Here’s how to spend the perfect 2 days in Amsterdam. After multiple visits to this city, I am finally sharing my Amsterdam itinerary that you would want to steal.

Often called the City of Sins, Amsterdam is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. After all, the city’s narrow buildings, intricate canal system, and pretty bridges leave a lasting impression. To make things better, most of these things are often adorned with flowers.

Amsterdam is the place where many Euro trips begin and end and is one of the top places to visit in the Netherlands. A lot of first-timers 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 other than the Dutch capital.

The Netherlands is an extremely tolerant country so a trip to Amsterdam will surely offer an opportunity for new experiences.

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.

Amsterdam's canals, narrow houses and boats
Amsterdam’s canals, bridges, boats, and narrow houses

Amsterdam 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 its culture. 

Amsterdam 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. So, how many days in Amsterdam should you spend? At least two! (More is better but expensive) 

Amsterdam 2 Day itinerary

Bicycles on a bridge in Amsterdam
Bicycles on a bridge in Amsterdam

As an Amsterdam city expert, I’ll share the best way to spend two days in Amsterdam, weekdays or weekends. (Btw, I also have a weekend-specific guide for Amsterdam, check it out).

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 Netherlands. Enjoy the best 2 days in Amsterdam, and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the city. 

Table of Contents

How to approach this itinerary? Amsterdam offers many unique experiences, but not every experience will work well for every kind of traveler.  Exactly for this reason, I have suggested alternatives for some activities to suit different tastes.

  • Family travelers should avoid the Red Light District at night but may enjoy one of the smaller museums instead. Read my guide for exploring Amsterdam with Children.
  • 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 (Canals, Museums, Boats & Red Light District)

Flowers, canals, narrow buildings and bicycles - typical Amsterdam
Flowers, canals, narrow buildings, and bicycles – typical Amsterdam

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 (around 9 a.m.)

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. Just visit it once, experience the madness, and check it off your list.

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 Dam Square, you will see the Royal Palace of Amsterdam on one side and the National Monument on the other. Most of the major attractions of Amsterdam are right here or just a short walk away.

Royal Palace of Amsterdam in Dam Square - 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary
Royal Palace of Amsterdam in Dam Square – 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary

Take a round of Dam Square with your bicycle or walk to see the madness. You will see people busking and every day 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 a total shoutfest. To make things funnier, there was also a Hare Rama Hare Krishna group that joined the party.

Oudezijds Achterburgwal, De Wallen
Oudezijds Achterburgwal, De Wallen

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.

Take a quick walk and see the below spots that are a short walk from each other:

  • Oude Kerk – the oldest church building in Amsterdam. There’s also a cafe inside called De Koffieschenkerij.
  • Damrak – the famous spot for epic photos where you see the narrow “dancing houses”.
  • De Beurspassage – a beautiful passage with Middle-Eastern kind of aesthetics
  • Oudezijds Achterburgwal – it is a lovely spot because it is different from most of the other canal sides in Amsterdam because here on one side there isn’t a street along the narrow buildings. I did mention it in my Amsterdam Instagram Spots post too!

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, then head to De Negen Straatjes.

De Negen Straatjes (the 9 Streets)

Admire Amsterdam's Narrow Houses - Amsterdam itinerary
Admire Amsterdam’s Narrow Houses – Amsterdam itinerary

De Negen Straatjes or the 9 Streets is a chic neighborhood of Amsterdam within the main canal belt with 9 super pretty streets.

Amsterdam’s canal ring dates back to the 17th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can’t see everything but some spots to get a gist of it.

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.

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’s a tip for riding a bicycle for the first time in the Netherlands. The bike lanes are red in color, so stay on them and follow the rules. Observe other cyclists when in doubt.

Also, some Dutch bikes don’t really have brakes on the handles but they have pedal brakes instead.

