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 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
- Map for Visiting Amsterdam
- Where to Stay in Amsterdam
- Jordaan Neighborhood
- De Pijp
- Amsterdam Centrum / Central Amsterdam
- De Wallen (Red Light District)
- Plan Your Trip: 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
- Amsterdam Itinerary Day 1: Museums, Neighborhoods, and Nightlife
- Visit the Anne Frank Museum
- Van Gogh Museum
- Moco Museum
- Make Your Way Over to De Pijp
- Visit Spui Square & Begijnhof
- Amsterdam Itinerary Day 2: Bike, Food and History
- Rent a Bike to Begin Your Day
- Grab Some Delicious Food at The Hallen
- Bike Through Vondelpark
- Rembrandt House Museum
- Bloemenmarkt or Flower Market – the only floating flower market in the Netherlands.
- Explore Amsterdam on a Canal Cruise
- Tour Amsterdam City by Night
- Final Thoughts: Is 2 days in Amsterdam enough?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Is 2 days enough in Amsterdam?
- How many days do you need in Amsterdam?
- What is there to do in Amsterdam for 2 nights?
- What are the best places to visit in Amsterdam in 2 days?
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.
Amsterdam is known for being one of the best-preserved cities in all of Europe and has many traces of the 17th-century Golden Age, which is why the entire city is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Amsterdam features an eclectic Museum District that houses the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, the Moco Museum, STRAAT 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 top attractions by spending 2 days in Amsterdam. The only problem is that you’ll likely want to be back for more.
Map for Visiting Amsterdam
If you are flying into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, ensure you take a peak out the exit doors to snap a picture with the iconic landmark, the I Amsterdam sign.
This sign was formerly in front of the Rijksmuseum and is now a welcome sign to Amsterdam city visitors right outside Schiphol Airport.
Below is a map of Amsterdam to give you a flavor of the city and the setup. Think of the city center as the shape of a “U” due to Amsterdam’s canals. In the top middle of the “U” canal ring, lies Amsterdam Centraal Station (or Central Station).
It’s a great drop-off spot if you are arriving in Amsterdam city via train. I love getting dropped off here as it’s the best way to get right into the hustle, bustle, and oddities of Amsterdam city.
From Amsterdam Centraal Station, you can walk to most key areas of Amsterdam Centrum (or Amsterdam city center). 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 from Google Maps sets the stage for your experience when you visit Amsterdam.
Before, we get into a breakdown of the Amsterdam itinerary day by day. Let’s break down the various neighborhoods in the city to help you find out where you should stay.
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. I used my travel hacking skills to stay at the Pulitzer Hotel. It was one of the trips of a lifetime. I can’t wait to go back.
Here are some areas I’d recommend that you stay for an awesome experience:
Jordaan is a stretch of an area in the city center famous for upbeat cafes, boutique shops, and pretty houses. The term “jordan” comes from the French word jardian meaning garden. An approximately 1-hour sightseeing tour offers a perfect way to discover a large part of town.
A little outside the neighborhood of Jordaan is Anne Frank House the largest museum of arts and science in Amsterdam, the largest museum devoted to the history of book-making art and science at the center of Amsterdam.
Neighborhood vibes, great dining, and quaint (there are plenty of hidden gems of Amsterdam in this neighborhood).
If you like what you are hearing, here are some hotels near and around this area:
- 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.
If you want to make the most of your two days in Amsterdam, book a nicer hotel. Amsterdam is filled with excellent luxury and boutique hotels.
Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam only 6 km away from the van Gogh museum. This park opened in 1865 to its original name New Park or Nieuwe Park. There is a free-range theatre and numerous cafes, including the amazing ‘T Blauwe Teehuis.
June through September are popular times to visit Vondelpark for theatre shows and concerts. The city park is named after the 17th-century actor and poet Joost van den Vondel.
It attracts millions of tourists per annum and it’s only 6 minutes from the Vincent Van Gogh Museum and Museumplein (or Museum Quarter). This area is good for a quieter, cozy, and relaxing Amsterdam trip.
If you like the sounds of all the above, then check out these top picks for hotels in the Vondelpark area:
- 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.
- 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 De Pijp neighborhood is situated in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In the past 2 decades, the area has been one of the city’s major hotspots for entertainment and nightlife.
The De Pijp neighborhood was built on a formerly poor and highly polluted site. It is a vibrant and multicultural district that features a huge variety of cafes, shops, restaurants, and galleries.
Awesome markets, close to everything and won’t have to deal with swarming tourists.
If you like the sounds of all the above, then check out these top picks for hotels in the De Pijp area:
- The CitizenM – Extremely close to many things and has a well-decorated modern atmosphere.
- Pestana Amsterdam Prinsen Hotel & Lounge – The luxury Pestana is a hotel with excellent rooms and incredible service.
Amsterdam Centrum / Central Amsterdam
Named for the Dutch word meaning center, Amsterdam Centrum (AKA Central Amsterdam) is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions.
