London to Amsterdam on the Bus? Overlanding to the Netherlands

london to amsterdam overland by bus

There are many ways to get from London to Amsterdam: bike, hitch-hike, train, plane, car, walking very far and of course taking a BUS – or, more specifically, a coach which gets on a ferry. Bussing can be a cheap, exciting and authentic way to travel: instead of seeing the earth as an angel in the sky (through a window), see it as an animal from the ground (albeit also through a window...) Bussing can also take ages and be boring (if you have nothing to read – so be well-prepared with a good read or a film to watch!) and uncomfortable(luckily, coaches have toilets on board and you can walk up and down the aisle between the seats to stretch your legs).

London to Amsterdam Bus

In this post, as someone who has travelled to Amsterdam by car, plane, train and BUS I weigh up the pros and the cons of travelling from London to Amsterdam by bus.

1. How much does it cost to go from London to Amsterdam?

It costs around £15 per person to get from London (Victoria Coach Station) to Amsterdam (Amstel Station) by bus.  Meaning: if you book it far enough in advance (about a month) with the right carrier. How does this compare to other modes of transport:

  • Train: Prices start from about £75 per person;
  • Car: For petrol and the ferry it's going to cost at least £78. That's not even taking into account the cost of insuring car and the cost of the car itself. However, if you are travelling in a group of friends, renting an 8-seater car at London Airport can be a worthy alternative to a bus, which will save your budget by sharing the price with friends and add comfort to your journey.
  • Plane: Flying starts at about £20, if you book with a good flight comparison site like Kiwi and if booked early enough. Of course, this doesn't factor in the astronomical cost flying has on the environment we all live in (if you do choose to fly, please buy carbon offsets!) 

I get it, flying is only £5 more than the bus and it's a lot quicker. But there are lots of other additional costs to think about: on the bus you can take as much luggage as you like (weight-wise), you can take fragile things, as well and as much liquid as you like (within reason)... as opposed to flights, which suck you in with cheap cheap cheap prices and then charge you for your suitcase and don't let you take liquids in your hand luggage. Furthermore, you have to factor in the cost of actually getting to/from the airport. The bus, on the other hand, takes you from the centre of London right into the centre of Amsterdam at no extra cost. Conclusion: Basically, other than hitchhiking, taking the bus is the cheapest way to get from London to Amsterdam – and has no nasty hidden costs.

2. How long does it take to get from London to Amsterdam?

This is where trains, flights, driving and even hitchhiking win. Buses always take ages because they have to stop to pick up passengers/swap drivers. But how long does the bus actually take? We left London at 21:00 and arrived in Amsterdam the next day at 09:00. Thus the journey took 11 hours. (There's an hour's time difference between the UK and the Netherlands.)

london to amsterdam bus

Now the train and driving take about 5 hours. The flight itself only takes about an hour but you've got to factor in the two hours (or so) that you've got to spend in the airport (getting there early, going through security, standing in queue, getting on that little shuttle that takes you to the plane, etc.) plus the time getting from the airport to your destination (the same routine again + a bus to the city centre, etc.) Furthermore, getting into Amsterdam at 9am is a good time. All the cheap flights we looked at got in too early (6am) or too late (9pm) – for us 9am was the best: everything was open already and there were still enough daylit hours to check out the downtown area and get to our hotel.

Finally, the majority of our 11 hours were spent sleeping and / or reading or writing. Sure, it was not exactly the best sleep ever (we recommend getting earplugs, eco-friendly if possible), but certainly more relaxing than going through customs or driving down the motorway or standing on the side of the road hitchhiking.

Conclusion: whilst 11 hours on a bus sounds awful, most of it was spent unconscious/reading/writing, and we arrived at an agreeable time.

3. What's it like to go from London to Amsterdam on the bus?

Who cares how cheap a journey is – if you're not able to use a toilet for 11 hours and the other passengers stick needles in your eyes, it is not worth it. So read on to hear our first-hand account of what it was actually like taking the bus from London to Amsterdam! :)

bus london to amsterdam

The bus left from London Victoria Station, I don't know if you've ever been there, I've always found it a bit gnarly and everyone always seems to be in a bad mood there. (Or maybe I'm just always in a bad mood when I'm there. Who knows :D )

We had to queue up and show our passports – this is worth noting because generally in Europe if you don't board a plane you don't need a passport, but apparently you do in this situation – so don't forget yours!

