Travel

12 Hours in Amsterdam

A normal person would spend their Sunday evening kicking back with a cuppa and Love Island. But that’s not me. Instead, a few weeks ago, I booked myself a return ticket to Amsterdam for the next day.
12 Hours in Amsterdam. Here’s what happened…

How it happened

When Gemma asked me if I wanted to go to Paris with her on Tuesday, I was reluctant. The weather forecast didn’t look great and I wasn’t sure of my funds. A couple of hours later, and after some extensive weather research, we had successfully booked our coach tickets. Amsterdam here we come!

12 Hours in Amsterdam

Hour One

Hop on a train into the centre of Amsterdam and find yourself some good coffee to wake you up from the tiring coach journey. Have some breakfast too, you’ll be hungry. And you’ve got a long day ahead. The adventure begins! We walked around to find a coffee shop that was even open so early in the morning… by about 7:30am shops were starting to open.

Hour Two

Walk over to the I Amsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum bright and early (when there are no other tourists around). At ~8am we had plenty of time for pictures and videos. We were lucky enough that we could climb over the letters (typical touristy stuff 😉 ) when no one else was there. This meant that our pictures look pretty cool as it’s just us in the photo!

Hour Three & Hour Four

You’re right outside the Rijksmuseum for opening time! If you haven’t booked tickets in advance, being at the front of the queue for 9am is perfect. We spent just under two hours whizzing around the exhibitions we had to see. Don’t miss Rembrandt’s most famous The Night Watch, The Milkmaid by Vermeer or Bartholomeus van der Helst’s Banquet at the Crossbowmen’s Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Münster.

Hour Five

Hour Four ended with us walking from the Rijksmuseum to Dam Square and exploring the shopping streets of Amsterdam. At Dam Square, we started our three-hour free walking tour with Sandeman’s Tours. I’d highly recommend this tour because 1) it’s free(!) and 2) you get to see a lot of Amsterdam and hear the history associated with it.

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Hour Six

Still on the free walking tour… we headed to the Red Light District. We leant a lot about the history and saw some of the business in action. An experience in itself.

Hour Seven

After stopping off in an Irish bar and meeting a fellow tourist who also goes to Oxford (small world?!), we walked over to the widest bridge and smallest house in Amsterdam. Our tour guide also disappeared here and came back with some cheese for us to sample. Yum. We heard a lot about coffeehouses (not to be mistaken for your normal coffee house!) and drug usage in Amsterdam too. I would definitely recommend going on one of these tours, even if it’s just for an hour, as you really get to learn more about the city.

Hour Eight

We had planned to go to Vondelpark to cycle for half an hour after wandering back from the Jordaan area (the tour ends at the Anne Frank House). Instead, we were incredibly lucky to be offered free tickets to the Anne Frank House. We knew that there was no way we would be getting into the museum given that we hadn’t booked weeks in advance, and weren’t prepared to queue for hours, but we got in! It was so interesting, especially after visiting Auschwitz in December, but also quite emotional. If you’re not as lucky as us, head to Vondelpark for some cycling. Bike hire starts as little as 5 euros for four hours.

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Hour Nine

We finished up the museum tour and wandered back through the Jordaan area enjoying the picturesque views and popping into food shops along the way. You have to try Dutch pancakes while you’re here. Shops also sell edible cookie dough so win-win!

Hour Ten

Our plan was to also go back into the Rijksmuseum to see a couple more galleries but we quickly realised that we wouldn’t have time if we wanted to get high… So, we went to a coffeehouse and bought some edibles {weed brownies} before wandering over to Vondelpark. Here we just chatted and enjoyed people watching. This was the first time we had properly sat down since arriving!

Hour Eleven

This was when the high slowly began to kick in. We were making our way back to the Jordaan area to get some waffles and cake. I got a waffle with nutella, strawberries and oreo ice cream and let me tell you: it was i-n-s-a-n-e. Beautiful.

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Hour Twelve

We somehow made it back to the train station perfectly fine and caught the train back to the bus station to board the coach home. We survived 12 hours in Amsterdam, and got a lot done too! The trip back was absolutely exhausting but it was certainly worth it.


The whole trip cost me less than £100 – what a bargain.
Catch the vlog on YouTube very soon!

Have you done any spontaneous travel? Do you have experience of being in a city for a limited amount of time?
Tell me in the comments section below!

Peace and love,

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28 thoughts on “12 Hours in Amsterdam

  1. I love Amsterdam – such an awesome place to visit and it is one of those cities you can have a good time in even if you don;t have long. Also those nuttella waffles are the best!

  2. I love Amsterdam! I love how you covered interesting spots in 12 hours! We visited Amsterdam a few years back and we stayed for two nights – I’d say it was a short trip, but not compared to yours! Well done!

  3. Amsterdam is amazing! I loved every minute of my four nights there! There is soo much to see there you will defo need to go back! The Heineken brewery is an amazing experience!

    • There’s definitely still so much I need to see and I can’t wait to go back! Thanks for stopping by Natasha x

  4. Just like you, my husband and I had only less than 24 hours in Amsterdam. We got the chance to see some of the important sites, however I felt like we haven’t enough. We would love to go back and explore more of this beautiful city. 🙂

    • Although we did lots in 12 hours, there’s certainly so much more I need to see. I can’t wait to go back too!

  5. Nice post, Amsterdam is such a charming city. I would recommend everyone to stay much longer than just 12 hours. There are many cool museums and bars.

    • Yes, there’s definitely a lot more to do and I’ll be going back for sure! We only had 12 hours though as it was such a spontaneous trip. Thanks for commenting Barb 🙂

  6. I would love to cycle at Vondelpark some day. It’s amazing how you covered so much in such little time. It’s good you took some time off before heading to Vondelpark. Looks like you had a swell time. Cheers!!

  7. I think it would be pretty fun to just drop everything and head off to a place to explore, even if only for twelve hours. Or maybe especially for only twelve hours!

    • It really is Tami, I absolutely love spontaneous travel – and I love it even more when I can find someone to go with me at such short notice!

  8. Wow you’ve covered quite a lot of places in just 12 hours! I need to take your advice on joining the Sandeman’s Tours. Having a guide definitely helps and you can learn so much history about the city!

  9. Not crazy at all. Amsterdam is made for a weekend or even a long-day trip. Everything is close together and there’s lots to explore. I do prefer to stay longer, but again, the city’s full of possibilities. Prost!

    • Thank you Peter, I completely agree! I definitely do want to go back soon and do some more exploring 🙂

  10. I am impressed to see your dedication to fit in so much in your 12 hours in Amsterdam. It is such a lively and tricky place at the same time – because no matter how many hours you have – they seem to fly away and you still want more! Great post 🙂

  11. Love your itinerary! When I was there I been to one museum, got pretty tired of it quickly then went to do a beer and cheese tasting…and to the Heineken Experience. Needless to say my day was filled with a lot of beer haha. Have you heard of House of Bols there? Pretty neat place too!

    • Thanks! Haha, that’s also what Amsterdam is about though, right? 😉 And no I haven’t heard of House of Bols – I’ll go and have a search now!

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