How to Have a Fun 24 Hours in Amsterdam

You can pack a lot into 24 hours in Amsterdam, trust me. As one of the most visited cities in Europe I’d recommend going on a week day to really get the most out of your experience, just so you can move around a bit easier to see the sites.

How about a weekend somewhere else in the Netherlands – like The Hague, Rotterdam or Utrecht, and then popping over on the Monday before you get your flight?

Just an idea.

In November I went to Amsterdam for the third time in my life, for a whole new experience. And so based on that, and my other two visits, here’s how I’d recommend you spend your 24 hours in Amsterdam.

Itinerary for a day in Amsterdam

If you’re wondering what to do in Amsterdam for a day, let me help you out with this guide.

24 hours in Amsterdam

You’ll arrive into Amsterdam Centraal Station, in the heart of the city. Take a moment to see the huge collection of thousands of bikes outside the station, stacked into double layers. Yes, you’ll be seeing a lot of bikes over the next 24 hours in Amsterdam. Get used to them!

There are lockers in the station btw, if you need to store your stuff – €10 a go.

Drink at SkyLounge Amsterdam

Get up high to really see the best of Amsterdam and to get your bearings on the Amsterdam skyline. The SkyLounge is a swanky place with a nice terrace – perfect for watching the sun go down. You can get cocktails and snacks but if you’re on a budget, I’d recommend you stick to the beer.

Amsterdam Pizza Canal Cruise

Get in line for the Amsterdam Canal Pizza Booze Cruise. You’ll get a tour of Amsterdam’s canals, as well as a tasty pizza half way through, and unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks for the 90 minutes.


Pizza cruise in Amsterdam

You’ll cruise past Anne Frank’s House, see the famous Seven Bridges, go past the canalboat museum and basically just get a better understanding of the layout of the city. In summer you’ll see it in daylight, and in winter you’ll see the magical lights lining the canal ways.

Obviously, drink as much as possible to really get your money’s worth from the €35 cost. Definitely made my money back in red wine.

Ton Ton Club in the Red Light District

Probably time for another drink right? One day in Amsterdam – might as well go for it!

This time right in the heart of the Red Light District at the Ton Ton Club. The Ton Ton Club is a retro games bar with arcades, board games and games consoles to rent. It’s cool and the perfect retreat from the cold outside – as it was during our November visit.

Keep an eye out for the Condomerie around the corner. A museum / shop featuring an unimaginable amount of condoms, in every design possible. You can pick up some great souvenirs from Holland here.

Red Light District Walking Tour

One of the most fascinating things about Amsterdam, and one of the things tourists most closely associate with the city, is the prostitution laws that are so different to many other countries.

You have lots of questions, I’m sure.

Amsterdam for 24 hours

Join the Red Light District Walking Tour and your many questions will be answered.

We found out how much they charge, what you can ask for, the risks associated, how good a business it really is, and also got entry to the Red Lights Secrets Prostitute Museum. The building is above an actual red light so people naturally look up to the window and you can see what it’s like to be stared at. Honestly, it sounds weird but it’s fascinating.

They also have a simulation in there to show what it’s really like having dirty old men staring at you, young men laughing at you, and others shying away. Prostitute life is definitely a strange one.

On the tour you’ll also be taken round the Red Light District, and the Blue Light District – the transexual area of the city. It was great doing this as a group, I think I would’ve felt a bit weird on my own.

Drinks in the square

You might need to digest what you just saw. I’d recommend grabbing the ticket for Red Lights Secrets before the tour ends and then going for a drink before you go. That way you get to see the museum at your own pace rather than following everyone else around.

We went to Lokaal ‘t Loosje on the Nieuwmarkt for a beer. There are plenty of bars to choose from but this one was lovely and cosy, and the perfect retreat from all the information we’d just gathered up.

Peep show

If after the drinks and Red Light Secrets Museum you want more, you can go and check out the peep shows for €1. Or, if you really want to spend some cash, go and see Casa Rosso, the famous sex show. It’s around €60 to get in but apparently you get free drinks. Personally I can think of better ways to spend €60 – but you have fun!

Or, if you want to carry on the party away from the Red Light District, you could always check out the listings at the super cool Melkweg Club. They have some great bands playing there – I had a great night there a few years ago.

READ MORE: Cool Things to Do in Amsterdam at Night

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Accommodation in Amsterdam can be super expensive. I managed to find us a sweet deal at a hotel near Vondelpark called Apple Inn. We had a nice double room with a private bathroom and a balcony.

