Best Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

(Last Updated On: September 2, 2017)

The bustling ‘City of Canals’ was once a quaint fishing village in Netherlands which flourished as a prominent port city. The UNESCO World heritage site of 17th-century canals is the major draw for tourists to Amsterdam famed as the ‘Venice of North’. Amsterdam had been on the list for long and a visit to the city came as a great surprise to me. This year (2015) my birthday fell on a weekend and the best part we were in Europe. And Chalukya was all keen on making it memorable. He booked tickets to Amsterdam; no plans, no itinerary, just a day relaxing amidst the maze of canals relishing the embracing aura of Amsterdam.

Best Things to do in Amsterdam and the Halloween Festival

Amsterdam, the Dutch capital is every travel fanatics dream; a romantic cruise through the labyrinth of the historic canals exploring the monumental buildings is an unparalleled experience. Amsterdam museums like Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum are world-famous and tops the list of Amsterdam attractions for tourists visiting the city. The several quaint Amsterdam coffee shops lining the canals and the numerous jazz clubs make the Amsterdam nightlife vibrant and colorful.

Best Things to do in Amsterdam and the Halloween Festival

Things to do in Amsterdam in a Day

‘I Amsterdam’

We reached Amsterdam airport early morning and boarded a bus to Amsterdam central station. As usual, our Airbnb apartment (Use this referral code to get discounts on your first stay with Airbnb) allowed check-in only afternoon and hence we had to start with city tour before visiting our apartment. We started with the city’s iconic landmark the most photographed and one of the popular places to visit in Amsterdam – the large red and white ‘I Amsterdam’ slogan. Located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein beckons all the tourists to hop on and around the letters for the best photo ops possible. As we visited early morning the area was desolate with only a couple of other tourists.

Best Things to do in Amsterdam and the Halloween Festival

Gassan Diamond Factory

It was a wonderful morning, we were in Amsterdam but the best part was yet to come. Our next stop was Gassan Diamond Factory. Yes, you guessed it right. My priceless birthday gift!The factory is walkable from the central station. Sauntering through the canals and bridges and surprised by the overwhelming bicycle traffic we reached the factory. During the Dutch Golden Age, Amsterdam city thrived as a leading Diamond center which indeed led to several factories set up around the city which even offers a guided tour of the processing of diamonds.

A guide walked us through the diamond cutting procedure and explained us the 4 C’s of diamond – Carat, Color, Cut, and Clarity.

Best Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

We had an opportunity to hold the sparkling precious stones with bare hands and wonder. And the prettiest of them made it to my priceless possession as my birthday gift.

Amsterdam Shopping

The beautiful cobblestone squares and car free alleys make for a great Amsterdam shopping experience. Amsterdam has several markets like food markets, antiques, art, and paintings. Waterlooplein flea market a couple of minute’s walk from the diamond factory we visited is one of the largest flea markets which cannot be missed when you visit Amsterdam. The flea market one of the oldest and a big outdoor day market with around 300 stands exhibit new and second-hand clothes, leather items, Jewelry, paintings and lots of interesting bric-a-brac.

Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

Food Market Amsterdam

We strolled around the cobbled streets of the city crossing numerous canals lined up with the elm trees and the bridges watching the canal cruises, colorful flower markets, street food stalls where we had some delicious chocolate crepes.

Best Things to do in Amsterdam and the Halloween Festival

There is no dearth for coffee shops and outdoor cafes in Amsterdam which create a vibrant ambiance and a great meeting point.

Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

Red Light District in Amsterdam

The Red Light District of Amsterdam is no secret and everyone visiting the city must have heard about this neighborhood for sure. Though we did not have this on our list of must do we many times crossed paths with these alleys and several cannabis coffee shops as they are very close to the Dam Square.

Canal Cruise

It was near dusk and the weather was getting chilly hence, we decided to hop onto a canal cruise for a hour-long relaxing sail. Floating on the Amstel river through the enchantingly lit canal rings watching the historical sights backed by intriguing audio commentary was a great experience.

