Amsterdam is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. The city of canals, coffee shops, the red light district and bicycles… But Amsterdam has much more to offer to visitors and that is why it is one of the cities that you can’t miss in any trip to Europe. This guide will help you plan your trip to spend 2 days in Amsterdam and make the most of the city.
While 2 or 3 days is a short time to get to know a city, Amsterdam is a small town where most of the touristic activities are concentrated in the same area. So while a 2-day trip is not enough to see everything, it is possible to see the main sights of Amsterdam in 2 or 3 days.
On this post you will find:
- How to get to Amsterdam
- When to visit Amsterdam
- How to get around Amsterdam
- Where to stay in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam discount cards
- 2 days in Amsterdam itinerary
Getting to Amsterdam
Like most European cities, Amsterdam is well connected to other cities and countries by air and land routes.
- Getting to Amsterdam by plane: Amsterdam can be reached by plane from any of the capitals of Europe. Schiphol Airport is located 15 kilometres from Amsterdam.
GETTING FROM AMSTERDAM AIRPORT TO THE CITY: The cheapest and easiest way to get to the centre of Amsterdam from the airport is by taking the train to Amsterdam Central station. The price of the ticket is about 5 euros and the journey only lasts 20 minutes. If you’re traveling in a group of 3, the best thing to save time and just relax is to book this airport private transfer.
- Getting to Amsterdam by train: Another way to get to Amsterdam is by train. If you choose this option I recommend that you book your tickets in advance because the closer the date of the trip, the more expensive the prices get. The webs I recommend to book train tickets in Europe are RailEurope (this is where I got my tickets to get to Amsterdam from Paris) and Omio (for booking flights, train and bus tickets). All trains arrive at Amsterdam Central Station which is located in the northern part of the city center, where most hotels are located.
Need to store your bags? If you’re only in Amsterdam for one day and need a place to store your bags, you can check out LuggageHero, a company that allows you to store your luggage wherever you go and perfect for when you need to spend hours in a city and need a place to store your things. You can drop off your bags in some of LuggageHero’s network local shops located around Amsterdam Centraal Station and other popular places in the city.
When to visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a very touristy city and receives thousands of visitors all year round. Its weather is moderate and there are many rainy days. The weather in Amsterdam is moderate.
During winter, the average temperature is 5°C and it can snow. It is a great season to visit because there are less crowds. During summer, the average temperature is around 20°C and rains are the lowest. Summer months are also the most crowded.
One of the best times to visit the city is from the end of March to mid-May, when the tulips bloom and the gardens look stunning. To see tulips you can visit Keukenhof Park, a beautiful spring garden located close to the city. I recommend you buy the entrance to the park online to save money and skip the lines. You can cancel the purchase for free until 24 hours before your visit.
How to get around Amsterdam
The best way to get around Amsterdam is by foot. It is a small city and most of the tourist activities are in the same area so most likely it will not be necessary for you to use other transport. Strolling along its picturesque streets, with its canals and it’s unique architecture is amazing and you won’t get tired of walking.
Every Amsterdam citizen bikes everywhere. You will notice this as soon as you arrive to the city because you will literally spot more bikes than people. So another great option to get around Amsterdam is to rent a bike. You can also take this guided bike tour where you will see one of the most important places of the city.