If you’re not used to riding on such a bicycle, make sure you ask for one that has breaks on the handles. I have seen many tourists fall because of not being able to brake quickly enough.

On the other hand, you just need to get used to pedal breaks and once you do, you will be able to push these brakes faster than the handle breaks because they are intuitive.

Here are some of the bicycle tours in and around Amsterdam that we recommend:

Not in the 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, and 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 in my 1 day Amsterdam itinerary post. 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.

2) Hop on a Boat for a Canal Cruise (Optional) (10 a.m.)

View of Amsterdam's Canals from a small open boat
Canal Cruise in Amsterdam on a private open boat by Pure Amsterdam

I have made this point an optional one because a bicycle tour or a walking tour in Amsterdam is not something that everyone can do or enjoy. There is another really cool way of exploring Amsterdam – a boat ride on the canals.

You will be spending most of your time on the streets of Amsterdam as you move from one sight to another, so 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. After all, what’s better than cruising the canal ring that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site?

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.

View of a canal in Amsterdam from a small boat
Private Boat Ride in Amsterdam – perhaps the best canal cruise experience

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 more open boats are better when it isn’t raining. Check the Google map coordinates of the starting point of each boat tour before booking.

  • 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: Tour on a boat with glass windows. Booking this tour only makes sense when it is raining and you can’t ride the open canal.

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.

3) Walk (or Cycle) to the Floating Flower MarketBloemenmarkt (11 am)

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 add in the charm of a floating market, with canal houses on the other side of the water.

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. To be honest, it doesn’t look like it is actually floating but the shops are set up on barges that are on the water, hence the name “floating”.

Do you enjoy gardening? You can buy tulip bulbs from here and grow them in your garden. And yes you are allowed to carry these on an airplane.

Walking to this famous attraction is one of the best ways to enjoy the sensations of the city. Sit on a canal-side bench and simply enjoy the beauty.

Amsterdam's floating flower market - Bloemenmarkt_
Amsterdam’s floating flower market – Bloemenmarkt_

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, and 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. 

Lunch in Amsterdam (12 pm)

After visiting Amsterdam many times, I can proudly say that I have had many different kinds of meals there and I’m in a good position to suggest what to eat.

I have listed a few options, including some typical Dutch roadside food and some chilled-out restaurants where you can sit outside. I have also included one extremely casual cafe/bakery.

Eating Dutch Herring in Amsterdam next to the Canals

Eat Dutch Herring at Frens Haringhandel

Want to have a typical roadside Dutch meal? Walk to Frens Haringhandel in the vicinity and eat Herring exactly the way the 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 a “soused herring”. It doesn’t taste raw because it is soaked in vinegar and eaten with pickles and onions on top. It’s the perfect high-protein low-fat lunch in Amsterdam!

For €3.50, 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.

Frens Haringhandel - Eat Herring in Amsterdam
Frens Haringhandel – Eat Herring in Amsterdam

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)

Outdoor Seating in Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam
Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

So you have a thing for pretty outdoor cafes and restaurants? Then this one is for you.

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. Since then, I have been visiting it every year. Just check out this picture, isn’t this one of the most Instagrammable places in Amsterdam?

If you’re stopping at Kapitein Zeppos, then be sure to get a table outside to enjoy this place to the fullest. Don’t worry about the rain because they have massive umbrellas. The beauty of this restaurant is it’s plant-filled outdoors and the leaves look super fresh when it rains.

Back in 2017, I felt that the portions here weren’t massive but I got to eat some delicious food. I revisited it in 2023 and was super happy with the portions – not just for food but also for Aperol Spritz.

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.  

I 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 can 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. If you are visiting Amsterdam with children, then visiting this place makes a lot of sense.

4) Explore Jordaan – Quick Walk along the canals & Bridges (1 pm)

View from the Bridge in Amsterdam Flowers Canal Narrow Buildings in Jordaan
View from the Bridge in Amsterdam Flowers Canal Narrow Buildings in Jordaan

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. 

