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. Also, check out my guide to spending the best weekend in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam's canals, narrow houses and boats

Amsterdam’s canals, bridges, boats and narrow houses

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. 

2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Bicycles on a bridge in Amsterdam

Bicycles on a bridge in Amsterdam

I’ll share the best way to spend a weekend in Amsterdam, or any other two days of the week (Btw, I also have a weekend specific guide for Amsterdam, check it out). 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. 

Contents

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.

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. For example, family travelers may want to avoid the Red Light District at night but may enjoy one of the smaller museums instead. 

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

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. 

Two girls cycling in Amsterdam

Amsterdam – Respect the Locals and their city – 1681551 (CC0) via Pixabay

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.

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 am)

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.

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 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)

Admire Amsterdam's Narrow Houses - Amsterdam itinerary

Admire Amsterdam’s Narrow Houses – Amsterdam itinerary

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.

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. Typical 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.
 

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

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.

 

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

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 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?

View of a canal in Amsterdam from a small boat

Private Boat Ride in Amsterdam – perhaps the best canal cruise experience

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.

 

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 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.

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, 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 – the best options (12 pm)

After visiting Amsterdam 5 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

Eating Dutch Herring in Amsterdam next to the Canals

1) Eat Dutch Herring at Frens Haringhandel

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.

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:

2) Kapitein Zeppos (Lovely Outdoor seating)

Outdoor Seating in Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

Kapitein Zeppos restaurant in Amsterdam

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. Just check out this picture, isn’t this one of the most Instagrammable places in Amsterdam?

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.

3) 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. 

4) 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 – 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. 

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.

Staalmeestersbrug over Groenburgwal with Zuidkerk – Amsterdam Photo Spots

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 are have 3 days in Amsterdam or even more. For a weekend in Amsterdam or a quick visit then spending just 30-60 mins in Jordaan are enough to admire the beauty.

The Narrow Streets of Jordaan, Amsterdam

The Streets of Jordaan, Amsterdam

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.

 

4.1) Visit the Anne Frank House (Optional)

Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam

There are a few options for spending your time after visiting Jordaan. One of them is visiting the museums that Amsterdam is famous for in the museum square, or you can visit the Anne Frank House – or just head to a coffeeshop. Museums of Amsterdam and the coffeeshops will usually appeal to very different kind of people.

Ann Frank House is in 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 the Legendary Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum (3-5 PM) (Option 1)

The Night Watch by Rembrandt in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The Night Watch by Rembrandt in Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

You know what’s the best time to visit the museums in Amsterdam? Just an hour or so before they close. Remember, as of June 2021 (covid restrictions), you need to prebook a slot in every single museum and attraction in Amsterdam, you can’t enter without. You can sometimes prebook on the same 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 as of June 2021 and stands in the line to enter. 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 prebooking confirmation.

The Famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam

I’m usually super energetic in the mornings and I’d be restless in a museum when it is so early. So, I always think it is a good idea to visit museums an hour or two before they close because that’s when the majority of people don’t visit them.

After spending your time in Jordaan, get on to a tram to the Museumplein or arrive here on a bicycle. 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 20, a boat trip is around EUR 15, 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.

Get Your I Amsterdam City Card Here

 

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. I re-visited Amsterdam in 2021 during the covid time and 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 Rijkmuseum, 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 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 during the corona times)

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 satisfyin? You will find that and more at Pasta E Basta where even the staff will sing for you. It is a romantic restaurant and I recommend you visit it for dinner for an epic wine and food session.

5) Visit a Coffeeshop (Option 2) (3-4 pm)

Grey Area CoffeeShop Amsterdam

Grey Area CoffeeShop Amsterdam

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. 

A pack of Reefers from one of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam

A pack of Reefers from one of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam

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.

 

Dinner in Amsterdam Centrum (Option 2)

If you have picked the second option in the itinerary to visit a coffeeshop and then walk through the red light district, then make your way to the centrum. That’s where the Red Light district is and a walk through is more interesting when it gets dark. So, after spending a hour or few in a coffeeshop, you should enjoy a super slow walk to the centrum. You can also get on a tram to Dam Square if you don’t want to walk. 

