Visiting the Dutch capital? It’s a must-do for first and repeat visits to Europe. Discover what you can get up to with the help of this 2 day Amsterdam itinerary.
Amsterdam is one of the best cities to visit in Europe.
It’s clean, it’s pretty. The food is great and it’s relatively easy to get around; by foot, tram, train or bike.
Amsterdam is an all-round excellent destination to head to, if you’re visiting Europe for the first time.
This itinerary will consist of a few well-loved and well-trod tourist sights; but will also include suggestions for anyone looking to get a bit off the beaten path.
I’ve visited the Dutch capital a couple of times over the last decade. And as a bonus, have friends who have lived there for close to a decade.
Always good to have a couple of locals, to gently point you in the right direction.
So, here’s a 2 day Amsterdam itinerary that you too can use, when exploring this beguiling city.
If you’re visiting for the first time, or it’s been awhile due to recent world-altering events, you may want to check out my guide to not looking like a tourist in Europe.
How to spend 2 days in Amsterdam
Is two days enough for Amsterdam?
As Amsterdam is a fairly small and well-connected city, you can expect to see most of its sights in two days.
If you plan your itinerary well, you’ll experience all the ‘must-sees’, explore the best museums and even have time to see some of the lesser-known sights.
It is possible to spend the first day and a half of your two days in Amsterdam ticking off things in the city. And then, you can take a day trip to a nearby area, such as Haarlem.
Of course, if you can add any extra days in Amsterdam to your trip, there’s still plenty to do and see. This guide is designed for 2 or 3 days in Amsterdam, so you can pick and choose accordingly.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Your 2 day Amsterdam itinerary
2 day Amsterdam itinerary: Day 1
Use your first day in Amsterdam to get acquainted with the city.
Take a boat tour through the canals
This is a must-do during your 2 days in Amsterdam.
I reckon the best way to see a city is from its waterways. And luckily, Amsterdam has plenty of those.
Both times I’ve been to the city, I’ve jumped on a cruise along the canals. The second time was far more memorable; exploring the waterways with Those Dam Boat Guys.
Tours are small (around 9 people) and pretty flexible. If the time you want isn’t available, you can ring and inquire; they may just move things around for you.
Best bit is, you can BYOB on board, or purchase some from their headquarters beforehand.
Last time I was in Amsterdam, the city was having a weird heatwave. It was 30°C, the Dutch were basically throwing themselves into the canals to cool off and it was great to sip on some sparkling while soaking up the sun.
Keep an eye out from the city’s flower bicycles
There are bicycles ev-er-y-where in Amsterdam, being the main mode of transport.
However, you may notice some of the bikes are blossoming; that is, they’re adorned in flowers.
This is the work of the ‘Flower Bike Man’, American expat Warren Gregory.
Sadly, Warren’s wife has epilepsy, which led her to forgetting details like where she’d parked her bike at Amsterdam Centraal.
So, Warren began decorating her bike in bright flowers, so it’d stand out. He then decorated bikes along her route, so she could find her way home.
This became a Thing, with Warren decorating abandoned bikes to leave around the city, for others to also enjoy.
He’s now somewhat of a local celebrity. Look out for his bright bikes during your 2 days in Amsterdam.
Visit the Anne Frank House
This is probably the top thing to do in Amsterdam and one you need to prepare for if you’re keen.
Tickets go on sale via the website, every Tuesday at 10am, for a visit six weeks from that date.
Your ticket gains you entry to the house, where you can stay for as long as you wish.
I’d say it’s pretty much a prerequisite to read the Anne Frank’s diary before visiting the setting of this sad story.
Poke around the Jordaan
The Jordaan is one of prettiest neighbourhoods in Amsterdam.
Expect to see the gorgeous buildings, tiny streets and canals that the city is famous for.
Make sure you get an apple pie from Winkel while you’re in the area
Check out the Nine Streets of Amsterdam
9 Straatjes or the Nine Streets is a historical area, full of craft business, cafes and specialty shops.
The streets are picturesque and the buildings gorgeous, so it’s well-worth a poke around.
These are the streets you’re looking out for:
- Oude Spiegelstraat
- Wijde Heisteeg
Go for a drink or a meal at Westerpark
The Westerpark neighbourhood is home to a gorgeous park, where on a nice day, people will gather for a picnic or BBQ.
