Amsterdam is one of my favourite European cities to visit by far. It boasts a vibrant culture, many inspiring places to visit and some of the best architecture I’ve seen in Europe. It’s a city I’ve visited lots of times in the past, maybe 5 or 6 even, and I’ve been desperate to get back there both with and without my family. It’s one of those cities that can easily be explored in a short break. If you only had one day in Amsterdam, with a carefully planned itinerary you could still cover a lot of ground.
It is one of my missions to visit Amsterdam again, and see exactly would can be done in 24 hours. With a short flight and a small piece of hand luggage, I think this would be the perfect adventure for a solo traveller or a couple. Amsterdam is a very compact city and is incredibly easy to navigate making it perfect for a quick visit.
With flights from the UK to Amsterdam airport taking just over an hour, and an excellent train connection between Schipol and Centraal Station, you can be in the heart of this stunning city in just a few hours. If you want to lap up a way of life shaped by bicycles, canals and where tolerance is the order of the day, what are you waiting for! Here’s a few of the things you can enjoy in 24 hours.
Central Library (Openbare Bibliotheek) Amsterdam
This public library is a 5 minute walk from Centraal Station, and the perfect place to start your trip. It claims to be the largest library in Europe, and is typical of the clean contemporary style you’ll see in modern buildings in the city. Take a look around before heading to the cafe and the roof top terrace. The views over the city are stunning on a clear day and will help you get your bearings if your a first time visitor. Food here is also lovely and reasonably priced.
NEMO Science Centre
You will have already spotted the the green ship like building sitting on the water, and it’s definitely worth a peek. It’s a favourite for families with children, but appeals to all ages with it’s interactive activities and playful exhibitions, shows, workshops and demonstrations.
Once you’ve explored the 5 floors of this fascinating building, you can also get on this incredible roof and enjoy the skyline from literally a different angle.
Take A Canal Cruise
No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without taking one of the city’s canal cruises. Most boats provide cover if the weather isn’t on your side, but you will still get a great view of the city via the see through roofs. Most canal cruises provide a running commentary talking about places of interest and historical importance.
A canal cruise around Amsterdam takes about an hour, and can be picked up from Centraal Station or several other points in the city. Not only are they a lot of fun, but they also provide the legs with a welcome rest, if you have been exploring the city by foot.
Walking In Amsterdam
I cannot stress enough how important it is to including some walking around Amsterdam. As it’s a city built around canals, it’s incredibly flat and easy to navigate. There is a logic to the canal network that you will become quickly familiar with, and it will give you the opportunity to appreciate some of the architecture and beautiful houses in Amsterdam.
Visit The Rijksmuseum
If you only have time to visit one museum in Amsterdam, make it the Rijksmuseum based in Museumplein (Museum Square). You can either walk here, or if pushed for time take a tram. The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s most famous museum, showcasing the city’s history in one of the grandest settings you will ever see.
Enjoy the works of Van Gough, Rembrandt and other famous Dutch artists as well as many exhibitions and artefacts dedicated to Amsterdam’s rich and vibrant history. I’m ashamed to say, in all of my visits to the city, I’ve never been inside the Rijksmuseum, but it’s something I would definitely change on my return.
Go To Vondelpark
After your visit to the Rijksmuseum, make time for a visit to Vondelpark, which is popular with both Amsterdammers and tourists visiting the city. On a sunny day, many flock here to relax and unwind or enjoy many of the parks offerings. There are play areas for children, open air theatre performances in the summer and several sculptures including the ‘Fish’ by Pablo Picasso.
Amsterdam Night Life
If you have any energy left after all that, then why not sample a little of what Amsterdam night life has to offer. If you haven’t stumbled across the Red Light district yet, it’s definitely a colourful place at night, but not for the faint hearted. My advice would be tick it off your list and go there with a tolerant attitude.
Amsterdam promises it’s visitors a night out they won’t forget, offering an array of live music, nightclubs and a very active LGBT community that know how to party. With an ‘you only live once’ attitude you are promised some amazing memories and a hangover that will definitely feel well earned.
If you are visiting Amsterdam for a little bit longer and need hotel recommendations, you can read all about our stay at the Hampshire Hotel in Rembrandt Square. You might also enjoy reading about how I got on when I visited Berlin for 24 hours!
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Read about how I’m inspiring my children to love travel here.