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Amsterdam is a city I had been wanting to visit for ages but I kept putting it off because I thought Amsterdam was a city that you couldn’t visit solo! However, as luck would have it, I was invited on a trip to Den Bosch and The Hague with Visit Holland. I thought that I couldn’t be so close and not visit so I decided to stay in the country a few extra days. I had one day in Amsterdam solo and I loved it.
I love walking, especially when I’m on my own and I did a big walk around Amsterdam on this day. So here are things to do alone in Amsterdam based on a one day in Amsterdam solo itinerary which you can do on your own no problem!
Update: I have since been back to Amsterdam for a second-time solo and loved it too, from this trip I wrote: My Top 10 Tips For Visiting Amsterdam as a Solo Traveller.
One Day in Amsterdam Solo
I spent my one day in Amsterdam solo doing 3 things which I’ll explain how to do in this post:
1- Walking in a horseshoe shape around the Herengracht canal from West to East.
2- Walking through the Centre of Amsterdam through Chinatown and the Red Light District (because it has to be seen) even solo in Amsterdam!
3- Taking an hour-long Canal Boat trip.
1. Walking Along The Herengracht Canal
I used my Marco Polo Perfect Days in Amsterdam Spiral Guide to help me get to grips with the city and work out how to best structure my day. The spiral guides that Marco Polo offer tend to have a ‘Walks’ section towards the back of them which is perfect for me as I love my walking and wandering.
The walk I found and decided to do was from Brewers Canal in the West of the City, all the way round to the Nemo Science Museum in the East of the City, which took me in a Horseshoe shape around Amsterdam, mainly following the Herengracht Canal.
I followed this walk from start to finish although I did stop along the way and come out of the recommended walk slightly to see some other areas that I had seen in the guide too.
I started at Brouwersgracht also known as brewers canal, as many breweries used to line the canal in the 17th & 18th Century, back when the water was too dirty to drink so beer was the answer.
When this canal joins Herengracht I headed up here and I quickly started to see the Amsterdam that I had been wanting to see – the buildings, the boats and all of the trees over the water. I started on the right-hand side of the canal as you look ahead of you.
Each of the canals surrounding central Amsterdam were built for a particular class and they each have a name. Herengracht is the Gentlemen’s Canal or Lord Canal and was where the wealthiest people of Amsterdam traditionally used to live, meaning the buildings along here are gorgeous. Although these days they are generally banks or museums, for example, the guide points out a particularly nice building which is Bartolotti Huis which is a fine mansion.
Not far from here the canal starts to bend round and this is known as the Golden Bend, the most fashionable and desirable stretch of the Herengracht canal although this too is not like it was and is now occupied by business and foreign consulates but this area does get noticeably busier.
From here I veered away from the Herengracht Canal and headed up Nieuwe Spiegelstraat Street which takes you all the way to the Rijksmuseum. This is one impressive building and worth visiting just to see it from the outside, even if you aren’t going to go in. It’s a 19th-century building housing Dutch Golden Age painting masterpieces & vast European art collection.
Behind the museum is where the very popular I Am Amsterdam sign is. I was in Amsterdam on a Saturday and I found it to be crazily busy around here and not enjoyable at all which was a shame but I still think it’s a must-visit on your one day in Amsterdam solo!
Marco Polo Perfect Days in Amsterdam Spiral Guide
I retraced my footsteps back to Rijksmuseum and back down to the Herengracht as I was determined to see the whole of this beautiful canal. Along the way, I did take some smaller streets off of the main street and it was really nice to see residential streets that weren’t on the canal.
The next section of the canal does start to look a lot different than the start. Most noticeably more tour boats appear, especially as around here you can see the Seven Bridges which are 7 bridges all in a line only visible by boat (which is why I’m glad I did a boat trip at the end of the day).
Before long I hit the Amstel River. To the right I saw Magere Brug, also known as the ‘Skinny Bridge’ but I walked left across the Blauwbrug or ‘Blue Bridge’ which was constructed in 1874.