Anyway, we then queued to get on the bus. Everyone wanted to be the first on board, so when the doors opened there was a gigantic horrible push to get through. No one was crushed to death this time, but it was a close thing I think... since then, we've had many bus trip without such hassle though, so this was probably a one-time thing. British people tend to be good queuers :)

Once we'd made it through, we got on the bus and sat down. It was relatively empty (it turned out that there were two buses and no need for pushing, so... do check that, as well, before you get into a queue :)) Then three minutes before the bus was due to leave, ten Americans got on. Turned out that they'd been sitting in the station, thinking that they were the first there and expecting the driver to come and tell them to get on the bus (cultural differences, once again).

Our driver was Dutch and actually hilarious, he didn't care about anything and gave a funny speech about not shitting on the bus, lol. Two hours later we had to get out in Dover, which we didn't know about (we thought we were getting the tunnel across and Tanbay was not impressed to be woken up). We got out again for another passport check and were sniffed by a police dog. It was still a lot smoother than the airport security check, though.

Once we'd all got back on the bus, the Americans all sat together so the original 'seating arrangement' was confused. One guy in particular got extremely annoyed, I thought he was going to hit them, so I said "don't worry it's only a few minutes until we're on the ferry and we get off again" and then I thought he was going to hit me. Ha.

He didn't and we did, indeed, get off the bus a few minutes later and onto the ferry. The ferry itself took two hours and everyone was completely knackered and tried to sleep. The sight was beautiful, though – oh, the ocean! –, if you like ship cruises, this might be just for you :)

The seating thing was pretty ridiculous. Everyone wanted to sit with their friends/significant others. I get that – I would have been the first to throw a tantrum if I hadn't been able to get to sit by Bae, even though I think couples should spend some time apart (ever heard of toxic monogamy? lol) The whole thing could have been avoided if we'd been given seat numbers or if everyone just chilled out a bit. Or if the American pack had understood that people are going to want to sit where they left their stuff...

After that (by about 1am) everyone calmed down and slept all the way to Amsterdam. I'm not going to lie to you and say it was the best night's sleep ever (far from it), but with earplugs and then a headphone with soothing meditative music, an eye mask and a comfy jumper it was not the worst, either. When we arrived in Amsterdam, we were a little sleep-deprived, but we had the thrill of adventure ahead of us. Amsterdam itself was epic, definitely one of our favourite cities.

Recap: London to Amsterdam on the Bus

So was it worth it? Should you take the bus from London to Amsterdam? We think Yes! Despite the sleep deprivation and worry that I'd have to hit a guy in the face (girrrrl powerrr!), it was worth it for the money that we saved. We would indeed take this journey again (if we needed to) but we would probably consider taking a day time bus (which elevates the pressure of having to sleep). But overall we are convinced that the bus is a fun, cheap option. And definitely more eco-friendly than flying. Tips in case you want to try it out for yourself:

  • Make sure you've got your passport!
  • Check whether you need to stand in the queue (you might not have to);
  • Make sure you've got enough clothes: the warmer you are the more likely you are to sleep;
  • Take eye masks, earplugs and headphones: light to pack and so annoying when you don't have them;
  • Take a bottle of water or any other liquid;
  • Don't sit in other people's seats!

One day in Amsterdam

How to Spend One Day in Amsterdam on a Budget

Amsterdam is a bucket-list city for most people: the iconic clog slippers and tulips, the relaxed attitude to weed and prostitutes, the chance to see Van Gogh art pieces and an abundance of bicycles and canals. Whether you're there for a party weekend or if you're interested in true Dutch culture - Amsterdam will cater to you. One day in Amsterdam is often how much time people have in Amsterdam. Maybe you're fitting it into a longer Europe trip, maybe you're doing party stuff the rest of the time you're there. No matter the reason, 1 day in Amsterdam is a great start. This post is all about what you can do in Amsterdam and how much of it you can fit it into a day because, despite the fact that we will definitely be going back, I'm here to tell you: yes, Amsterdam can be done in one day (or night). Don't get me wrong, we absolutely loved Amsterdam and definitely didn't do everything (far from it), but in one day in Amsterdam you can get a really good taste of the city and do pretty much all of the highlights. So let's answer the question: how to spend one day in Amsterdam?

#1. Walk Along the Amstel!

We recommend starting off your 1 day in Amsterdam with a walk along the Amstel - the river which flows through Amsterdam. This will give you a great first impression of Amsterdam and show you a world that's far apart from the weed, red light and touristy centre. You'll see tonnes of bikes, beautiful buildings and cute houseboats:

one day in amsterdam

There are also pretty, wildflowers everywhere. The streets are really clean (especially for a capital city). And the locals here!