If you plan to go somewhere farther away you can always take the tram. A GVB ticket covers unlimited transportation on buses, trams, and the metro during its period of validity. You can buy single tickets, or multi-day tickets. GVB tickets can be purchased at tram stops and metro stations.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of the European cities (or I dare to say of the world) where accommodation prices are super expensive. That’s why I recommend to book the accommodation in advance. Here are some of my reccommended places to stay in Amsterdam:
- ClinkNOORD Hostel: This is the hostel I stayed and I would definitely recommend it. It is a modern hostel, with a very cool and fresh atmosphere. It has an equipped kitchen, a bar, a living room and a playroom. Each shared room has their own bathroom and you can also book private rooms. The hostel is located in Amsterdam Noord. You get there you need to cross the river by free ferry from the central train station. This ferries that run 24 hours a day and depart every 5 minutes. The journey lasts only 3 minutes. Click here to find the best rates for ClikNOORD Hostel
- The Flying Pig Downtown: The Flying Pig has 3 hostels in Amsterdam and which are really popular among young travellers. They offer free buffet breakfast, fully equipped kitchen plus a bar!. The Flying Pig downtown is especially known for its festive atmosphere. It is located in the center of the city, a few meters from the Central station. Click here to find the best rates for The Flying Pig Downtown
- Hotel CC: The Hotel CC is a 3 star hotel very well located in the city centre, a few blocks from Central station. The rooms are very nice and comfortable. This hotel is perfect for couples and families. Click here to find the best rates for Hotel CC
- NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace: If you’re looking for a bit more fancier hotel, NH Collection Amsterdam is located meters away from Amsterdam Central Station and Dam Square. The rooms are big and it has all the facilities from 5 star hotels. Click here to find the best rates for NH Collection Amsterdam
You might also like: How to spend one day in Rotterdam
Amsterdam Attraction pass – I Amsterdam Card
If you are planning to visit many attractions I recommend you buy the I Amsterdam card. This card includes free admission to 44 museums and attractions in Amsterdam and also allows you to ride the city transport for free for the duration of your card. The card includes a free canal cruise and 25% discount offers at cafés and restaurants. You can buy the I Amsterdam Card for 24, 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours. Click for more information about I Amsterdam Card.
2 days in Amsterdam Itinerary
- Amsterdam Free Tour
To start your two day visit in Amsterdam I recommend taking the free tour offered by Sandemans. On this free walking tour, you can get a general view of the city. The tour covers many of the top Amsterdam attractions, including Dam Square, the Royal Palace, the Red Light District, the Anne Frank House and more. The tour starts in front of the National Monument in Dam Square, daily at 10 am, 10.30 am, 11 am, 1.30 pm and 2 pm. More info at Sandemans web.
If you prefer you can see Amsterdam on this Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.
- Dam Square
Amsterdam central square is the heart of the city and is surrounded by historic buildings such as the Royal Palace (Old Town Hall), and the NieuweKerk or new church. It’s a very nice place to walk around.
The Museumplein is the area where you will find the most important museums in Amsterdam and also the famous letters of “I Amsterdam” of which I’m sure you’ve seen thousands of pictures.
Some museums you can visit in Amsterdam are:
- Rijksmuseum: The most important museum in Holland which houses more than 8000 works of art. Buy the ticket online to skip the lines.
- Van Gogh Museum: If you have to choose one museum to visit in Amsterdam, it is definitely Van Gogh’s. This museum houses the most important collection of the artist: it has more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 letters. A must visit for art lovers and especially Van Gogh’s art. I recommend to buy the tickets online, specially because it is the most popular museum in Amsterdam.
- Diamant Museum: A very particular museum where you can get to know the history of diamonds. The museum has replicas of some of the world’s most famous diamonds. More information here.
- Stedlijk Museum: Museum of Modern and contemporary art. Click here for more info
- Hermitage Amsterdam: Dutch branch of the Museum of Art and Culture of St. Petersburg. Click here for more info.
- Rembrandt House Museum: a museum dedicated to Rembrandt, located at the very same house where the artist worked and lived between 1639 and 1658. Click here to buy your entrance ticket in advance.
One of my favorite places in Amsterdam is Begijnhof, a courtyard surrounded by houses that date from the early 14th century. Here you can find the oldest house in the city, built around 1420. Inside houses number 29 and 30 is the Begijnhof Chapel, which was a clandestine church built in the 17th century. Begijnhof is a quiet and beautiful place with many hidden stories. You can enter Begijnhof from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.
If you choose not to visit museums and you have some time left on your first day, you can visit Vondelpark. This is the most important park in Amsterdam and it is located near Museumplein. It’s a beautiful place to wander between lakes, flowers and maybe have a picnic.
