Looking to spend 2 days in Amsterdam but no idea where to start? With that many museums and attractions to choose from, the number of Amsterdam must-see items on your list may be overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Whether you’re looking to explore the city with friends or with your loved one, this guide will help you make that weekend in Amsterdam a success.
Timing-wise, 2 days in Amsterdam should do to see the city’s highlights. You could stay a bit longer by adding one or more day trips from Amsterdam to the travel planning. A visit to the tulip fields at Keukenhof Gardens, for example, is a must if you’re traveling in April or early May.
Itinerary for a weekend in Amsterdam
This map gives you an overview of the Amsterdam 2-day itinerary suggested in this article.
Amsterdam weekend day one
For this first day, we’d suggest you’d explore the city’s central area either by foot (if the weather is nice) or by hop on hop off boat (in case of bad weather). We do include several museums options on this one day in Amsterdam for you to mix and match as you please. All these museum are boutique-style and intimate so these can be visited in (just over) an hour.
- Anne Frank House: This might not be the most cheerful Amsterdam must-see but it sure is an important one. A visit to the Anne Frank house will take you approximately 1 hour.All tickets come with a time-slot. It’s advised to purchase your ticket in advance. However, 20% of the tickets are released at on the day itself via the website. So, even if these 2 days in Amsterdam would an impromptu trip, you might still be able to visit the museum.
- Dam Square: Named after the dam over the Amstel river that was built on on this exact spot. Once a bustling market place and now home to the Royal Palace, the Dam is and has always been the heart of the city. There used to be a huge fun fair on the Dam every year in the months of April and October. We had no idea that, when we were on the ferris wheel in October 2017, it would be one of the last times ever it would operate in that location. The views from up there are just unparalleled.
- Royal Palace: Built in the 17th century Golden Age, this Palace is open for visits most of the year. You can check the schedule here.
- Beurspassage: The arched passageway between Nieuwendijk and Damrak is an artwork in itself, an ode to the canals of Amsterdam and the many treasures it hides. From sunken bikes until sailor men tattoos, you’ll find many references in the mosaic-tiled underwater-evoking artwork. Floors and light fixtures all complement the theme.
- Old Church: The Old Church – Oude Kerk in Dutch – is the oldest building in the city and nowadays mostly used as an exhibition area. Its location, right next to the Red Light District, provides an interesting contrast.
- Rembrandt House Museum: A very interesting little museum in the actual house where Rembrandt used to live. A visit with an audioguide will take you about 1h. The museum hosts demonstrations in oil paint preparation and etching. I was there with my little daughter and they even let her prepare the oil paint, something she vividly remembers.
This year is a quite special year for Rembrandt fans too: On 4th October, it’ll be 350 years since Rembrandt van Rijn died. In his honour, there will be expositions of his work in various museums in the Netherlands.
- Dancing Houses: Amsterdam was built on swampy soil. Therefore all merchant houses along the canals were built on wooden stilts all the way through the mud until the steady underlayer of sand. As long as these stilts stay under the level of the groundwater, the houses are steady. But as soon as those water levels drop then the quality of the wood deteriorates. It’s a problem with many Amsterdam houses but in these houses are the most known example which has earned them the title of Amsterdam’s Dancing Houses.
- Rembrandt Square: This former dairy market used to be named Butter Market. When a statue of the famous painter was placed here, the name changed to Rembrandt Square – Rembrandtplein in Dutch. In the early 20th century, more artists discovered the area and ever since, more cafes opened their doors. Nowadays, it’s a popular nightlife scene.
- Museum Willet-Holthuysen: I haven’t made it to this intimate museum yet but would love to one day. It’s actually a 17th century canal house that was turned into a museum so it’s like stepping back into the Golden Age. The manicured garden is said to be extraordinary beautiful.
- Museum of Bags and Purses: Amsterdam and fashion go hand in hand so it comes as no surprise that the city is home to one of the world’s best fashion museums. What more excuse do you need to visit the cute little Museum of Bags and Purses (Tassenmuseum Hendrikje in Dutch)? Especially if these 2 days in Amsterdam are part of a girls-trip, this makes for the perfect addition to your itinerary. And although I haven’t treated myself to one just yet, I’ve heard great things about the museum’s high tea.
- Flower Market: The floating Flower Market – Bloemenmarket in Dutch – is the place to be to buy fresh flowers, seeds, bulbs and souvenirs such as clogs. The location has remained on the canal ever since the old days when the farmers used to sell the flowers and bulbs in the city by boat. Back then they came and went but nowadays the floating Flower Market is stationary and open year-round. Just around the corner, you’ll also find this Delftware shop so you’ll basically find all Dutch icons and souvenirs in one place.
- Begijnhof: This is the courtyard of a former monastery and a haven of peace in the heart of the city. While the last Beguine died in 1971, the Begijnhof houses are still exclusively reserved for women.
- 9 Straatjes district: The Nine Little Streets quarter connects Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel. It’s a bustling neighbourhood with more locals than tourist, quaint little cafes, exclusive boutiques, and a lively atmosphere. I love the vibe here. The Negen Straatjes is UNESCO World Heritage and by far my favorite district in Amsterdam.
Must-do in Amsterdam
- Go cheese-hunting: Cheese shops and delicatessen boutiques dot the city so what are you waiting for? Go taste the cheese! You’re in Holland, after all!
