Most people frown at the idea of How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam, but sometimes it is all you have got and you need to make the most out of it. It makes sense, really, because having just 24 hours in such a magical city or any other great city does sound like a raw deal. Rather than sulk for having so little to do so much, I always insist on taking the chance as a challenge to do so much with so little.
One great way to make out the most of a 24 hour city visit is to have an itinerary of activities to be done within that specific period. The itinerary prevents you from wasting time as you try to decide where to go next after a particular visit. It also helps you to come up with a clear and continuous route between different sites so that you do not spend time going back and forth between places that could be visited in a line.
You may opt to come up with an itinerary of your own, but why stress yourself when you could use a better schedule developed by someone who has actually visited the city and has racked up experience by visiting major cities with a window of just 24 hours in each. Yes, that’s myself. I have been in Amsterdam a couple times and other cities across and beyond Europe, and I can say I feel well equipped to put together a satisfying and non-stressing How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule to each.
In this particular article, I want to share with you the ultimate How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary.
How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam – Morning
Amsterdam is really an easy city to visit. For starters, it is a small city when compared to giants like London, Madrid and Paris (The size does not take away its magnificence in any way, but allows you to get a lot done in 24 hours). It is a great place to start for travellers who are just starting out on one-day city visits.
This is a city of water and art, basically. And, of course, the famous ‘lawless’ nature of its nightlife in certain pockets. This is a How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam guide that will work for anyone, whether you are a wild and free spirit, an enthusiastic voyeur who wants to see it all from the sidelines or a conservative traveller who is interested in the awesome style of Amsterdam’s water management. Read on…
The best time to get into Amsterdam ahead of beginning the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary is in the mid-evening. Jetting in too early will tempt you to start sampling the city by night, the result of which will be a tired and lazy body on the next morning when you should be heading out to the most picturesque sites. On the other hand, checking in too late denies you time to catch adequate sleep.
The Schiphol Airport, if arriving by air, is located just outside the city proper. Getting into the city where you are going to spend the night is very easy by the tram, but you could still opt for a cab to give you a more customized ride. Amsterdam’s traffic network is near-perfect; it is unlikely that you will experience traffic delays by whatever means.
Having a sleeping arrangement made beforehand is always great, but you need not fret if you do not have such a plan. There are decent places admitting travellers late into the night. Bob’s Youth Hostel, Amsterdam Hostel, White Tulip, Princess, Cosmos and Shelter City are some of the easily accessible hostels where you can put up for the night. If you are looking for a hotel proper, the Budget Hotel Bargain Toko, The Qbic Hotel WTC, Lloyds Hotel, and CitizenM are great options.
Getting started for the day
Despite being a close-knit town, it is important to start out early in order to make the most of the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule. Waking up with the city will give you the opportunity to experience it in every aspect. Amsterdam is a late sleeper but not so much of an early riser, so you should be in good time if you step out at 7 am.
As such, the time you wake up will depend on how long it takes you to get prepared. This is not a job interview though; preparation is nothing more than taking a shower and throwing on a set of comfortable clothes.
Be sure to check the projected weather conditions and dress appropriately. A comfortable pair of shoes will come in handy whether you are walking or riding the tram. A shoe a little larger than your everyday wear with a comfortable padding and flexible sole is highly recommended.
This may come across as an obvious inclusion, but check to ensure that your camera battery is fully charged and the gadget is working properly. Believe me, there are many moments worth freezing during the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary!
7 am – 8 am
A good breakfast will always set your day right, so that you begin the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary the right way. Make this a relatively heavy meal so you can have enough energy reserves that need just a little topping up during other meals of the day.
Coffee is a main part of breakfast in Amsterdam and goes with just about anything. The Greenwoods Singel offers a traditional English breakfast with eggs, bacon and toast. Omelegg is a breakfast dedicated outlet that brands itself as casual and cosy. The open setting allows you to enjoy the morning Amsterdam breeze.
Places like the Breakfast Club, The Three Graefjes and the De Vier Pilaren are also great breakfast outlets.
All these outlets are located within the city centre and have a consideration for vegans.
8 am – 9 am
As the city continue its slow wake, hop onto a canoe and experience the city on water. A one-hour hiring of the canoe will take you around most of the city, allowing you to see from a different angle the narrow house designs with varying tweaks. It’s the perfect way to continue the how to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule.
The waters look especially beautiful as they reflect the sun’s rays at this hour of the morning. They mesh with the canal bounds to give of a tantalizing orange colour, giving you a true feeling of why the country is often referred to as ‘The Oranje.’
9 am – 11 am
The next spot from the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary is something very unique. Once you have acquainted yourself with the city on a canoe, allow yourself to sink into its delicacies proper with a visit to the Van Gogh. This is the country’s most popular museum named after artist Vincent van Gogh.
It displays works by the world-famous artist and many others who worked along the same contemporary line. If you think you have learned a lot about art from school and books, wait until you are in the presence of the museum’s fluent guides. They will take time to answer every one of your question in artistic language and teach you more than you ever thought possible.
The van Gogh sits in Museum Square within the city; you will just need to walk from your canoe ride. It has stood since 1973 and has over two million visitors coming to enjoy its exhibitions every year. This is the 31st most visited museum across the world each year.
11 am – 12 am
The Rijksmuseum is the point on the list of the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule. It’s located close to the Van Gogh in the Museum Square. It is a 19th century museum that dedicates its practice to history and the arts. With a collection of over a million pieces dating to as far back as 1200, the Rijk has pretty much everything you would want to know about the country.