Best Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

Halloween Festival and Parade

After the cruise, we walked down to the Dam Square to watch the most awaited Halloween Parade. By the time we reached the square the Halloween party had already began streets were filled with scary and spooky characters dressed in Halloween costumes for the event. The freaky procession with people dressed as zombies, witches, monsters, vampires and scary clowns was accompanied with band and music. We could spot the famed personalities Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson celebrating the ‘Immortal Fame’ theme for 2015.

Amsterdam and the Halloween Festival

Yes, the Zombies use mobiles too…

Best Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

Best Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

If you are intrigued by this amazing festival then here is a good read on ‘What is Halloween’. And here is a comprehensive guide on where to stay in Amsterdam to suit every budget.

We definitely missed a lot of what Amsterdam had to offer but visiting the city during the remarkable Halloween festival was an indelible experience. One can also take a break from the city life of Amsterdam and hop onto several day trips from Amsterdam to many fishing villages around the city for a laid-back experience.

What are your views on visiting Amsterdam and how has been your experience? Do share in comments.

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40 thoughts on “Best Things to do in Amsterdam in a day and the Halloween Festival

  • April 29, 2016 at 9:10 am
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    I have never visited Amsterdam before, but always meant to. I am even more curious now. Absolutely loved the pictures, the canal cruise looks particularly beautiful.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 4:59 pm
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      Thanks Nya, glad you liked the pictures 🙂

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  • April 29, 2016 at 9:45 am
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    wow! I love when unplanned day come together! and not only together but turned to be an exotic day!

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:01 pm
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      True.. Completely agree with you 😉

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  • April 29, 2016 at 10:34 am
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    I have never been to Amsterdam but your post did remind me of my city for Halloween, last year. We did not had a parade but everybody dressed up and went out on the streets to party. That night was very foggy and it was like a proper zombie town out there.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm
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      wow that sounds like great fun and spooky at same time. Looks like you had a great time 😉

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  • April 29, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    Amsterdam is definitely on my bucket list. I would take that canal cruise for sure. I noticed that you did not have pictures of any windmills. Perhaps it was not the time of year for tulips. I don’t know. I would like to be able to see the tulip fields when I visit. We would probably schedule our trip during the tulip season. Great review. Thank you for sharing it.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm
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      Thanks Roy yes it wasnt the tulip season but we are going to fill up that space soon 😉

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  • April 29, 2016 at 11:49 am
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    I love the nightlife in Amsterdam. I’m I the only one who doesn’t have a picture at the “I Amsterdam” writing?
    Lovely photos.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm
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      🙂 True tourists are crazy to take pictures with the iconic signboard!

      Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 12:21 pm
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    I have always wanted to see Amsterdam!! First saw its beauty in the Fault In Our Stars Movie, and now in your post…Seeing those canals is really part of my bucket list!!

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm
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      Amsterdam is beautiful indeed. Hope you make a visit soon 😉

      Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm
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    Great pictures, and what a fun birthday trip! The Halloween festival looks like a blast!

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:04 pm
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      Thank you so much Jed for stopping by 🙂

      Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 2:54 pm
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    I went to Amsterdam once. Absolutely loved it. But I was only there for a couple of days and never got around to seeing half of these things. Great adventure.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:05 pm
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      There is so much to see in Amsterdam hope you plan to revisit soon 🙂

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  • April 29, 2016 at 3:39 pm
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    I’ve never been but always wanted to. It seems the weather was perfectly eerie for the events taking place!

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm
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      Yes Amy weather was pleasant and we had a great time. Thanks!

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  • April 29, 2016 at 3:40 pm
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    Wow! That trip looked and sounded like so much fun! The diamond market looked very intriguing. How exciting just to see all those sparkling jewels! ! would love visiting the flea market and taking the river cruise. The Halloween Parade looked fantastic! What a fun little get away for your birthday!

