Wondering what to do in Amsterdam in 2 days? Here is a detailed itinerary post which tell you EXACTLY how to spend the best 2 days in Amsterdam. After multiple visits to this city, we are finally sharing our Amsterdam itinerary and hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Often called the City of Sins, Amsterdam is one of the loveliest cities of Europe. It is the place where many Euro trips begin and end. After all, the city’s unique narrow buildings, intricate canal systems and pretty bridges that are often adorned with colorful flowers leave a lasting impression.
Amsterdam is one of the top places to visit in the Netherlands and many people don’t end up going anywhere else in the country (but they should). Amsterdam is expensive, so prepare to shell out a lot of money if you’re not visiting any other place in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands is an extremely tolerant country so a trip to Amsterdam will surely offer an opportunity for new experiences. Even if you spend a little time here, you will share stories about it over and over again long after you return home. Yes, a trip to Amsterdam will be one of those things you remember for a lifetime. I have visited the city plenty of times and I still remember my first time here like it was yesterday.
The city is known for its impressive artistic history, as well as its legacies from the century Golden Age. One of the best ways to enjoy all of this is by cycling in and around Amsterdam and becoming a part of the its culture.
You will be forever in awe of the magic Amsterdam has to offer as it is a place that suits every type of traveler. You can indulge in the beautiful scenery, romantic ambiance and friendly local atmosphere with this Amsterdam itinerary. If you want to know how many days in Amsterdam this thrilling guide will cover – the answer is two.
Amsterdam CoronaVirus UPDATE + Travel Information
Before you plan your visit to Amsterdam in 2020, read this latest travel update by Malajkica, who visited Amsterdam during the coronavirus time and cycled around in the Netherlands for a few days in July 2020.
We visited Amsterdam during the coronavirus time felt like nothing had ever happened in Amsterdam. The only visible change was unless you wanted to use public transport, they remind you to cover your mouth and nose when you are not eating or drinking. Unlike the nearby Germany, masks aren’t necessary in supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants in Amsterdam and most of the Netherlands. The Dutch government seems to trust the people more than the German government does. There are signs hanging on toilets or in restaurants that say: Gebruik het gezonde Mind – that means use your common sense!
You can eat normally in bars and restaurants, but only outside, which is nicer for me anyway, so no restriction for me. All in all, the Netherlands is simply much more aware of this situation, so that no fear is aroused and everyone can live peacefully with one another as usual. Amsterdam is and remains one of the most wonderful and cities in Europe, with an incredible feeling of freedom and equality, that’s why I keep coming back again and again.
2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
I’ll share the best way to spend a weekend in Amsterdam, or any other two days of the week. Get ready for an unforgettable journey that is overflowing with exciting new encounters as you enjoy your two days in Amsterdam to the fullest.
I’m going to share the top places to visit, things to do and why to do them during your travels in the capital of the Netherland. Enjoy the best 2 days in Amsterdam, and have a once in a lifetime experience of the city.
- Amsterdam CoronaVirus UPDATE + Travel Information
- 2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
- Day 1: Typical Amsterdam + Itinerary Map
- 1) Walk (or Cycle) from Dam Square to De Negen Straatjes
- 1) Start with a Canal Cruise (Option 2)
- 2) Walk (or Cycle) to the Floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt
- 3) Eat Dutch Herring at Frens Haringhandel for Lunch in Amsterdam
- 4) Explore Jordaan – Walk along the canals go over the Bridges
- 5) Visit the Anne Frank House (Option 1)
- 5) Visit a Coffeeshop (Option 2)
- 6) Walk Through the Red Light District
- 7) Dinner in Amsterdam Centrum (Few Options)
- 8) Experience Nightlife in Amsterdam – Three Amazing Pubs
- Day 2: Offbeat Amsterdam + Itinerary Map
- 1) Start Your Day in Waterlooplein Flea Market + Breakfast [Sunday Closed]
- 1) Start Your Day in Vondelpark (Option 2)
- 2) Take a Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord
- 3) Visit the A’Dam Tower for the View [+ Extreme Swing]
- 3) Explore and Eat Lunch in De Ceuvel – It’s LOVELY
- 4) See the Street Art in NDSM Werf
- 5) Relax by the beach in Pllek by the IJ [River]
- 6) Say Bye to Amsterdam with an Evening Canal Cruise
- Getting Around in Amsterdam & Public Transport
- Amsterdam Hotels and Hostels
- Final thoughts on 2 days in Amsterdam
If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Amsterdam to take in all of its gorgeous features, then keep in mind that it is not about how long you stay, but how you spend your time there.
