A few years ago, one of my best friends got married in Germany. Not wanting to waste a great excuse to travel in Europe, my friend and I managed to squeeze in 4 cities (London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Zurich) in 7 days before going to the wedding. We had roughly 24 hours in Amsterdam and we absolutely fell in love. I would recommend staying in the city longer, but if you’re pressed for time, here is a great little day.

Stay at The Flying Pig Downtown Hostel: We found this hostel by reading reviews and were blown away. We stayed in a private room (queen bed with its own bathroom) and it was heaven. Even with the private room, it was super affordable. The staff is really nice and they give you a really great map with lots of pictures (useful later in the day 😉 ). There is a bar (and a smoking room) right on the bottom floor of the hostel. It’s perfectly located downtown, walking distance from the red light district and only a few blocks from the train if you are arriving that way.

Go to the Barney’s Uptown for brunch:  I can’t lie to you, we stopped at the Barney’s Coffeeshop (FYI: “coffeeshops” are what shops that sell marijuana are called) across the street first. We bought a few pre-rolls and took them to Barney’s Cafe with us. We had a champagne brunch and lit up at the table. For two California girls, it was a surreal and amazing experience.

Go find the infamous i amsterdam letters: Chances are you’ve seen the i amsterdam letters on Instagram. They spell out “i amsterdam” in nearly 7 foot letters that span about 80 feet. It’s a tourist haven, but a photo-op you shouldn’t miss nonetheless. The letters are moved around to different parts of the city throughout the year, so they can be new even if you’ve seen them before.

Go to the red light district: As the official website says, the red light district “leaves nothing to the imagination”. You might be shocked. You’ll see women dancing in their shop windows to grab passersby, but it’s an experience you shouldn’t miss. And, don’t worry, plenty of people walk through without actually visiting a brothel. You’re perfectly safe!

Picasso Museum: We tried and failed to go to the Picasso Museum. We didn’t realize you need to reserve tickets in advance and the line for entry was several hours long. We heard it was amazing, but given how little time we had in the city we decided to just skip it. Plan ahead and add it to your day!

Wander: When your plans fall through, just walk! The great part about the location of our hostel was you could walk 30 minutes in any direction and see so much of Amsterdam: a cheese shop on every block (heaven!), tourist shops with adorable trinkets, and as many coffee shops as your heart desires. You really get a feeling of a city when you don’t make a plan and just go where your eyes take you.

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