I’m sure you know already that Amsterdam is commonly referred to as the ‘Venice of the North”. One trip to the romantic streets of Jordaan district and it’s easy to see why. 

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. It is the perfect place for a date on a bench and it is the most romantic part of Amsterdam for couples.

Jordaan in Amsterdam - my favourite place to walk
Jordaan in Amsterdam – my favorite place to walk

Unlike the main center, you may just find a few empty bridges in Jordaan that are perfect for a picture without crowds.

If you like clicking pretty pictures, then Jordaan has many amazing photo spots. In fact, I list some of them in my Amsterdam Instagram guide along with the location coordinates, check it out.

I normally recommend spending at least half a day in Jordaan but that’s if you have 3 days in Amsterdam or even more. For a weekend in Amsterdam or a quick visit spending just 30-60 mins in Jordaan are enough to admire the beauty.

The Narrow Streets of Jordaan, Amsterdam
The Streets of Jordaan, Amsterdam

Walk along Singelgracht, Lauriergracht, Rozenstraat, Rosengracht, Bloemstraat, and Lijnbaansgracht and see some of Jordaan’s loveliest sights. If you are lucky, then you will find yourself in a hofje (a courtyard) with completely different surroundings than you would expect.

Jordaan looks the best when it is dark. If you still have energy at the end of the day today then please come out for a walk here to fall in love with Amsterdam. It is one of the best things that you can do on a date here, and it is free!

Strolling through the streets and exploring the canals is a must-do adventure when visiting Amsterdam. Don’t do that in De Wallen, but head to Jordaan instead.

5) Find a Roadside Bar / Cafe with a View in Joordan

Drinking Limoncello Spritz at Café Het Bruine Paard in Jordaan
Drinking Limoncello Spritz at Café Het Bruine Paard in Jordaan

Find a cafe or a bar on the street in Jordaan that overlooks the canals and bridges. Sip coffee, beer, or something more interesting. We found Café Het Bruine Paard in Jordaan where we drank Limoncello Spritz (a more citrusy version of Aperol Spritz).

For a traveler like me, it is fun to sit down and enjoy a drink (not necessarily alcoholic) while I gaze at the view. Moments like these make me happy instead of always rushing from one spot to another.

There are a few options for how to spend your time after walking in Jordaan, and they will appeal to different kinds of travelers.

  • Option one – visit the Anne Frank House.
  • Option two – visit Amsterdam’s famous museums, they are all in the museum square.
  • Option three – head to a coffeeshop.
  • Option four – visit Heineken Experience.

So I have mentioned two versions of point 6 below, just pick the option you’d like.

6.1) Visit the Museums – Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum (3-5 PM)

Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam
Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

Ann Frank House is in Jordaan so wherever you are, it will be just a short walk to arrive here. If this interests you then it makes total sense to skip the next two items in the itinerary – Coffeeshops. You will find more information about this place in my post about Amsterdam’s best museums.

It is a biographical museum that preserves the history of the Jewish wartime diarist, Anne Frank – but of course, you knew that already.

Visiting the Anne Frank Museum during the afternoon is a great way to avoid crowds. It is open from 9:00 to 22:00 so you can visit it as late as you want.

Ann Frank Haus ticket prices in 2023 are:

Adult€ 16.00
10-17 years€ 7.00
0-9 years€ 1.00
Ann Frank Haus Ticket Prices

When you book a ticket, you will also need to pick a time slot. Thankfully this way you don’t have to stand in a queue. Even if you see one, it will be a fast-moving one.

Set aside one hour to spend at Ann Frank Haus.

Let’s talk now about the main museums of Amsterdam in the Museum Quarter. Every other museum apart from Anne Frank Haus that you’d want to visit in Amsterdam is right here in one area. After spending your time in Jordaan, get on a tram to the Museumplein or arrive here on a bicycle.