Of course, it is better if you spend more time here, but this itinerary has been written keeping in mind how some of us can’t spend longer but still wouldn’t like to compromise on our experience. This Amsterdam itinerary is 2 days long and will uncover every must-see thing to see and do during your visit.
A bike ride may appeal to slightly more adventurous travelers but others may prefer to take the boat or simply a walking tour. Read all the options and pick the one that suits you the most. They have been designed in a way that you can walk from one place to another in a circle. Personally, I’m not fond of visiting museums because I’d rather spend my time outside and drink in my new surroundings. However, Amsterdam has some of the world’s most amazing museums and if you’re into art, you may want to skip some of the activities and head to museums instead. Most of the major museums are together in the Museum Quarter, you can spend an entire day visiting one after another. The legendary public park in Amsterdam – Vondelpark, is right next to the Museum Quarter, so you can relax here before or after your museum visits.
A bike ride may appeal to slightly more adventurous travelers but others may prefer to take the boat or simply a walking tour. Read all the options and pick the one that suits you the most. They have been designed in a way that you can walk from one place to another in a circle.
Personally, I’m not fond of visiting museums because I’d rather spend my time outside and drink in my new surroundings. However, Amsterdam has some of the world’s most amazing museums and if you’re into art, you may want to skip some of the activities and head to museums instead. Most of the major museums are together in the Museum Quarter, you can spend an entire day visiting one after another. The legendary public park in Amsterdam – Vondelpark, is right next to the Museum Quarter, so you can relax here before or after your museum visits.
Day 1: Typical Amsterdam + Itinerary Map
So you’re ready to explore Amsterdam in 2 days? Let’s make the first day for the books. You will spend most of your day around Amsterdam’s most famous landmarks, canals and bridges. You will also visit a lovely market with a view, eat and drink at excellent restaurants. I have shared multiple restaurant options for different budgets.
To make things easy for you, I have marked today’s itinerary on Google Maps so that you get a broad idea of what your day will look like. Save an offline version of this map and Amsterdam city so that you don’t get lost.
1) Walk (or Cycle) from Dam Square to De Negen Straatjes
What’s the most touristy spot in Amsterdam? It is Dam Square! C’mon – you have to see it at least once. You won’t be staying here for long so don’t worry.
Amsterdam Centraal to Dam Square + Inside De Wallen Streets + Nieuwmarkt
Start at Amsterdam Centraal station (or wherever your hotel is situated) and from there walk to Dam Square. When you reach the Dam Square, you will see the Royal Palace of Amsterdam on one side and the National Monument on the other.
Take a around the Dam Square with your bicycle or walk to see the madness. You will see people busking and everyday is a new show. I have seen fire shows, comedy shows, an angry Darth Vader, an even angrier Catholic group shouting slogans and a laughing atheist group shouting even more slogans. It was like a match. To make things funnier, there was also a Hare Rama Hare Krishna group that joined the party.
An option here would be to go inside the De Wallen area and cycle or walk around a bit on the streets. The Red Light District is also here, so you can go through it and see how it looks during the day. As per this itinerary, you will cross the Red Light District at night too, so you can compare how different it looks from day to night.
You won’t be spending much time in Nieuwmarkt but will just cross it as you walk from Dam Square to De Negen Straatjes. See De Waag – the most famous building in Nieuwmarkt. You can also skip Nieuwmarkt completely and head directly to De Negen Straatjes.
De Negen Straatjes (the 9 Streets)
De Negen Straatjes or the 9 streets is a chic neighbourhood of Amsterdam within the main canal belt with 9 super pretty streets. Walk here to admire the typical Amsterdam sights – narrow houses, canals, bridges and alleys. The famous streets here are a part of Herengracht, Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Singel. Don’t just cross the 9 Streets but take time to cycle or walk on different streets and admire the best of Amsterdam’s beauty.
Exploring Amsterdam on Bicycle or on Foot?
Amsterdam can be explored easily on foot along with using the amazingly intricate public transport system. I have explored Amsterdam on bicycle as well as on foot – they both have their own charm. Considering Amsterdam is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world, why not take this opportunity to hop on a bicycle and ride around. You can rent your own bike or go for one of the many bicycle tours.
