With 2 days in Amsterdam, you have enough time to explore all the city’s best attractions and soak up the fabulous atmosphere. In this post we share our favourite things to do in Amsterdam and then help you plan your perfect Amsterdam 2-day itinerary.
1. Is Two Days in Amsterdam Enough?
2. Must-See Sights in Amsterdam
3. Best Museums in Amsterdam
4. Fantastic Walking Tours
5. Parks, Beaches & Outdoor Activities
6. Off-Beat Activities
7. What to do at Night in Amsterdam
8. Amsterdam Mindful & Wellness Activities
5. Foods You Must Try in Amsterdam
6. Eco-Friendly Hotels
7. Useful Apps for Travel in Amsterdam
8. Should You Get the Amsterdam City Card?
7. Our Amsterdam 2-Day Itinerary
8. Grab Your Free Printable Amsterdam Trip Planner
My first few visits to Amsterdam were underwhelming. My 2-day trips from London, where I was living at the time, just didn’t impress me. But on my fourth visit, something clicked. I realized that the problem wasn’t Amsterdam, it was that I just hadn’t experienced it properly.
Now, Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities in the world and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been there. I’ve even been lucky enough to spend two full months in the city, petsitting and getting to be a part of expat life.
Since there is so much variety in Amsterdam and every traveller has different needs and interests, our guide to 2 days in Amsterdam is a little different than most.
I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do with every moment of your 48 hours in Amsterdam. Instead, I’m suggesting the most interesting (not always the most popular) attractions in Amsterdam in categories like museums, tours, mindful activities and tours.
Use my suggestions to create your own perfect 2 day Amsterdam itinerary.
However, if you’re in a real hurry and trust my taste implicitly, at the end of this post I share our perfect 2–day itinerary (with options for a third day, too).
Read on for our guide to…
What to do in Amsterdam in 2 Days
Is two days in Amsterdam enough?
I have to admit, I unabashedly, unreservedly, unashamedly, love Amsterdam.
So no, a 2-day trip to Amsterdam is not nearly enough to see everything! But it will give you a good taste for the city.
Two days is enough to see the main iconic sights of Amsterdam, enjoy walks along the canals, and cozy up in a few fantastic restaurants or coffee shops.
But Amsterdam will always leave you wanting more!
If you’re on the fence about stretching your visit to three days in Amsterdam, do it! I pinky swear that you will not be disappointed.
Don’t miss our guides to renting a bike in Amsterdam, finding the best food in Amsterdam, and yoga & wellness in Amsterdam.
Iconic Must-See Sights in Amsterdam
Every city has its iconic sights, which might be touristy, but must be seen nonetheless. Like the Eiffel Tower, The Bridge of Sighs, or The Colliseum, Amsterdam has a few sights that must be a part of your Amsterdam itinerary. These are the iconic things to do in Amsterdam in 2 days.
1 hour, free
While most of Amsterdam is characterized by narrow streets, tall wooden houses, and charming canals, Dam Square is the exact opposite. A gaping space in the city centre, Dam Square is surrounded by grand stone buildings, such as the Town Hall / Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk, and the Krasnapolsky Hotel.
Dam Square is the perfect place to start your Amsterdam visit because it’s the place where Amsterdam began. It is the sight of the original dam on the Amstel River, built in 1270, which connected the settlements on either side of the river. It also gave the city its name — Amstel-Dam.
The Jordaan and The 9 Streets
2–4 hours, free for window-shoppers
These are technically two separate sights but I’m lumping them in together (artistic license!) because they are next to each other and can easily be explored in one afternoon.
The 9 Streets is essential for people who like to shop (or browse). Get away from the blight of chain stores on Amsterdam’s Kalverstraat and Leidsestraat and discover independent boutiques of all flavours.
The Jordaan is home to a wonderful selection of quirky bars and restaurants, so work up your appetite in the 9 Streets and then eat your fill in the Jordaan.
I’d put these neighborhoods at the top of my list of what to see in Amsterdam in 2 days.
Canals and Bridges
2–4 hours, free
You’ve heard the saying tired of Amsterdam’s canals; tired of life, right? No? Well, now you have!
I can’t imagine ever getting bored of the canals in Amsterdam. They offer endless opportunities for exploring and taking pretty pictures of boats. There is really no wrong way to experience Amsterdam’s wonderful network of canals – just wander and gaze to your heart’s content.
If you are seriously A-type, and need a specific plan, then here are your canal-watching instructions.
- Steer your canal tour past the grand houses on the Golden Bend, where wealthy merchants lived in the 17th Century.