It was €133.51 in all, for the two nights, so €67 each / £60.

Not bad!

I’ve listed all the coolest hotels in Amsterdam I’d stay at next time I visit, here.

Outside the Apple Inn

Click here to check the current rates on the Apple Inn in Amsterdam on

Inside the Apple Inn Amsterdam

Day two in Amsterdam


Breakfast in Amsterdam

Two options for you. I’ll start with my favourite…

Bakers and Roasters – the food here was just absolutely incredible. I had aubergine pancakes, which I’ve since looked up the recipe of and made twice since I’ve been home. So many things I could’ve enjoyed off this menu though. It’s a cool and modern cafe with a New Zealand menu, apparently. Absolutely delicious and my top recommendation. If you’re in a big group, make sure you book before.

Dignita Vondelpark – a tasty, cosy and trendy minimal breakfast place that served me up that delicious Eggs Benedict above. Great coffee and right near the Apple Inn. Food was yum, but Bakers and Roasters just had the edge.


Amsterdam for the day Vondelpark

Rent bikes and go for a ride around Vondelpark. I wouldn’t really recommend you cycle around the city, even though I used to cycle to work every day in London. From my experience the bikes you rent in Amsterdam aren’t very good quality, especially the ones we got from the hotel. The brakes were terrible and even in Vondelpark they were dangerous.

Either get them from a good rent shop, or stay off the roads!

You can cycle through the Rijkmuseum – one of the only museums in the world where you can do that. And next door the Van Gogh Museum is well worth a look if you have the time and the inclination. You can go and see the iamsterdam sign on the way too.

Moco Museum

Moco Museum

If you have time after your bike ride, go and check out the Moco Museum, right by the Van Gogh Museum. It’s number 7 on the list of the most popular museums in the Netherlands, so you know it’s a good one. Featuring street art and pop art it’s a great spot for photos, and the millennials love it in there. Make sure to add it to your Amsterdam itinerary.

Their current exhibition Moco Masters showcases the work of the likes of Warhol, Basquiat, Haring, Koons, Kusama, Hirst and Dali. So if you want to find out about some of the most inspiring artists of the last 100 years, go and check it out!

Foodhallen for lunch

24 hours in amsterdam

– Sadly I forgot to take a pic, but here’s a cupcake I had in Amsterdam instead

The Foodhallen was spectacular. It’s a huge food hall, in a bigger hall with loads of cool stuff for sale from local designers.

I definitely could’ve eaten a lot more than I actually did in there. We’d kinda only just eaten breakfast after getting up late and sorting the bikes, so we just shared a few dim sum between the two of us. Delicious!

And then, your 24 hours in Amsterdam is up.

Time to take your last photos, gather up your stuff, and head home.

Hope you’ve had a good time!

More great spots for a day in Amsterdam

Of course, there’s plenty more you can do if you have the time in your Amsterdam itinerary. Still got a few hours? Check out these great spots in Amsterdam for more fun on your trip…

Museumplein: lovely grassy area to picnic in

This is where you’ll find the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum and the Diamond Museum. It’s also where you’ll find a delightful little spot for people watching, the famous iamsterdam sign – and the coolest toilets in the world!

In the bathroom just by the side of the iamsterdam sign all the doors are transparent when you enter. Once you’ve chosen your cubicle and locked the door the glass frosts leaving you with perfect privacy to go about your business. Don’t unlock the door before you’re fully back in your trousers as the transparency returns immediately. You have been warned.

Enjoy the canalside walks 

Don’t be worried about getting lost in Amsterdam just walk and see where the journey takes you. Wondering what to do in Amsterdam for a day on the cheap? This is your answer.

Wander along the canals and you’ll find the Floating Flower Market, delicious gelato shops, amazing architecture, fun bars and more scenic shots than you can shoot your camera at.

Visit the Anne Frank House

Visiting the Anne Frank House is a poignant journey into history, and a reminder of resilience. As you step through the hidden annex’s narrow rooms, Anne’s spirit comes alive through her diary’s words.

The atmosphere is both somber and reflective, urging visitors to contemplate the impact of intolerance. The museum’s careful preservation invites empathy, connecting present-day visitors with the past. It’s a humbling experience that fosters understanding, emphasising the importance of compassion and the enduring lessons from Anne’s courageous life.

Just over the canal from the Anne Frank House, is the Amsterdam Tulip Museum.

“The Amsterdam Tulip Museum exists to excite, engage, and educate Tulip Fanatics old and new, from the Semper Augustus to Tulip Mania to Black Tulips.”

