24 Hours In: Amsterdam…by Bike!

24 Hours In: Amsterdam…by Bike!


Amsterdam is not physically a big city and most attractions are just 20 minutes away from each other on foot, but by biking around, just like the locals do, you can see so much more. This is especially true when you have just 24 hours here, and need the glide around the city to catch the main sights. Take a look at these local tips of how to see Amsterdam by bike!

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Morning: 7.30 – 11am

For the early morning, you should stay in bed and rest, as nothing is open in the centre of the city until 10am and Amsterdam is rather quiet. However, if you’re into photography, this is a magical time of the day.  As our city is situated on the Buiten-Ij  and close to the North Sea, our hot summer days and cool nights make for some dramatic misty mornings, with canals and bridges sneaking in and out of the occasional fog, and lonely bicyclists head off to work.


Starting at around 9am, you might be able to find a hotel or small shop selling coffee or an English breakfast for around 7 euros, but if you fancy something quick, all of the city’s stations have a coffee spot or three. 10am is when Amsterdam really opens for business: shops, cafes, coffee shops (although be aware that the phrase ‘coffee shop’ in Amsterdam means a very different thing! If you don’t plan on smoking marijuana during your time here, these might be advisable to avoid…), museums, and attractions are taking in visitors from this hour onward.  Now is the time to go out and explore and rent a bike – it’s the only way to get around Amsterdam, especially if you have just 24 hours.

Midday: 11am – 2pm

Amsterdam Central Station is the place to start your adventure to the north by taking a free ferry ride to the NDSM Wharf, where hipster artists and skateboarders collide in renovated industrial hangars, and shipping container apartments dot the waterfront.

Not into the industrial art scene? What about design and film? Take a different ferry from Central Station and just across the way is our new Eye Film Museum, with a great patio on the waterfront and plenty of free activities on the history of film. Then check out the new Toren space in the old Shell Building; by 2015 this will house Amsterdam’s new music museum, production sound studios, and a couple of clubs.


Afternoon: 2pm – 6pm

In Amsterdam, the early afternoon is a perfectly respectable time to start having a taste of our local beers, so bike to the east of Central Station and head to the Ij Brouwerij. Doors open at 3pm, and the outside seating fills up quickly if it’s a sunny weekend day. Here you can see one of our city’s last remaining windmills whilst you sip one of the five beers brewed in this old industrial bathhouse. Don’t drink too many beers yet, riding your bike after drinking gets a lot harder and it’s only a legal issue if you damage property, not yourself!

Evening: 6pm – 9pm

Following one of the great canals from the east, head south into the Pijp (that’s pronounced Pipe), a true residential neighbourhood. Just behind the old Heineken building you will find cafes and restaurants catering to locals, and here you can find Thai, Ethiopian, and Spanish tapas all on the same street! Amsterdam has residents of 142 nationalities, so the variety never stops, and each cafe has a small lunch and dinner menu as well, so it’s all about ambiance and taste.  Walk your meal off by wandering the many side streets to see people sitting on the sidewalks with friends enjoying the weather.


Late: 9pm onwards 

West of Central Station is one of the city’s biggest public parks, WesterPark, a reclaimed development around the old natural gas processing plants. Here you will find concerts, bars, and nightlife, with only a smattering of tourists. One of our favourite spots is the North Sea Jazz Club, where the shows start around 8 or 9 and ends by midnight. There is so much going on here that you can dance all night long in one of the three clubs, or have a nice bike ride through Amsterdam back to your accommodation.

If 24 hours just isn’t enough and you need to see more of Amsterdam, take a look at our Complete guide to Amsterdam for some tips, and don’t forget our excellent Amsterdam tours, too!