Although exploring Amsterdam always deserves more time than expected, the city’s clever urban layout lends itself to short or impromptu excursions. In fact, by planning carefully it is possible to see many of the city’s iconic attractions within one day, including the canal belt and Rijksmuseum, whilst leaving time for other cultural or culinary experiences.
Before heading out for breakfast it is definitely worth picking up a 24 hour OV-Chip card. These contactless travel passes are available from ticket machines throughout Amsterdam and allow holders to freely move between the city’s trams, trains and buses for an entire day.
While there are plenty of awesome breakfast and brunch spots scattered around Amsterdam, every discerning traveler knows that de Pijp is the best place in the city for bacon, eggs and everything in between. This charming neighbourhood features an impressive number of excellent brunch restaurants, including Ozzy favourites Little Collins, whose coffee, fresh juices and fry-ups are simply unmatched outside Australia. For more local fare like omelettes, apple pie or open sandwiches, make sure to check out Lunchcafé Bozz or Omellegg.
After de Pijp, it is onwards to Museumplein and the Rijksmuseum. This glorious national museum owns and displays thousands of masterpieces including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Johannes Vermeer’s the Milkmaid. As there are literally countless objets d’art to discover inside the Rijksmuseum, it’s worth planning ahead and deciding beforehand which exhibitions to visit in order to avoid getting lost within its outstanding collection.
In order to unwind after the Rijksmuseum head west towards Vondelpark. As legions of locals flock to the park after work to relax, exercise and hang out, it is among the best places in Amsterdam to absorb the city’s daily life. There are also several cafés and bars hidden amidst the park’s greenery, including a two-storey, saucer-shaped pavilion called ’t Blauwe Theehuis.
As people in the Netherlands tend to eat dinner quite early, restaurants in Amsterdam commonly switch over to their evening menus around 17.00. For a truly Dutch experience walk westwards from Vondelpark to either Hap-hmm or Moeders. Both of these restaurants are renowned for their enticing selection of Dutch delicacies, such as hearty stamppot, fresh fish and homemade meatballs.
After devouring a delicious meal (and maybe having a beer or two) take a tram towards Dam Square. As its name suggests, this beautiful plaza once served as a dam, but is now completely surrounded by land and acts as Amsterdam’s urban centre.
Amsterdam’s 17th-century canal belt lies just beyond Dam Square and begins at Singel. These historic waterways converge around Amsterdam’s city centre, forming a concentric set of rings that are collectively protected by UNESCO. The canal belt is easily among the most beautiful neighbourhoods in the world and becomes particularly beautiful after dark.
There are plenty of laid-back watering holes inside Amsterdam’s canal belt and the area’s pubs usually keep many local brews on tap. Proeflokaal Arendsnest, for example, exclusively serves beer produced in the Netherlands, making it an absolute paradise for beer connoisseurs, or travellers looking to sample some Dutch tipple. Feeling peckish? Order a platter of deep-fried borrelhapjes, they are incredible.