Amsterdam is one of the best cities in the entire world. If I could, I would spend months, not days there. However, time can be limited and constraining. I’ve been lucky enough to go to Amsterdam a half-dozen times from the U.S., so I’ll give you a 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary you can’t refuse.
The good news with limited time in Amsterdam is that the city is small and highly functional. If I could, I would move to Amsterdam in a heartbeat.
The city is set up perfectly for residents and there’s plenty to do while you are there.
Imagine the best of all worlds, including amazing art, museums, boating, biking, parks, Heineken beer, awesome souvenirs, and underrated food?
Yeah, I can get behind that.
There are plenty of things to do in Amsterdam. No matter who you are traveling with.
You can go the family-friendly route with museums and good food or explore with bars and parks with friends.
As a person that hates cars, Amsterdam is a great city for me.
Enough with the love fest in Amsterdam.
I’m here to help you see everything in 48 hours.
Table of Contents
Things to Consider for Your Amsterdam Trip
Amsterdam is the official capital of The Netherlands. The city is known for its artistic heritage, picturesque canal system, amazing architecture, and canal houses with gabled facades. The city is known for being one of the best-preserved cities in all of Europe and has many traces of the 17th-century Golden Age.
Amsterdam features an eclectic Museum District that houses the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Moco Museum and an epic park system.
Cycling is the preferred method of commuting adding to the city’s character and charm. There are plenty of things that Amsterdam is famous for like the Anne Frank House and the Royal Palace.
Like I was saying, Amsterdam is a very liveable city and it’s very functional. You should be able to conquer the city in 2 days.
The only problem is that you’ll likely want to be back for more.
Map of Amsterdam & Considerations
Below is a map of Amsterdam to give you a flavor of the city and the setup. Think of the city center like the shape of a “U.”
The canal rings extend in a U-shape and layers around the city. If you like square streets and straightforward street lettering, Amsterdam is not for you.
Each side of the canal streets are one-ways, so you want to walk/bike on the appropriate one-way side of the street.
I hope this map sets the stage for your experience to see the city in an efficient way.
Itinerary for 2 Days in Amsterdam
Let’s get into an itinerary to Amsterdam and how you should approach each day. For Amsterdam, I like breaking my days up into buckets.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
Another reason why I love Amsterdam so much is because of the wide array of boutique and luxury hotel options.
Here are some areas I’d recommend that you stay for an awesome experience:
- Jordaan – Neighborhood vibes, great dining and quaint (there’s plenty of hidden gems of Amsterdam in this neighborhood)
- Vondelpark – Quieter, cozy and relaxing
- De Pijp – Awesome markets, close to everything and won’t have to deal with swarming tourists
- Centruum / Koninklijk – This is right in the midst of the tourist central area and generally filled with people. It’s a central area being right in the city center, but you will be swarming with people.
- De Wallen – Generally not for me. If you are there to party, you’ll want to stay in De Wallen
Of these areas, you can pick out some solid hotels.
Here are some hotels that will ensure that you love your trip.
- Conservatorium – One of the most legendary luxury hotels in all of the world. The hotel has a combination of class, comfort, history and style in one.
- The Hoxton – In an excellent location and with reasonably priced rooms. You can lounge at the trendy restaurant and excellent bar after a full day of exploring.
- Pulitzer Hotel – The Pulitzer was an iconic experience that I will definitely need to experience again.
- The Dylan – The Dylan is another very well-known luxury hotel featuring amazing dining and a unique, modern atmosphere.
- Pillows Amsterdam, Vondel – I stayed here in August a few years ago. It was an amazing experience and definitely worth heading back to. It’s right next to Vondelpark so if you want to experience Amsterdam in a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Pillows Amsterdam is your place.
See Related: Best Party Cities in Europe
Day 1: Museums, Neighborhoods and Nightlife
On your first day, take in the city from a tourist perspective and hit the museums. Usually the first day in a city you are excited to see the landmarks.
So, take the day to hit all the museums and iconic spots in the city. Then, venture into the neighborhoods for good food and fun in the evening.
Start your morning out with the Anne Frank House. It’s a must-see and I don’t just say that because everyone else does. It’s truly a humbling and inspiring experience all in one.
You need to buy your tickets in advance because the house if pretty compact. They simply can’t fit many visitors there in one day. The lines can become outrageous.
Then, work your way down to Museumplein to see the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
- Van Gogh Museum: Van Gogh can also get very busy. It’s a smaller museum and can get extremely busy during the afternoon so go there right after the Anne Frank House. Get your tickets in advance so you can skip the line.
