This story was first published on 4 January 2017. It is now updated with the latest information on travelling to the Netherlands under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL).
From world-class museums to pretty parks, windmills and a maze of canals, there's much to explore in Amsterdam. With the Netherlands now under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, it’s the perfect getaway from the urban hustle and bustle of Singapore.
There are several things to do on your first visit to Amsterdam. Given its size, speeding through side streets on two wheels is easier and often faster than waiting around for trams and buses. So skip the road trips, get your Google Maps out and your bicycle and let's go. With this 12-hour itinerary to use as a guide, you can do a lot in one day to satisfy your wanderlust!
8am: Cycle through Vondelpark
Get on that saddle and start in Vondelpark, one of the city's most beautiful public spaces. At this time of day, there are hardly any tourists and you’ll get the best photos of lakes, ponds, dogs, ducks and trees of all sizes and colours. You’ll also discover why the Dutch painters of the Golden Age loved living here. Beyond taking in the sights of bronze monuments and riding by the various vicinities of the park, take a break and see the way the morning light shines through those branches.
9am: Witness the genius of Van Gogh
Vondelpark to Van Gogh Museum: 4-min by bicycle
From Vondelpark, head to Amsterdam’s Museumplein. Here you'll find the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum, the recently added Moco – featuring the world’s largest collection of works by Banksy – and the Van Gogh Museum. If you have to choose, the latter is a great pick. To see the world's biggest collection of his work in a tiny time frame, book Skip The Line tickets and park your bicycle across the street from the entrance. If you think enjoying the magic of these museums makes for a great secret dating spot, this place is definitely for you!
12noon: Lunch time with the locals
Van Gogh Museum to Foodhallen: 7-min by bicycle
Amsterdam's hip Oud-West neighbourhood is home to the popular Foodhallen. This spot is not often discovered by tourists. Take a break from your sightseeing ventures, park by the coffee shop Lot Sixty One (grab an excellent flat white while you're at it), and head inside for a taste of local life and an even bigger taste of gourmet street food. Food trucks serve everything from sushi to chicken fried doughnuts and Wagyu beef burgers. There's even a beer garden and gin bar inside!
1pm: Boutique browsing in De 9 Straatjes
Foodhallen to De 9 Straatjes: 7-min by bicycle
De 9 Straatjes (the Nine Streets in Dutch) is a photogenic mini-neighbourhood straddling two canals, and it's been packed with artisanal businesses for more than 400 years. You'll find some of the best boutique shopping, cafes and galleries here in what some call 'the real Amsterdam'. Park your bike somewhere on Wolvenstraat to be in the middle of it all.
2pm: See the city from the canals
De 9 Straatjes to Amsterdam Canal Cruises: 4-min by bicycle
There are more than 100km of canals in Amsterdam, dug in the 17th century. Several tour companies will welcome you on board to cruise these charming waterways. Cycle to Herengracht and park by Amsterdam Canal Cruises for a hop-on, hop-off option. You'll cruise past clog shops and cheese stores, and take in the sights of other tourist attractions such as West Church (Westerkerk), the Seven Arches Bridge, Anne Frank House and more.
5pm: Time for some Dutch snacks
Amsterdam Canal Cruises to Leidseplein: 4-min by bicycle
Leidseplein is full of tourists, but you can park your bike near H&M and walk to one of the bars overlooking the square. In winter there are heaters; in summer it's a great place to catch the afternoon rays. Order a drink and some bitterballen – deep-fried balls filled with delicious meats, which are a must-eat when visiting Amsterdam – and settle down to people watch; it's always fun.
6pm: Dinnertime with the Dutch
Leidseplein to nearby restaurants: 5-min by bicycle
There are a number of restaurants around Leidseplein, but to avoid the tourist traps, get back on your bicycle! For traditional Dutch dishes in a home-cooked style, Moeders – meaning Mothers – is a must (5-min from Leidseplein). For Italian with an operatic twist, the singing waiters serve a mean pasta at Pasta e Basta (4-min from Leidseplein). Or if you feel like filling up on gourmet baked potatoes try Jacketz (4-min from Leidseplein).
8pm: Visit the iconic Red Light District
Restaurant to Red Light District: 6-min by bicycle
The Rosse Buurt (Dutch for pink or red neighbourhood) might be full of tourists peering into windows, but if you look beyond the adult shops and neon lights you'll see some stunning 14th-century architecture in the Red Light District. Park your bicycle by the city's oldest building, the 800-year-old Oude Kerk (Old Church) and set out to explore. Tour guides will tell you more about the neighbourhood and the world's oldest profession.
The locals love to sip cocktails at SkyLounge, which offers panoramic city views and delicious drinks till midnight (3-min from Oude Kerk by bicycle). For dancing, techno club Panama will satisfy – but leave your bicycle safely at Centraal station and take the tram. You can catch the tram home from there too, and go back for your wheels the next day in daylight.
Things to note while travelling in Amsterdam
Restrictions have been largely lifted across the city: social distancing is no longer required (but still wise), restaurants and bars can open to maximum capacity, and all events (concerts, festivals, etc.) are allowed with a Covid-19 entry pass.
Face masks must be worn in indoor public places where the Covid-19 entry pass does not have to be shown. They aren’t mandatory outdoors but will have to be worn at the airport, on aircraft, trains, trams, buses, metros, and in taxis. In stations and on platforms face masks will also have to be used.
To gain entry to most indoor venues — bars, restaurants, nightclubs, theatres, events — an EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) is required as proof of vaccination or proof of recovery from Covid-19.
All other proof of vaccination or proof of recovery, like digital vaccination certificates from the Ministry of Health, are not considered valid without a DCC.
- Tourists from outside the EU will have to get tested no more than 24 hours before gaining access to an event or activity in the Netherlands for which a DCC is required. There are several locations across the country to get tested for free, and confirmation of the negative results can be converted into a digital COVID certificate that remains valid for 24 hours. More information here.
You might have filled 12 hours, but you've only scratched the surface of Amsterdam. There's so much to do and see and no quarantine periods to worry about for a splendid Dutch holiday. So book your flights to Amsterdam from Singapore and start planning your next travel adventure overseas with these tips now!
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Best Time to Visit
Summer in Amsterdam (June – August) is the peak tourist period, so prepare yourself for huge crowds and long queues. Visit Amsterdam in the April – May or September – November periods to enjoy fewer tourists and air-con weather.
Public transport in Amsterdam is one of the best in Europe. The metro, tram and bus are the main modes of local transport, and run at high frequencies of about 5 - 10 minutes. Face masks will have to be worn on trains, trams, buses, metros and in taxis. Be sure to use your face masks in the stations and on platforms as well to ensure a safe travel journey.
Other cities outside Amsterdam can be easily accessed via the inter-city train from major stations like Centraal Station.
Amsterdam’s local currency is the Euro (EUR, €).
Please keep in mind that some shops are cashless and only accept payment by debit or credit card.
There are several flights daily from Changi Airport to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Book your trip now.