Discovering the city from your bicycle is an adventure, and you will find that the roads in Amsterdam even have lanes exclusively for bicycles. If you’re traveling to Amsterdam with small children, they will LOVE the bicycle rides. Most of the bicycles in Amsterdam (that you can rent) have a child seat in front and back both.
To make things easy, I have created a bicycle map for you. You can also customize it further based on your hotel location or your bicycle rental spot. You can start at Amsterdam Centraal, then cycle to Dam Square, Nieuwmarkt, Negen Straatjes (9 Streets), Jordaan and then back to the next spot for the day – Bloemenmarkt.
Here are some of bicycle tours in and around Amsterdam that we recommend:
- Amsterdam 3 hour bike tour: Bike ride through Amsterdam’s prettiest streets and hidden gems.
- Amsterdam 2 hour bicycle tour: Cycle through Jordaan, Red light district, Rijkmuseum, etc.
- 2.5 hours Amsterdam Sightseeing Tour by Bike: Cycle through the Museum square, pass by the Vondel park, Anne Frank house, Wester Church Tower and the red light district
- Windmills, Cheese and Clogs: 3 Hour Countryside Bike Tour to the outskirts of Amsterdam
- 2 hour bike tour of Amsterdam city: Cycle through the city, cross the skinny bridge and pass by most of the famous attractions. Stop for a drink at Vondel Park
- 3 Hour guided tour of historical Amsterdam: Available in English, German and French
Not in a mood to cycle around? No worries – you can walk from one place to another and experience Amsterdam’s best sights at your own pace. Start anywhere in this circle based on your hotel location and cover Negen Straatjes, Dam Square, Nieuwmarkt. Everything is just minutes away from each other and it is super fun to walk in Amsterdam.
For walking purposes, I have created a smaller map as compared to the cycling map. Try to end in Negen Straatjes (the 9 Streets) and walk along the Singel Canal. This way, you can easily reach your next destination (point 2) – the Bloemenmarkt as you walk along Singel.
1) Start with a Canal Cruise (Option 2)
A bicycle tour or a walking tour in Amsterdam is not for something that everyone can do or enjoy. There is another really cool way of exploring Amsterdam – a boat ride on the canals. You will anyway be spending most of your time on the streets on Amsterdam as you move from one sight to another, why not explore it from a different perspective?
Starting your Amsterdam trip with a boat ride will give you a quick view of the city, along with some interesting sights. It will give you an overall perspective of where everything is. You will surely end up seeing more landmarks during the boat ride than you will in the entire day. It is a good way of checking some famous buildings off your list if you’re short of time.
Many residents will shrug uninterestedly at the idea of a boat ride, but trust me it is not overrated if you do it right. In my multiple visits to Amsterdam, I did two different canal cruises and had a completely opposite experience. I hated the first one but loved the second one. Opt for a smaller canal boat with fewer people for a better experience. If the weather permits, get on a fully open boat for a good view.
Here are a few canal tours in Amsterdam that I have personally handpicked for you. Smaller and open boats are better when it isn’t raining. Check the google map coordinates of the starting point of each boat tour before booking.
- Small open canal boat cruise: An hour long boat tour that starts at Jordaan near the Anne Frank House. Smaller and open canal boats are much better than the bigger ones with glass windows.
- 75 minute open canal cruise: Departs from just 1 KM away from the Bloemenmarkt (your next destination) and is also on a small boat that’s open.
- 1 hour Canal Cruise: Starts at Rijksmuseum, which is only 1 KM away from your next destination – the Bloemenmarkt. This is also an open boat.
- City Canal Cruise: This is on a boat with glass windows. Booking this tour only makes sense when it is raining and you can’t ride the open canal.
- Canal Cruise with a native german guide: I have a lot of German readers and I’m sure they’d love to hear stories and anecdoes in German as they ride a lovely half open saloon boat that’s small.
I did a private boat ride with a company called Pure Amsterdam and I loved every bit of it. Even the pictures came out much better from the smaller open private boat as compared to the bigger boats with glass windows. But hey, the glass windows make a lot of sense when it rains.
2) Walk (or Cycle) to the Floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarkt
Otherwise known as the Bloemenmarkt in Dutch, the Flower Market in Amsterdam is as pretty as it sounds. Picture the canals lit up with an array of bright colored flowers like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Now picture these in a floating market.
