenirs. Also nearby we were sucked in by a place called Ice Bakery across from the Mint Tower (Munttoren) selling all sorts of sweet treats like waffles, macarons and crepes. What caught our eye was a little something called “Yotella” – Nutella flavored frozen yogurt sold by the weight with a buffet line of toppings to choose from (we added fresh strawberries and warm Nutella). Over the top yes, but worth ever delicious spoonful.
2:00 pm – Begijnhof
As we made our way towards the city center, we stopped to take a break in this quiet little courtyard next to the Amsterdam Museum. Originally the Begijnhof was home to the Beguines, a group of lay women who were dedicated to a simple life of prayer and charity. These women lived here from the 1300s until the 1970s and today this picturesque spot continues to provide subsidized housing to single women. Among the shady trees and green lawns dotted with flowers, you’ll also find 2 churches (the English Reformed Church and a “hidden” Catholic church dating back to the days when Catholicism was illegal) and a wooden house that’s one of the oldest in the city at #34 (most house were reconstructed with brick to minimize fire danger since they are built so close together).
3:00 pm – Dam Square
A huge contrast from the peaceful Begijnhof, our last stop of the day was Dam Square. This bustling square is the heart of Amsterdam and home to the Royal Palace and former City Hall (Koninklijk Huis), the 600-year-old New Church (Nieuwe Kerk) and a handful of department stores and other tourist attractions. Back in 13th century the city’s first settlers came to this marshy spot along the Amstel River and built a dam to block the river from their newly-formed fishing village, which they called “Amstel-damme” and the rest is history.
Before heading back to our hotel, we made one more pit stop for a cone of frites. We passed many stands around the city selling these extra crispy, twice-cooked fries throughout the day and decided to indulge in this Dutch specialty at a crowded place called Manneken Pis at Damrak 41 (named after the cheeky statue in Brussels). One thing I learned from a previous visit to Belgium is to never order the fries with ketchup (you’ll label yourself as a tourist right away), but rather try them with a spicy mayonnaise or one of the many other sauces available. After all of the day’s snacking, we were either ready for a nap or another lap around the city to burn off all of the extra calories.
ON THE MAP