Julie The Netherlands 28 Comments

Amsterdam is the perfect European city to visit if you only have a few days. After you visit the main museums, you get to stroll the canals and parks, take your pick from trendy restaurants, and simply enjoy this European experience. With two days in Amsterdam, you have enough time to see the must-see sites and still have plenty of time to wander the canals and charming city streets.

About Our Amsterdam Experiences

We have been to Amsterdam twice, in 2008 and 2018. Our first visit to Amsterdam was perfect. It was late April, the skies were sunny, the tulips were blooming, and strolling along the canals was magical. In fact, this was the first city we ever visited in Europe, so it has a special place in our hearts.

Amsterdam was even better the second time around. This time, it was early April, it was more crowded, a little chillier, and the bulbs were still shut from the unusually long and cold winter, but we loved every minute we spent in Amsterdam. On our second visit, we skipped the museums and spent most of our time wandering the canals, trying new restaurants, and just enjoying Amsterdam.

On this Amsterdam itinerary, I combined the best of our experiences so you can have the perfect two days in Amsterdam.

We hope you fall in love with Amsterdam like we did!

48 Hours in Amsterdam Itinerary

 

2 Day Amsterdam Itinerary

Day 1

We start in museum square, with the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. These are Amsterdam’s most popular museums, so expect them to get crowded, especially midday. By starting here first, you get to enjoy at least one of the museums without huge crowds.

9 am: Rijksmuseum

The Rijksmuseum is enormous. On display are 8,000 objects of art and history, most of it Dutch, with masterpieces by Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Frans Hals. Most people spend 2 to 3 hours in the museum.

Rijksmuseum

Pro Travel Tip: With the e-ticket and the Museumcard, you can skip the ticket line (saving you 20 to 30 minutes during busy times). If you have the I Amsterdam Card, you still have to collect a ticket in the ticket line.

Should you purchase the I Amsterdam Card or Museumcard? At the end of this post we give you our recommendations.

Cost: Adults €20.00 (online €19.00), 18 and under are free; included with the Museumcard and I Amsterdam Card
Hours: Daily 9 am to 5 pm; between April 3 and August 28, 2020, the museum will be open on Fridays until 9 pm.
Get updated hours and pricing here.
Purchasing tickets: Purchase your e-ticket online in advance to skip the ticket line

11:30 am: I Amsterdam Sign and Lunch

Step back outside. By now, the museum quarter is probably crowded with people, especially if you are here during the spring and summer months.

The “I Amsterdam” sign is a very popular photography and Instagram spot. Midday, it will probably look like this:

I Amsterdam Sign in April

Pro Travel Tip: If you get to the Rijksmuseum before 9 am, take a few minutes and take your photos of the I Amsterdam sign now, before it gets really crowded.

11:45 Break for Lunch

A quick lunch is the perfect pick-me-up before visiting the Van Gogh Museum. There are several food stands on museum square. Kiosk Rembrandt Van Gogh gets the best reviews. You can also have lunch inside the Van Gogh Museum at the Museum Café.

1:00 pm: Van Gogh Museum

Step inside this modern building to view works of art by Vincent Van Gogh. In 2017, this was the most visited museum in the Netherlands.

You can only purchase your tickets online. Do this in advance of your trip because they can sell out days in advance. You will pick a time slot and can enter the museum within a half hour of your reserved time. This eliminates waiting in line to enter the Van Gogh Museum.

The average visit to the museum lasts about an hour.

Pro Travel Tip: If you have a Museumcard or I Amsterdam Card, you will still need to reserve your time slot in advance.

Cost: Adults €19, under 18 are free
Hours: Hours vary by season, but the museum is usually open 9 am to 5 pm with longer hours during peak season;  Click here to check the hours for your dates of travel.
Time Slot Reservations: visit the Van Gogh Museum official website to book your time slot in advance
Skip-the-Line Tickets: If tickets are sold out for your preferred date and time on the official Van Gogh Museum website, click here to get skip-the-line tickets through Get Your Guide. They cost just €2 more than tickets purchased online on the official website. 