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:06 pm
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      Agree! Amsterdam trip with all the cruising flea market and the diamond factory was great fun. 🙂

      Reply
  • April 29, 2016 at 8:50 pm
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    Seriously that first picture looks like a renaissance painting, Amsterdam looks absolutely stunning can’t wait to go especially to the Halloween parade.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm
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      Agree watching Halloween parade atleast once is a must. It was great fun 🙂

      Reply
  • April 30, 2016 at 4:59 am
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    I loved Amsterdam when I visited a few years ago! But I don’t remember such incredible looking donuts! 🙂 I might have to go back just to eat some! No really one day I would love to go back and explore me.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 5:08 pm
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      Thanks Carrie, then you should definitely plan a visit soon for those donuts 😉

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  • April 30, 2016 at 8:21 am
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    From the way you detail it and the photos, it looks like you had the best time. I’d love to visit Amsterdam one day, I’d particularly be interesting in the canal cruise and the diamond factory

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 4:58 pm
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      Thank you so much Sara, Yes Cruise and Diamond factory was our favorite too 😉

      Reply
  • April 30, 2016 at 5:51 pm
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    I’ve always wanted to travel to Amsterdam. It looks like so much fun! Although, I’m not to sure about the canal cruise as I am not a great swimmer. I have this phobia of being in the boat and it capsizes lol! I’d probably be that one friend who wants to go enjoy the fabulous foods than a cruise during the trip.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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      Cruises aren’t as scary as you feel 🙂 For us every city we visit if we have an option we definitely do a cruise. And yes exploring food is absolutely interesting.

      Reply
  • May 1, 2016 at 7:26 am
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    Yes, Amsterdam is definitely on my bucket list! I believe Amsterdam as a beautiful place has something to offer to everyone.

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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      Agree, Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  • May 2, 2016 at 5:08 am
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    Amsterdam is in my bucket list. Hope to go there some day! Your trip sounds so much fun. I have pinned your post for my future reference. Have a great week ahead! 🙂

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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      Thank you so much Anamika. Happy Travelling!

      Reply
  • May 2, 2016 at 9:51 am
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    Your pictures have tempted me even more to plan my next holidays here. I wish you had added a picture of tulips too. I guess for that I myself have to get there. Lol! 😉

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    • mm
      May 2, 2016 at 10:33 am
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      It wasnt a Tulip season when we had been. We are going this year for the Tulips. Il post pics of them 😉

      Reply
  • May 2, 2016 at 6:40 pm
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    Most of my family members have been to Amsterdam and really enjoyed it. The say the streets and canals are really picture-esque. You’ve captured it well and I love a flee market 🙂

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm
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      Thanks, Kerry. Amsterdam with the crisscrossing canals is gorgeous indeed!

      Reply
  • May 2, 2016 at 6:59 pm
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    Flea Market is the best part of your trip to Amsterdam. And yea, of course the diamond factory. But seriously, you wouldn`t believe what can be bought there 🙂

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    • mm
      May 4, 2016 at 4:54 pm
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      Agree Sidney Flea market is fun and We can do a lot of window shopping in the diamond factory 😉

      Reply
  • June 4, 2016 at 9:47 pm
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    I love trip with no particular plans. Just travel, get along with the new city and enjoy your time there.
    This is how we did our road trip through Europe and it was wonderful. We didn’t even know where we’d stop for the next few days.
    I haven’t been in Amsterdam just yet, so it was lovely to see your shots from this beautiful city 🙂

    Reply
  • September 6, 2017 at 6:59 pm
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    The canal cruise sounds like it’d be beyond a blast for me. So much fun! Leisurely cruising around the city, soaking up the natural beauty and scouting out coffee shops – I am joking 😉 – well, this sounds like the ultimate thing for me to do in Amsterdam. My wife visited and adores the place. Not just for the coffee shops 🙂

    Reply

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