The flower market is the only floating flower market in the world, and as such – it deserves a visit during your 48 hours in Amsterdam. Walking to this famous attraction is of the best ways to enjoy the sensations of the city. Sit on a canal side bench and simply enjoy the beauty.
Bloemenmarkt is on the Singel Canal and is a good 15- 20 mins walk to your next destination – Jordaan. I was excited to photograph the streets during this walk so I enjoyed it thoroughly. Walking in Amsterdam is a lovely experience because you will get to see some of the prettiest narrow alleys, lovely bridges and canals.
You will also see some really interesting buildings like the Homomonument, Westerkerk Church, on your way to the next destination. To help you break the walk down, I have listed three restaurants where you can enjoy a break and a meal.
3) Eat Dutch Herring at Frens Haringhandel for Lunch in Amsterdam
Want to have a typical road side Dutch meal? Walk to Frens Haringhandel in the vicinity and eat Herring exactly the way Dutch do – raw. It is delicious.
Don’t be afraid to try the Dutch Herring because I mentioned it is raw. In fact, it is “soused herring”. It doesn’t taste raw because it is soaked in vinegar and eaten with pickles and onions on top. For €3.5, it for the most affordable and delicious meal that I have ever had in Amsterdam. Honestly, it is super light so you may just want to have more than one portion.
If eating fish is not your thing, then I recommend the below tried and tested restaurants for an amazing lunch in Amsterdam. They are all on your way to Jordaan from the Bloemenmarkt:
Kapitein Zeppos (Lovely Outdoor seating)
Kapitein Zeppos has the prettiest outdoor seating in a narrow alley of Amsterdam that I have seen so far. I stumbled upon this restaurant when I visited Amsterdam for the first time in 2014 and fell in love with the sitting area. I had forgotten the name of this place but I saw it again in 2017 while I was walking between Jordaan and the Bloemenmarkt.
If you’re stopping at Kapitein Zeppos, then be sure to get a table outside to enjoy this place to the fullest. The portions here aren’t massive here but you will get to eat some delicious food.
d’Vijff Vlieghen (Lavish)
I recommend you stop at d’Vijff Vlieghen for a lavish traditional Dutch meal. The name d’Vijff Vlieghen means “the five flies” in English. It is a must visit restaurant for those who’d like to experience an authentic Dutch meal. We recommend you order the herring appetizer, get the sea bass or the beef tenderloin for your main course and finish off with apricot mousse for dessert. Vegetarians should opt for potatoes and asparagus for a memorable experience.
Pancakes Amsterdam Negen Straatjes (Budget)
Another lunch option that’s between your walk between the flower market and Jordaan is Pancakes Amsterdam Negen Straatjes for an amazing and comparatively affordable meal. This isn’t just a place for sweet pancakes but you will also get savory ones too.
4) Explore Jordaan – Walk along the canals go over the Bridges
Many first timers get stuck in Amsterdam’s Dam Square – which is the most crowded area. I’d recommend you get out of it and head to the streets of Jordaan.
Not just the streets but the canals are super pretty in Jordaan and you can possibly find an empty bench next to one and enjoy the view. Unlike the main centre, you may just find a few empty bridges in Jordaan that are perfect for a picture without crowds.
Did you know the Amsterdam is commonly referred to as the ‘Venice of the North”? One trip to the captivating streets of Jordaan district and it’s easy to see why. Found at the heart of the city, Jordaan showcases breathtaking narrow houses that are dancing with color, and truly original coffeeshops that highlight the artistic talent to be found in Amsterdam.
Walk along Singelgracht, Lauriergracht, Rozenstraat, Rosengracht, Bloemstraat and Lijnbaansgracht and see some of Jordaan’s loveliest sights. Strolling through the streets and exploring the canals is a must-do adventure when visiting Amsterdam. Don’t do that in Dam Square, but head to Jordaan instead.
5) Visit the Anne Frank House (Option 1)
There are two options for spending your time after visiting Jordaan. One of them is visiting a coffeeshop and the other is visiting Anne Frank House. They’re both completely opposite and may appeal to very different kind of people.
Ann Frank House is pretty close to Jordaan so it makes total sense to visit it if you want to skip the next two items in the itinerary – the Red Light District and the Coffeeshops. You will find more information about this place in my post about Amsterdam’s best museums.
Visiting the Anne Frank Museum during the evening is a great way to avoid crowds. It is a biographical museum that preserves the history of the Jewish wartime diarist, Anne Frank – but of course you knew that already.