Nieuwe Herengracht canal was in front of me along with another bridge, a replica of the skinny bridge called Walter Suskindbrug after a German man who helped hundreds of Dutch children escape the Nazi’s during World War II. It certainly gave me chills walking past it and reminded me that this city holds a lot of history.
After this, it was time for the scenery to change again as I headed through parts of the old Jewish Quarter and towards Hortus Botanicus Greenhouse.
It was quite strange to see a greenhouse in Amsterdam but the park gave me a well needed quiet moment. Close to here is the Wertheim Park which has a memorial to the thousands of Dutch people of Jewish decent who died in Auschwitz Birkenau in Poland which is very moving.
I carried on down the canal to the Nemo Science museum. As I crossed the busy roads I could see the rooftop of the museum ahead and continued to head up the many stairs.
The rooftop is free and it’s a gem that I imagine not everyone comes across due to its Eastern location, but its well worth finding it and seeing the view of the City and Rivers from up here. It’s a bit of a sun trap too, even in the winter, and it was beautiful to rest my feet with the sun on my face and a view of Amsterdam ahead.
2. Walking through Central Amsterdam
From here I walked along the waterfront back to Amsterdam Central Station to get my bearings.
I knew I wanted to see the Centre of the city but I also knew this would be where the Red Light district is and the craziness is. I randomly headed up Zeedijk Street which took me right into the busy centre and into Chinatown. I came across Fo Guang San Temple, a Buddhist temple which isn’t hard to miss from the street.
I then took a direct right which took me down Molensteeg where I saw a lot of guys in the street looking into the windows and of course girls wearing not much through those windows so then I realised that yes, I was in the Red Light District. Although I felt quite uncomfortable and awkward because I was on my own, I am glad that I saw it.
From here, to get me away from the area I headed West, I went through a lot of very touristy areas, especially where the likes of Madame Tussaud’s is but eventually I came back out onto the canals and I realised that I hadn’t yet been to Anne Frank’s House so I headed further West that way.
It actually turned out to be a really good decision as it was quite late in the afternoon and the sun was starting to go down. The sun looked so gorgeous going down over the canals with the sky change colour!
3. Boat Trip Around Amsterdam’s Canals
I headed back towards Amsterdam Central Station and as it was November it was now dark at only 6:00 pm. I wasn’t ready to head back to the hostel but I also wasn’t keen on walking around in the dark on my one day in Amsterdam solo, plus my feet and legs were killing me!
So I thought that a boat trip in Amsterdam would be the answer! There are lots of tourist offices near Central Station selling tours so I picked the one closest to me, bought a ticket for €16.00, boarded a boat and headed off into the dark.
To pre-book a boat cruise ticket to ensure you get one at the right time of the day that you want, have a look at these options:
I didn’t have high expectations for this boat trip, especially because it was dark but the commentary of it alone was so great and I learnt so much! They said how the houses on Amsterdam are all built onto the water and that’s why they’re tipping to the sides and front and back.
We also passed a lot of places that I had walked around earlier in the day. It was good to see them all in the dark and the commentary explained the history of the canals and some of the buildings. I found it really made the whole day come together so I would 100% recommend doing a boat tour whilst you are in Amsterdam solo! It’s touristy but it’s good!
I hope this gives you a good insight into my one day in Amsterdam solo and helps you plan your day there too!
My Marco Polo Perfect Days in Amsterdam Guide really helped me and it’s full of recommended walks and useful information. It’s a shame I couldn’t visit more of the places the guide talks about but that just means I’ll have to go back hey?! If you want to purchase it you can buy it here, it’s pretty cheap too!
Or, there is now a brand new Amsterdam Guide which is even compatible with an app! You can buy that here!
- For more of my Amsterdam Posts see:
- Stayokay Zeeburg Hostel Review!
- How Much Money I Spent during a Weekend in Amsterdam on a Budget!
- My Top 10 Tips For Visiting Amsterdam as a Solo Traveller.
This post is in collaboration with Marco Polo Guides however all thoughts and opinions are my own!