Here are the prices for Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum for the rest of 2023 and starting 2024. Of course, there are many more museums but these are the ones that people usually want to visit.

RijksmuseumVan Gogh Museum
Adults (18+)€ 22.50€ 20
I Amsterdam Card Holders & ChildrenFreeFree
EYCA Members€ 11.25
Stundent Card Holders€ 10 (2023)
€ 11 (From Jan 1, 2024)
Opening Hours9 am – 5 pm9 am – 6 pm

Do you know what’s the best time to visit the museums in Amsterdam? Just an hour or so before they close.

Remember, after June 2021 (post-COVID), you need to pre-book a slot in every single museum and attraction in Amsterdam, you can’t enter without one. You can sometimes prebook on the same day too when the slots free up.

So, if you’re thinking you have to stand in the queue to buy the tickets if you’re entering late, then you’re wrong. Everyone prebooks a slot and stands in line to enter.

The Night Watch by Rembrandt in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
The Night Watch by Rembrandt in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

If you read a tip on a website saying “Visit Amsterdam’s museums early to avoid standing in a long queue”, then you can be sure that’s old information. The line may appear long but it moves fast because someone from the staff moves around to check the pre-booking confirmation.

The Famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum is like the Louvre of Amsterdam, so it is definitely worth a visit if you want to experience everything that Amsterdam is famous for. The most amazing thing about visiting museums in Amsterdam is that they are just right next to each other, so you can do a bunch of them together.

I highly recommend you get an I Amsterdam City Card if you’re planning on visiting Amsterdam. Entry to a museum is usually EUR 22 – 20, a boat trip is around EUR 17, and bicycle rental is EUR 15 – but the I Amsterdam card covers almost every museum, attraction, canal tour on the boat, A’dam lookout, and internal transport so you will end up saving a lot of money.

The I Amsterdam card is really the best thing you can keep in your pocket to experience Amsterdam fully. The card isn’t cheap so it only makes sense to get it if you’re visiting at least 2 attractions and doing the canal boat tour.

It is worth noting that there is ALWAYS a queue of people outside the Rijksmuseum but it moves fast – and the queue isn’t that long in the afternoon.

On my recent visit to Amsterdam, I realized that even with the I Amsterdam card, one needs to go online and reserve a spot for most of the museums (can be done on the I Amsterdam app).

This is a good thing because they restrict the number of people that can enter at one time. 

Moco Museum – visiting Museumplein on my rented bicycle

Keep in mind that you can’t click any picture in the famous Rijksmuseum except in the library, which is stunning.

After the Rijksmuseum, go ahead and visit the Van Gogh Museum, Moco, and a lot of many museums that are in the same square. I have a post that’s just about Amsterdam’s many museums, you should definitely read it.

Dinner near the Museum Square after visiting (6:30 pm)

Considering the fact that you are going to visit museums and you will most likely have the I Amsterdam city card with you (to save money on multiple museums), I have included three amazing restaurants that are close to the museums and will offer you a discount with the I Amsterdam city card. (you may need to reserve a spot)

Wagamama Max (Asian, Lively, and Casual)

Amsterdam has an amazing food scene and it isn’t just limited to Dutch food but also international food. Wagamama is a Japanese-inspired restaurant with a super lively and casual atmosphere where you will absolutely love the food.

De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis (Historic, Dutch)

The name means “hope for the black whale” and it is a historic riverside restaurant that I missed during my visit because I thought it was going to be very expensive. You can sit on the terrace here and enjoy the famous Dutch food.

Pasta E Basta (Italian, Romantic, and Fancy)

Isn’t Italian food amazingly satisfying? You will find that and more at Pasta E Basta where even the staff will sing for you. It is Amsterdam’s romantic restaurant and I recommend you visit it for dinner for an epic wine and food session.