5) Visit a Coffeeshop (Option 2)
You can’t go to Amsterdam without enjoying the uplifting and joyful vibrancy of an Amsterdam coffeeshop. There are so many to choose from, and it goes hand-in-hand with indulging in the culture of the city.
One thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be going to your run-of-the-mill kind of coffee shop. The term “Coffeeshop” in Amsterdam is used for a place that’s not really a cafe. One of the reasons for this is that it is legal to buy and consume cannabis in Amsterdam. Be sure to read my ultimate guide to the coffeeshops in Amsterdam, with tips, menus and more.
The Coffeeshops in Amsterdam are licensed to sell marijuana and derivative products to their customers. This is a fun way to really take in the freedom that the city offers you, and it will only add to an authentic travel experience of Amsterdam in two days.
Wondering which coffeeshop to visit? You will cross two really good coffeeshops on your way to the next destination – Paradox, Amnesia Coffeeshop, Grey Area Coffeeshop, 1e Hulp – they’re all good. Pick whichever fits your mood, buy a joint and try it if you want to. Be careful, because sometimes the stuff in Amsterdam can be pretty potent, even for the usual smokers.
Feeling apprehensive about visiting a coffeeshop alone but would still like to visit? Here are a few tours that I have handpicked for you. They will take you to a few coffeeshops and some of them also educate you how to roll your own joint.
- Cultural Ganja Walking Tour of Select Coffeeshops – 2 – 3 hours tour with rolling instructions
- Cultural Ganja Walking Tour of Select Coffeeshops – IN German / Dutch – 2 – 3 hours tour with rolling instructions
- Red Light District Ganja Tour – 2 – 2.5 hour tour that ends in a Karaoke bar
- Private Ganja and Coffeeshop Tour with Snacks – 2 hours
- Weirdest Museums + Ganja Walking Tours – 2 hours
6) Walk Through the Red Light District
Amsterdam is a liberal city, with many varieties of unusual things available to people that are not legal in other places around the world. One of the most famous attractions of Amsterdam is the Red Light District, a place that supports sex workers and allows them to legally do sex trading. It is also a space that celebrates pleasure.
Walking through Amsterdam’s Red Light District is an experience because it is amazing how the entire area completely changes as the evening begins. Almost every window showcases a sex worker and just a few hours back those windows appeared to be usual houses. To live up to its name in the literal sense, the district gets illuminated with red lights too.
One of the things that takes this area onto a whole new level is the amount of work put into providing a seductive show, with a lot of emphasis put on showcasing the girls of the night. You won’t find this kind of thing anywhere else in the world.
A walking tour along The Red Light District will be an eye-opening experience, you will find all sorts of sex-related products, shops and performances that are all sold in a professional manner.
Enjoy the experience of the Red Light District during your time in Amsterdam if you’re here without small children. To get some more out of your Red Light City exploration, we have shortlisted some walking tours for you.
- 2 Hour Walking Tour of the Red Light District: One of the best ways to explore the Red Light District with an experienced guide who will take you around Amsterdam’s most controversial neighborhood.
- Red Light District And Coffeeshop Tour: This 2.5 hour long walking tour combines activities 5 and 6 in a single tour.
- “Skip the Line” Entry Tickets for Red Light Secrets – Museum of Prostitution – save time and skip the line to enter this museum in the Red Light District.
- Ultimate Party Pub Crawl in the Red Light District – this part of Amsterdam isn’t just limited to sex trade but you can party here too. Join this pub crawl if you’re interested in exploring this aspect of this area.
Quick tip (as also mentioned in my Amsterdam travel tips post) – please be respectful to the sex workers and do not photograph them. Photography is prohibited in the Red Light District.
7) Dinner in Amsterdam Centrum (Few Options)
Before enjoying a most unforgettable (although, possibly foggy) night out in Amsterdam, have a bite to eat. Here are a few options in the nearby area where you can enjoy a quick meal before you head out for some drinks. If you’re in Amsterdam with your children and you’re not heading to any bar after dinner, they will enjoy these below mentioned places. In that case, of course this will be your last activity of the day.
Burger bar one of the top places in Amsterdam centrum for a quick bite that’s super delicious. You can get a vegan burger or even one with beef. Get some fries and make sure you try the famous Samurai sauce.
