With so many reasons to visit and stay in Rotterdam, I figured it was time to do a post on a day trip from Rotterdam to Amsterdam instead of the other way around. You all know Amsterdam is my favorite city in the world, but with Rotterdam’s modern vibe that’s constantly vibrant, it’s hard to ignore the fact that a ton of people might just visit the Netherlands to visit Rotterdam. Who can blame them with this kind of architecture?
Easiest way to get from Rotterdam to Amsterdam
There are quite a few ways to get from the city filled with Eurovision fans to the capital city of Amsterdam. As a local, I’d say the first option is what we’ll tend to go with…but I love to give you options!
Take the train
Either buy a train ticket at the big yellow and blue machines at the train station, online on the Omio website/app or purchase an OV chipkaart (public transportation card) when you arrive and keep it properly topped up. If you have the plastic blue OV chipkaart, you’ll need to be sure to have loaded 20 euro on it to take the train or it may not let you check it for the journey. Be sure to read the display to know you’ve checked in or you’ll have a problem with the ticket inspector on the train and you may not be able to exit the gates at Amsterdam Centraal Station!
There are two main trains you can use:
The Intercity train with about 8 stops and takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes or the Intercity direct train that only has a stop at Schiphol airport before it gets to Amsterdam Centraal Station, which takes 40 minutes. This faster train takes an extra supplement, so purchase it with your ticket at the machine or be sure to tap your reloadable plastic OV chipkaart AGAIN at a red post on the platform. I wouldn’t recommend buying your ticket through Omio if you want the fast train since you’d still have to go to the machine for the supplement. If confused, ask anyone that looks like they know what they are doing and they’ll explain it to you. 35 extra minutes might be worth the extra cost for you! The regular train route will be about 17 euro each way with a paper ticket and a couple of Euro more for the fast train.
Buy your train ticket on Omio
Take a bus
Flixbus is awesome in Europe and can also be used as a budget option to get to Amsterdam from Rotterdam. The important thing to note is that the bus will drop you off at Sloterdijk station, not Amsterdam Centraal Station. You can then buy a train ticket to Centraal for €2.40 (at the big yellow and blue machines) or find the smaller blue machines that either say “GVB”, or “Public Transportation” and buy a day pass for the local Amsterdam city transportation. This doesn’t allow you on the train, but it does let you take the metros, blue buses (Amsterdam buses), and trams. Then you can take bus 22 to Centraal Station or tram 19 to traverse around the canal ring. The local transit site is really helpful to see the public transportation lines and Citymapper can be a huge help, too.
Other transportation options
You could rent a car (but don’t.) Or take BlaBlaCar. You could also take a taxi, but none of those are good ideas unless the other options aren’t available.
One-day or 12-hour itinerary in Amsterdam
I’m going to assume this is an off-the-cuff kind of day trip and you didn’t plan it ahead of time. That means you’re probably just looking to explore and not get into the usually-sold-out museums. Cool. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what I’d recommend for a day in Amsterdam.
If you leave Rotterdam early enough, this will be more of a breakfast stop than a brunch one. Either way, I have two recommendations for you: Omelegg or Greenwoods. Both have two locations each so it can fit in your itinerary no matter where you are heading in the city. (See map below for the locations.
My go-to dish at Omelegg is the Scramblicious with fresh orange juice. It’s a delicious croissant stuffed with scrambled eggs and a salad on the side. If I’m honest, I never eat the salad, but maybe you will!
At Greenwoods, it’s a plate of their perfect eggs benedict and their high-quality English Breakfast tea and/or the daily juice. Sean’s favorite is the Full English Breakfast that you see above. Sometimes it seems like I’m at the Keizersgracht one all the time. And I pretty much take anyone visiting Amsterdam there for breakfast or lunch.
Take a walk through the canals
I suggest a walk down Keizersgracht (that’s the name of the canal) since it’s a bit quieter and just as stunning as the rest of the city. Sit along the canal to soak it all in. That’s one of my favorite things to do. If you want a bench in a pretty quiet area, check out Leidsegracht. I’ll mark it on the map below. Just always be on the lookout for bikes…especially when crossing bridges.
Discover Brouwersgracht and shop on Haarlemmerdijk
If you keep walking west along Keizersgracht, you’ll hit Brouwersgracht which is another lovely canal and very underrated. If you’re hungry when you get there, just make a left and find the cafe Het Papeneiland for a coffee and appeltaart (the Dutch version of apple pie). I suggest continuing in that direction along Brouwersgracht for some of the prettiest buildings. Then once you hit the Haarlemmerplein area, find Haarlemmerdijk and walk along it for some great shopping. If you need a coffee and Het Papeneiland was too busy, pop into Toki for their epic coffee or tea and have some cake. It’s incredible.