2:30 pm Vondelpark

Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s green space. This is where the local people relax and sunbath on warm days and where families go outside to play. It’s a pretty spot to visit, especially after spending most of the day inside of art museums.

Vondelpark

Once you are finished at Vondelpark, walk or take Tram 1 to Bloemenmarkt.

3:30 pm Bloemenmarkt

The Bloemenmarkt is the only floating flower market in the world. About 15 florist shops sell blooming flowers, bulbs, and souvenirs. It is a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s worth a quick visit if you are looking for gifts to bring home or just want to see flowers in bloom.

Bloemenmarkt

By the way, all of the flowers in this photo are fake, wood Tulips

4 pm: The Nine Little Streets (De 9 Straatjes)

Spend the afternoon and evening exploring the Nine Little Streets of Amsterdam. The nine streets are really three streets that cross two canals, Keizersgracht and Herengracht. Go shopping, stop in a café for a drink, and explore.

Wine in Amsterdam

5 pm: Optional Canal Cruise

A canal cruise is another popular thing to do in Amsterdam. However, I recommend skipping the larger boats with the big tour companies. These giant boats are enclosed in glass and the people packed on board never look like they are having much fun.

Instead, pick a smaller, open boat. You’ll be with less people and have a more intimate experience. Some of these companies even serve wine while you cruise through the city. We recommend Those Dam Boat Guys since they get rave reviews on Trip Advisor.

Amsterdam in April

7 pm: Dinner

There are a lot of great restaurants in Amsterdam. If you need recommendations, here are 3 spots to try:

Vinkeles. A high-class restaurant that serves modern French cuisine. Located in the Dylan Hotel on Keizersgracht in the Nine Little Streets. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Foodhallen. This giant food hall is filled with small restaurants that serve food from around the world. This is the perfect place to try new foods and not spend a fortune on dinner. Located 10 minutes away from the Nine Little Streets.

Café de Reiger. Located in Jordaan, this restaurant and bar is popular with locals and tourists.

End the day with drinks at bar or strolling the canals at night. One of the best bars in the area is Proeflokaal Arendsnest.

Proefloklaal Arendsnest


Day 2

Anne Frank House, Jordaan, Dam Square

9 am: Breakfast at the Pancake Bakery

For an over-the-top breakfast experience, visit the Pancake Bakery. This popular breakfast spot serves giant pancakes topped with almost anything you can imagine. If you have a sweet tooth, you can get pancakes topped with ice cream, hot sauce, and caramel. Or, if you like something savory, there are lots of options too. If you are traveling with kids, they’ll love this place.

If you really want to try something sweet, we loved the Dutch pancake, a pancake topped with stroopwafel chunks, cinnamon ice cream, and whipped cream.

Pancake House

Apple Cinnamon pancake

It helps to also order a savory pancake, because the sweet ones can be overwhelmingly sweet. We ordered the Hungarian, which was pretty good, but I’d love to try the French pancake on our next visit to Amsterdam!

Pro Travel Tip: This place is one of the most popular breakfast spots in the city. Arrive a few minutes before opening time, which is at 9 am, to avoid waiting in line.

10 am: Anne Frank House

Without a doubt, a visit to Amsterdam would not be complete without a visit to the Anne Frank House. And it’s just a short walk from the Pancake Bakery.

For two years and one month, Anne Frank and her family lived in a secret annex, hidden away from the Nazi’s. During this time, she wrote in her diary, which became a memoir and an important piece of history.

Tour the hidden rooms and see the movable bookcase that covered the entrance into the rooms.

Anne Frank House

Tickets can only be purchased online in advance. You will reserve a specific time slot, which eliminates waiting in line. 80% of tickets are released exactly 2 months in advance. The remaining 20% of tickets are released on the same day.

Pro Travel Tip: Book your time slots two months in advance (this is when the tickets are released). For example, if you plan to visit the Anne Frank House on July 1, make your reservation May 1. There is such a high demand for these tickets that they sell out almost as soon as they are available.