Wok to Wok
Wok to Wok is affordable, quick and delicious. You can get a noodle bowl as per your own taste and preference. I remember getting a meal from here in 2017 and eating is while walking as I enjoyed the view. I went back in 2019 to the same place and had an amazing noodle bowl. This is highly recommended for those who are too excited to be in Amsterdam that they’d prefer not to sit (like me haha).
Thaise Snackbar Bird
Get a quick meal at the Thaise Snackbar Bird. Enjoy authentic Thai food in the Netherlands and have a truly unique mealtime experience. Be sure to have plenty of the delicious lemongrass, chili and fish sauce!
8) Experience Nightlife in Amsterdam – Three Amazing Pubs
The below three options are for those who’d like to relax and drink in a bar, considering the busy day. I also have a post about Amsterdam’s party places, you can go there instead if you have the energy to party. For everyone else, the below three options will suffice.
De Drei Fleschjes
De Drei Fleschjes (or Three Small Bottles) is pretty close to the Red Light District and is one of the best places to drink in Amsterdam and experience the nightlife. This place has also been features in an Anthony Bourdain travel documentary because of the amazing selection of Dutch drinks.
Try some Jenevers (Dutch gins) while you’re here. If you’re lucky, the bartender may also share his knowledge with you about the Jenevers with a little bit of history.
Wynand Fockink is famous, historical and a good place to experience Amsterdam bustling nightlife. It is a distillery where you can also enjoy a guided tour when the peak hours aren’t going on.
Experience the best beer from Dutch breweries at Proeflokaal Arendsnest. This is a nice place to start your knowledge about Dutch beer as you get a little drunk. They have a lovely canal side sitting area and one of the benches is right on the edge.
Day 2: Offbeat Amsterdam + Itinerary Map
So it’s your last day in Amsterdam, it’s time to start exploring some of the more off-the-beaten-track areas this magnificent city has to offer. Be prepared for a day full of wonder, color and beauty as you experience some unusual things to do in Amsterdam. You will spend some of this day in Noord, Amsterdam’s hipster neighborhood.
If riding a bicycle in main Amsterdam is too much for you, you should know that it is much easier in Noord because it isn’t so full. Most of the places in today’s itinerary are right next to each other, so you can do this on foot too.
Here’s a map for you so that you can get an idea:
1) Start Your Day in Waterlooplein Flea Market + Breakfast [Sunday Closed]
Ever seen pictures of a road side flea market in Amsterdam? Most likely they were clicked on Waterloo Square. Waterlooplein is the oldest and the most famous flea market in Amsterdam (and also the entire Netherlands). No, it is not just a place to shop but an opportunity to experience different sights. It is the place to be to soak in the atmosphere of a morning in Amsterdam.
You will see colorful stalls of many different kinds of vintage and unique items in this 130+ year old market. You will find antiques, books, gems, old records, art, vintage cameras, spray cans and much more. Don’t buy souvenirs for your friends from a typical touristy shop, but get something unique from the Waterlooplein Markt.
As per their website, there are chances that one can also find (and so it has happened) an unknown Rembrandt, perhaps a signed Hemingway.. or even a guitar that belonged to John Lennon. Go check out the pictures of the amazing Waterloo Market in the 60s and 70s – the hippie era.
Not just the shops but Waterlooplein Market also has multiple food trucks and you can catch a quick breakfast before heading to your next spot for the day.
Waterlooplein is on the Groot Waterloo Square that’s in the middle of Amsterdam along the Amstel River. It is very close to Amsterdam Centraal station (1 Kilometer walk). It was named after the Battle of Waterloo.
Amsterdam has a lot of amazing flea markets, and you are bound to come across some interesting items. However, Waterlooplein surely stands out because it is the oldest and the most picturesque market in the city. For more information, read my post about the Waterlooplein Market.
1) Start Your Day in Vondelpark (Option 2)
Amsterdam has some of the most breathtaking natural gardens. Explore the magic of nature whilst in a blissful atmosphere at Vondelpark. This urban park is open to the public, and is 47 hectares of pure beauty.
Find lakes thriving with habitats of fish and frogs, and serene old trees swaying in the wind as you walk along a picturesque pathway through the garden.
It’s easy to feel time slip away as you become lost in the magnificent plant and animal life around you. Be sure to pack a few snacks so you can sit and relax whilst you admire the magnificence of the park.
Another amazing alternative would be to visit the Waterlooplein flea market, it is one of the oldest markets in Amsterdam.
Another amazing alternative would be to visit the Waterlooplein flea market, it is one of the oldest markets in Amsterdam.
