Visiting Amsterdam for a weekend and looking for a 2 day itinerary? We’re here to help!
Amsterdam. Cool, stylish and artsy. Known for its canals and culture, and famed for its red light district and tiny pancakes.
So, there is a lot to do and see in this city. But where is it best to go if you have only 2 days in Amsterdam?
This article details the essential Amsterdam itinerary. It covers sightseeing, gastronomy, music and museums to ensure your trip is simply a taste of what it has to offer, and guarantees a return visit. Let’s get started exploring Amsterdam, shall we?
2 Day Amsterdam Itinerary
Amsterdam Day 1 – Get to know the city
Made up of endless streets of narrow houses lining the water, the canals and buildings in Amsterdam are beautiful. Beautiful enough to be perfectly content strolling for half a day munching on sticky stroopwafel (more on those later).
During your wanderings, you will find yourself dreamily crossing a street only to be abruptly broken out of your reverie. A sudden trilling of a hundred bicycle bells and a stream of cyclists wheeling past – enough to startle the haziest of day-trippers.
Biking in Amsterdam
If you don’t know already, the Dutch love a bike. And a bike ride.
When visiting the city it only makes sense to travel like the locals. Bikes can be rented from €10.00 a day and are a fun way to get around (also extra points for traveling green.)
Note, however, with bikes being the main method of transport there are some rules and local etiquette to follow. This is a definite read if you want to join the shoal of cyclists around the city. Don’t be one of those tourists everyone hates! Learn the rules of biking around Amsterdam and stick to them!
There are many shops to rent bikes. MacBike has several locations, one of which is right at the Central Station.
While there, take a walk around the nearby Dam Square. This is the main square in Amsterdam and is not to be missed. Here you’ll see the National Monument, the Royal Palace and the New Church. Striking, opulent and historical.
Pop into Benji’s for breakfast. A cafe stuffed with plants, with a fresh and colorful menu offering beautiful bowls of fruit and delicious topped savory toasts.
If you tire of cycling, an alternative mode of transport is to drift along the water itself. Canal rides can be booked along the water’s edge day or night and is a great way to rest those legs.
When people think of Amsterdam, they also think of windmills. Head to De Gooyer as it is the most central. Not currently open to the public, it is still definitely worth seeing as an iconic part of the Netherlands landscape. Also, it has the added bonus of being neighbors with organic microbrewery Brouwerij ’t IJ. Perfect!
Peckish? Stop by Café de Tuin for bitterballen, a local treat. These hot crispy little balls are filled with a meaty broth. This place also has great beers and apple pie.
What’s next on the Amsterdam itinerary?
Nightlife – Leidseplein and the Red Light District
Leidseplein is a vibrant square bursting with bars, cafes and clubs. If you want live music, this is the place. Here is where you find the former church turned music venue Paradiso. From the Rolling Stones to Prince to Adele, this venue has hosted many of the world’s most famous musicians.
Something softer but no less electric can be found at jazz bar Cafe Alto. Come here for late night cocktails, chic music and a simmering atmosphere. Leidseplein is lined with restaurants, stroll through and browse the menus on display to see what takes your fancy.
If it’s your thing, the Red Light District is a big part of the city’s history, and continues to attract many tourists curious to see more of Amsterdam’s racier neighborhood. If you plan to visit, be respectful and keep an open mind.
Amsterdam Day 2 – Museums
Time for culture. Amsterdam is host to several renowned museums, one of which being the Rijksmuseum. It’s collection is a mixture of paintings from artists such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt.
There are enough artifacts, scriptures and sculptures to ensure you walk around ever so slightly open mouthed in awe. They also have a courtyard cafe with tasty cakes and coffee.
The Van Gogh museum, of course, should also be on your 2 day Amsterdam itinerary if culture is what you’re after.
The pained artist was capable of transforming raw emotion into beauty and color like no other. This museum is recommended not only for its extensive artwork, but for the showcase of lesser known letters that really give insight into his thoughts and feelings.
An evocative display that will ‘give you all the feels’, and that’s what art is all about, right?
The Anne Frank House needs no introduction. An understandably popular tourism spot it really is a must see for every visitor to Amsterdam. It’s a moving experience.
Once enough culture has been digested, next up is food!
Plenty of cafes offer sweet snacks like poffertjes (mini pancakes dusted with icing sugar) and stroopwaffel (thin wafers sandwiched together with caramel) which pair perfectly with a piping hot glass of fresh mint tea.
Pancakehouse Upstairs is a quaint place with teapots hanging from the ceiling, and the pancakes here are excellent.
Amsterdam cannot really be introduced without mentioning their coffee shops. Famed spots like Grey Area, Barney’s and La Tertulia to name a few. Uniquely decorated, laid back and with friendly people they are a pleasant place for a mellow break at just about any time of day.
Some shops are designed as a place to hangout, others simply as brisk dispensaries to purchase what you need to enjoy elsewhere. Once inside, you’ll find each has its own selection of greenery and edibles. Talk to the staff, they are pretty knowledgeable and can give the right recommendations for what you are after.
Due to the number of coffee shops in Amsterdam, it’s worth it to wander around and try several. All are welcome to stroll in and roll up but it’s polite to purchase a little something in each, be it a fresh juice or homemade cake. Once inside, simply relax and listen to the music, play board games or chat to others floating along the same wavelength.
The natural place to explore next in your dulcet haze is Vondelpark. A slice of nature spanning 120 acres, within lies an oasis of greenery and tranquility. It attracts joggers, cyclists and those simply there to lazily feed the ducks.
There is more to do other than laying in the grass people watching or contemplating life.
One of the main features is the Open Air Theatre with a program consisting of music, comedy, dance and cabaret. Keep an eye on what’s coming up here and remember to book ahead, the shows are popular.
For something requiring less attention but is no less enjoyable, head to the northwest of the park. Here you’ll find the beautiful Rose Garden, and be sure to visit between May and June when the blooms are best.
Later on, to see spectacular views across the city, go up to SkyLounge Amsterdam. It’s touristy, but the views are worth staying for one drink.
If you prefer to keep your feet closer to the ground Amsterdam Noord is teeming with industrial chic bars and breweries nestled among the galleries.
On your route back to the hotel, you’ll likely come across FEBO. These fast food vending machines are certainly more of a gimmick than fine dining.
Dotted around the city and stuffed with savory snacks of hamburgers and kaassoufflés (deep fried cheese wrapped in dough). They’re worth trying for a pre-bedtime bite as one last holiday treat.
2 Day Amsterdam Itinerary – Final Thoughts
And there you have it folks. 2 days in Amsterdam. Packaged and perfect, exactly like that deep fried dough you’re going to bite into.
We hope this post has helped you plan your two day trip to Amsterdam. If you feel like we left anything super important out do let us know in the comments here or on Twitter.
Happy travels all, and we’ll see you on the road!