Squeezed for time, but you still want to see all the main sights? I know the feeling. When I recently passed through the Dutch capital on my way home from a business trip to England, I only had 24 hours to spare. I used these hours for some serious power sightseeing. So here are my five best sightseeing tips you seriously shouldn't miss if you spend 24 hours in Amsterdam…
1. Visit The Anne Frank House
Prinsengracht 263–267, Online-Ticket: 9.50 €
Undoubtfully Amsterdam’s biggest tourist attraction at the moment, but with a very sad background of course. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl originally from Germany who was hiding from the Nazis in the secret annexe 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 most recent 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.
Aside from being used for filming a few scenes of the most recent Anne Frank movie, the house was also featured in The Fault in Our Stars (2014) when cancer sick teenagers Hazel and Augustus visit the inside of the Anne Frank House and suddenly indulge in a passionate kiss.
2. Wander in the footsteps of Hazel and Gus
Leidsegracht 4, FREE!
This leads me to the next film fan points of interest: Relive that "so in love" feeling of the two protagonists in The Fault in Our Stars (2014) at Hotel De Filosoof (the hotel described in the book, Anna van den Vondelstraat 6) and The American Hotel (where the scenes for Hotel De Filosoof where actually shot, Leidsekade 97 ). You can also go on a romantic canal boat tour or get some rest by sitting down on THAT bench (Leidsegracht 4).
Fun Fact: The original bench (mysteriously) disappeared at some point, but has since been replaced.
For a complete list of all movie locations of The Fault in Our Stars check out this blog post by Amsterdam Food Tours.
3. Check out the Rijksmuseum
Museumstraat 1, Adult ticket: 17.50 €, Audio Guide: 5 €
Hazel and Gus can also be seen strolling along the Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1). This museum 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.
4. 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.
5. 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. On that bridge and alongside the canal, you’ll see dozens of bicycles. It can’t get any more Amsterdam than if you stand right here to have your photo taken!
Another great spot is the huge “I am Amsterdam” sign in front of the Rijksmuseum. I had my photo taken there when it was pouring rain, but even then I think it still looks really cool and definitely unique for this city!
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 still) legal…
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.
Unless otherwise credited, all photos by © Sonja Irani | filmfantravel.com