Do you only have 24 hours in Amsterdam? Don’t fret; you still have plenty of time to enjoy all of Amsterdam’s highlights, including museums, mouth-watering delicacies, and the city’s stunning architecture.
Amsterdam is an enchanting city known for its gorgeous tulips, crooked houses, and picturesque waterways, making it a top-tier travel destination. Whether you’re a museum-goer or a treat-seeker, you may wonder if you can fit all your Amsterdam favorites into 24 hours.
Well, with a little bit of forethought and buying tickets ahead of time, you can still see the best of Amsterdam. Below you’ll find an Amsterdam one-day itinerary featuring all the top Amsterdam things to do, so you can plan an efficient and epic trip. So, keep reading to see how you can make the most of your 24 hours in Amsterdam.
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Amsterdam one-day itinerary
Take a stroll through Vondelpark
Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s most popular and beloved park and for good reason! At 45 hectares, it’s a hub of activity no matter the weather. Amsterdam’s largest park features children’s playgrounds, an open-air theatre, and delicious cafes and restaurants.
If you rent a bike in Amsterdam, it’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or ride. Start your day in Amsterdam at one of the city’s most beautiful areas.
🌟Insider Tip: Grab a bite to eat at one of the few cafes in the park; both Proeflokaal ‘t Blauwe Theehuis and Groot Melkhuis offer delicious fare and fantastic espresso. A true Dutch-eater does not rush their meal, so bring a book and enjoy your morning.
Wander around Museumplein
From Vondelpark, head to the nearby neighborhood, Museumplein. This popular quarter is bordered by some of Amsterdam’s best museums. Whether you plan to bike through the Rijksmuseum’s underpass or check out some Banksy, no visit to Amsterdam is complete without visiting Museumplein.
Museumplein is the largest square in Amsterdam and home to some of the best museums in Europe: Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum, and Moco Museum. The square is also used for cultural festivals, protests, and other recreational activities.
If you plan to spend time perusing the museums, then Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are both worth your time. Rijksmuseum is a stunning piece of architecture and the home of masterpieces like Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and spectacular rooms like the Cuypers Library. You only need a couple of hours to catch the highlights of Rijksmuseum.
The Van Gogh Museum is another must-see during your 24 hours in Amsterdam. Some of Van Gogh’s most incredible works, like The Bedroom, Sunflowers, and his self-portraits, are on display.
However, the smaller Moco Museum is also highly recommended if you enjoy funky, modern art. Featuring the works of Warhol, Dali, and Banksy, Moco is a fun, explorative art experience that is definitely worth your time. Grab these tickets to the museum that also includes a one-hour canal ride on the museum’s famous pink boat.
Eat lunch and shop in De Negen Straatjes
You’ll start your afternoon with some shopping and lunch in one of Amsterdam’s most famous neighborhoods, De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets.) This picturesque neighborhood is in the middle of four canals and holds four centuries of history of shopping, craftsmanship, and entertainment.
De Negen Straatjes is a hip, bustling area perfect for admiring traditional Dutch architecture or popping into some shops to spend your vacation cash. This neighborhood is featured on many lists of top Amsterdam things to do because of its beautiful Dutch architecture and several designer and vintage shops.
Some of the best designer shops and thrift stores are stationed in De Negen Straatjes like We are Labels, Smaak, and Episode. It’s the perfect area in the city to purchase gifts or treat yourself to something nice.
🌟Insider Tip: Grab some lunch at the delicious A. van Wees Tasting for lovely outdoor seating with gorgeous canal views. This restaurant features classic Amsterdam cuisine, like the popular Dutch cheese fondue, and more than 50 liqueurs and other spirits made in the restaurant’s distillery. It’s one of the best places to grab lunch during your 24 hours in Amsterdam.
Tour the Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House is a biographical museum dedicated to wartime diarist Anne Frank. If you only have one day in Amsterdam, this is an important attraction for acknowledging Amsterdam and Europe’s complicated past.
The Anne Frank House is an incredible small museum that takes you through the life and spirit of a young girl during World War II. Tickets become available online six weeks in advance, so keep an eye on your travel date and purchase a ticket during a time slot that works for you.
🌟Insider Tip: If you prefer a more comprehensive tour of Amsterdam’s Jewish Quartier, check out the Anne Frank Walking Tour instead. The knowledgeable guide will share details about the Dutch’s position during World War II and bring you to secret hideaways used by the Dutch resistance.
People watch in Dam Square
Finish out the afternoon of your one day in Amsterdam by strolling through Dam Square. One of the most recognizable areas of Amsterdam, Dam Square was created in the 13th century to prevent the sea from flooding the city. Today, it’s the home of street performers, demonstrations, and cultural festivals that crowd the square rain or shine.
As you wander around Dam Square, you’ll notice the amazing opulence of The Royal Palace, one of three Netherlands residences for King Willem-Alexander. It was built in the 17th century originally as Amsterdam’s town hall. Today, it is used for state visits and other royal occasions.
The National Monument is also in Dam Square and was created in 1956 to honor the fallen Dutch soldiers of World War II. If you happen to be visiting on May 4th, Dutch Memorial Day, you’ll see a ceremony at the Monument. It’s quite an impressive structure everyone must see during their 24 hours in Amsterdam.
Cruise on the canal
No one day in Amsterdam is complete without hopping on a canal cruise. Amsterdam is the home of 165 beautiful canals that snake through the streets. Boarding a canal cruise is one of the top Amsterdam things to do and an iconic vacation experience. If it’s a nice day, you’ll see the canals packed with both locals and tourists relishing in the warm weather and enjoying a lazy ride.