6.2) Visit a Coffeeshop or Heineken Experience (3-5 pm)

A Coffeeshop in Amsterdam

If you picked the bottom two options before the Jordaan point, right before point 6.1, then you decided to visit a Coffeeshop and/or Heineken Experience.

So let’s talk about the coffeeshop first. If you don’t know this already, it is my duty to inform you that Amsterdam is famous for its Coffeeshops. Coffeeshops are not “coffee shops”.

Amsterdam’s “Coffeeshops” are where marijuana and marijuana-related products are sold and sometimes also normal cafe items. While “coffee shops” are the regular cafes.

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. A lot of people visit Amsterdam from different countries to experience Amsterdam’s Coffeeshop culture.

I won’t judge you for wanting to indulge in the culture of the city. 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. 

And no, Amsterdam’s Coffeeshops are not closed to travelers. I personally visited one in 2023 to check in and saw a lot of English-speaking travelers apart from a few obvious locals.

A pack of Reefers from one of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam
A pack of Reefers from one of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam

Wondering which coffeeshop to visit? You will cross a few really good coffeeshops on your way to the next destination, they are all good.

  • Paradox,
  • Amnesia Coffeeshop,
  • Grey Area Coffeeshop,
  • 1e Hulp.

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 on how to roll your own joint.

Heineken Experience Amsterdam
Heineken Experience Amsterdam

Now let’s talk about the Heineken Experience.

If you love beer, then you probably know already that the famous Heineken Beer comes from the Netherlands. In that case, you will totally enjoy visiting the first-built Heineken brewery

They run tours till 1630 that also include 2 glasses of cold beer per person. The last few tours are definitely the busier ones. So if you are following this itinerary then you will need to book the 1630 tour. It will last for 1 – 1.5 hours.

Believe it or not, locals frown at this place but travelers love it. In today’s day, the mantra is “no judgment”. So what if something is touristy? If you have fun doing it then why not?

Dinner in De Pijp (Option 2) 6:30 pm

If you have picked the second option in the itinerary to visit a coffee shop and then walk through the red light district, then make your way to the center. That’s where the Red Light District is and a walk-through is more interesting when it gets dark.

So, after spending an hour or a few in a coffee shop or Heineken Experience, I’m sure you are hungry. Before enjoying a most unforgettable (although, possibly foggy) night out in Amsterdam, have a bite to eat.

Wake me up when I'm famous sign in De Pijp Amsterdam
Wake me up when I’m famous sign in Amsterdam

Here are a few options in the nearby area where you can enjoy a quick meal before you head out for some drinks. De Pijp is close to Heineken Experience and has a lot of restaurants.

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.

Graham’s Kitchen

It is a cozy restaurant with European comfort food. There are healthy options too and an outdoor seating.

Vegan Junk Food Bar

It is a casual place with creative options for delicious vegan dishes. It is one of those successful began places that even meat lovers enjoy.

Hannekes Boom

This is not in De Pijp but in the center. Hannekes Boom (or Hannakes Boot) is perhaps the most famous restaurant in Amsterdam City because of its lovely outdoor seating. It is super lively too. It is a waterfront restaurant with super interesting recycled decor and furniture. 

After eating a nicely filling dinner, it is time to enjoy a fun walk to the center. You can also get on a tram to Dam Square if you don’t want to walk. 

7) Walk through the Red Light District (not with Children)

A Canal and Red Light District in Amsterdam - Travel Tips for Amsterdam
Red Light District in Amsterdam – Travel Tips for Amsterdam

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.

Amsterdam's Red light district during the day
Amsterdam’s Red light district during the day with Red Light Secrets

One of the things that takes this area to 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.

Walking around in the Red light district at night - Amsterdam Itinerary
Walking around in the Red light district at night – Amsterdam Itinerary

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.

Quick tip (as also mentioned in my Amsterdam travel tips post) – Photography is prohibited in the Red Light District.  Please be respectful to the sex workers and do not photograph them.