– Amsterdam Tulip Museum

There you go. You could learn everything there is to know about tulips and Amsterdam – great use of time!

Enjoy the Dutch coffee shops

Amsterdam’s coffee shops offer more than just java; they’re vibrant hubs of cultural exchange and relaxation. Far from conventional cafes, these unique establishments are renowned for their laid-back ambiance, diverse clientele, and a menu that extends beyond coffee to include a variety of cannabis products.

Visit and you can indulge in aromatic brews while enjoying the city’s picturesque canals too. Each coffee shop will have its own rules on what you can buy, but it’ll be a wider selection than in England, guaranteed!

Speaking of coffee shops, if you have chance, seek out Van Stapele Koekmakerij for some of their legendary cookies. The famous Van Stapele cookie is made of a dark chocolate dough with a delicious white chocolate filling. The cookie is crisp around the edges, but soft and gooey on the inside. They’re open from 10am till the last cookie is sold. Get them before they’re gone!

Visit De Pijp

De Pijp, Amsterdam’s bohemian neighbourhood, captivates with its lively energy and multicultural flair. Once a working-class district, it’s now a trendy melting pot of diverse cultures and artistic influences.

Strolling its narrow streets unveils a kaleidoscope of charming cafes, ethnic eateries, and eclectic boutiques. The Albert Cuyp Market bustles with vibrant stalls offering everything from fresh produce to unique trinkets. The neighbourhood’s green spaces, like Sarphatipark, provide a tranquil escape.

This is one of the best places to experience the ‘real’ city, on your 24 hours in Amsterdam.

Avoiding the tourists in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s magnetic draw for all stag parties, chav parties and any reason for lads to be on tour parties is well known. Walking the streets of the Jordaan area I literally saw it all.

A particular favourite ‘Amsterdam experience’ was three lads of about 18 lying half naked with their torsos draped out of a magic café’s window each with spliff hanging out their mouth. I don’t think the passing snap happy Japanese tourists had ever seen such a sight.

Another was the 50+ – possibly 60+ – man stumbling out of one of the pubs, beer in hand, and ‘Pussy Lover’ printed across the back of his pink t-shirt.

Everything you think would be true about Amsterdam is, in the central area anyway. Hang out in the centre of Amsterdam at Dam Square, and you’ll be right in the centre of tourist hell – complete with Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and Madame Tussauds. You can see the National Monument here. If you do happen to visit, you can enjoy some more tourists in the queue for local legend, Manneken Pis Damrak. It’s a Dutch fries shop that appears in all of the guides to the best 24 hours in Amsterdam you’ll read.

Then, sometime after brunch the early-shift prostitutes appear in shop windows and tourists ogle as they walk by. The hot midday sun alerts the ‘first-holiday-without-the-rents’ stoners from their dingy hostel bunks to the outside world. By the time the Zuiderkerk church bells have achieved their second chime of the day the ‘weekend-away-from-the-mrs’ stoners trying to relive that first puff are out too.

This is the perfect time to get out of the Jordaan – of course you’ll go back later, with all the sanctioned shiny drugs and glittering sex on show, you can’t not – and away from the stags and chavs of Amsterdam. It’s time to explore the markets, canal side cafes, museums and parks Amsterdam should be known for.

What to do in 24 hours in Amsterdam

There’s just so much to do in Amsterdam, keeping it to a 24-hour trip can be tough. I still need to tell you about getting a bike rental in Amsterdam, or heading out to the Oude Kerk, and marvelling at its towering presence. There’s still the Royal Palace to tell you about, where Dutch royalty once resided.

And what’s an Amsterdam visit without savouring the local fare? Stop by an inviting café, and say yes to a slice of traditional Dutch apple pie. It’s not just about the taste but about the warmth of the place that seals the deal.

Embrace Amsterdam from the water with a canal tour, winding through the city’s lifeblood. The canals tell their own tale, one of commerce, community, and creativity. Or, stroll through De Wallen, absorbing the vibrant narrative of Amsterdam’s past. It’s a juxtaposition of old and new, raw and refined – the perfect visual symphony of the city’s heartbeat.

Visit Haarlem

If you have more than one day in Amsterdam to explore, how about getting the train over to visit Haarlem? It’s just 13 minutes away on the train, and a lot more chilled out than the big city.

what to do in haarlem

If you fancy exploring more of the Netherlands, nearby, then take a look at all the cool things to do in Haarlem to keep you busy.


Day in Amsterdam

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