This Lovers Canal Cruise boards from the convenient Central Station and includes a one-hour trip. During the cruise, you’ll learn about the city’s architectural origins and enjoy beautiful views of the city.
🌟Insiders Tip: Combine your cruise experience with tickets to the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum with The Amsterdam Pass. This ticket gives you entrance to two of Amsterdam’s best museums and an unforgettable boat ride. Plus, the city audio guide is included to offer insight into the city’s history and other unmissable spots.
Grab some authentic Dutch food
Finally, grab some local dinner from an authentic Dutch restaurant to finish your Amsterdam one-day itinerary. Near the canal cruise stop is De Silveren Spiegel, an upscale restaurant serving traditional Dutch cuisine in a historic, 17th-century building. The restaurant’s elegant rooms match its elevated cuisine with a menu with no misses. Many reviewers call the chef an artisan in the kitchen.
If you’re looking for more Amsterdam restaurant recommendations for your 24 hours in Amsterdam, check out this list of the best Amsterdam restaurants near every major museum.
What’s the best way to get around Amsterdam?
If you only have one day to spend in the Dutch capital, it’s important to map out your transportation beforehand. Capitalizing on every second and hour will ensure you have the most seamless visit to all of Amsterdam’s top attractions.
One way to get around Amsterdam is to pick up a 24-hour travel card from a ticket vending machine at a metro station. This contactless travel card allows you to use Amsterdam public transportation, trams, trains, and buses for an entire day for only 9 euros. Considering a one-hour ticket costs €3,40, you’ll save a ton of money with the 24-hour card.
You can also make the most of your 24 hours in Amsterdam with a ticket to the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus. These buses plan routine trips to Amsterdam’s top attractions, so it’s easy to get to and from Amsterdam’s must-sees.
The other transportation tip for getting around Amsterdam is to rent a bike. If you want to truly feel like a local and embrace the Dutch culture, then grab a helmet and hop on a bike. It’s both economical and good for the environment, but be sure to follow the traffic signals and be respectful of other bikers on the road.
Where’s the best place to stay in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam has many neighborhoods that may meet your standards depending on your preferences. Some travelers prefer to have easy access to all their activities, and many of the main attractions are located in the City Center and Oud-Zuid (Amsterdam South.) Alternatively, some explorers want to live amongst the locals, so where to stay in Amsterdam all comes down to personal preference.
The Centre is your best bet if you’re looking for budget-friendly options. It’s right in the middle of some of Amsterdam’s top sights, with easy access to everything, so it’s ideal for first-timers and short-time visitors. However, due to its proximity to the red-light district, some travelers may not enjoy the crowds and noise.
If you still want to be close to the action but with a bit more peace and quiet, then Jordaan is the neighborhood for you. There are plenty of restaurants and shops here, so there’s no shortage of spots to explore. However, you are a bit further out from Amsterdam’s top landmarks, but that’s what living as a local is like!
If you’re a hip, trendy solo traveler, then De Pijp is a great choice if you’re wondering where to stay in Amsterdam. De Pijip is south of the center and far away from the tourists and crowds, but close to Museumplein. It also has a great nightlife scene with some delicious restaurants. You’ll find mostly mid-level hotels in this neighborhood and plenty of Airbnbs.
When’s the best time to visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam’s seasons have pros and cons depending on weather, crowds, and your budget. Arguably, the best times to visit Amsterdam are the spring and fall because it’s less touristy with moderate weather. The shoulder seasons will bring fewer crowds than the summer, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get clear sunny skies. However, the weather can be a bit unpredictable in early spring and late fall, so book at your own risk.
If you’re traveling to Amsterdam for the city’s epic tulips, visit in mid-April. It’ll be your best opportunity to see the tulips in bloom, plus the country’s famous tulip festival, Keukenhof, takes place during April.
If you want to avoid all crowds and nail the cheapest travel prices, plan a trip for the winter months. Amsterdam’s winter is pretty chilly, with average lows reaching around 2℃, keeping tourists at bay. However, you’ll save on flights and accommodation and miss out on the crazy crowds that plague the summer months.
🌟Insider tip: If you’re traveling during the busy season, mid-June to early September, be sure to book your accommodation at least three months in advance. Booking early will help you save money on your trip and give you more options than the last-minute bookers.
Time to spare in Amsterdam?
If you can squeeze some free hours into your Amsterdam one-day itinerary, then here are a few more activities for your Dutch vacation.
Visit a coffeeshop
To complete your visit to Amsterdam, why not try one of the city’s most legendary activities–cannabis. Now, don’t confuse a coffeeshop for selling espresso.
Coffeeshops in Amsterdam sell legal marijuana. If you’re wondering how cannabis is legal in Amsterdam, the city takes a different approach to drug use. The government believes that drug use is inevitable in any city, so the focus should be on harm reduction, regulation, and providing help to those with addictions.
There are many famous coffeeshops in Amsterdam, like The Bulldog No. 90, which is the longest operating coffeeshop in Amsterdam.
Rent a bike
Why not live like a local for a day and tour the city on bike? Riding a bike in Amsterdam is an amazing way to see the city and brush shoulders with the locals. There are plenty of places to rent bikes in the city, but if you prefer a guided tour, check out this Amsterdam bike tour, which covers the city’s highlights.
Red light district
Amsterdam is known for many adult-only activities, including those in the famous red-light district. As you wander the red-light district, you’ll probably see bachelor and bachelorette parties, stag groups, and University students exploring.
Many people are curious about this interesting neighborhood, but you can gain insider knowledge at the Museum of Prostitution. This museum will give you a behind-the-scenes look into the industry, including what it means to be a sex worker in Amsterdam. If you’re worried about navigating Amsterdam’s nightlife scene, check out this guide for how to approach the city’s nightlife like a local.