2) Take a Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord
If you’re starting your day in Waterlooplein flea market, then you can simply walk a kilometer till the Amsterdam Centraal Station to take the free ferry to Amsterdam-Noord.
However, if you’re starting your day in Vondelpark, you can reach Amsterdam Centraal by a tram. Simply walk till Leidseplein or Huygensstraat or Bilderijksstraat and hop on to a tram to Amsterdam Centraal. You can also cycle there.
From Amsterdam Centraal, it is super simple to reach Amsterdam-Noord. Just reach Amsterdam Centraal and hop on to a ferry to Noord. This ferry is free and you can bring your bicycles along with you and enjoy the ride with an amazing atmosphere.
Amsterdam-Noord is like a breath of fresh air when compared to the crowded city centre. I have even published a detailed guide to Amsterdam Noord with a lot of information. Take the opportunity to sightsee as you pass by hip cafes and alternate buildings.
Compared to the mainstream vibe found in central Amsterdam, Noord offers a stress-free and charming atmosphere, making it a gem to see during your trip. It’s also a nice way to break from the business of Amsterdam Centraal and travel in a quieter part of the city.
If you haven’t already figured it out, Noord stands for North in Dutch, so obviously Amsterdam-Noord is geographically on North of Amsterdam.
3) Visit the A’Dam Tower for the View [+ Extreme Swing]
Where to get the best view of Amsterdam City? Get on top of the A’Dam Lookout Tower. A’dam Tower is barely a minute away from where you get off the ferry. Ride on the tower’s gorgeous glass elevator and take your sightseeing 20-stories up.
At the top of the tower, you will find Moon Bay and Madam restaurant with amazing views over the city. You will also be amazed when you see Noord’s nearby alternate buildings from this tower.
If you’re feeling brave and want to try something completely out-of-the-box, you can enjoy a few swings in a spellbinding over-the-edge swing. This is not for the faint-hearted, but it is well worth overcoming any fear you have of height to enjoy a one-of-a-kind view of Amsterdam.
Here’s a quick video of San and I enjoying this swing on top of A’dam Tower.
The entry to A’dam Tower is 13 Euros and the swing costs 5 Euros.
3) Explore and Eat Lunch in De Ceuvel – It’s LOVELY
De Ceuvel is a must-see sustainable cafe in Amsterdam. It has been transformed from a site where old houseboats once stood, and now serve as a sustainable workspace. The result is absolutely stunning.
On my visit here, I ate some seriously delicious vegan meals. I still remember their lentil soup, which was so much like daal, sweet potato fries, bread with daal paste on top and salad with seeds and nuts. The portions are massive.
This eco-friendly cafe is not only a great place to get a bite to eat, but it is an awesome place to simply hang out. There are so many amazing places to sit and get stuck for hours. You can sit next to the water or inside if the weather doesn’t suit you.
De Cuvel prides itself on providing conscious food made from its own organic gardens. Check out the composting toilets, solar panels, stroll the wooden looped pathways and take a ride from the rope swing.
I have so much to write about De Ceuvel that I think I will eventually publish another post only dedicated to this place. Lunch in Ceuvel is an experience to be had in Amsterdam, and you can be sure that it will be memorable.
4) See the Street Art in NDSM Werf
Amsterdam is a hub for creative minds to flourish, and artwork of all kinds is showcased everywhere you go.
One of the best places to see the talent of the artists in Amsterdam is NDSM Werf. It is is home to cultural development, liberal artists and lively social movements that will inspire you.
NDSM Werf was once a shipyard but has been completely transformed into a “free alternative art exhibition”. You will not just see the paintings but also transformed old school apparatuses (possibly from the shipyard) that look like they belong to a science fiction movie. In a way, NDSM reminded me of Berlin’s East Side gallery – except the latter is a wall but the former is a hall and all the artwork inside it.
You won’t be seeing the usual graffiti tags here, instead, you will find incredible murals, brightly colored characters, and art that tells a story with meaning. The NDSM Werf is a platform for artists to have a voice, and you will find massive buildings covered in passionate artwork.
One thing I love about the Netherlands is that most of the places and even attractions are bicycle friendly. Same is the case with NDSM Werf – you can take your bicycles inside and explore every corner at your own pace.
I still remember a funny “Barbie Peep Show” window that we saw in NDSM Werf. It made us laugh so much! I have so much to write about NDSM Werf, perhaps I will publish a separate post that’s just about this place.
