From the emotional Anne Frank House museum to one of the world’s most famous museums of fine art and an slightly different cheese tasting – here are my four best sightseeing tips for 24 hours in Amsterdam…
2021 COVID UPDATE: While most of us can only dream about visiting Amsterdam at the moment, check out the city’s offer of virtual tours. It might be a great tool for planning a future real-life trip!
1. Visit The Anne Frank House
Prinsengracht 263–267, online ticket: 14 € for adults, discounts available
This typically Dutch house, known as the “Anne Frank House” or “Anne Frank Huis” in Dutch, is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. However, the current museum has a very sad background of course.
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl originally from Frankfurt in Germany. Because of the increasing discrimination against Jews by the Nazis, Anne and her family emigrated to Amsterdam in the Netherlands in 1934.
In July 1942, after The Netherlands were attacked and occupied by the German Nazis, she went into hiding with her family (her mother, father, elder sister and another Jewish family) in the secret annex of an Amsterdam warehouse and office building.
Because of Anne Frank’s well-known diary, which became an international bestseller, and several films that have been made about her life story (including the German cinema adaptation Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank), there are always long queues at the house.
My tip: Book your ticket online. I was lucky when I looked quite spontaneously in the morning on the same day I was planning to go. If you know in advance that you would like to go, book as early as possible. The online tickets have a specific time slot, so you just turn up about 10 minutes prior to that time slot. This way, you will save having to wait in line for hours.
Please note the following COVID UPDATE 2021:
The museum is currently closed, but it is currently possible to book tickets for future visits!
2. Check out the Rijksmuseum
Museumstraat 1, Adult ticket: 20.00 €
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1) is a must for any fan of world-class art. It is not on the cheap side, but as the most famous museum of the Netherlands and one of the most popular ones in Europe, you are guaranteed to see some masterpieces here!
My tip: One thing you should keep in mind is the time of your visit. I visited on a Friday morning (entered the museum around 10 or 11 am). At that time, the queue was not too long and I got my ticket after a short wait.
When I left (around 1 pm), there was a huge queue all the way to the outside… But it was also a very rainy day, so may have been busier than usual.
3. Try some yummy Dutch Cheese in lots of different flavours
Prinsengracht 112 (just a few steps from the Anne Frank House), FREE!
If you happen to have some time to spare before your visit to the Anne Frank House, check out the Amsterdam Cheese Museum close by.
Upstairs in the little shop you can eat your way through samples of all kinds of cheese flavours – those typical Dutch ones that you may know, but mainly exotic combinations that you’ve probably never heard of ever in your life such as Pesto Cheese Tricolore!
Learn more about Dutch cheese and how it is produced downstairs. You can also get a souvenir shot with some typical Dutch accessories. You can post this on Facebook to promote the museum, but you don’t have to.
4. Get your ultimate Amsterdam souvenir photo
All around the main “pleins”, FREE!
Another great souvenir photo for free awaits on literally every corner as all the main streets in the city centre, ending in “-plein”, are separated by a canal and bridge.
Alongside the bridges and canals, you’ll see dozens of bicycles. It can’t get any more Amsterdam than if you stand right here to have your photo taken!
Three Things to note when visiting Amsterdam:
1. Watch out for those bicycles!
Dutch people (together with Belgium people) are the undoubted kings and queens of cycling, so naturally almost everyone will cycle everywhere, including to and back from work. Be careful to always look left and right before you cross a street or bridge. Especially in the morning and evening rush hours, the next bicycle might rush by in the blink of an eye!
2. Be aware of the food prices!
Amsterdam is an expensive city in general and eating and drinking out is pricey too. It was already like that 10 years ago when I was here the first time and I noticed it once again on this visit. If you would like to save a bit of money, book a hostel or AirBnB where you can cook your own food. Reasonably priced to me were the Mexican Burrito shop California Burrito (Oude Leliestraat 5) and the bakery Simon Miejssen (Albert Cuypstraat 78). The latter has great crunchy bred rolls with cheese and delicious sweet pastries – perfect for breakfast!
3. Don’t be alarmed if you smell weed! It’s (kind of) legal here…
When walking down the streets in Amsterdam, it’s quite likely that you will notice that very particular, sweet scent. This is because in the Netherlands, it is (still) allowed to sell and consume small quantities of cannabis in the so-called “Coffeeshops”. However, in recent years the “weed politics” have taken quite a drastic u‑turn and the police has become a lot stricter regarding anti-drug controls. Since 2013, foreigners are no longer allowed to enter the so-called “Coffeeshops” and in the long term, all “Coffeshops” are set be converted into clubs, of which only Dutch citizens over the age of 18 can become a member.
2021 COVID UPDATE: While most of us can only dream about visiting Amsterdam at the moment, check out the city’s offer of virtual tours. It might be a great tool for planning a future real-life trip to the city.
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | RevisitEurope.com