Home to the head offices of the Netherlands’ 2 largest railway stations, it is easy to reach by public transport. It has 2 main shopping streets called Kalverstraat and Nieuwendijk, 2 large department stores (Kalverstraat), and 2 other smaller fashion retail areas (Nieuwendijk).
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.
There are also 2 churches worth exploring nearby: Oude Kerk and Westerkerk.
- Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest building, established in 1306. The beautiful exterior of this Gothic church has 2 dark towers that can be seen for miles around.
- Westerkerk was designed by Hendrik de Keyser who designed 10,000 buildings during his time in Amsterdam including the Dutch parts of the Rijksmuseum. It has 2 amazing towers that are well worth exploring.
If you think this sounds like a good idea, here are some top picks for hotels near Amsterdam Centrum:
- Sofitel Grand Amsterdam – One of my all-time favorite luxury hotels in Amsterdam filled with modern art and design. This is one of the top luxury hotels in Amsterdam that also won’t completely destroy your budget.
- Radisson Blu – This hotel has all modern amenities including 2 restaurants with panoramic views of Dam Square and Red Light District. It is definitely a top option for any traveler looking for luxury and comfort!
See Related: 31 Travel Tips for Amsterdam (+ Top Do’s & Dont’s)
De Wallen (Red Light District)
De Wallen is the Red Light District of Amsterdam. The area has a 2-block radius and offers plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, cozy hotels, boutique shops, etc.
There are also many opportunities to take tours around the Red Light District area. Generally not for me. If your Amsterdam itinerary is solely about nightlife and partying, you’ll want to stay in De Wallen.
This is one of the most popular areas in Amsterdam for people who love to party. Whether you like to pick up some designer jewelry at Van Baerle, grab a drink on the canal at Cafe Touissant, or snack on delicious stroopwafels then this is your place!
Here are some options to stay near De Wallen to make the most of your stay.
- Art’otel Amsterdam Centre – This is a traditional hotel in central Amsterdam with two restaurants, bars, spas, and a rooftop terrace. You’ll also be close to Dam Square and be centrally located.
- Radisson Blu – This hotel has all modern amenities including 2 restaurants with panoramic views of Dam Square and Red Light District. It is definitely a top option for any traveler looking for luxury and comfort!
See Related: Best Markets in Amsterdam to Visit
Plan Your Trip: 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
You can find a wide variety of ways to reach Amsterdam Netherlands. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is located 9 km southwest of Amsterdam.
It takes a good 20 minutes to arrive at the city center area from Amsterdam Airport. The train is the quickest transportation mode and will cost about 5.40 euros one journey. You can also hire airport taxis to reach the city center in which we’ll explore most of the attractions.
We strongly recommend staying in the city center for your two days in Amsterdam. For sightseeing use an I Amsterdam City Card for free entry to over 44 museums, free public transportation rides, and discounts.
Let’s get into my Amsterdam itinerary and how you should approach each day. For Amsterdam, I like breaking my days up into buckets.
Amsterdam Itinerary 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.
Visit the Anne Frank Museum
It’s a must-see on your Amsterdam itinerary. I don’t just say that because everyone else does. The Anne Frank Museum is the third most visited museum in Amsterdam beyond the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
You can be moved and inspired by the story of Anne Frank and how she dealt with such tragedy and despair.
It’s truly a humbling and inspiring experience all in one. You can visit the Anne Frank House to see the original version of Anne Frank’s diary and notebook, historical papers, photographs, and film clips. The family’s secret hiding place is the most affecting aspect of the house.
You need to buy your tickets in advance because Anne Frank House is obviously very compact. They simply can’t fit many visitors there in one day. You can grab your Anne Frank House tickets by visiting their website or on GetYourGuide.
The lines can get very long given how important of a museum this is. Then, work your way down to Museumplein to see the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.
The Van Gogh Museum is one of Amsterdam’s top attractions and is the most visited museum in Amsterdam.
You’ll find 2 floors displaying the world’s largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh paintings, drawings, and sketches in the permanent collection. But there are also 2 temporary exhibition spaces so you’ll always have something new to see.
The museum itself is modern and very inviting. It has a great café that serves food until 2 pm (a rarity in Amsterdam). And it has large windows providing natural light. The 2nd floor of the museum also features occasional concerts by pianists--a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an evening performance in this beautiful space!
Make sure to check out Vincent van Gogh’s paintings like The Potato Eaters or Sunflowers. These are some of his most famous works and you can’t miss them in the museum. Like Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum can 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 but it is an absolute must-have on your Amsterdam itinerary.
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.
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.
By now, you’ve already got your money’s worth out of your I Amsterdam city card.
Make Your Way Over to De Pijp
As 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).
Visit Spui Square & Begijnhof
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 are 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
Amsterdam Itinerary Day 2: Bike, Food and History
Contrast your first day of tourism with a little more local flavor for when you visit Amsterdam.