Cost: Adults €10.50, 0 – 9 years €0.50, 10 – 17 years €5.50, included on the Museumcard, not included with the I Amsterdam Card
Hours: April 1 to November 1: 9 am to 10 pm; November 1 to April 1: 9 am to 7 pm, Saturdays until 10 pm
Website: Book your tickets in advance and check hours for your date of visit on the official Anne Frank House website.

12 pm: The Jordaan Area and Lunch

Spend the middle part of the day strolling through the Jordaan area of Amsterdam. Places to visit include Westerkerk and the Homomonument.

Westerkerk

Westerkerk

Canal Houses

Bikes in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Canals

Amsterdam Canals

For lunch, we loved Piqniq. This small restaurant serves tiny gourmet sandwiches and soups, sort of like tapas for lunch. The food is delicious and the prices are very reasonable. This is a great restaurant to visit if you want quality food in Amsterdam without spending a fortune.

Piqniq

To get to our next stop (Our Lord in the Attic), walk across Amsterdam, past Central Station, in the direction of the Red Light District. To get from Piqniq to Our Lord in the Attic, it is a 17-minute walk.

3 pm: Museum Ons’Lieve Heer Op Solder

Say what? This museum, also called Our Lord in the Attic, is one of the best history lessons in Amsterdam.

This canal house, built in 1630, looks normal on the outside. But inside, on the top level, sits a secret Catholic Church. Catholicism was banned in Amsterdam during the 17th century, so people built small churches in their houses, hidden away from public view. This church is one of the largest and the best preserved of these schuilkerks.

Our Lord in the Attic

During the audio tour, you will get a fascinating history lesson about Amsterdam and the Netherlands, as you walk through the rooms of this 400 year old house. The tour ends with a visit to the spectacular church on the top floor.

I loved this museum. It’s educational, thought provoking, and one of the most interesting history lessons in the city.

Cost: Adults €12.50, 5 to 17 years €6.00, under 5 years are free; included with the Museumkaart and I Amsterdam Card
Hours: Monday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm; Sundays 1 pm to 6 pm; reduced hours on holidays
Website: www.opsolder.nl

4:30 pm: Red Light District?

Our Lord in the Attic sits right on the edge of the Red Light District. If you are curious, here’s your chance to wander through the neighborhood. It’s pretty sedate during the daylight hours. Plus, it’s small and quick to visit (if you’re just here for a quick peek).

5:00 pm Dam Square

Dam Square is crowded and touristy, but it is the main square of Amsterdam, so I think it is still worth a very quick visit. Just expect large crowds and beware of pickpockets.

Dam Square

5:30 pm More of Amsterdam or Go to Haarlem

For the rest of the day you are free to explore more of Amsterdam. Wander the canals in the Jordaan area, rent bikes and explore the city, or consider making a quick trip to Haarlem for dinner and drinks.

If you are looking for a thrill, or just want a panoramic view over Amsterdam, visit the A’Dam Lookout Tower. The Skydeck offers 360° views of the city. Even more thrilling are the swings. Yes, you can swing out over the edge of the tower. To get here, take the ferry from Centraal Station to the tower (it’s only a 2 minute ride on the ferry and the ferry runs all day). Click here to learn more on the official website. 

 

Haarlem is just 15 minutes from Amsterdam by train. You won’t have enough time to really explore Haarlem, but you can sit in the main square in town, have a drink at a café, and have dinner.

Haarlem Netherlands

Haarlem

Haarlem is awesome. The main square is beautiful, and on a nice warm day this is the perfect spot to just plop yourself down in an outdoor café, have a drink and enjoy the view.

For dinner we ate at the Wolfhound Irish Bar & Kitchen and it tasted like we were back in Ireland.

Getting to Haarlem: From Central Station in Amsterdam, you can take a 15-minute train to Haarlem. Trains leave approximately every 10 minutes and cost €5.60 one-way.

2 Days in Amsterdam: Mapped Out

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.

If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

What About Keukenhof?

In April and May, Keukenhof is a wonderland of flowering daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. It is gorgeous and well worth the visit if you plan to be in Amsterdam during these two months.