8) Experience Nightlife in Amsterdam

Jordaan in Amsterdam - my favourite place to walk
Jordaan in Amsterdam – my favorite place to walk

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 Sluyswacht

My drink in De Sluyswacht, Amsterdam
My drink in De Sluyswacht, Amsterdam

De Sluyswacht bar is a legendary Amsterdam lopsided bar with a view of water on three sides. It is a short walk away from De Wallen (the red light district).

The good thing is that you have to get out of De Wallen and go through a small residential area to reach De Sluyswacht. That’s why the crowd isn’t the typical first-time Amsterdam visitors that you will see in De Wallen but a lot of locals and frequent visitors. The atmosphere is super casual and fun!

We were lucky to a few seats next to the water and we shared our table with two other girls, which we didn’t mind.

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 featured 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

Wynand Fockink is famous, historical, and a good place to experience Amsterdam’s bustling nightlife. It is a distillery where you can also enjoy a guided tour when the peak hours aren’t going on. 

Proeflokaal Arendsnest

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. If you are looking for a typical Brown Bar, then this is it.

Day 2: Offbeat Amsterdam + Itinerary Map (Viewpoint + Beach Bar + Flea Market + Hip Neighborhood)

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) Breakfast – Albert Cuyp Market OR Waterlooplein (9am)

Why have breakfast in a “normal” cafe when you can enjoy it in a famous Amsterdam market from a food truck? That’s why you will start your second day in Waterlooplein or Albert Cuyp Street Market.

Based on where your hotel is, pick a place that’s closer to you. Keep in mind that Waterlooplein Market is closed on Sundays.

Darras - an awesome coffee stand at Albert Cuyp Market
Darras – an awesome coffee stand at Albert Cuyp Market

Albert Cuyp market is on Albert Cuyp Street and I actually like it more than Waterlooplein. Albert Cuyp market is bigger, has so many more options of street food, coffee and whatnot.

A lot of locals visit the Albert Cuyp market but Waterlooplein is usually for tourists. You can find literally anything here – home furnishings, plants, clothes, jewelry, fresh produce, fish, and even a bicycle rental that’s more affordable than the rest of Amsterdam.

Go to Darras coffee truck and walk a little further for sandwiches, waffles, pancakes, and tacos on Albert Cuyp Street.

My breakfast at De GroenteMeesters Amsterdam
My breakfast at De GroenteMeesters Amsterdam

If you don’t want street food but a nice restaurant that’s famous for breakfast, then good news – I have personally tried De GroenteMeesters and they have delicious breakfast options. It is just 10 steps away from Albert Cuyp street so you can still experience the market.

As compared to Albert Cuyp Market, Waterlooplein is a bit different.

Ever seen pictures of a roadside 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 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 while you grab your quick bite of coffee.

Waterlooplein Market in Amsterdam - 2 days in Amsterdam
Waterlooplein Market in Amsterdam – 2 days 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. 

Waterlooplein Markt in Amsterdam with canal and Munttoren in the background
Waterlooplein Markt in Amsterdam with canal and Munttoren in the background

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 market in Amsterdam
Waterlooplein market in Amsterdam

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.

2) Vondelpark or Oostpark or Sarphatipark (10:30)

Sarphatipark in Amsterdam
Sarphatipark in Amsterdam

If the thought of walking through a flea market before breakfast is too much for you then visit one of the parks that Amsterdam is famous for. Amsterdam has some of the most breathtaking natural gardens.

If your room is near Vondelpark then visit it, that’s the largest park. 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.

Of course, the most famous one is Vondelpark, but there are other parks too – like Oostpark, Sarphatipark, Beatrixpark, Rembrandtpark, Erasmuspark, etc. If you were in Albert Cuyp market then the park next to you is Sarphatipark.

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.

