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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

You can’t see every city in 24 hours, some may even argue that you can’t see Amsterdam in 24 hours. But as a smaller European capital, you can definitely get a good grip on what the city has to offer in this length of time. If you’re stopping through the Dutch capital, prolong your layover and take advantage of a whirlwind tour of Amsterdam.

One of the reasons Amsterdam is a great city to explore during a stopover is because it’s easy to get from Schiphol to the city centre and back again in no time. Even from London, flights to Amsterdam take a mere 1 hour. From the airport, grab a train (takes 20 minutes) and costs only a few Euros.

Where to go first

Get your bearings. The train will drop you off at the Centraal Station in the heart of the city. There are canals running circles around the centre and just out side the first water-ring (Singelgracht Canal) is the Museum District. Whirlwind tours are best done with an I amsterdam card in hand. For a 24-hour pass it costs €39 and includes unlimited access to the city’s public transportation, a canal-boat cruise and admission to 36 of Amsterdam’s museums. Of course you won’t be able to visit all of them in one day but the card is well-worth the price.


First stop is the Museum District. Start out early to beat the crowds, especially in summer. The streets are filled with interesting and quaint museums and galleries, including the House of Bols (the world’s oldest distillery) but most head to this area to hit up the city’s top 3 museums.

  • Rijksmuseum (houses the finest Dutch art in the world)
  • Stedelijk (totally devoted to contemporary art)
  • Van Gogh Museum (no explanation needed)

Where to go next

When hunger strikes, duck into on of the city’s many “brown cafés” that serve up impressively cheap and delicious meals, quick and delicious sandwiches, soups and other treats or head to one of the city’s markets. It’s worth stopping into one of the city’s notorious coffee shops, since tourists will be banned from them in the near future. Head for Negen Straatjes for a little shopping in the countless vintage shops and boutiques and the flower market on the banks of the Singel.

Flower Market

Don’t miss your canal-boat tour, the best way to spend an afternoon. Hop on one of the city’s boats and grab a seat on the open deck. Catch the Holland International from Prins Hendrikkade which departs every 15 minutes until 6pm, and then every half hour until 10pm.

Where to go last

Save some time to taste what the city has to offer in terms of its fine dining. Amsterdam has a wealth of great restaurants. The Jordaan district is the best place to go out for dinner, it’s also where the locals like to eat. Hop from one restaurant to the next, then settle in at a bar in the same area.

Have you already been to Amsterdam? Next time, see Amsterdam like a local would.

What would you add to a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam?

Imgs: Jorge Lascar, PjotrP, lukens / Flickr cc.

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