Far & Away

What To Do With 12 Hours in Amsterdam

Stopovers can be a very strange experience. It’s as if you enter a parallel universe where water costs 5 euro a pop and it becomes totally appropriate to drink whisky at 10am. Some people relish the opportunity to kill a few hours in an airport but personally I detest it. I always feel grubby, like I need a good hosing down after getting off the last plane that was a container full of germs. And I get bored of the shops within the first few minutes (mostly because I feel like a peasant who can’t afford any of the products they’re selling!). There is truly no look that induces as much shame as the one from the snooty cosmetics lady at an airport is there? Especially the moment when she catches you spraying yourself from head to toe in an expensive perfume, asks you with about as much sarcasm as one can gather, if you need any assistance. No I don’t need any help thanks but I guess you knew that from the fact that I’m wearing furry socks with flip flops and have a fistful of samples in my sweaty hands! Oh the shame! BUT. Sometimes, if you’ve been blessed with a stopover of more than a few hours, then that strange experience can actually turn out to be one of the best parts of the trip. A gift that gives you the opportunity to escape the madness and tension of the airport and upgrade your holiday by spending a few hours in a city you weren’t expecting to see. Why suffer when you can pop in to Dubai for a bit of breakfast? Or Hong Kong for dinner? Or, in our recent case, lunch in Amsterdam?? We had half a day to kill in between flights on our way home from Bali last month and jumped at the chance to explore the city instead of just moping about its airport. It might have been a flying visit (hardy har har) but it felt like we were getting a little taste of the Netherlands for just one day and it really was the perfect way to end an already amazing trip. Here’s a few things that we managed to cram in during our 8 hours… Dam Square We got the train in to Centraal Station which only took around 20 minutes on the Sunday morning and couldn't believe how easy it was to get right in to the city centre. From there we walked down the eerily quiet main street towards Dam Square which at 8am on a Sunday morning, was completely devoid of tourists. It felt as if we had the city to ourselves, strolling through the square and gazing up at the Royal Palace wondering where all the people were. It was incredibly peaceful so we were definitely not complaining. Nine Streets A hop over from Dam Square are the most photogenic streets in Amsterdam. Known to locals as 'The 9 Streets', the area is jammed with trendy shops, cafés and restaurants that you could easily spend a whole day wandering through. What we came here for though was the opportunity to get the quintessential Amsterdam photo of canals and bikes (have you even been to Amsterdam if you don't have that photo?). It was a beautiful walk because it was so quiet, only a handful of early risers out walking their dogs on the hunt for their morning coffee. We popped in to Pluk when we were on a stroll and I instantly fell in love, a definite recommendation for a coffee break. Bloemenmarkt When you're done taking photos by the canal, potter on down to the world's first floating flower markets just a few minutes walk away. In the summer it will be a tulip paradise but in the colder months you will see the winter flowers making appearances with the sellers wrapped up from the cold. It's best to get there early when the stalls are full of colours and before the punters have descended. Koffieschenkerij De Oude Kerk I'm not even going to try and pronounce the name of this café out loud but what I will say is that it's a spot you have to pop in to for a bit of brunch or tea and cake. It's located within the sacristy of the Oude Kerk church in the middle of the Red Light District - a church that has seen it's fair share of sinners I'm sure! We ate our cake in the courtyard under Autumn blue skies and feeling very much at home amongst the rest of the Sunday brunchers. A worthwhile pitstop I can assure you. After our treats we headed towards the airport feeling conflicted because we were both wishing we had a few more hours for our stopover while at the same time, dreaming of a hot shower and finally getting in to our own bed!

About Author

I'm Alex, the writer, photographer and creator of The Full Shilling. I started writing as a way to share all my favourite places in Ireland and the list just keeps growing! My aim is that you'll find somewhere new to explore and you'll make some great memories along the way. Happy reading!


  • Lisa Blog
    4 years ago

    What a beautiful place to visit. So pretty. The flower market loves amazing. Its definitely somewhere id like to visit x

  • Anosa
    4 years ago

    I am so like you and detest stopovers that don't allow me to explore outside the airport and yes the shops at the airport I do feel exactly like that. Glad you explored Amsterdam, a city I love and want to explore again

  • Jenni
    4 years ago

    I adore Amsterdam. I could easily fill 12 hours there ten times over.

  • Jayne Laughs
    4 years ago

    Wow! You managed to fit so much in. It looks a beautiful place to visit :) x

  • Laura
    4 years ago

    Amsterdam looks SO beautiful, it's definitely on my travel list for next year. I love the look of the architecture and the laid back culture and I can't wait to one day see it with my own eyes. x

    Laura // <a href="" rel="nofollow">Middle of Adventure</a>

  • Fashion Police
    4 years ago

    We visited Amsterdam last year summer. It was a short weekend but was fun.

  • Rhian Westbury
    4 years ago

    There's so much to do in Amsterdam I wouldn't know where to start in 12 hours. I do think a canal boat tour is a good way to see quite a lot though x

  • Ana Jesus
    4 years ago

    Ooh what I would give to go to Amsterdam, nine streets looks fab. I hear you about the sample perfumes though and the snooty assistants !

  • All Mummy
    4 years ago

    What a great idea rather than being bored in the airport. Such stunning photography too.

  • Tanita
    4 years ago

    Oh wow your pictures are amazing. Amsterdam is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. I really do want to organise a trip in the near future with my family. xx

  • Sophie'S Nursery
    4 years ago

    We have been to Amsterdam &amp; loved it - some great tips here for such a limited time :) ps - I'm not a fan of airports either!! x

  • Marty Mcfly
    4 years ago

    Some great ideas here Alex, when I spent a brief morning in the dam, I enjoyed experiencing some virtual reality gaming for the first time.

  • Nicky A
    4 years ago

    Oh my goodness was your breakfast at th car you can't pronounce?? Either way it looks like my kind of breakfast! Sounds like you had a fab time exploring, and managed to fit a lot in!

  • Alex Donnelly
    4 years ago

    Definitely need longer than 12 hours but we managed to do OK for half a day!

  • Five Doves
    4 years ago

    We once did a cruise to Amsterdam and had just 12 hours there, it was amazing! We saw so much and although it was a whirlwind, I couldn't wait to go back!

  • Michelle Ross
    4 years ago

    This is a great post. Looks like you managed to see quite abit of the city in your stopover. I haven't been to Amsterdam yet, but it's definitely somewhere that's on our travel list. I will be making sure to visit some of these sites in your blog :)

  • Munchiesandmunchkins
    4 years ago

    Great tips here for a short stop in Amsterdam. I'm still yet to visit but I'd love to, perhaps for longer than 12 hours but great what you can cram in! X

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