- Keep heading east along Herengracht to the bridge at Reguilersgracht, where you’re supposed to be able to view 15 bridges at one time. I could only spot 7!
- Continue a little further east and turn right along the banks of the Amstel until you arrive at the picturesque Skinny Bridge.
There. Now you’ve “done” Amsterdam’s canals.
The Best Museums in Amsterdam
When we travel, we almost never visit museums and galleries. But in Amsterdam, art is baked so deep into the culture that even we can’t stay away! Here are our picks of the places to see in Amsterdam in 2 days for art and history lovers.
Anne Frank House
1–2 hours, €10, book tickets 2 months ahead
As one of the most famous houses in the world, Anne Frank House needs no introduction. The trouble is, it’s so famous and so incredibly moving that getting a ticket is a challenge.
If Anne Frank House is on your list, make sure to hit their website exactly two months before you want to visit, when 80% of the tickets are released. Otherwise, you can try your luck first thing in the morning on the day you want to visit.
If you can’t get into the museum, you can take an Anne Frank walking tour of Amsterdam and learn about the city in World War 2 through Anne’s eyes.
Van Gogh Museum
1–2 hours, €19, book fast lane tickets now
I have a confession. I’m not a huge fan of fine art. It’s just not my thing.
What I do like is to learn more about the people behind the art. The Van Gogh Museum does an excellent job of sharing the story of his life through his art, letters, and journals.
I especially loved the stories about adult Vincent moving back into his parents house. They were embarrassed by their good-for-nothing artist son and no doubt told him he would never amount to anything! The moral of the story — don’t let your parents run your life.
2–4 hours, €17.50, book tickets to skip the line
If you (unlike me) are a fan of the grand masters of the art world, the Rijksmuseum is a must-see on your 2 days in Amsterdam. With Rembrants and Vermeers galore, you’ll get to see some of The Netherlands national treasures and learn about Dutch history at the same time.
The museum is huge, so take a guided tour if you want to ensure you get to see some of the most important and interesting pieces in the collection.
Stedelijk Museum / Design Museum
Allow 1–3 hours, €17.50, book ahead to skip the line
If you like modern art, especially weird pieces from artists you’d rarely see anywhere else, make a visit to the Stedelijk Museum. The Stedelijk is unlike any other modern art museum I’ve visited. The collection is off-beat enough that it will appeal most to die-hard fans of the genre.
Allow 1 hour, €14
One museum we consistently enjoy in Amsterdam is FOAM. It’s a small photography museum that collects some bizarre and some beautiful pieces. We don’t always fall in love with the featured artists but they are always thought-provoking and powerful enough to change our perspective a little.
Fantastic Amsterdam Walking Tours
Walking tours are one of the great pleasures of city travel – I don’t think I’ve ever been on a bad one! Not only do they help you get your bearings in a new place and introduce you to the history and culture of the city, but the guides are endless fountains of knowledge.
If you want a local’s perspective on almost any topic, make sure you ask your guide!
Enjoy a Free Walking Tour
3 hours, free plus tip for guide
A free walking tour is always my first activity in any new city I visit.
Even though I’ve been to Amsterdam a half-dozen times, I still joined FreeDam Tours for an afternoon walk on our most recent visit.
Amsterdam’s free walk is a little different from most — the main topics are sex, drugs, and beer! It’s a great way to start your visit to the city and get a solid understanding of what makes Amsterdam tick.
Treat Yourself to a Vegan Walking Tour
3 hours, €79
Since you have limited time in Amsterdam, this Vegan Food Tour is a great way to sample a range of vegan delights in quick succession. You’ll get to explore classic Dutch foods, including bitterballen and Dutch weed burgers (seaweed, that is), while learning a little more about vegan culture in Amsterdam.
Indulge in a Beer Tour
3 hours, $62, book ahead online
Forget the Heineken Experience! If you want to explore the amazing world of beer brewing in Amsterdam, this Amsterdam beer tour is the way to go. Not only will you sample some of the best craft brews from the city, but you’ll learn the stories behind the breweries and Dutch beer culture, too.
See the Amsterdam at Night section for Canal Cruises and the Outdoor Activities section for an awesome Bike Tour.
Parks, Beaches & Outdoor Activities
For people who love to go outside and wander, Amsterdam is a delight. Its endlessly beautiful canals, clean quiet streets, and incredible green spaces make Amsterdam one of my favourite cities in the world.
1–3 hours, free
This central green space is a gathering place for all Amsterdamers – dog walkers, office workers, artists, acro yogis and more all gather in Vondelpark on a sunny afternoon. For a true Amsterdam experience, bring a picnic, a few bottles of beer, and kick back for an afternoon soaking in the sun and relaxing.
