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24 Hours in Amsterdam - Europe's Most Versatile City?

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Amsterdam canal holland netherlands

Amsterdam, in the heart of Europe, is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations - and there's good reason for that. A visit to Amsterdam can mean one thing to one particular person and something completely different to someone else. The Dutch capital attracts a mix of culture-enthusiasts, history-lovers, dark tourists and of course the party-goers. All have their reasons for visiting and all have different durations in mind for their stays.

Having visited Amsterdam on a few occasions I can absolutely see the obsession with the city and why it is so popular. In fact, I believe it could well be Europe's most versatile city. It has so much to do and see, so many reasons for visiting and it is one of those places that is perfect for both a short stay and a long holiday.

We all love a week or two-week holiday - there's no denying that. In fact, we all probably wish that our holidays would never end. However, having done a few 24 hour breaks I can say with my hand on my heart, that often these can be the best and most-exciting ways to travel. When you can only spend 24 hours in a city, you tend to race around the place, seeing as much of possible and cramming everything into those 24 hours and what happens is you appreciate where you are 1000x more.

So this begs the question...what can you get done in just 24 hours in Amsterdam?

What to See and Do in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is certainly not shy of things to do and see. As I mentioned before, the key thing here to consider is what is your reason for visiting? If you're looking for a night out, the city has a vast amount of bars and nightclubs in the center. If you want to take in the culture, there's a wide array of museums and galleries right on your doorstep. I consider myself more of the latter therefore the idea of visiting Amsterdam once again, but this time just for 24 hours, sounded perfect.

Anne Frank House

I think it goes without saying that an absolute must in Amsterdam is to see the residence of one of the city's most famous citizens, Anne Frank. I found it an absolute honor to stand in the Annex where the Frank and Van Pels families lived alongside Fritz Pfeffer during the Holocaust. The museum is very well-organised and uses top-of-the-range technology to provide an excellent experience. You are given an MP4 device that plays out audio as you move around the house, providing a smooth and well thought out experience - well worth the €14 entry fee!

The only downside of visiting the museum was that you couldn't take any photos inside unfortunately but that shouldn't be a reason to put you off going as it is a truly humbling experience.

Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum

Rijkmuseum night watch Rembrandt

Amsterdam is home to some of the world's most iconic paintings from world-renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer. Two of Europe's most popular art galleries remain side-by-side in Amsterdam; the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. If you are an art connoisseur then Amsterdam is the perfect place to be and by all means go and visit both. For those of you on a budget, just seeing the outside of the buildings may be enough and it is important that you don't miss out on seeing either of them during your stay.

At the Rijksmuseum be sure to check out "The Night Watch" (1642) by Rembrandt, "The Milkwoman" (1660) by Vermeer and the very creepy "Corpses of the De Witt Brothers" (1672) by Jan de Baen. Whilst visiting the Van Gogh museum you cannot miss the artist's multiple self-portraits and it would be a travesty not to see his most famous piece "Sunflowers" (1887).

Amsterdam Canal Ride

It would be rude to not take a canal ride in Amsterdam, the same way you cannot visit Paris without at least trying to find the Eiffel Tower. This mode of transport offers you a unique perspective of the city and more importantly allows you to take a break from all of that walking and cycling!

For the purpose of the €50 budget I haven't included either art galleries or the Canal trip as these are both optional. I have, however, included the Anne Frank museum to give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay for food and drink as well as an activity of some sort.

How Much Money Do I Need in Amsterdam?

I will not lie to you, Amsterdam is one of Europe's most expensive cities! However, if you are smart-enough, patient and willing to, you will find yourself some bargains. I managed to keep spending below €50 and my best advice for doing so was to avoid eating in restaurants. Amsterdam has great street food so go out there and try some. It was so good that I managed to get my partner to eat a full Kebab, something we both thought she would never do but even she couldn't resist Amsterdam's mouth-watering street food! Unfortunately we missed out on Bitterballen (Dutch meatballs) this time but they will be top of my list for our next visit.

Below I have listed everything that I bought in Amsterdam for under €50 per person (so it really can be done):

  • *Amstel Pint - €5.50 at Café Mulder, Weteringschans 163.

  • Heineken Pint - €5.50 at Café Mulder, Weteringschans 163.

  • Anne Frank Museum entry - €14.00

  • McDonalds Breakfast - €6.50

  • Lamb Doner Kebab - €6.50 at Juicy Kebab, Monnikenstraat 12.

  • 2 Croissants - €0.80 (2x €0.40) at Jumbo, Wolvenstraat 32.

  • Dutch Pancakes (my favourite Dutch snack!!) - €6.50 at Original Pancake, Zeedijk 123A.

  • 2 Magnets - €4.00

Did you know? - Amstel Beer gets its name from the Amstel River that flows through the entire city.

Total: €49.30

Amsterdam in a day is more than achievable as we have shown but obviously I would recommend that you stay for a lot longer, if you can, as the Dutch capital is one of Europe's most amazing cities. Due to the little time I spent, I unfortunately missed out on visiting some of the city's staple coffee shops and the Johan Cruyff Arena, which is why its always better to spend longer if you can!

Amsterdam's location makes it a perfect stop on a European road trip, being just a few hours drive away from Luxembourg, Brussels in Belgium and Düsseldorf in Germany. Its also near Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and the Venice of the Netherlands, Giethoorn.


If you like this series check out our Berlin €50 guide. Which city would you like to see us visit again for under €50 per person? Please let us know in the comments below and follow our Pinterest!


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