Of course, this is too much to feat on in one short hour, as are the 8,000 select pieces on display. But this is only a 24 hours in Amsterdam visit, so you will have to settle for sampling masterpieces by Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt. And maybe a few items on the Asian collection.
The Rijk was in The Hague during its early days but moved to Amsterdam in 1808. It is the largest museum in the country by size following a 375 million Euro pumped in 2013. It also welcomes visitors in the area of two million heads every year.
How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam – Lunch
12 pm – 1 pm
Football matches and parks give just about the most ideal insight into a city’s culture and way of life. You get to see people in their real self, away from the everyday confines and stresses of work, which is why this should be the next point on the list of the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule. In each of the cities I have been too, I have noticed that football days create a certain feel-good and authentic atmosphere of every single one of them.
Unfortunately, football matches often occur once a week- twice if you are lucky to catch a cup match. A visit to the stadium will give you a picture of what the city is like on match day, aided by videos and explanations by guides who are there to witness the spectacle every week.
The Johann Cruyff Arena was renamed after legendary footballer Johann Cruyff in 2017 following his death. It was initially known as the Amsterdam Arena. The 140 million Euro ground was opened in 1996 and has a capacity of 54,000 fans on the stands and 68,000 during centre stage concerts.
Why the Johann Cruyff Stadium?
Because Ajax Amsterdam is this Dutch city’s best football offering. The club has a huge and loyal following that paints the city red during their home games. It has a long-standing history both domestically and in Europe and unleashes some of the best 24 hours in Amsterdam memories if you happen to catch them in action. Be sure to check out the teams fixtures during your visit and get in on the action. If your How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary falls out of match day, a stadium tour to the Johann Cruyff Arena will also give a wonderful insight.
1 pm – 2 pm
Recharge for the second part of the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary with a sumptuous meal without having to leave the scenic city centre. The lively De Pijp area is an amazing place for lunchtime diners and is also located just minutes away from Vondelpark, which is the next item on the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary.
You do not want to pack yourself with heavy food that will make you sluggish in the afternoon. Fresh sandwiches are available at the Coffee and coconuts outlet. The Bakers and Roasters Restaurant also has a variety of salads, pies and sandwiches to help you recharge. You could also decide to have a heavier meal at the Piqniq or (return) to The Omelegg.
2 pm – 4 pm
The Vondelpark is an amazing depiction of ‘nothing to something’. The Park that dates back to 1864 was created from a marsh and grassland and should be the next spot to visit from the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule. It sits on a landscaped 47-hectare (120 acre) property and has within it a playground, a rose garden, an open-air theatre and bike paths. There are also several monuments and wildlife elements to encounter. Ten million plus visitors visit the park named after poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel.
While the two hours on the park can be enjoyed by walking around, a bike ride will give you a more Amsterdam feel. There are dedicated bike paths and plenty of bike hiring agencies. Also, the smooth ride helps you get around faster and thus enjoy a larger area of the park.
4 pm – 6 pm
The Anne Frank House is a monument that owes its history to the Second World War. It’s that fascinating, that it just has to be on the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary. As the Nazis wiped out all Jews within their vicinity, Anne, a diarist, successfully hid in the house with four other people and escaped detection and subsequent persecution. The house is a canal design building that has stood since the 17th century.
It was converted into a museum in 1960 and protected from encroachment by private developers. In here, you can see the exact places that Anne and her fellow Jews hid for long periods, alongside displays of rich documentation of the persecution and different forms of discrimination.
The House receives around 1.2 million visitors every year, making it the third most popular museum in the Netherlands.
How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam – Afternoon
6 pm – 8 pm
Who doesn’t love to see what ancient- and modern- royalty looked like? The Royal Palace of Amsterdam that has been standing since 1655 was built using yellow sandstone and 13,659 wooden piles.
Back then, it cost 8.5 million gulden (Gulden was the Dutch currency until 2002) and it’s a great landmark of the city, which is why you have to make big red X for it on the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam schedule.
8 pm – 9 pm
Get set for the last and probably wild third part of your How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary with a great dinner serving at one of the many restaurants. As earlier mentioned, that the Dutch are not a food people does not mean there is a shortage of food outlets in Amsterdam.
If you want to round off the day with a local serving, then The Pantry and The Restaurant Vlaming are great dining options.
9 pm – Open End
Leidseplein is the core of Amsterdam’s nightlife. The place to witness all the raunchy stuff you read about Amsterdam in the books. This area should thus be slotted within the tail end of the How to spend 24 hours in Amsterdam itinerary.
There are huge and friendly crowds here comprising of both visitors and residents. The performances are live from street performers and boy does the crowd get enthralled. It is unlikely that you are going to feel lost here.
You may choose to get involved or just enjoy the view. Big chance though that you will get carried away even if you decide to just sit and watch. There are bars and restaurants open and busy around the clock within the square.
Local theatres offer ample variety of entertainment too, from concerts to stand-up comedy gigs and musicals.
Bourbon Street is one of the most happening places within the city. It is a cool jazz bar with a lively crowd and a vintage look and feel.
You could also opt to get an Amsterdam nightlife ticket for 10€ to get access to more than 20 clubs on the night. With this you get to sample the atmosphere in different clubs where Djs get crowds worked up with funk, deep house, dub, hip hop and techno beats.
Amsterdam is a really great city for people setting out to travel an entire city within 24 hours. It has many great sites located close by and a unique blend of offerings that will give you the urge to go on more 24 hour itinerary trips. The canal and narrow street feature is especially unique to the Dutch capital. If you are wondering where to start your one-day trips challenge, now you have your answer- Amsterdam!
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