2 Days in Amsterdam Travel Itinerary
Do you have 2 full days to spend exploring Amsterdam? Awesome! Although popular and hyped in the travel space, Amsterdam is still a spectacular city that exceeded all of my expectations. It’s popular for a reason.
I loved everything about Amsterdam from its world class museums, outstanding food, scenic canals, and friendly people. Seriously, the Dutch are hilarious. I loved their sense of humor and helpfulness.
Truth be told, I’m beating myself up for not visiting Amsterdam sooner.
I. Loved. It.
I know Amsterdam is popular for city breaks and short visits, especially in Europe, so I wanted to create an itinerary of my favorite highlights. This specific itinerary is enough to cover a weekend or 2 days in Amsterdam.
But, first, let’s tackle (of course) the most pressing question.
Is 2 Days in Amsterdam Enough Time?
Hmmmm, to be honest, it depends on your goal. 2 days in Amsterdam can be enough time. Possibly.
Personally, I loved Amsterdam. I enjoyed the city’s chilled atmosphere so much that I could have easily spent five days in the city.
Yup, five days. Think that’s a lot of time? I don’t. I would have gone to lesser known museums, relaxed under shady trees in parks, and ate my way through food markets. I’m just a slow traveler at heart (as most of you know).
However, if you want to take a classic city break, Amsterdam is still a wonderful choice. It’s walkable with plenty of museums, great restaurants, and scenic narrow streets. Furthermore, Amsterdam has fantastic and timely public transportation, which makes going around the city a breeze.
If you only have 2 days in Amsterdam, you should be able to see and do everything you want, as long as you do your research and remain practical about your travel goals.
2 Days in Amsterdam: Your First Full Day
For your first day, I’ve compiled a list of tours, museums, and cocktails! Oh my! Talk about a triple threat.
As always, I encourage you to do your own research in addition to this post, and add or remove things that don’t stir your complete interest and excitement.
After all, this is your dream getaway to Amsterdam. It should be perfect, right? Right!
1. Take a Free Walking Tour of the City
I always like to learn about a new city as soon as my feet hits the pavement. I felt no differently about my visit to Amsterdam. Free walking tours are a great way to acquaint yourself with a destination.
On my trip, I took the Classic Tour with Free Walking Tours Amsterdam and had a great time! The guide, Daphne, was knowledgeable, passionate, and hilarious. She did a great job even when it started to rain, haha! Gotta love unpredictable weather.
While on the tour, we learned about Dam Square, the Jewish Neighborhood, Coffee Shops, and the Red Light District. I think free walking tours are especially good for Amsterdam if you want to see and learn about the Red Light District, but don’t feel comfortable wandering there at night.
So I highly recommend taking a free walking tour to learn about Amsterdam’s fascinating history and culture.
2. See a Hidden Church in an Attic
One of my favorite surprises was Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder or Our Lord in the Attic. This fascinating museum is tucked right in the center of town, not too far from Amsterdam Centraal Station.
In 1663, Catholics lost their right to worship in Amsterdam. However, secret churches were created in private homes so believers could still gather and celebrate Mass in their own way.
At Our Lord in the Attic, you explore an old canal house that hides a clandestine Catholic church. The free audio guide is brilliant. You learn a lot, but the same time, the audio doesn’t ramble, which gives you plenty of time to look around and contemplate history.
This museum is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting things to do in Amsterdam in 2 days.
3. Find Peace at Begijnhof
Next I’d suggest going to a quiet gem: Begijnhof.
This scenic area of historic, mostly private dwellings was originally established for the Beguines who were religious unmarried women (not nuns, though). It gave them their own sanctuary in the middle of a bustling city. The last Beguine died in 1971.
Today you’ll still find a sense of peace in Begijnhof. It’s perfect for whenever you need a break from the chaos.
However, please respect your limitations as a tourist. You’re not permitted to stroll close to private homes and start snapping photos. Although the Beguines no longer reside here, others do and so you don’t want to behave in a disruptive manner.