- Canal cruise: The number one must-do Amsterdam activity is the classic canal-cruise. If the weather allows it, opt for the open-boat sunset cruise because it’s an amazing photo op. We bought our tickets from the I Amsterdam Visitor Centre at the Stationsplein in the late morning. It was a sunny autumn weekend day. I can imagine that you’ll need to book earlier if you plan on being there during peak summer. In general, a cruise takes about 75 minutes.
- In Autumn/winter, admire the Light Festival: If you happen to spend your 2 days in Amsterdam anywhere from the end of November until the second half of January then you can enjoy the yearly Light Festival. Dozens of artworks by both national and international artists light up the Amsterdam skies, buildings and / or bridges creating a magical atmosphere throughout the historic centre. Click here to check the exact dates for the upcoming edition.
Amsterdam weekend day 2
On the last day of your 2-day Amsterdam itinerary, we suggest you spend your time in the Old South (Oud-Zuid), Old West (Oud-West) and The Pijp districts.
Let’s start off the day with a museum visit. No boutique museum this time but one of the most renowned ones in the country. From there, continue your itinerary the local way: by bike. Black bikes offers bicycles at several locations around the city and you can return it to either one. Just remember to keep moving on the bike line and you’ll blend in perfectly.
- Museum Quarter or Museum District: Some of Amsterdam’s most popular museums are located in the Museum Quarter, a wide public park in the south of the city: the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum and the MoCo Museum. Too much art for 2 days in Amsterdam, that’s for sure, so you’ll have to choose a favorite. Tip: When you’re there on Wednesday, then you could head to the Concert Hall at 12.30 PM to enjoy a free lunch concert (not in July and August).
- Leidseplein: Once the parking zone for horses and carriages, this is now the city’s liveliest square. In the area you’ll find theatres, bars and nightclubs. On a sunny day, the American Hotel does offer a nice lunch location next to the fountain.
- Foodhallen Amsterdam: If international street-food is your scene, then you should definitely check out the Foodhallen. This tram-service-station-turned-food-walhalla is a great place for an informal lunch and many locals hang out there too.
- Vondelpark: This is the most popular park in Amsterdam. It might be good for a picnic during the summer months if you’re cycling your way through this side of the city anyway but, in my opinion, it’s not worth a detour. There’s nothing special about it, no vistas, no special vibe. There are better ways to spend your 2 days in Amsterdam.
- Spiegelkwartier: Quite conveniently located next to the Museum District, the Spiegelkwartier – which translates as Mirror District – is the heart of artistic Amsterdam. Feast your eyes on the many galleries and antique dealers you’ll find in this area.
- Two nearby experiences that I didn’t try: The House of Bols Cocktail & Genever Experience & The Heineken Experience.
- Albert Cuyp Market: Treat yourself to some local delicacies such as fresh poffertjes (mini-pancakes) or a stroopwafel (some sort of caramel waffle) from the food stalls at the Albert Cuyp market in the De Pijp district. Named after the Dutch landscape painter, this daily market is one of the largest in Europe. If the weather allows it, pick up some fruits and some cheese before heading to the Vondelpark for a picnic.
- In spring, tour the Flower Festival: If you happen to be in Amsterdam during the month of April, you can spot tulips at dozens of locations across the city such as museums, hotels, public buildings and even private residences. The Amsterdam Flower Festival is an ode to spring. All participating locations are gathered in a map which you can find here.
- In winter, you could go ice-skating: From mid-November until the end of Januari, the Museumplein is transformed into an ice skating rink.
- If you’re arriving by plane from Schiphol Airport, then you could take Conexxion shuttle bus Amsterdam Airport Express bus n°397. This bus departs every 7,5 minutes from Schiphol Plaza and takes passengers directly to Museumplein, Rijksmuseum or Leidseplein. The ride takes 30 minutes and costs €5 per person.
- Another option is to take the train from Schiphol to Amsterdam Central Station. You’ll get there in 20 minutes for €6,50.
- Finally, you could also take a taxi at Amsterdam Airport for a fixed price of €39 (supplements may apply at night, for extra luggage…). You’ll find a designated taxi stand at the arrival’s hall.
- Tulips are a Dutch icon and the tulip fields of the Netherlands are so close to Amsterdam that you should definitely plan a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens when you’re there in April or early May.
- The Hague is less touristy than Amsterdam yet just as international. Due to its many international institutions, it has just always attracted a different crowd. Check out our recommendations on things to do in The Hague.
Must-do in Amsterdam
Where to stay when spending a weekend in Amsterdam
When you’re only going to spend 2 days in Amsterdam, then you need to make sure that your accommodation is both central and easily accessible. We stayed at The Dylan Amsterdam for our mother-daughter trip and loved it.
Here are some other hotels I considered and some new additions that caught my eye:
I amsterdam City Card or Amsterdam Pass?
Here’s a comparison of both options, based on the Amsterdam must-see options that I mentioned earlier. Do note, however, that both Amsterdam cards offer free and discounted entrances at many more attractions and museums.
It’s clear that that, at least at the time of publishing, the Amsterdam Pass will get you the most value for money. This is especially true when you’ll be traveling with young kids.
How to get from Amsterdam airport to the city centre
If you only have 2 days in Amsterdam, then you better don’t get stuck in traffic. Here’s how to make a quick transfer to the downtown Amsterdam:
2 days in Amsterdam not enough? Add a day trip
Here are some suggestions to add a day trip to your itinerary and visit Amsterdam in 3 days instead of 2:
Your weekend in Amsterdam
Is this the 2-day Amsterdam sightseeing itinerary you were looking for? I truly hope so! Any Amsterdam must-sees that aren’t on the list but should be? Let me know in the comment box or drop me an e-mail.
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