- Rijksmuseum: The Rijksmuseum is a lot bigger than the Van Gogh Museum so even if it is busy you might not notice. There are a ton of things to see in the Rijks… It’s a full-blown national museum so it’s similar to other iconic museums out there. They have exhibitions and rooms to see in addition to classical art. Get tickets in advance so you can skip the line.
- Moco Museum: If you have enough energy left after filling up your day with museums, consider the Moco Museum. I went there during the Banksy exhibit and it was awesome. It’s a small museum that you can conquer in less than 1 hour. Moco stands for Modern Contemporary.
Like I mentioned with some of the neighborhoods to visit, you should try to hit De Pijp after the museums as you can find a few great markets and excellent food.
In De Pijp, you can check out the Albert Cuyp Market. It’s a busy happening market with a lot to do and see. You might get a souvenir or some good street food along the way.
Check out this photo of the Albert Cuyp Market during a peak afternoon. This was right after we hit a few museums. If you want to stay efficient with your time, use one of these top Amsterdam tours to see more for less.
Right after your Albert Cuyp Market stopover, you can continue your museum expeditions by hitting the Heineken Experience. I’ve actually never been, but I’ve walked past it. The Heineken Experience is like a museum, so I’ve heard…
It hasn’t really been on my to-do list. I’d rather drink Heinekens at a Dutch Cafe (if you get my drift). From there, venture your way to the Begijnhof Chapel, which will feature iconic shots and old-world charm.
You’ll hardly know that you are in the middle of the city center. There’s a ton of awesome Dutch cafes for you to sit outside and people-watch in the square.
After you see the Begijnhof Chapel, head on over to Spui for a happy hour beverage to enjoy your time.
From there, you can head slightly north about 1 block to find two iconic Dutch restaurants for classic Dutch fare, Haesje Claes Restaurant and d’Vijff Vlieghen.
Both restaurants are housed in 1600 Dutch houses and feature outstanding traditional Dutch food.
See Related: GetYourGuide vs Viator
Day 2: Bike, Food and History
Contrast your first day of tourism with a little more local flavor. Start your day by finding a full-day bike rental and grabbing some wheels to make your way around the city.
Once you get your bike, you can zoom around town extremely easily. I’ve crafted up a pretty awesome personal bike tour for you to go on. It will only last 45 minutes in length throughout the day, but you’ll make stops along the way.
On the bike route, you should start somewhere around the Royal Palace just as a central spot in the middle of Amsterdam.
From there here are your routes to get you a good mix of everything:
- Your first spot should be direct to Foodhallen, where you can indulge on plenty of awesome food options. I particularly like De Ballen Bar, which has a variety of bitterballen (a Dutch specialty you must try). There are a ton of food stands with great options for everyone.
- Then, after you have some lunch and fuel up. Head through to Vondelpark. Vondelpark is a sprawling park with ponds and architecture. It’s a great way to cruise with your bike and gaze at all the people enjoying themselves.
- Next, proceed to go through to Rembrandt House Museum. You’ll be able to see the Rembrandt’s old house, but on the way you will see a ton of awesome other landmarks such as Leidseplein (a fun square with dining), the Bloemenmarkt (tulip market) and potentially Magere Brug (a little more east which is a historic bridge).
- From there, head toward De Gooyer if you want a combination of a classic Dutch windmill and some amazing beer. That is where Brouwerij ‘t IJ is located, which is an awesome local craft brewery. So, another stopover to grab a beer sit outside and gaze at the old, classical dutch windmill.
- Finally, head on over to De Oude Kerk (means the Old Church). It’s one of the oldest churches in Amsterdam. This is in the heart of the old city of Amsterdam so there is plenty of things to see on your journey there. When you finish up your journey, you’ll have plenty of things to explore in the old city.
On the history side of things, you should see some of Centruum. I like going in the evening when the lights are bright and there’s a ton of action.
It will save you time (and money) to ensure you have a successful trip.
Check out our favorite list of the best Amsterdam tours to try out.
See Related: 10 Things to Do in Amsterdam in December
Conclusion on 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
Are you ready for Amsterdam? You should be… I’m already jealous of you as I won’t be able to join you… 🙂
Whatever it is, 24 hours, 36 hours, or 48 hours. It’s better than not being in Amsterdam at all!
Amsterdam is an excellent city that I believe everyone needs to visit at least once in their lifetime. Who knows? Maybe I’ll live there one day.
Again, if you have any questions about where to go and what to see, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I’m here to help.
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