As part of a bigger trip to Europe, I found a flight (through KLM) that had a 24 hour layover in Amsterdam en-route to Athens, Greece. I knew only one day in Amsterdam wouldn’t be enough, but I was very excited to see the city even just for a bit - as it was not in our original plans.
We arrived around 9:00am in the morning and left at 8:30am the next morning. Being jet lagged and without much time, we saw quite a bit in just one day. Here’s what I would suggest doing with just 24 hours in Amsterdam.
Boat Canal Tour
This is the best way to really see the city. Walking around the canals is magical in itself, but discovering it by boat is the way it was meant to be seen. Just getting off a 9 hour flight and not sleeping much, we were also very jet lagged so riding on a boat was a pretty ideal scenario for us.
I was recommended to take a tour with The Dam Boat Guys - and I can’t suggest this enough. They were a very fun company, sold us adult beverages for the trip, and allowed us to drink and smoke on board if we so chose to do so. Our guide was also super knowledgable and had a great sense of humor. This made for a great intro to Amsterdam as we traveled for 90 minutes through the canals and learned a lot about both the history of the city as well as the current events in Amsterdam. If you do only one thing in Amsterdam I’d suggest this.
Anne Frank House
Before my trip, this was my must-do Amsterdam activity and I made sure we’d have the opportunity to see this historic landmark. You have to make reservations 2 months in advance online for a tour of Anne Frank’s House, so make sure you have you calendar set because the tickets go fast.
A sobering and saddening experience, seeing a part of history like this is very special, and reminds us of our cruel past while also offering hope to the future. A visit here takes about 90 minutes and you will have an audio guide that narrates the tour for you in the different parts of the house.
Walking the Canals
Like most cities in Europe, walking through the streets is one of my favorite things to do and I believe it gives you the best feel of the city and culture. Amsterdam is a very good city to walk around - or bike if you are up for the challenge! You’ll see most locals riding bikes or walking around - we didn’t experience many cars in our one day there.
While walking around the canals you can visit The Nine Streets, the Jordaan neighborhood, and the Red Light District. Grab a pint somewhere, eat dinner on the canals, or visit one of Amsterdam’s famous “coffeeshops" - cannabis cafes.
Amsterdam is rich with museums. Given you are only there for one day, you may not have enough time to see many museums, if any at all. Besides the aforementioned Anne Frank House, Amsterdam also boasts a ton of museums including The Van Gogh Museum, The Rembrandt, and the Rijksmuseum. You will need tickets in advance for many of these so check the official websites and plan ahead accordingly.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
I would highly suggest getting a hotel right on one of the canals with a balcony or window facing the canal. This adds to the experience and gives you a front row view to your own Amsterdam experience. With so many options, you can find one at a decent price. We stayed at the Amsterdam House Hotel and it couldn’t have been a better place. For just over $150 USD, we scored a room right on the canal with two windows opening up for prime canal views of the Dancing Houses. I’d highly recommend finding a place like this to extend your feeling of the city, since you are only there for one day.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city and although one day is not a lot of time, you can see a lot if you plan a little in advance. Ideally you’d want to spend at least 3-5 days to really get a feel for the city. I just got a taste of what Amsterdam has to offer and now I cannot wait to return.
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