Head to the Beach
4–8 hours, €6 for train ticket
I don’t know about you but when I think of Amsterdam I don’t really think of beaches. Yet, Amsterdam has its own beach, easily accessible by train.
OK, so it’s not quite in the city centre but 30 minutes from Centraal station you’ll find Zandvoort Beach, a magnificent stretch of sand with plenty of beach cafes and bars to feed you.
There are also a selection of urban beaches, which might be a better bet if you’re only spending 2 days in Amsterdam.
See Amsterdam the Best Way – on a Bicycle!
3 hours, €7.50–€36
Biking is ubiquitous in Amsterdam. Almost everybody does it! Renting a bike in Amsterdam and riding the many bike lanes is our favourite thing to do in the city.
To avoid cycling aimlessly in Amsterdam (and to stay safe!), join an Amsterdam bike tour. We recommend this 2-hour bike tour of Amsterdam’s major attractions to give you a great intro to the city.
Off-Beat Activities in Amsterdam
If it’s not your first time in Amsterdam, or if you just want to do something a little unusual while you’re there, these are the activities we suggest.
4 hours, free ferry from Centraal
For a side of Amsterdam that fewer tourists see, hop on a free ferry from Centraal Station and cross the Amstel to North Amsterdam. There, you can ride on Europe’s tallest swing (if you dare), check out the filmic exhibitions at EYE Museum, admire the street art at NDSM Wharf, or grab a tasting flight at our favourite brewery in Amsterdam, Oedipus Brewing.
Watch this silly video to see what you’ll find in North Amsterdam!
2 hours, €15
If you ever sensed there was an invisible hand controlling every aspect of your life — you’re right! It’s microbes.
Microbes shape your entire experience on this planet, from what you taste and smell to when you get sick and when you recover. They’re everywhere all the time — and a visit to Micropia will reveal them to you.
De Poezenboot / The Cat Boat
1 hour, free / by donation
Possibly the only floating cat sanctuary in the world, The Cat Boat is for true kitty lovers only. The houseboat is a rescue and adoption centre for the stray cats of Amsterdam. You can visit between 1pm and 3pm every day except Wednesday and Sunday. Admission is free, but please leave a donation!
What to do at Night in Amsterdam
In most cities, it’s tough to find anything interesting to do in the evening, unless you’re a club lover. Not so in Amsterdam. Amsterdam after dark is arguably more beautiful than in the daylight hours, plus it’s safe to walk almost anywhere, and there’s lots to keep you entertained.
2 hours, pre-rolls start at €2.50, book a coffee shop tour
If you’ve been to a modern marijuana dispensary in Colorado, Oregon, or BC, you might find Amsterdam’s coffee shops to be throwback to a different era. While a few have modernized and can barely be distinguished from a Scandinavian café, many are still a little on the seedy side. They have dark interiors, music blaring, and a haze of pot smoke so thick you can barely see through it.
The good news is, most also have a well-informed staff who are more than happy to suggest the perfect product for whatever high you want to achieve.
If you’re a pot newbie, take it easy, follow the unwritten rules, and don’t mix your drugs with alcohol. You don’t to spend one of your 2 days in Amsterdam regretting the night before!
1.5–4 hours, €15–€100, book a city canal cruise
Full disclosure — I’ve never been on an Amsterdam canal tour!
However, according to every other person ever, a canal cruise must-do when you visit Amsterdam. Seeing the city from the canals is the way it’s meant to be seen – and will make you feel a part of the original city, when the waterways were the easiest way to get around.
If you want the eco-friendly and budget-friendly version of a canal tour, rent a pedal boat and see the canals at your own (slow) pace.
Red Light District
Listing Amsterdam’s Red Light District as a tourist attraction disturbs me on so many levels but ignoring its existence seems just as bad. The city has brought the sex industry into the 21st Century by treating it as any other service. This has allowed Amsterdam’s sex workers to become legitimately self-employed and to be properly protected by the law.
However, since the rest of the world has yet to catch up, many of the women you’ll see behind glass as you walk the streets of the Red Light District have been forced into this work, either through trafficking or extreme poverty.
To avoid the sickening drunken frat-boy vibe that hits its peak around midnight, go in the early evening. If you want to buy a “service”, it’s a minimum of €15 for 15 minutes but — fun fact! — the average appointment lasts only 6 minutes. (No surprise there! Am I right ladies?) The amount of time spent wrestling with your conscience afterwards is up to you.
Visit a Brewery
1–3 hours, tour at ‘T IJ €6 includes glass of beer
No, we don’t mean the Heineken Brewery! Don’t waste even a minute of your Amsterdam 2-day trip on this way-too-touristy experience.