Here you’ll find the Tony’s Chocolonely shop, containing delicious bars of locally made chocolate.
There’s also a good mix of independent shops, markets, restaurants, bars and cafes.
2 day Amsterdam itinerary: Day 2
Your second day in Amsterdam involves visiting some of the city’s best known museums and exploring the famous red light district.
Spend some time at the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum
A visit to these two museums is the most popular thing to do in Amsterdam.
If you’re only spending 2 days in Amsterdam, I recommend just visiting one, alongside Anne Frank House.
Unless you love museums, of course! Then go for your life.
Again, I recommend booking your tickets to these Amsterdam attractions in advance. You’ll have to book online in any case, so why not easily grab the day and time you desire?
Fortunately, you don’t need to jump on tickets six week out like Anne Frank House. A couple of weeks out in peak season should do it. You may also be able to nab tickets a few days before.
Just don’t wait to do it on the day!
Here’s a little info about each museum.
Vincent van Gogh Museum
The name is a bit of a giveaway, but this museum is dedicated to the work and life of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh.
Tickets are €20 and can be booked on their website.
Alternatively, you can skip the lines with a private tour guide.
Personally, I tend to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information at big museums. It’s nice to have a local expert wield you around, breaking it all down into manageable chunks.
Missed out on tickets to Van Gogh? Well you’re in luck; one of his works is nestled in the Rijksmuseum.
This massive museum is home to 8,000 works of art from Dutch and European history.
The tickets to their special exhibitions sell out pretty fast. If that’s of interest to you, you may want to jump on their mailing list.
Tickets to the museum can be booked via their website. The entrance price is €22.50. Admission is free if you’re under 18.
The museum offers guided tours, which cost an additional €5 per person. You’ll be shown the greatest hits and learn a little about the museum and its art.
Alternatively, you can book a skip-the-line guided tour, which includes admission price.
I highly recommend at least grabbing an audio guide as you traverse the museum, which is an additional €5. There’s a lot to see and a lot of information to soak in.
You’ll see works by other European masters of art, such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Picasso and Monet. All the rad dudes!
Tips for Rijksmuseum
My advice, if it is at all possible to follow, is don’t go on a weekend.
If you’re planning a midweek trip to Amsterdam outside of school holidays, the crowds shouldn’t be as intense.
However, if your two days in Amsterdam fall over a weekend, get there early!
I have visited on a weekend and while the crowds were fairly intense, they were mainly gathered in the Gallery of Honour and the 17th-Century and 19th-Century Galleries. If you are sensory sensitive, you can access the floor plan, where quieter areas of the gallery are highlighted in green.
Lastly, don’t expect to see everything in the Rijksmuseum in just one visit! It’s a lot to take in; friends in Amsterdam have been numerous times and not seen it all.
Drop into the Cat Museum
Not quite museum-ed out? Head to Kattenkabinet, a quirky museum dedicated to… cats!
This small museum is dedicated to works depicting cats. There’s all sorts of interesting paraphernalia in here – plus a few live cats milling about.
You can easily explore it in half an hour, if you’re short on time. Of course, there is the option to linger in the courtyard with the resident cats.
This is one of the more unusual things to do in Amsterdam and… perfect for cat lovers!
Visit the Bloemenmarkt
This historic market is another top attraction in Amsterdam. The market is housed on a floating structure and sells fresh cut flowers, bulbs and souvenirs.
Don’t miss the nearby Christmas Palace shop, where you can buy Christmas decorations all year round.
Explore NDSM Wharf & grab a meal there
This former shipyard has been revitalised into a cultural hotspot. There’s street art everywhere and the area plays host to festivals, exhibitions, dace parties and more.
You can catch a free ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to NDSM. It’s particularly nice around sunset.
There are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from if you fancy a meal or drink. More on that below.
For something super special, you can choose to spend the night onsite in the Crane Hotel Faralda. This unique hotel is set in a former harbour crane and views over the shipyard and River IJ.
Head back to Centraal & check out the red light district
Well, this might be why you’ve chosen to spend 2 days in Amsterdam.
The city is of course, renowned for its nightlife, due to its red light district and world-famous ‘coffee shops’.
Head to Centraal, wander the streets and let the magic happen.
BONUS: Take a day trip to somewhere nearby
Got an extra day? Why not take a quick trip out of the city?