Before enjoying a most unforgettable (although, possibly foggy) night out in Amsterdam, have a bite to eat. (Because you are going to be super hungry after smoking weed ina coffeeshop) 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.

Hannekes Boom

Hannekes Boom (or Hannakes Boot) is perhaps the most famous restaurant in the Amsterdam city because of it’s lovely outdoor seating. It is super lively too. It is a waterfront restaurant with super interesting recycled decor and furniture. 

Burger Bar

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!

6) Walk Through the Red Light District (Option 2)

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 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.

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) – please be respectful to the sex workers and do not photograph them. Photography is prohibited in the Red Light District. 

 

7) Experience Nightlife in Amsterdam – Three Amazing Pubs

Amsterdam Nightlife more than just the Red Light District

Me Exploring Amsterdam at Night – the Nightlife is more than just the Red Light District

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

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. 

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. 

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) Start Your Day in Waterlooplein Flea Market + Breakfast [Sunday Closed]

Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam

Me exploring the Waterloo Square Flea Market in Amsterdam in July 2019

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.

Waterlooplein Flea Market in Amsterdam - 2 days in Amsterdam

Waterlooplein Flea Market in Amsterdam in July 2019 – 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. 

Amsterdam's Waterlooplein Market - Amsterdam itinerary

Amsterdam’s Waterlooplein Market in July 2019 – Amsterdam itinerary

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 - 2 days in Amsterdam

Waterlooplein Market in Amsterdam (July 2019) – 2 days 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.

1) Walk Through Vondelpark or Oostpark (Option 2)

Visit Vondelpark in Amsterdam to beat the crowds

Visit Vondelpark in Amsterdam to beat the crowds

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.

 

2) Take a Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord (Free)

Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord - Amsterdam Itinerary

Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to Noord – Amsterdam Itinerary

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 or Oostpark, 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. 

Outside A'Dam Tower in Amsterdam

Outside A’Dam Tower in Amsterdam – very close to the ferry point

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 Lookout for the View [+ Extreme Swing]

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.

View of Amsterdam from A'Dam Tower - how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

View of Amsterdam from A’Dam Tower – how to spend 2 days in Amsterdam

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.

Book your A’Dam Lookout Entry Ticket Including 2 Drinks

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. 

Eat Lunch in De Ceuvel – It’s LOVELY

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 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) Cycle or Walk through NDSM Wharf and See Art Installations

A Massive Mural in NDSM Werf Amsterdam

A Massive Mural in NDSM Werf Amsterdam

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 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.

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. Same is the case with NDSM Werf – you can take your bicycles inside and explore every corner at your own pace.

Barbie Peepshow inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

Barbie Peepshow inside NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

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 on the beach in Pllek by the IJ [River]

Pllek by the IJ in Amsterdam-Noord

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.

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. 

6) Say Bye to Amsterdam with an Evening Canal Cruise

Amsterdam's illuminated bridges at night - Night Canal Cruise in Amsterdam itinerary

Amsterdam’s illuminated bridges at night – Night Canal Cruise in Amsterdam itinerary [CC0] by Skitterphoto via Pixabay

Unless 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. 

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, 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. 

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 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.

 

Amsterdam Covid Update – I visited in July 2021 during Corona times

Amsterdam Covid Restrictions for travelers – July 2021

I visited Amsterdam in July 2021 and here’s what I saw. One needs to wear a mask on all public transport. Almost all the attractions and museums are open since the end of June 2021. Life looks like it is back to normal in Amsterdam and thankfully there aren’t yet so many travelers there so it was good to enjoy the city’s empty roads. 

I have written about Amsterdam’s corona situation in detail in my Amsterdam travel tips post which is a must read before you ever travel there.

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. 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. 

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.

I Amsterdam City Card – Amsterdam Travel tips

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

Get Your I Amsterdam City Card Here

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)
  • Generator Amsterdam: (Check deals on Booking.com) 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 Booking.com) 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

2 Days in Amsterdam itinerary - Drifter Planet

2 Days in Amsterdam itinerary – Drifter Planet

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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