- The Anne Frank House
If you are interested in visiting Anne Frank’s House, I recommend doing so first thing in the morning as the lines are really long. Anne Frank’s house is a must visit, especially if you’ve read her diary and know the story well. Visiting the original house where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis during the Second World War is a unique opportunity.
I suggest you book tickets as soon as possible because they sell out quickly, especially during holiday periods. Tickets are available on the official Anne Frank House website two months in advance.
- Flower market
After visiting Anne Frank House, you can walk around the Jordaan district which is one of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. You can continue walking along the Singel Canal until you reach the Amsterdam flower market. This is a floating market where you will find all kinds of plants and tulips. If you visit Amsterdam in spring, you can’t miss this tour to Keukenhof, the park where you can walk among thousands of colorful tulips.
- Amsterdam Canals
As you probably know, Amsterdam is known as the “Venice of the North” because of the number of canals that are a tourist attraction itself. Walking along the canals is amazing but seeing the city from a boat is even more amazing! That’s why I recommend taking a canal cruise in Amsterdam
The tours last around 1.5 hours and allow you to see the city from a different perspective. It is an activity that I definitely recommend doing. I loved it, and I’m not a person who usually does tours. If you take the tour during sunset, you can also see all the houses light up which is beautiful. Here are some different boat tour options:
- Amsterdam 1.5 hour canal cruise for $13.62
- Amsterdam light festival boat cruise (only available during winter)
- Amsterdam 2-hour dinner cruise
If you still have time on day 2, you can visit the former Heineken brewery, where the famous beer was manufactured until 1988. Nowadays it is a museum where you can learn the history of the brand and taste beers, of course. Entry ticket includes 2 drinks and a tasting of Heineken.
- Red Light District
You can finish your 2-day trip to Amsterdam by visiting the Red Light District, one of the most curious places in Amsterdam. Prostitution is completely regulated in Netherlands, and in this neighborhood you will see the places where prostitutes work. Besides this it is a neighborhood with sex shops, coffee shops and shops selling all kinds of things. It is a safe neighborhood and you can just wander through it. It is completely forbidden to take photos of the workers.
Day trips from Amsterdam
Do you have a few more days? These are some of the day trips you can take from Amsterdam:
- Zaanse Schans: The windmill village Zaanse Schans is located just 30 minutes from Amsterdam and is a beautiful place to visit if you have some extra days. Find out more about Zaanse Schans half-day tour here.
- Rotterdam: Another great place to visit in one day from Amsterdam is Rotterdam, a modern and beautiful city in the Netherlands. If you want you can combine Rotterdam, Delft and The Hague in this full-day tour. You can also read more about Rotterdam on this post: How to spend one day in Rotterdam.
- Keukenhof garden: If you visit Amsterdam during spring you can’t miss Keukenhof, the world’s largest spring garden. Buy the entrance to the park online.
- Bruges: known as the Venice of the North for its picturesque canals, Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium and is located about 250 km from Amsterdam. Read about the things to do in Bruges.
Amsterdam Coffee Shops
Finally, what everyone has beena waiting for… Amsterdam is known worldwide for its coffee shops.
What are coffee shops? Coffee shops are basically cafes or bars where weed sale and consumption is legal. Most coffee shops do not sell alcoholic drinks and smoking is not allowed. At the coffee shops you can also sit down for coffee or any drink, without consuming any drugs.
Important: it is legal to buy and consume marijuana within the coffee shops, but it is illegal to do it on the street or in a public place. You can smoke weed only in Amsterdam coffeeshops.
That’s it travelers! With all this info you already know what to visit in Amsterdam in 2 days. It is a really beautiful city worth visiting. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or email me.
Traveling for more than 3 days? Check out the Amsterdam Travel Guide
Other useful posts:
- How to spend one day in Rotterdam
- Tips for planning your first trip to Europe
- Winter packing list for Europe
- The best free museums in London
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