#2. Visit the Albert CUYP Markt

Albert CUYP is a fun market to walk through - they have all the usual suspects: cute touristy clog slippers, Dutch cheeses, beautiful flowers:

1 day in amsterdam

It's free to browse and take shots of the clog slippers:

Amsterdam Clog Slippers

#3. Museumplein

If you're looking for that classic Insta-good Amsterdam shot, head to Museumplein - that's where you'll find that famous 'I Amsterdam' sign. Right behind the sign is the Rijksmuseum aka the museum of the Netherlands, inside you'll find Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages right up to present day. Tickets are around 17.50 Euro and whether or not you go in depends on your interest in Dutch art and history how much time of your one day in Amsterdam you want to spend on that. Personally, we just contented ourselves with taking a billion photos in front of the Iamsterdam sign:

24 hours amsterdam

Right next to the Rijksmuseum on the way to the Van Gogh Museum are a few pretty (albeit touristy and overpriced) shops:

one day in amsterdam

Where you can pick up some beautiful (fake) Van Goghs:

spend one day in amsterdam

I love a bit of Van Gogh. The Van Gogh museum itself costs 18 Euros to get in or free if you have an I Amsterdam city card.

#4. Explore Vondelpark!

The Vondelpark is named after a Dutch author and is a big park very near the Museumplein. We sat and watched the many many cyclists go by. It was cute! On a sunny day, this is the absolute best place to take a picnic.

amsterdam for the day

#5. Canal Tour

There are tonnes of ways to enjoy Amsterdam's canals in 1 day - they are literally everywhere. Start off by walking around them and getting good and lost. (If you don't really want to get lost on your one day in Amsterdam I recommend the app - I'm not affiliated with this app, and I recommend it to people all the time, none of which listen to me, but get this it's so.much.better than google maps, try it for free and see - also, it's always free).

to do in amsterdam one day

If you've got the time and money, I highly recommend doing a canal tour. We're normally pretty snobby when it comes to touristy tours, but this is honestly an ideal way to see all Amsterdam has to offer in 1 day, without tiring your feet out. AND you get the added bonus of seeing Amsterdam from a new angle.

how to spend a day in amsterdam

Even if you're doing Amsterdam on a budget, there are plenty of budget-friendly canal tours. We recommend this hop on hop off Amsterdam canal tour - it's only $30 and you get the best of both worlds: you can see Amsterdam from a canal, and you can hop off when you see something interesting like:

#6. Visit Anne Frank's House

Anne Frank's House is one of the most iconic sites and important historical places in Amsterdam. Make sure you include it on your one day in Amsterdam trip. You can see it from the outside by foot, see it from the canal tour, or of course go inside. My favourite bit was seeing Anne Frank's House. We'd planned on walking there and viewing it from the outside (apparently if you go in it's boring and you're shepherded around like a sheep) but when it came to it we were too tired to do that, so it was great to see it in the same way, but from the boat:

a day in amsterdam

Be warned, tickets for Anne Frank House sell out very quickly, you can't just rock up and expect entry, pre-book. We decided that we didn't have enough time or cash to go in, so we contented ourselves to viewing it from the outside. A few people told us it's kind of boring inside and you're shepherd around like sheep. What I personally think is more interesting is a Jewish Quarter tour - it only takes 2 hours (perfect length for your 1 day in Amsterdam), and you get to hear about the real history. Tickets don't include entry into Anne Frank's House, but you will see it from the outside and probably learn more than if you went in - depending on how you like to learn, personally I'm a listener, not a reader. Tickets from $30 (book here).

#7. The Bicycles in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, everyone rides a bike. There are mens bikes, there are bikes for women, believe it or not there are even bikes that don't care about your gender too... It was so great to see people out on their bikes, the carbon emission must be quite low here. We'd heard before that Amsterdam was bike crazy, but we didn't know that the bikes were all so old fashioned and cute. We also didn't know that every type of person rides a bike - people in suits, skirts, heels, parents with one or two kids on the front/back. Every new person looked less prepared for cycling, and the Dutch must be really good at balancing too - there were bags and kids everywhere:

1 day in amsterdam

You can, of course, opt to do a bike tour of Amsterdam - it's so flat there and so bicycle friendly, it's a great way to cover lots of ground on your one day in Amsterdam. [Tickets are from $30, you can book yours here.]

one day in amsterdam

#8. Church of Saint Nicholas and Amsterdam Centraal

The Church of Saint Nicholas and Amsterdam Centraal (the main train station) are two of my favourite buildings in Amsterdam and they're right next to each other, I recommend checking them out!

amsterdam on a budget

#9. The Red Light District Amsterdam

One of the most famous things in Amsterdam is, of course, the Red Light District - also known as De Wallen. This is the place to go if you're looking for sex shops, peep shows, the sex museum, prostitutes, and of course window prostitutes - you can walk past and see people sat in red-lit windows, not wearing a lot and looking bored. It's a big tourist spot, and I'm not sure prostitution as a tourist attraction is the best idea ever. Like in Thailand, you'll find lots of excited looking boys (probably from England), waiting to go into peep shows. These are people bro, grow up. Saying that, prostitution should be legal, for the safety of the prostitutes so that's a plus.

