The BEST Itinerary For Seeing Amsterdam in One Day

If you need an itinerary for seeing Amsterdam in one day you have definitely come to the right place.  This is my favourite European city, and even with just 24 hours in Amsterdam you can experience the best of what this popular European destination has to offer.

Amsterdam 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 city break.  If you want to see Amsterdam in a day, with a carefully planned itinerary you can cover a lot of ground.

Amsterdam is a very compact city and is incredibly easy to navigate making it perfect for a quick visit.  Invest in an Amsterdam travel pass like the iamsterdam card, and you will be off to a flying start.

24 Hours In Amsterdam - one day to see the sights

How to Spend One Day in Amsterdam

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 the architecture 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 roof.  Most canal cruises provide a running commentary talking about places of interest and historical importance.  It’s also worth checking your Amsterdam travel ticket, as a canal cruise might be included in the price.

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 even if you only have one day in 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 at your own pace.

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 which will be included in your Amsterdam travel card.  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.


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 interesting offerings.  There are play areas for children, open air theatre performances in the summer and several sculptures including the ‘Fish’ by Pablo Picasso.

Things to do in Amsterdam at Night

If you have any energy left after all that, then you will want to know what to do in amsterdam at night.  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 and open minded 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!

For more ideas about a family holiday in Amsterdam, take a look at our list of things to to with kids here.

24 Hours In Amsterdam

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Zena's Suitcase
Zena's Suitcase

Zena Goldman is a UK based travel, family & lifestyle blogger who left her 9-5 job behind in the not-for-profit sector to follow her creative dreams and enjoy a more flexible family life. She began writing Zena’s Suitcase in 2011 and shares the holidays and adventures she goes on with (and without) her 2 young daughters. She wishes her son would join them more often but he’s carving out his own dreams now and enjoying university life.

Since beginning Zena’s Suitcase she has worked with a number of brands and also has a regular monthly feature in the ASDA Good Living Magazine feature, ‘Ask The Expert’ where she shares helpful parenting tips. In 2018 she was also a finalist in the prestigious BIBs Awards for Social Media.

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  1. Hannah
    November 26, 2016 / 5:28 pm

    I would love to visit here one day, it’s on my bucket list!

  2. Margaret Gallagher
    November 26, 2016 / 7:13 pm

    Looks amazing
    Cant believe ive never been
    Definately on my list for next year

  3. William Gould
    November 26, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    We go there quite regularly! Twice this year in fact, but we didn’t go anywhere else. In the Spring we took a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens, millions of bulbs in full bloom – stunning!
    We used to stay in centrally located hotels, but now stay in rented apartments in the Oude West area. 20 mins walk from the centre is just far enough to be away from the tourists, and is like living with the locals. There’s a bakery on every corner which is very handy! Also there is De Hallen, an old tram station turned into unusual one-off shops and a fabulous food hall! There’s also a fabulous café at the library entrance.
    Westerpark is also worth a visit. It’s an old gas works that has been changed into shops and restaurants, and parkland. there’s a great café there also that sells their old coffee sacks for 2.50 Euros. Old potato sacks on Retford market cost £10 !!!
    Although the train is very cheap from Amsterdam to Schiphol, check out Tinker Travel for a taxi quote. We got limousine type taxis, return, for less than 40 Euros last time!

  4. November 26, 2016 / 9:55 pm

    I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam, it sounds and looks awesome – hopefully next year. Great post 🙂 Kaz x
    Ickle Pickle recently posted…Our Weekly Photo #45 #46My Profile

  5. November 27, 2016 / 2:56 am

    I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Amsterdam! My friend recently went and I was so envious. I’m a massive fan of The Fault in Our Stars, so I’d love to go to the bench they sat on. It’s also pretty picturesque. Accor Hotels is fab, I’ve got a membership with them and love getting money off.

  6. Jessica McDonnell
    November 27, 2016 / 9:34 am

    I love Amsterdam, it’s one of my favourite places to visit. Lovely photos!

  7. Laura Tovey
    November 27, 2016 / 11:42 am

    Wow, it looks and sounds great! I’ve never been to Amsterdam but hope to do so one day!

  8. November 27, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    I loved reading this post! I keep wanting to go on some short breaks and Amsterdam is definitely top on my list, always great to read that there’s so much you can do in such a short space of time 😀

  9. Andrew Petrie
    November 28, 2016 / 7:59 am

    I too love Amsterdam and and Holland. They are so laid back and liberal minded.

  10. Abigail Cullen
    November 28, 2016 / 9:28 am

    This looks and sounds a great place to visit, maybe one day I’ll persuade my partner, thank you for this blog.

  11. Sarah (Mum x3x)
    November 28, 2016 / 2:13 pm

    I’d love to visit Amsterdam, it’s a beautiful country and so much to see and do! I’d really like to take a cruise on the canal, that would be amazing! Rijksmuseum sounds like a really interesting place to visit, too! Great post. xx
    Sarah (Mum x3x) recently posted…6 Things I’ve learned since working out.My Profile

  12. Fay Norris
    January 5, 2017 / 12:05 am

    The first stop for me would be a canal cruise. Looks wonderful

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Whether you are looking for travel tips to make the most of your next cruise holiday or you need UK travel ideas we’ve got you covered on Zena’s Suitcase UK travel blog.  We started sharing our holiday and travel reviews in 2013, so if you can’t find the travel, family or lifestyle blog above you are after make sure you head over to the search bar to find what you need.  Think of us as one of the best travel blogs brimming with ideas to get you out and about with and without the kids.