Amsterdam is extremely well-connected and the Netherlands are small. So, it’s fairly easy to hop on a train and journey out to somewhere new, for a change of scenery.
Haarlem is a smaller city west of Amsterdam, which you can reach in around 15 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal.
Top things to do in Haarlem include:
- Cruise down the canal
- Explore Teylers Museum or Frans Hals Museum
- Tip-toe among tulips at Wijngaardtuin, a garden in the city centre
- Visit St. Bavo Church: Grote Kerk (St.-Bavokerk)
- Snap a picture at the Molen De Adriaan windmill
The city of Utrecht is also a hop, skip and jump from Amsterdam; around a half hour by train.
In Utrecht you can:
- Check out the view from the Dom Tower or dive under with DOMunder (note, the tower is currently being renovated and not accessible until summer 2024)
- Explore the Speelklok Museum or… the Miffy Museum
- Poke around the Oudegracht
- Dine at De Veldkeuken
Love fairytale castles? Don’t we all. It’s possible to take a day trip from your day trip out to Kasteel de Haar. It’s around an hour from Utrecht.
Looking for a more dedicated day trip from Amsterdam? This picturesque town is around a 2 hour car drive from the city. Alternatively, you can catch a train to Zwolle and rent a car from there.
And once you arrive, park the car and explore this village on foot or by bike.
If you’re looking for things to do in Giethoorn, here are some suggestions:
- boat through the canals
- or explore via kayak or SUP
- hire a bike
- explore walking trails by foot
- have a picnic by the canals.
If you don’t fancy driving, book onto a tour, taking you to Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans Windmills.
Visiting in spring and keen to see some tulips? A visit to Keukenhof is in order.
These gardens are open for 8 weeks around mid to late-March to mid-May; when the tulips are blooming. Tickets go on sale in October the year before the annual opening.
Tickets are €19 for adults and €9 for children between 4-17.
Alternatively, you may want to book onto a day tour, which takes the hassle out of getting there.
Book a trip to Keukenhof gardens through GetYourGuide:
If you only have 2 days in Amsterdam, you can take a half day to visit Haarlem, Utrecht or Keukenhof. To make it work, go to a museum in the morning (if that’s your jam) and strike everything else off the second day of this itinerary.
2 day Amsterdam itinerary: Where to eat in Amsterdam
My favourite part of planning a trip is deciding where to eat. Generally, the food in Amsterdam is delicious and there’s a wide-variety of cuisines to choose from.
Brunch & lunch
For lunch one day, we visited Box Sociaal, which as it turns out, is an Australian cafe! Aussies known how to brunch and the food here is very yummy. Similarly, pop into Small World Catering if you’re in the Jordaan area.
Head to the Cheese Museum for a delicious cheese platter. For more cheesy goodness (in the form of fondue), book a table at Restaurant Smelt, located in the Nine Streets. They cater for vegans and will be opening up a venue in Westerpark in October 2023.
And of course, when in the Netherlands, you must try bitterballen. These are basically deep-fried balls of stew and gravy, served with mustard. YUM. You’ll be able to order them at most cafes.
The standout meal for me was at Vessel, located in the Amsterdam Houthavens district. Very nice on a sunny day, when you can sit outside and enjoy a view of the IJ, with NDSM across the way.
For something special, reserve a spot at REM Bar & Restaurant. Housed in a towering sea rig 22 metres above the water, it contains two bars (one on the rooftop!) and a restaurant, serving up a delicious six-course meal. Um, it’s also a former pirate radio station; how cool is that!
Exploring NDSM? There’s a few places to dine here. We ate at Pllek, and while I enjoyed my plate of much-needed veggies, I’m not sure I’d recommend it for food, as the service we experienced was quite poor. It does have a nice view of the IJ and a man-made beach, so perhaps save it for a drink on a sunny afternoon.
Remember that Amsterdam is a small city; if you like the sound of an eatery, reserve a table in advance to avoid disappointment.
How to get to & around Amsterdam
Getting to Amsterdam is pretty easy, as it’s one of the best connected cities in Europe.
The Eurostar runs a direct route from London St Pancras International station to Amsterdam Centraal at times, which takes around four hours. So, if you’re coming off the back of spending four days in London, this is an easy and eco-friendly way to arrive.
Alternatively, you can fly into Schiphol International Airport. It’s then around a half hour train journey from the airport to the city.