3) Free Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord (12 pm)

Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord - Amsterdam Itinerary
Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord – Amsterdam Itinerary

Next, you need to arrive at Amsterdam Central Station to take the free ferry to Amsterdam-Noord. No matter where you are, it will be a short bike ride or a short walk away from you. You can always take a tram or a metro with your I Amsterdam card or GVB card.

Most likely you have seen Amsterdam Centraal already – whether you arrive here on a flight to Schiphol airport or bus to Sloterdijk or just a direct train.

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 center. 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. 

Outside A'Dam Tower in Amsterdam
Outside A’Dam Tower in Amsterdam

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 North of Amsterdam.

4) A’Dam Lookout for the View + Extreme Swing (1230 pm)

Extreme Swing on A'Dam Tower - 2 Days in Amsterdam
Extreme Swing on A’Dam Tower – 2 Days in Amsterdam

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. 

Moon Bar on A'Dam Tower - Amsterdam itinerary
Moon Bar on A’Dam Tower – Amsterdam itinerary

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 heights 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.

So, does that look like something you’d want to do? If yes, then note that the entry to A’dam Tower is €14.50 in 2023 but may rise to €16 in 2024. The swing costs € 6 on top.

Lunch in Cafe De Ceuvel (2 pm)

An old houseboat transformed into a sitting area in De Ceuvel - Amsterdam
An old houseboat transformed into a sitting area in De Ceuvel – Amsterdam

De Ceuvel is a must-see sustainable cafe in Amsterdam. It has been transformed from a site where old houseboats once stood, and now serves 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.

Bread in De Ceuvel Cafe in Amsterdam-Noord
Bread in De Ceuvel Cafe in Amsterdam-Noord

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. 

Cafe de Ceuvel in NDSM Amsterdam
Cafe de Ceuvel in NDSM Amsterdam

De Cuvel prides itself on providing conscious food made from its own organic gardens. Check out the composting toilets, and 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 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. 

5) NDSM Werf for Art Installations (3:30 pm)

Let me be Myself - Ann Frank Mural in STRAAT, Amsterdam NDSM
Let me be Myself – Ann Frank Mural in STRAAT, Amsterdam NDSM

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 (or NDSM Wharf). It is home to cultural development, liberal artists, and lively social movements that will inspire you.

With my rented bicycle in Amsterdam-Noord
NDSM Werf – Amsterdam Instagram Spots

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.

San with his bicycle admiring the artwork inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam
San with his bicycle admiring the artwork inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

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.

Cycling inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam
Cycling inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

One thing I love about the Netherlands is that most of the places and even attractions are bicycle-friendly. The 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! Here’s a separate post if you want to know about NDSM Werf.

6) Get a Drink at Pllek by the IJ (River) at 4:30 pm

Riverside Pllek in NDSM Amsterdam
Riverside Pllek in NDSM Amsterdam

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”). Both NDSM Werf and Pllek are 10 steps next to each other so you have to visit them both!

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.

Sipping Beer on the beach in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord
Sipping Beer on the beach in Pllek, Amsterdam-Noord

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. 

Get on the NDSM – Pontsteider Ferry to Get Back

In order to get back to Amsterdam Centrum from Noord, you will need to get on a ferry again to cross the IJ River.

You don’t need to walk all the way to A’DAM tower for the ferry but take one from the NDSM pier. Get on the Pontsteiger – NDSM ferry, that’s free too.

7) Walk on Skinny Bridge for Sunset

Magere Brug or the skinny bridge in Amsterdam
Magere Brug or the skinny bridge in Amsterdam

After spending a few hours in Amsterdam-Noord, make your way back to the center. Remember, you have to get back to the ferry point by the river, get on the ferry, and come towards Amsterdam Central train station.

When you’re back in Amsterdam, then indulge in a leisurely stroll and head to Magere Brug, a.k.a., the skinny bridge to see the sunset. Sunset time in summer can be as late as 10 p.m., so check the weather app in advance.