Keukenhof

With two days in Amsterdam, you have enough time to visit Keukenhof and the best of the city. On day 1, after your visit to the Van Gogh Museum, skip Vondelpark and the Bloemenmarkt and make the trip out to Keukenhof. It just may be one of your favorite experiences in Amsterdam.

In 2020, the park is open from March 21 through May 10 from 8 am to 7:30 pm. Online tickets are €1.50 cheaper than purchasing them at the ticket booth, at €17.50 for an adult and €9 for children ages 4 to 17.

To get to Keukenhof, take the bus to Schiphol Airport. Bus 397 stops at Museumplein and the Rijksmuseum and takes you to Schiphol Airport. From the airport, take bus 858, the Keukenhof Express, to Keukenhof.

Pro Travel Tip: Purchase the Combi Ticket, which includes your transportation to and from Amsterdam, as well as your entrance fee into Keukenhof. Since this includes your Keukenhof entrance ticket, you will not have to queue for tickets at Keukenhof. The Combi ticket for bus travel from the museum quarter costs €32.50 for adults. Visit the Keukenhof website for more details.

Tours to Keukenhof

Here are three tours to Keukenhof from Amsterdam. One is simply your entrance ticket with transportation. The tour that includes Zaanse Schans is a full day tour but you also get to see the Dutch windmills in Zaanse Schans. And finally, the private half-day tour is the most expensive option but it is a completely private tour. 

 

Should You Purchase the Museumcard or I Amsterdam Card?

The Museumcard (Museumkaart)

The Museumcard is a card that gives you free entrance into 400 museums in the Netherlands. For Dutch residents only, the card is valid for one year. For tourists, it is valid for 31 days and can be purchased at a handful of museums.

The Museumcard costs €64.90. On this itinerary, the 4 museums you will visit in Amsterdam cost a total of €61. If you are only visiting Amsterdam in the Netherlands, there is no savings to buying the Museumcard, unless you plan on visiting museums that we did not include in this itinerary.

However, if you also have plans to visit Utrecht, The Hague, Rotterdam, or other cities in the Netherlands, this card may be worth the money. The Museumcard covers entrance to other popular museums in cities other than Amsterdam so this card may save you money.

If you plan on purchasing the Museumcard, you can buy it at your first museum, which is the Rijksmuseum on this Amsterdam itinerary.

I Amsterdam Card

The I Amsterdam Card covers your entrance fees into most museums in Amsterdam, a free canal cruise, and unlimited transportation on public transportation (but not to Schiphol Airport). It comes with a hefty price tag of €85 for 48 hours (€65 for 24 hours) and does not include the €10 to visit the Anne Frank House. On this itinerary, the I Amsterdam Card is overpriced for what you will do.

Bike in Motion

Getting Around Amsterdam

One of the best ways to get around Amsterdam is on your own two feet. However, you can also take advantage of the trams and the metro to save some steps.

A GVB ticket covers unlimited transportation on buses, trams, and the metro during its period of validity. Single tickets, valid for one hour, cost €3.20. You can also purchase multi-day tickets, which are more economical and save you the hassle of visiting the ticket machines whenever you want to take the tram, bus, or metro. Once you activate the ticket (use it for the first time) the period of validity begins.

  • 24 hours: €8.00
  • 48 hours: €13.50
  • 72 hours: €19.00

You can purchase the single and multi-day tickets at GVB service points, in metro stations and at tram stops.

Amsterdam Tram

For this Amsterdam itinerary, we recommend purchasing the 48-hour ticket. If you also need to use public transportation to get to your hotel when you arrive or depart Amsterdam, consider purchasing the 72-hour ticket or simply purchasing additional single tickets as you need them.

You can also get around Amsterdam by bicycle. Hotels and small shops throughout the city rent bikes by the hour or by the day. It’s a great to do if you just want to have fun for an hour, or you can use the bike as your mode of transportation during your entire visit to Amsterdam.

Best Time to go to Amsterdam

If you want to see the bulbs in bloom, visit Amsterdam in April and early May. The prime blooming season varies year to year, depending on the weather. However, the end of April is a fairly reliable time to visit if you want to see Keukenhof and Amsterdam carpeted in spring blooms.