4. Explore the Gorgeous Canals in Jordaan
Jordaan is understandably one of the most popular areas in all of Amsterdam. I loved this neighborhood. Without a doubt, it’s the Amsterdam we all see splashed across postcards.
As for me, I personally loved Jordaan for shopping. Indy and vintage boutiques line the streets making it very easy to spend money on all the things. Please don’t yell at me if you come back home broker. Just saying.
In particular, you’ll want to check out Westerstraat which has an awesome market (200 stands, whoa) on Mondays.
I’d even plan on coming back to Jordaan later for dinner. Like I said, you’ll have your pick of many wonderful restaurants and leave with a full, content belly.
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5. Learn History & Humbleness at the Anne Frank House
Although crowded, I would absolutely recommend taking a visit to the Anne Frank House. I remember (vaguely) reading Anne Frank’s Diary as a child, and now I think it’s due for a reread now that I’m an adult and educator.
Personally, I found the Anne Frank House remarkably touching. The audio is very well done and explains each of the family members, as well as the people who risked their lives to hide them from the Nazi Regime.
When you’re in the attic itself, the audio shuts off so you can fully appreciate the small rooms, including where Anne slept. Don’t feel embarrassed if you need to cry. For me, the pictures of bygone celebrities on the wall are stark reminders that Anne was only a young teenager. It broke my heart.
You need to reserve tickets well in advance to see the Anne Frank House. For example, I booked my mid-August ticket at the end of June. Anne Frank’s quarters are tiny, which results in limiting the number of tourists who pass through its doors.
Lastly, photography is also not permitted inside. Please respect the rules.
6. Unwind with a Cocktail at the House of Bols
Time to take a break and enjoy a classic cocktail at House of Bols. You’ll embark on a self-guided tour of this Dutch gin museum. It’s easy enough to hop on a tram from the Anne Frank House to the House of Bols. And you guys? I had a blast here, especially in the quirky tasting rooms!
Anyway, on my own visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect at the House of Bols, but boy, it’s super fun and tasty! You’ll learn all about Lucas Bols who is the founder of Amsterdam’s longest standing distilled spirit brand.
Not to mention, a cocktail is included in the cost of your ticket. Win/win!
The House of Bols is popular, but, in my opinion, less packed and overwhelming than the Heineken Experience.
2 Days in Amsterdam: Your Second Full Day
Be prepared, scholars. Your second day in Amsterdam is jam packed with art. I picked the two most visited art museums for today so wear comfortable shoes.
Of course, if art isn’t your “thing,” I’ve included an optional surprise at the of this post. While my surprise isn’t in Amsterdam itself, this beautiful place is super close and accessible to anyone staying in the city’s center.
Let’s get to it!
1. Have an Apple Pie Breakfast at Winkel 43
Mmmmm, you guys, I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth. I’d give up a lot of things in exchange for unlimited delicious desserts that magically have zero calories. I’m not even kidding.
So eat an apple pie breakfast at Winkel 43. It’s considered a delicacy. I honestly think Winkel’s apple pie is the best that I’ve ever eaten on my 32 years on earth.
This treat will give you the necessary sustenance to trek through the next two big attractions. Onward!
2. See the Largest Van Gogh Collection
Vincent Van Gogh is one of the world’s most famous artists, and he was born in the Netherlands. Therefore, you can find the artist’s largest collections right here in Amsterdam.
Be warned that the Van Gogh Museum is popular, and like the Anne Frank House, you must reserve your tickets in advance. For example, as we were going inside the museum, I overheard the staff telling other visitors that tickets were completely sold out for the next three days.
Trust me, book tickets ahead of time. I know having reserved time slots kills a bit of spontaneity, but I wouldn’t leave see this attraction up to chance.
Inside the Van Gogh Museum, you’ll learn all about the artist’s tumultuous life and see some of his most famous works. I was fascinated reading about the mental health aspects myself. Things truly have come a very long way.
