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 it is possible to see Amsterdam in 2 or 3 days, at least the essential.
How to get to Amsterdam
Like most European cities, Amsterdam is well connected to other cities and countries by air and land routes.
- Plane: Amsterdam can be reached by plane from any of the capitals of Europe. Schiphol Airport is located 15 kilometres from Amsterdam. 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.
- 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 web I recommend to book train tickets in Europe is Rail Europe. This is where I got my tickets to get to Amsterdam from Paris.
All trains arrive at Amsterdam Central station which is located in the northern part of the city, which is just a few minutes from the city centre where most hotels and accommodation are located.
When to visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a very touristy city and receives thousands of visitors all year round. The weather in Amsterdam is moderate and although it can snow in winter, it never reaches the extreme cold.
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.
If you plan to go somewhere farther away you can always take the tram or why not, rent a bike and become a local citizen.
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. You can use my discount links and save some money: €15 Booking discount and €35 discount at Airbnb.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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 or 96 hours. Click for more information about I Amsterdam Card.
Another alternative is the Holland Pass, a pass that includes up to 6 free entrance tickets at museums and attractions in Amsterdam. Some of the attractions you can visit are: Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Heineken Experience, Madame Tussauds, Keukenhof Gardens and more. Click here for more information about Holland Pass.
How to spend 2 days in 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. More info at Sandemans web
- 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.
- Museumplein: 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:
–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.
–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
- Vondelpark: 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 infinite. 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 during the 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! Book a 1-hour canal cruise in Amsterdam
The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and allows 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.
- Heineken Experience: If you choose not to visit the Anne Frank House and 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.
Do you have a few more days? Visit Alkmaar and Zaanse Schans as a day trip from Amsterdam.
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
- Travel resources and discounts
- The best free museums in London
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