There are lots of independent brewers in Amsterdam where you can drink several small-batch craft beers for the price of a ticket to the Disney-fied Heineken Experience. Our favourites in the city are the ‘T IJ Brewery (no matter how impossible it is to pronounce) and Oedipus, in Amsterdam Noord.
Amsterdam Mindful & Wellness Activities
A mindful travel guide to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without suggesting a few wellness activities. We love combining mindfulness and wellness with our travels, since it seems to help the life-changing aspects of travel sink in a little better!
Join a Yoga Class
Allow 2 hours, around €15 for a drop-in class
Since Amsterdam is filled with expats, and there are almost as many yoga studios as coffee shops, you’ll have no trouble finding a yoga class in English. Try the popular Delight Yoga, which has several branches around the city.
Don’t miss our guide to the best places to practice yoga in Amsterdam
Visit Mahara Holistic Lifestyle
As long as you like, price varies
This shop / cafe / meditation space / spa in west Amsterdam describes itself as a “holistic templeshop”. At Mahara you can sip a chai, wander the garden, or attend an event in the big yurt. Events include talks, meditations, and workshops. Remember, not all events will be in English!
Float Away Your Stress at Koan Float
45–120 minutes, €32.50–€70
If you’ve always wanted to float in the Dead Sea or to experience zero gravity, try a float session. At Koan Float, the tanks are filled with warm, heavily Epsom-salted water, so you float effortlessly. It’s a great way to relax your body after a day out on Amsterdam’s streets and the perfect place to practice meditation.
Join a Meditation Evening at Centrum voor Mindfulness
2 hours, €10, in English on Tuesday at 7:30pm
If you already have a meditation practice, or used to, but need a refresher, then stop by Centrum voor Mindfulness on Tuesday evening. During the 2-hour session, you’ll get to practice mindfulness training with a skilled trainer. It’s a great way to meet people in the city and reconnect to yourself.
Foods You Must Try in Amsterdam
Each country and city has dishes that define its food culture. Not surprisingly, many of Amsterdam’s best are designed to be munched late at night, while lurching drunkenly down the street. Just don’t stumble into a canal.
The town I grew up in had a Dutch Pancake House and it was the first place I experienced savoury pancakes. For a Canadian kid used to maple syrup and butter, this was a huge innovation in eating!
Ever since, I have just assumed that pancakes are The Netherlands’ national dish. The Dutch do pancakes almost as well as Canadians, so put ’em on your Amsterdam feed-bucket list.
For vegan or gluten-free options, visit Pancakes Amsterdam.
I don’t know why we call them French fries, because the Dutch are way more into their fries than the French will ever be! A paper cone of fries from almost any street stall in Amsterdam makes for the perfect afternoon snack. Of course, you’ll have to eat them the Dutch way, smothered in your selection of sauce, from mayonnaise to peanut sauce to classic ketchup.
For vegans, at most fry stands, the only sauce option is ketchup. But Smullers in Centraal Station has vegan mayo and Mannekin Pis on Damrak has vegan peanut sauce.
Pancakes, fries, and now… apple pie? Did America steal all its best culinary ideas from The Netherlands? Don’t worry America, Dutch apple pie is not the same as your homeland fav. It is a cake-y concoction, filled with apples and cinnamon and then topped with a crumble crust. It still tastes excellent with ice cream though.
These little deep-fried balls win the Weirdest Food in Amsterdam Award. The classic version is a ball of meat paste (or gravy) which is breaded, deep fried, and served to drunken people in bars. Though I’ve never had the meaty version, the animal-friendly kind are actually very tasty!
To experience Amsterdam’s amazing food scene fully, try a walking dinner tour — veggie and gluten-free diets accommodated.
Amsterdam’s Eco-Friendly Hotels
Though Amsterdam is awash with hotel options, there aren’t very many independent or small hotel chains in the eco-friendly range. Here are a few of the best.
Ecomama Hostel & Hotel
9.0, dorms from $22, double from $100
For budget travellers who want to put their best environmental foot forward, Ecomama is your place in Amsterdam.
The small hotel uses up-cycled furniture, fair trade building materials and eco-conscious heating systems while also reminding guests to behave in an environmentally conscious manner. The private rooms will give you all the comfort you need in Amsterdam, while the dorms are some of the best budget accommodation in the city.
Plus, there’s a super social atmosphere, so it’s easy to find people to hang out with in the big city.
Need more help finding your perfect budget-friendly bed in Amsterdam? Check out this post from The Broke Backpacker about the best hostels in the city.