3. Appreciate the Dutch Masters at Rijksmuseum
Not far from Van Gogh is the Rijksmuseum. Here, you’ll see the great works by the Dutch Masters.
The most popular piece in the Rijksmuseum is Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. This painting is huge, taking up an entire wall, and the majority of tourists linger here so be prepared for crowds. Also, as of summer 2019, The Night Watch has been undergoing renovation so it’s hard to see the painting, which kinda sucks, but what can you do.
The Rijksmuseum is enormous, much larger than the Van Gogh Museum, so pick what wings you want to see ahead of time, and go into the exhibits knowing that it’s impossible to see the entire art museum in a single visit.
If you want to save time, it’s possible to book a tour combing both the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, so you can efficiently see all the best masterpieces without hopelessly wandering from room to room.
Note: If you come in the summer, you might be lucky enough to see the Rembrandt Art Market. Spend time and money to support Amsterdam’s local artists! I bought a gorgeous print for my living room.
4. Have a Blast at the Heineken Experience
Haha, there’s literally no way to talk about spending 2 days in Amsterdam without referencing the Heineken Experience.
I mean, a lot of people in the United States love Heineken and make this attraction a big priority in their itinerary. And hey, if Heineken’s your thing, you should go on the Heineken experience.
You’ll learn all about the history of this world famous brewery and participate in interactive exhibits. And, of course, at the end of the tour, you’re able to enjoy two glasses of crisp cold Heineken beer. Yummy!
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5. Explore De Pijp
Another neighborhood you should visit with 2 days in Amsterdam is De Pijp, which isn’t too far from the Heineken Experience. De Pijp is very lively, and on my trip, I didn’t encounter too many tourists, which was a super cool change.
De Pijp is Amsterdam’s former Latin Quarter, and walking along the narrow streets, you can easily understand how this area draws creativity. You’ll encounter plenty of cool cafes and eateries.
Take your time here. It’s great being outside after three big attractions, am I right?
6. Eat Allllll the Indonesian Food
Last but not least. Amsterdam is home to lots of delicious Indonesian food. It only makes sense to take advantage of the taste opportunities.
On my trip, I had dinner at the Blue Pepper Restaurant which certainly didn’t disappoint in the slightest. However, there are an abundance of cheaper options available to suit your travel budget.
Indonesian food is incredibly diverse, and the spreads are beautiful. Your taste buds will certainly enjoy the experience.
Optional: Ogle at Windmills in Zaanse Schans
Are you just really not a city person? Want to enjoy a taste of the Dutch countryside? Then Zaanse Schans is perfect for you!
Furthermore, as I’ve said earlier in this post, I added this particular suggestion for people who aren’t necessarily into art museums as much as I am. Instead you’ll experience an “open air” museum and see a brewery.
The breathtaking scenery is worth trekking outside Amsterdam, I promise.
As for seeing the windmills, it’s easy to reach Zaanse Schans using public transportation especially for independent travelers. However, for travelers concerned about time or logistics, plenty of small group tours go to Zaanse Schans from Amsterdam.
Where to Stay with 48 Hours in Amsterdam?
Again, accommodation in Amsterdam depends on your goals.
Keep in mind that accommodation in Amsterdam can be very expensive, especially in high season. Not shocking, given this city’s immense popularity.
Therefore, it’s (very) essential to keep your eyes peeled for deals and to book well in advance of your travel dates.
For my visit, I stayed at Highland House which is a charming and friendly boutique hotel that’s close to the main train station. I adored Highland House. The room was spacious and clean, but the personal touches were wonderful at this hotel. For example, the hospitality workers would leave nice letters and chocolates in the room every day! The area was also very quiet despite it’s central location. I heard no noise at night.
What would you do with 2 days in Amsterdam? Have you ever visited this amazing city? Leave all your thoughts in the comments!
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