The skinny bridge is on Amstel River and you can see how the sky changes colors as the sun goes down. There are many restaurants all around so you can also at a later point grab dinner in one of the nearby places.

Amstelhaven for Dinner and Drinks

Cocktails at Amstelhaven
Cocktails at Amstelhaven

There is a riverside bar and restaurant and bar next to Amstel River and Skinny Bridge where you can enjoy a few peaceful moments on your last evening in Amsterdam.

This is a good option for those who already did a canal cruise on the first day and don’t have to do it right now. Instead, enjoy some peaceful moments as you gaze at the reflection of pretty buildings on the Amstel River as you sit at Amstelhaven for dinner.

8) Say Bye to Amsterdam with an Evening Canal Cruise

Night time in Amsterdam
Nighttime in Amsterdam

Unless you’re staying in Amsterdam-Noord, most likely you will have to take the free ferry back to Amsterdam Centrum to reach your hotel.

If you haven’t done the canal cruise, then now is an amazing opportunity. Why not say bye to Amsterdam with one last hour of total relaxation as you sit on a boat and cruise through the canals?

Bonus: if you haven’t eaten dinner then pick a cruise with dinner and drinks option.

Amsterdam looks so pretty at night - Amsterdam itinerary
Amsterdam looks so pretty at night – Amsterdam itinerary

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, storybook lamps light up and the entire Amsterdam looks spectacular.  Let Amsterdam’s typical picture postcard cityscape charm you for one last time.

If it is your first time traveling in the Northern Hemisphere in the Summer months, please note that it may not get dark until 10 at night, so check the sunset time before you book your tour.

Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night - the BEST 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam
Amsterdam Looks Stunning at Night – the BEST 2 day itinerary for Amsterdam

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 departs 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.

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 a 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. 

Amsterdam Seagull, Bicycles, canal and buildings
Amsterdam Seagull, Bicycles, canal and buildings

Discovering the city on your bicycle is an adventure, and you will find that the roads in Amsterdam even have lanes exclusively for bicycles.

Bicycle is fast, and 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. You may not be able to carry a lot of luggage on your bicycle and you shouldn’t ride one at all if you’ve had a bit of alcohol. 

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.

Amsterdam Public Transport info

Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam
Albert Cuyp Market in Amsterdam

Amsterdam’s Trams and metros are super convenient, but yes you have to walk a little but not too much considering how amazing the connectivity is. 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.

Inside a Train in Amsterdam - tips for traveling to Amsterdam
Inside a Train in Amsterdam – tips for traveling to Amsterdam

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.

My I Amsterdam City card

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 transportation, bicycle rental as well and one boat trip. Moreover, this card can also be used in most of the museums + attractions like the A’Dam lookout in Amsterdam.

Getting this card makes sense if you know you will be using 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 a few places to stay in Amsterdam that we highly recommend: 

  • Pulitzer Amsterdam: (Check deals on This luxury hotel is in Amsterdam city center but not directly in Dam Square, so you’re in a quieter area but still in the middle of everything. (Read reviews on TripAdvisor)
  • PH Hotel Oosteinde / Boutique Hotel Oosteinde: I stayed here and 2023 and enjoyed it. The location is amazing because it is far from the noise of Dam Square but close to the canals and the De Pijp neighborhood. Book this hotel here.
  • Generator Amsterdam: (Check deals on Generator Amsterdam is my favorite place to stay in Amsterdam. It is actually a hostel but they also have private rooms. It is clean, spacious, affordable, and close to everything. It is next to Oostpark, and you can walk to the nearest tram station in just 1 minute.
  • ClinkNoord: (Check deals on ClickNoord is an amazing hostel on the other side of the IJ River in  Noord. (Read reviews on TripAdvisor)

Final thoughts on 2 days in Amsterdam

You don’t need a lot of days in Amsterdam to 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. 

Amsterdam Itinerary - How to spend 2 days in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Itinerary – How to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

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