8.8, double room from $90
This small chain of hip hotels has a modern take on eco-conscious, with furniture made from recycled yogurt cups (does it really smell like strawberries?), and locally brewed beer and apple juice in their restaurants. They have four central hotels in Amsterdam, but we like the one in Westerpark best, for its nature-based location, its eco-friendly gift shop, and because it is the first wind-powered hotel in The Netherlands.
9.0, apartment from $200/night
This Green Key Gold certified property is not just eco-conscious and socially responsible, they have designed the ideal accommodation for people who travel and work — like me. Their smallest loft apartments are just 24m² (250 ft²) but they include a king-sized bed, a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and couch. They have incorporated many of the smartest design features from the tiny house movement, too. I want to move in right now!
Useful Apps for Travel in Amsterdam
The official Amsterdam Transit app is invaluable for helping you get around Amsterdam. It includes the tram, metro, and bus routes around Amsterdam, is easy to use to plan a route, and even gives you the departure times from your selected stop. And it all works offline!
By the way, you can buy tickets from the driver or conductor on all Amsterdam trams. They even give you change.
Especially if you’re planning to bike around Amsterdam, maps.me is essential. Attach your phone to your bike with The Finn, set up a GPS route to your destination, and then follow along on the easily readable onscreen instructions.
Should You Get the I Amsterdam City Card?
This question is most easily answered after you download and complete your free Amsterdam trip planner.
The Amsterdam City Card is available in four flavours: 24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, and 96 hours.
The Amsterdam card gives you free admission to almost every museum in Amsterdam, free transport on Amsterdam’s fantastic tram system, and a one-hour canal cruise. It also includes discounts on bike rental, the A’dam Lookout, and a few restaurants around town.
Ranging between €60–€100 ($67–$110), the Amsterdam card is only worth it if you want to spend a LOT of time inside Amsterdam’s museums. If you’re going to see three museums per day plus do a canal cruise on the same day and take the tram at least four times, then it pays for itself.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a punishing schedule! The last thing you want to do in Amsterdam is be rushing around trying to get your money’s worth on your Amsterdam card.
Our 2 Day Amsterdam Itinerary
We encourage you to create your own Amsterdam itinerary – so much that we even made an easy fill-in-the-blanks planner for you. However, if you really want an authentic My Five Acres experience, here’s our ideal 2 day Amsterdam itinerary. Plus, we’ve added a third day, just in case you take our advice and extend your trip.
To be perfectly honest, chances are we would not get to all these activities and would spend a lot of the time just wandering the streets taking pictures and observing!
Day 1: Amsterdam on Foot
- Breakfast: Pancakes at Pancakes Amsterdam (with vegan, gluten-free, & animal-based options)
- Morning: Free Walking Tour with FreeDam Tours
- Lunch: Falafels at Maoz
- Afternoon: Wander Dam Square, 9 Streets, & Jordaan
- Dinner: Vegan Ramen at Men Impossible (make a reservation!)
- Evening: Turn in early, that was a long day!
Day 2: Amsterdam Art & Parks
- Breakfast: Quick bite at the hotel
- Morning: Rijksmuseum (first thing to avoid the crowds), Van Gogh Museum
- Lunch: Vegan Junk Food Bar
- Afternoon: Buy a few beers and hang out in Vondelpark, back to the hotel for a nap
- Dinner: Budget Ethiopian food at Mooshka
- Evening: Coffee Shop or Yoga Class (2 very different kinds of high!)
Our 3 Day Amsterdam Itinerary
With three days in Amsterdam, we wouldn’t change a thing about our first two days. Here’s what we would do on the third day.
Day 3: Amsterdam on Two Wheels
- Breakfast Seek out a place near the hotel for breakfast
- Morning Lot 61 for coffee
- Late morning Rent a bike and ride to North Amsterdam or bicycle tour
- Lunch Cafe de Cuevel
- Afternoon Bike to Uitdammerdijk, stop in at Oedipus for a beer, grab fries with vegan mayo at Smullers
- Dinner Local restaurant for dinner
- Evening Brouwerij ‘t IJ for drinks
Whether you have 2 days in Amsterdam, 3 days, or more, I hope you enjoyed our mindful travel guide to Amsterdam! We provide this info for free (of course) but in return, we ask that you comment below to let us know what your most looking forward to seeing, doing, or eating in Amsterdam!
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Jane & Stephen
We’re not going to lie, it takes a LOT of work to create travel guides like this. But it’s easy to help us out! If you book or buy something using one of our personal links in this post, we’ll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Of course, we would never recommend anything we didn’t 100% believe in! Huge thanks in advance! –S&J