5) Relax by the beach in Pllek by the IJ [River]
Right along the IJ in the NDSM neighborhood, Pllek is a beautiful place to laze on a beach. (IJ by the way is the name of the river that runs through Amsterdam and is commonly just referred to as “the IJ”). Pllek’s urban beach surely has smooth golden sands, but no swimming water. You can sunbathe, drink as the sun goes down, and grab a mouthwatering meal at the Pllek restaurant.
Pllek by the IJ is undoubtedly one of the most happening places to be in Amsterdam. Of course, it is a great place to meet new people and have a blast.
6) Say Bye to Amsterdam with an Evening Canal CruiseUnless you’re staying in Amsterdam-Noord, most likely you will have to take the free ferry back to Amsterdam Centraal to reach your hotel. Why not say bye to Amsterdam with one last hour of total relaxation as you sit on a boat and cruise through the canals.
A canal cruise in Amsterdam on a boat is very different when it is dark because the entire city glows. The narrow bridges and the window panes get illuminated, story book lamps light up and the entire Amsterdam looks spectacular. Let Amsterdam’s typical picture postcard looks charm you for one last time.
If it is your first time traveling in the Northern Hemisphere in Summer months, please note that it may not get dark until 10 at night, so check the sunset time before you book your tour.
Evening boat tours get booked pretty fast or you may have to spend some time in the queue. Here are two options that I have handpicked for you, please pick one that depart from a place where you can easily reach after your day. (or which is close to your hotel)
- 1.5 Hours Evening Canal Cruise – This departs from here, which is close to the Vondelpark and Hard Rock Cafe. Book your time slot in advance as per the season.
- Small Open Canal Boat Cruise – I prefer small and open canal boats. I had a horrible experience with a big boat with glass windows but a completely different experience with a smaller boat that was open from the top. Of course, you have to consider the weather too. This boat leaves from here, which is in Jordaan.
Getting Around in Amsterdam & Public Transport
Amsterdam can be explored on a bicycle, by boat, on trams, or by simply walking from one place to another. Each one of these ways of getting around has it’s own charm. Bicycle is fast, will take you literally everywhere in Amsterdam because the city is bicycle friendly. Walking is slower and you can click as many photos and videos without having to stop your bicycle. In reality, you can’t really stop your bicycle anywhere.
Traveling on a boat will give you a different perspective of Amsterdam. You can just sit back and relax and enjoy the view as you explore Amsterdam from a boat. Traveling on trams makes a lot of sense if you don’t have a bicycle. After all, you may get tired of walking and would like to rest a little.
Here’s my one little tip to help you save money in Amsterdam. Get yourself an I Amsterdam card that you can use for public transport as well as one boat trip. Moreover, this card can also be used in most of the museums in Amsterdam.
Getting this card makes sense if you know you will be using the public transport and visiting at least 2-3 attractions that are included in this card.
Amsterdam Hotels and Hostels
Our website has a detailed post about where to stay in Amsterdam that contains not just top hotels but also hostels, campgrounds and houseboats, be sure to check it out for more information. Below are two places to stay in Amsterdam that we highly recommend:
- Pulitzer Amsterdam: (Check deals on Booking.com) This luxury hotel is in Amsterdam city centre but not directly in Dam Square, so you’re in a quieter area but still in the middle of everything. (Read reviews on TripAdvisor)
- ClinkNoord: (Check deals on Booking.com) ClickNoord is an amazing hostel in Amsterdam’s hipster neighborhood – Noord. (Read reviews on TripAdvisor)
Final thoughts on 2 days in Amsterdam
You don’t need a lot of days in Amsterdam to utterly fall in love with its thriving energy, friendly atmosphere, and the liberal ways it promotes. Obviously, the more time you spend here is better (as with most destinations), but it may not always be possible.
There are really a lot of amazing things to do in Amsterdam and even in my multiple visits I haven’t done everything that I want to. Don’t stress yourself in trying to check everything off your Amsterdam list. Do a little, relax a little, eat a little more and smile a lot because you’re lucky to be traveling.
There is no place quite like Amsterdam, and you will find yourself wanting to return time and time again to embrace the city’s many fascinating and awe-inspiring attractions.
Amsterdam is a place full of new experiences, and inspiring places. With this guide, you will be sure to make the best out of your 2 days in Amsterdam and have an extremely memorable time.
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