Take a canal cruise
I’ve been on a few canal cruises, and one of my favorites is Boat Amsterdam. They just do something different. Book one of the smaller ones ahead of time (always choose the smaller ones over larger ones that I call the massive busses of the canals) and make your way over to the Hermitage Museum to board. You can certainly meander your way over there, but you may also want to take public transit. Once you walk back down Haarlemmerdijk, you’ll be by Amsterdam Centraal Station. Take 51, 53, or 54 to Waterlooplein stop and walk less than 5 minutes to get to the boat pick-up spot. Tickets for the metro can be bought inside the metro station if you didn’t buy a day pass already.
Lunch at de Foodhallen
Depending on how your day is going, mainly I mean, if you keep eating or actually wait until meals, head to de Foodhallen for lunch. It’s an old tram depot with TONS of character and 21 food stalls. Cards are king here. If you do have contactless payment on a card or your phone, that will be easiest. My favorite is the Chicken Fling from Viet View, or the burger from The Butcher. Their fries (regular and sweet potato) are awesome! But there’s really something for everyone.
If you like discovering places like this outside the city center, read more about Amsterdam’s West neighborhood and put it on the list for next time you visit!
Window-shop on PC Hoofstraat
Feeling fancy? Love to dream? Actually have a boatload of cash? Either way, PC Hoofstraat is pretty epic. It’s like having our own little Rodeo Drive right out of Hollywood! Only exclusive (and pricey brands) are here. There’s even a Telsa showroom. Yep, it’s true.
It’s a street I don’t visit often but wows me whenever I do. Do you like to window shop or do you find it frustrating because you can’t afford all the pretty things? I guess it depends on my mood for me, but I’d usually rather not know what I can’t have 😛
Sure, you don’t have a ton of time, but since you’re in the area, maybe you want to visit the Stedelijk Museum, or the Van Gogh Museum. The Rijksmuseum is MASSIVE, so I would recommend scheduling that ahead of time for your next time. Maybe the diamond museum is of interest to you. Actually, Amsterdam has been known for its diamond-cutting history, so it’s worth a look. Or take a factory tour with Royal Coster Diamonds. There are so many options around Museumplein where you can spend your afternoon exploring.
Dinner is a tricky one because Amsterdam restaurants tend to LOVE reservations (except the places I’ve mentioned already). If you come on a weeknight, it’s probably not an issue, but if you know you’re coming and you want to have dinner here, take a look at what you might want and book a spot ahead of time…even if it’s a day prior. Here are our favorite places to eat in the city, maybe you’ll find one that tickles your fancy!
Map of activities and places to eat in Amsterdam
Where to stay in Rotterdam
Just in case you haven’t booked your hotel in Rotterdam yet, I wanted to be sure you have some options.
The James Rotterdam
We stayed here right when it opened and really enjoyed it. We were there for a conference and didn’t want to have to go home late at night just to come back. This hotel is perfectly situated in downtown so it was really easy to get around. We like the style and the staff was very kind. Lots of restaurants around, too, which you know we are fans of! Check rates on Booking.com.
Also near Centraal Station is the Hilton Rotterdam. While we didn’t stay here, we toured the hotel and it has a ton of history, so if that’s your thing, you should check it out. Also, they have one of my favorite restaurants in Rotterdam, Roots. It’s all about local food and the chef is so talented. Basically, even if you don’t stay here, you should eat here. Find the right room for you on Booking.com.
If you just want a place to put your stuff and sleep, maybe this is right for you. I love the idea that not everyone needs a big hotel room but they don’t want to stay in a hostel in bunks, either. To me, it depends on how long you are staying, but if you don’t need much space, this place could be perfect for you! Be aware, you do have to use a shared bathroom. View the listing and book now.
Stay on a ship
Have a uniquely Dutch experience mixed with a calming atmosphere thanks to the host who has a specific vibe for his ship home. It’s a private room but you just have to check out the full listing to fully understand this place. It looks positively wonderful and fun!
If you find this post helpful, please share with anyone you may know who needs it. Also, to book any activities no matter where you are headed, check out Get Your Guide. It’s the website we use to book our memorable experiences and we want you to have the best memorable experiences, too!
Wishing you joy and travels!