The second part of your 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary will include a ton of different transportation, including using a bike to explore the city and taking a canal cruise to see the city from a new perspective.
Rent a Bike to Begin Your Day
If you have such a short visit to Amsterdam, you’ll need efficient transportation. And it doesn’t get more efficient than biking in Amsterdam.
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 above that I crafted from Google Maps, you should start somewhere around the Royal Palace or Dam Square just a central spot in the middle of Amsterdam.
From there here are your routes to get you a good mix of everything:
Grab Some Delicious Food at The Hallen
Your first spot should be direct to Foodhallen, where you can indulge on plenty of awesome food options.
Foodhallen is a food market with a variety of different foods from traditional Dutch to international.
There is a 2nd area called the Kanarie Club that has a lot more space and your food will come out much quicker.
They have a ton of options so you can try as many as possible if it didn’t meet your taste buds the first time.
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.
Bike Through Vondelpark
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.
Check out what it’s like biking Vondelpark from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.
Consider parking your bike and walking around Vondelpark to take in the scenery. Fantastic parks are everywhere in Amsterdam.
If you can’t make it over to Vondelpark, consider jetting over to Westerpark or Rembrandtpark. Regardless, at least one of these parks is a must-visit on your 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary.
Rembrandt House Museum
Next, proceed to go through to Rembrandt House Museum and Rembrandtplein if you want to grab a beer, coffee or snack. If you get an I Amsterdam card, ensure that your card is valid and eligible.
You’ll be able to see 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) and potentially Magere Brug (a little more east which is a historic bridge).
Depending on where you end up staying, you could easily make your way over to the Bloemenmarkt to see see the floating flower market.
Bloemenmarkt or Flower Market – the only floating flower market in the Netherlands.
The Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market on the globe. It is situated on Singel canal between Koningsplein and Muntingplein.
Flower stalls have been a feature of the houseboat since 1862. Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the market is open. The flower market is free to visit all year.
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.
Alternatively, we’d recommend taking guided tour of the Amsterdam canals by taking a cruise.
Explore Amsterdam on a Canal Cruise
I have this tradition that I always take a canal cruise on my last day visiting Amsterdam. It’s such a great way to end a trip to Amsterdam.
If you only have so many days in Amsterdam, you are not going to see it all and you surely won’t see all of Amsterdam’s canals. One of the most efficient ways to get around in Amsterdam is by boat, of course.
On a canal cruise, you can opt to have a more romantic experience, a party experience, or even history and culture experience. Amsterdam offers all types of canal cruises so you’ll be sure to find something that suits you best.
There is something about exploring Amsterdam by boat that is just different than anything else in the world.
Tour Amsterdam City by Night
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 including Dam Square all nicely lit up.
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
Final Thoughts: Is 2 days in Amsterdam enough?
Are you ready for Amsterdam? You should be… I’m already jealous of you as I won’t be able to join you… 2 days in Amsterdam should suffice to see the biggest tourist attractions and the main city center neighborhoods. However, if you want you to really learn about museums to discover more about the parks and other attractions, you might just need a day or two out.
Whatever it is, 24 hours, 36 hours, 48 hours, or even 1 month. An Amsterdam visit is better than not being in Amsterdam at all! This iconic European capital city is an excellent place that I believe everyone needs to visit Amsterdam at least once in their lifetime. Who knows? Maybe I’ll live there one day.
What are you doing to do on your 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary?
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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is 2 days enough in Amsterdam?
This is a great question, for me, Amsterdam is not enough in 2 days because there are so many hidden gems worth exploring. However, if you want to see all the main tourist attractions, you can see everything just build an efficient itinerary for your trip.
Whether it’s 2 days visiting iconic Dutch landmarks located directly in Amsterdam or spending 2 weeks experiencing the fascinating Dutch history, culture, and diversity of Amsterdam. There’s plenty of time and ways to enjoy what Amsterdam has to offer. The most important consideration is how deep do you want to go in discovering this great city.
What is there to do in Amsterdam for 2 nights?
Amsterdam is an excellent destination for 2 days, because it’s compact and walkable, with many easy-to-reach destinations.
Start by walking or taking a bike along Jordaan District to see the canals famous houses, including the Anne Frank House as well as the famous Nine Streets. Stroll across the bridges to see the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis), Stopera (Muziektheater), and Amsterdam Centraal Station area, all on foot or bike.
Then, take another day to explore the famous museums like Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk to get your fill of art. Next, take a 2-hour canal boat tour or 2-day canal bus tour along canals and see the city from the water.
What are the best places to visit in Amsterdam in 2 days?
With so many sites to see and things to do, a stay of just 2 days is insufficient. The Pancake Bakery should be visited for breakfast, followed by a tour of the Anne Frank House.
Next, ensure you explore Amsterdam by visiting the many popular museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandthuis, and Stedelijk. Then, you should see the national monument of Dam Square and the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis).
Finally, consider taking a guided tour or one of the many canal cruises to see the city from a different perspective.
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