April through June is one of the busiest times to visit Amsterdam, so expect larger crowds and larger prices during these months.

The summer months can also be quite busy. October is a gorgeous time to visit Amsterdam, with fall colors and cool nights.

During the winter months, the crowds fade away. It’s chilly in Amsterdam but very cold temperatures are rare.

Strolling through Amsterdam

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

The best area to stay is in Jordaan and the Nine Little Streets. This is our favorite area of Amsterdam and being on the canals at night is magical.

Luxury: The Dylan. Modern, trendy, luxurious, this hotel is located on Keizersgracht, within walking distance of the Anne Frank House. This hotel is also home to Vinkeles, the upscale dining experience we recommended for dinner.

Mid-Range: The ‘t Hotel. This is where we stayed on our first visit to Amsterdam. The ‘t Hotel has a perfect location, right on a quiet canal and within walking distance of the main sites in Amsterdam. Since our visit in 2008, the hotel has been renovated (and prices have gone up). The family room is the penthouse of the hotel with a loft for the kids.

t hotel

‘t Hotel

Mid-Range: Crowne Plaza South. If you are looking for a clean, comfortable and quiet place to stay and don’t want to spend a fortune (or most places are already reserved when you start your hotel search) consider staying a bit outside of the city. On our most recent visit to Amsterdam, we stayed here at the Crowne Plaza. It’s a great hotel and we had a great stay, without any complaints. It took us 15 minutes by metro to get into town but we saved a lot of money by staying outside of the heart of Amsterdam.

Budget: Jordaan Suite Bed and Bubbles. This budget hotel has a prime location on Hazenstraat near the Jordaan neighborhood. It gets rave reviews and can be hard to get, so make your reservation as soon as you can.

Amsterdam Canals at Twilight

The canals at sunset

Recommended Reading

Consider reading A Diary of Anne Frank before your visit to Amsterdam. It puts a lot of what you will see in and around the Anne Frank House into perspective.


Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam and the Netherlands? Comment below if you have any questions about this Amsterdam itinerary.

More Information for Your Trip to Amsterdam:

Are you planning a trip to the Netherlands? Read all of our articles about the Netherlands in our Netherlands Destination Guide.

Going to Amsterdam? You Might Also Like:

 

Two Days in Amsterdam Travel Itinerary

 

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Comments 28

  1. Perfect blog Amsterdam Itinerary, if anyone is visiting amsterdam for 2 days this blog get you covered you can do all the things on time ,Amazing content julie, you can just enjoy all the things mentioned in this blog .

  2. Hi Julie,
    Just read this itinerary of yours.The suggested itinerary looks superb and well detailed.I am travelling to Amsterdam in may this year but unfortunately my dates are a week ahead of the Keukenhof blooming time. So,I please request you to suggest me something other than Keukenhof.We are a family of four with my two children 16 yrs and 22yrs respectively.

    Regards
    shradul goel

    1. Post
      Author

      You could spend an afternoon in Haarlem. It’s very easy to get to from Amsterdam and it’s like a less touristy, smaller version of Amsterdam. You could go to Zaanse Schans to see the windmills (that’s not too far from Amsterdam). If you have an full day, Giethoorn is a fairytale like town that you can visit on a day trip from Amsterdam (we have not done this yet). Cheers, Julie

        1. Post
          Author
  3. Planning one full day in Amsterdam on 5/10/2020. First visit for us. Would you recommend us to visit the flowers followed by the city or simply stay and explore the city of Amsterdam? Staying at Hotel Van Gogh.

    1. Post
      Author

      It’s really your personal preference. Keukenhof is amazing and since the bulbs only bloom for a short period of time, it could be worth it for you to come here, if you want to see the flowers and think that there is a chance you will be back to Amsterdam again in the future. However, if you think this will be the only time that you will get to Amsterdam, I recommend spending all day here. You can visit the flower market and see lots of tulips…not the same thing as Keukenhof but it is still nice. Cheers, Julie

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