If you plan on using public transport a lot, you may want to buy the I amsterdam City Card, which includes access to public transport and bike rental. More on that below.
Contactless is also available, if that’s your preferred method of paying for transport and your public transport use is minimal. Simply tap your debit or credit card and go.
2 day Amsterdam itinerary: Getting around Amsterdam
Amsterdam is very easy to travel around, due to its size and excellent public transport.
The network is managed by GVB, who offer single tickets and multi-day tickets. Single tickets are valid for an hour and cost €3.40.
Multi-day tickets are available for the following:
- 24 hours: €18
- 48 hours: €24
- 72 hours: €30
These can be purchased in metro stations and at tram stops. Alternatively, you can book yours in advance, if you’re an extremely organised person. Take the voucher to a service point in the city to grab your card.
Of course, most locals simply travel around by bike. I would recommend doing this only if you are a confident rider.
If you are slow, you’ll have people whipping around you, which can be a bit disorientating.
Watch out for the tram tracks too, while biking. Tyres + tram tracks do not mix.
You can rent a bike in advance for convenience or organise a rental when you arrive in the city.
Remember that Amsterdam is one of the most walkable cities in the world. The last time I visited, I just navigated everywhere on foot, which was extremely nice. This 2 day Amsterdam itinerary can mostly be navigated by foot, so you don’t necessarily need to hire a bike.
Make sure you watch out for cyclists, as they have right of way. I recommend looking both ways before crossing any streets.
When is the best time to visit Amsterdam?
It really depends on what you want to do.
If seeing tulips is a must, then the best time to visit is April to mid-May. Keep in mind this is an incredibly busy time to visit, so you’ll be battling crowds. April should be generally okay, with the weather beginning to improve. Most tourists start travelling to the city in May.
Summer is chaotic in Europe in general. If you’re visiting during this time, make sure you book your desired experiences in advance. You’ll obviously have a better chance of nice weather and there’s a lot going on; plus the long daylight hours are lovely.
If you want to avoid the crowds, I’d suggest pushing a trip out to September or October. You’ll miss high tourist season, which is a boon. Keep in mind, it may start to get a bit rainy. Bring a jacket and umbrella and perhaps opt to explore via public transport, rather than by foot or on bike.
Is the I amsterdam City Card worth it?
city cards can be very helpful if you’re visiting a destination for a short time.
You can purchase the I amsterdam City Card for 24, 48, 72, 96, or 120 hours.
- All public transport
- Bike rental for a day
- Entry to the Rijksmuseum, the Jewish Quarter and Rembrandt House
- A canal cruise.
While you’re planning your 2 day Amsterdam itinerary, I’d do some maths.
- Which activities you plan on doing
- How often you will be using public transport (keep in mind, the route to Schiphol Airport is not included)
- Whether one day’s bike rental is enough.
Crunch the numbers and if you’re getting a significant saving with the I amsterdam card, then go for it. For this particular itinerary, I wouldn’t say it is worth it.
Should you purchase the Museumkaart?
This card provides unlimited free entry to 450 museums in the Netherlands – including 39 museums in Amsterdam.
It is geared towards residents rather than international tourists, as it gives locals a year’s worth of use. You also have to have it posted to a Dutch address, after navigating a Dutch website online to buy it.
It is possible to buy a temporary Museumkaart at some museums. However the temporary card is only valid for 31 days and 5 museum visits.
It costs €64.90 and is available for purchase at Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, among others in the city.
If you are only visiting Anne Frank House and either the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum, I wouldn’t recommend buying it.
However, if you are spending more than 2 days in Amsterdam (or taking a day trip to another destination) and plan on visiting at least five museums, it may be something worth considering.
Concluding your 2 day Amsterdam itinerary
I hope this has helped you in your trip planning! Two days in Amsterdam is enough to see the sights, eat some delicious food and perhaps even squeeze in a cheeky day trip to somewhere cool.
Hopefully this 2 day Amsterdam itinerary has given you a few ideas for experiences off the beaten path, so you can experience the best of this gorgeous city.
Travelling around Europe? These posts may help with your planning:
- Exploring the Westfjords of Iceland
- Is Athens worth visiting? Yes – here’s why
- How to spend four days in Berlin
- The ultimate 2 week road trip guide to Ireland
Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam? What are you most excited about seeing?