#10. Buying Mary Jo in Amsterdam

In the red light district, you'll also find the w33d museum and lots of coffee shops offering legal marijuana. I think w33d is great, I think going to Amsterdam for the day purely to smoke it is kind of lame. But hey, enough of my judgements let's give you some facts: the coffee shops are easily distinguished from the regular coffee shops by the smell. You're legally allowed to buy it there. There are loads of w33d souvenirs in Amsterdam, like lollipops, they won't get you high:

Amsterdam Coffee Shops

And if you want an actual guide by a real Dutchman check this out: Amsterdam Guide To Drugs - factual, informative - all the good stuff.

Accommodation in Amsterdam

If you're spending one day in Amsterdam on a budget, accommodation may well be what costs you the most - the food is reasonable, there's plenty of cheap sites/ things to see for free in Amsterdam, but accommodation can be a lot, what should you do?

house sitting in amsterdam

#1. House Sitting in Amsterdam

Firstly, we highly recommend house sitting. What is house sitting? House sitting is an exchange - you look after someone's house (and often pets) whilst they are away and in exchange, you get to stay in that house for free! What it is, is free accommodation in Amsterdam, what it isn't, is a free place to crash whilst you go to peep shows and throw up because you smoked too much pot. But, if you're responsible and you love animals, definitely check out house sitting in Amsterdam. We have a whole guide and helpful tips on how to start house sitting, but if you're already convinced head straight on over and start browsing house sits in Amsterdam.

#2. Couchsurfing in Amsterdam

Couchsurfing is another way to have free accommodation in Amsterdam. This is a great way to meet people who actually live in Amsterdam and to learn what it's really like there.

#3. Airbnb in Amsterdam

Airbnbs in Amsterdam can be expensive, if you opt for just a room it will be cheaper and you will have the added bonus of meeting real locals. 

#4. Hotels in Amsterdam

Hotels in Amsterdam vary, you can find ones cheaper than Airbnbs but you can find grottier ones too. If you're spending one day in Amsterdam on a budget we recommend either the Qbic, Corendon or the Levell they both have great reviews and are only £52 a night. If you have a bit more of a budget in Amsterdam, go either the B&B Amsterdam - it's in a great location (right by the Stedelijk Museum) and - you guessed it - they include breakfast, prices there are from £112.

hotels in amsterdam

The Ambassade is also really nice - it's luxury 4-star and only £131 per night. And if you're in Amsterdam for the day for a special occasion and want to splash out/ have true luxury go for the Sofitel or the Waldorf - you won't be disappointed. Last, and certainly not least, last time we were in Amsterdam we stay at Hotel2Stay Amsterdam.

Dutch Food in Amsterdam

vegan Dutch Food

The food we had in Amsterdam was epic, this was before we were vegan, and we pigged out on stroopwafel, Dutch cheese, poffertjes, Dutch fries with patatje oorlog (peanut, mayo and onions), liquorice and more. Of course, nowadays we recommend you visit one of Amsterdam's vegan restaurants (there's 26)! And discover that stroopwafel, poffertjes and fries with patatje oorlog all taste amazing vegan (and sometimes even better than the original version). There's also incredible vegan Dutch cheese too.

London or Amsterdam?

How does London compare with Amsterdam? Our friends at have prepared a little info-graphic to help you decide:

As Laura is English, we feel like we should say London is better than Amsterdam, but frankly, in our opinion, it's not. Amsterdam is cleaner, prettier and overall nicer. (Although we did prefer the museums in London - nothing is better than the National History Museum!)

Wrap Up: How to Spend One Day in Amsterdam

Amsterdam gigantic Clog

Amsterdam is everything you expect and more. You could easily spend months there (and you might be able to with house sitting in Amsterdam), but if you don't have months don't worry 1 day in Amsterdam is a great amount of time to get a good taste for everything Amsterdam has to offer, to see the main sites and leave you eager to come back for more! For more information on Amsterdam written by a local resident, check out Karen's post! And if you have any questions about spending one day in Amsterdam or how to visit Amsterdam on a budget or anything else, just let us know in the comments below! Oh and here's a video involving Amsterdam I enjoyed :)

Would you make this journey from London to Amsterdam? Let us know! P.S.: If you're interested in a way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply, you might wanna check out house sitting. was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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