Planning of visiting the capital of the Netherlands? After doing Amsterdam in 24 hours myself, I made this guide including the must-see attractions and the practical details starting from Amsterdam Central Station, down along Damrak, Dam and Rokin up to the Rijksmuseum.
Watch my video below and continue reading all the details under it:
Overview in a map
Let’s start with a map where you’ll find all the locations I visited in my 24 hour tour. Under it you’ll find all the necessary information for each marked location.
Amsterdam Central Station
Shops & restaurants
This is where your visit to Amsterdam starts. When going down the escalator, you end up in a hallway where you can buy snacks and drinks. If you exit on the north side (where you can see the “IJ” river), there are larger restaurants, like EXKI (an organic tea room+restaurant), Julia’s (Italian pasta) and Wagamama (Japanese food). You’ll also find an Albert Heijn supermarket. If you’re looking for fastfood, there’s a Burger King at track 2.
How to get to the city center
To get to the city center, exit on the south side (track 1). At the gates at the end of the hallway, you might need to scan the QR code on your train ticket to be able to get out. Once you’re out, you’ll end up at a square where you can catch a tram. More about public transport below.
Public transport in Amsterdam is very easy. Here is some practical information:
From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal
From the arrivals area, head towards Schiphol Plaza where you’ll find the blue and yellow ticketing machines. They’ll save you lots of time buying tickets, especially for destinations within the Netherlands. These machines allow you to buy your tickets in English too.
A ticket from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal costs € 4,20 one way (price 2016 – check the current rates at ns.nl). The ticket has a tiny chip which you’ll have to scan every time you enter or exit a train station. Scan it at the “check in” poles before going down to the tracks.
In Amsterdam city, the easiest way to get around is by using the tram. In Amsterdam, the service for trams, buses, metro and ferries is called GVB. Check out gvb.nl for more information.
As a tourist, I see three options:
1) a single ticket if you’re not planning of travelling a lot: costs € 2,90, valid for 1 hour.
2) a day ticket costs € 7,50, valid for 24 hours
3) an I Amsterdam pass costs € 55 for 24 hours (or € 65 for 48hrs, € 75 for 72 hrs, etc.) – This pass includes unlimited travel within Amsterdam and much more. See iamsterdam.com for all the details.
Personally, I chose to buy a day ticket so I could travel easily within Amsterdam and see as much as I could in 24 hours. I bought the ticket in the afternoon, so it stayed valid until the next day at the same time. I chose not to buy the I Amsterdam pass, because I wasn’t intending to visit lots of museums. You should check which museums you’d like to visit and how much discount you’ll get with the I Amsterdam pass to see if it’s worth buying one.
On this page from GVB.nl, you can check out where the tram, bus and metro lines go.
When exiting the front of the central station, just cross the bridge and you’ll end up in a long street called Damrak. There, you’ll find lots of souvenir shops, shops and fastfood restaurants.
If you continue walking down that road, you’ll end up at Dam square. The first thing you’ll see is the National Monument commemorating WW II. You’ll also see the Bijenkorf, a Dutch department store, and the Royal Palace. At the same square there’s also a Madame Tussauds. There are also two shopping streets: Nieuwendijk (running back to the station) and Kalverstraat. The Kalverstraat runs parallel with the Rokin, a street with other shops and attractions such as the Amsterdam Dungeon (haven’t been in it though).
At Dam square there’s also Nieuwe kerk (“New church”), a church that also holds some expositions. If you’re looking for the typical Amsterdam canals, head more westwards towards Westerkerk. There you’ll have very nice views of the canals and the house boats. At the same location, you’ll find the Anne Frank museum.
After doing that area, walk further down (or take the tram) towards the Rijksmuseum. Behind the museum, there’s the famous I Amsterdam sign where you can pose with lots of other tourists and take a picture for your Facebook cover :). Behind that sign, there’s a park where you can find also find the Van Gogh Museum. The park itself, called Museumplein, is big grass field where people love to relax and to picknick. Sometimes, concerts are held there as well.
The Museumplein is the farthest I would go down south.
At the other side of Amsterdam Centraal, you have the IJ river. There’s a free ferry that brings you to the other side of that river where you’ll find the A’DAM Toren, a.k.a. Amsterdam Tower and the EYE Museum. In the tower there’s the “LOOKOUT” with a 360° panoramic view and a swing on the top floor. The EYE is a film museum in an architectural impressive building.
If you don’t have much time (or you also want to spend some time shopping), you’re probably looking for the museums that are worth visiting the most. I can recommend the following museums:
- Rijksmuseum, costs € 17,50 (children up to 18 yrs old are free) – check rijksmuseum.nl.
This is the largest museum which contains lots of artworks from different periods. Definitely worth it if you want an all-in-one experience. Buy your ticket online if you’re very sure to visit this place to avoid waiting in line. Photography is allowed here, but without flash.
- Anne Frank Museum, costs € 9 (for teens € 4,50 – children younger than 10 are free)
Check www.annefrank.org for more about the museum. On that website you can also buy an online ticket with a time slot. Just beware: photography is not allowed here.
- Van Gogh Museum, costs € 17 (children up to 18 yrs old are free) – check vangoghmuseum.nl where you also can buy e-tickets. Also here photography is not allowed.
Watch out: these museums usually close at 3, 5 or 6 pm. Visit their websites to see the current opening times so you can plan it in your trip.
I have a separate video for the hotel I love staying at. Watch it here and read the details below.
Just by entering the CitizenM hotel in Schiphol, you’ll notice the modern design of this hotel. You can check-in on one of the six touch-screen computers, but a staff member (or ‘ambassador’ as they’re called there) will be glad to help you register. Dull signs such as food or drinks are replaced by cool ones, always starting with “citizenM says:”.
The corridor leading to your room might give the impression that the rooms would seem to narrow, but after holding your key in front of your door (yes, no sliding anymore), you’ll see that the room is of a quite good size. The room comes with a large bed, a shower with a rainfall shower head, a toilet, a seat, a TV, free wi-fi internet and a safe where you can store your laptop. But, the most impressive part of it all is the iPad Mini which controls almost everything in your room. Open or close the blinds, change the temperature in your room, set a wake-up call and even change the colour of the lights! It also controls the TV that has more than 60 channels and free on-demand videos. When opening the blinds, you’ll get either a view on the planes (which was the room I had) or a view on the front of the airport.
Downstairs, you can relax at one of the lounges, or even check your e-mails one of the iMacs. At the CitizenM Canteen, there’s a variety of foods and drinks available. Eat a sandwich, a croissant or even some sushi. Have a warm, cold or alcoholic drink with it too. Breakfast isn’t a problem at all; you can have it whenever you like it, litterally. The 24 hour breakfast special consists of a breakfast pastry, a yoghurt with cruesli, a piece of fruit and juice, all for € 9.95.
The hotel is easily reachable by foot from the airport plaza; and the airport is only 12 minutes away from Amsterdam’s city centre. A ticket to from the hotel to the centre costs around 8.40 euros (two ways). Add this cost of the hotel and you’ll still save money instead of taking a hotel of this standard in the centre. There’s also a “CitizenM Amsterdam Centre” with a slightly higher rate, but you’ll still need to pay the tram as its location isn’t that central.
More information on their website.
Remember to watch the video on top of this post. If you have any questions or you’d like to add some suggestions to this list, just comment below!
Thanks for reading! 🙂