Amsterdam is an incredible European city offering endless opportunities to learn about history, indulge in unique cuisines & experience Dutch culture. If you have 2 days in Amsterdam, you’ll certainly have an unforgettable experience!
Amsterdam is a world-famous hub for freedom and individuality. Commonly known for lax laws on marijuana and prostitution. Throughout history, minority groups would flock to Holland to live in relative freedom for ethnic and religious persecution. Today, the Netherlands is notoriously friendly towards the LGBTQ community.
Amsterdam is also regarded for its beauty, sometimes called “Venice of the North.” It’s a city built from corkscrewing canals, lined with Medieval-style homes and riddled with enchanting bridges.
2 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary
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This itinerary includes some of the top tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Also, you’ll find recommended restaurants and shops.
On Day 1 in Amsterdam, you’ll visit the legendary Anne Frank Museum or the Our Lord in the Attic Museum. You’ll also taste Dutch cheeses at Reypenaer and visit Dam Square.
On Day 2 in Amsterdam, you’ll bike to Rijksmuseum and take a boat ride through the canals. You’ll taste the best stroopwafel in town and dine at one of Amsterdam’s best restaurants.
If case you have more time in Amsterdam, you can also check out the Amsterdam Museum, the historic Botanical Garden or take a stroll through nearby Prinseneiland.
For help getting around, you can save this Amsterdam Tourist Map.
Amsterdam Itinerary Day 1
Start your first day in Amsterdam with breakfast at Omelegg in City Center. They’re open from 7 AM on weekdays, and 8 AM on weekends.
Next, you’ll visit the Anne Frank House. NOTE: THIS ACTIVITY INVOLVES ADVANCE PLANNING. It is a very small museum with over a million visitors annually, so tickets are sold in advance online. Tickets are released for any particular date exactly 2 months in advance of that date at 12:00 PM CET timezone. Mark your calendar, set your alarms, and get your tickets in advance if at all possible.
If your trip is in less than 2 months away, there is another option. Some tickets are released daily (for admission on that day) at exactly 9:00 AM CET. If you can’t get your hands on these second wave tickets, no worries, check out the Our Lord in the Attic Museum instead.
I highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House, especially if you’ve read Anne Frank’s Diary. Walking through the house is an emotional journey, you’ll get to imagine exactly what it was like for Anne Frank and her family to live in hiding.
I also highly recommend the 30-minute introductory program, it’s a great refresher on WW II history and provides additional background information about Anne Frank’s family.
The Our Lord in the Attic Museum is another small museum. It won’t take longer than an hour to visit. In the attic of this bourgeois house, you’ll find a secret Catholic Church.
This secret church was built in 1663. At the time, Catholics lost the right to worship publicly as a result of the Protestant Reformation. Although, the Dutch being Dutch, turned a blind eye to these secret Catholic churches because they didn’t want to scare away their fellow Catholic merchants.
Anyways, Our Lord in the Attic is one of the oldest museums in Amsterdam. Also, it has an interesting collection of religious artifacts and paintings.
Once you’ve had a morning museum visit, you’ll want to head over to Reypenaer for an unforgettable cheese tasting experience. I also recommend booking this activity in advance.
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without experiencing the taste of Dutch Gouda. During the cheese tasting experience, you’ll learn more about the Reypenaer company and their dedication to authentic cheesemaking processes that ensure the highest quality. You’ll sample 6 of their finest cheeses paired with wine (or non-alcoholic beverages).
BONUS: You can eat as much cheese as you like during the tasting 🙂 We ended up bringing home 2 of their Le Guillotin devices (one for us and one as a gift). These look incredible on any appetizer table when you’re hosting a shindig.
Late Afternoon/Early Evening
Head to Lion Noir for lunch. They have a beautiful outdoor courtyard with posh garden vibes. The restaurant is located in Herengracht’s Golden Bend, a prestigious neighborhood. The interior of Lion Noir is also noteworthy, having won awards for Interior Design.
Lion Noir promises locally sourced ingredients, often evolving menus and carefully crafted cocktails. At a minimum, you must indulge in a glass of wine in their courtyard.
Your afternoon of sightseeing in Amsterdam will take you through Begijnhof, The Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Dam Square, the New Church, the Red Light District, and the Dancing Houses. Sound like a lot? I hope you packed your walking shoes.
Start by visiting Begijnhof. It closes at 5PM and it’s a little difficult to find…but that’s because it’s a hidden courtyard. This Begijnhof is one of Amsterdam’s best-known hofjes. It was a closed community for unmarried women (or widows) where they could live in peace and safety during the madness of the Middle Ages. It’s a quaint and scenic place that doesn’t take much time to visit.
Find other romantic places in Amsterdam.
Next, you’ll want to head over to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam and Dam Square. You can elect to check out the inside of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam or appreciate it’s glorious facade from Dam Square. The palace was built during the Dutch Golden Age and represents the neoclassical architectural style.
Dam Square is the heart of Amsterdam. It is the original location at which the River Amstel was first dammed. This made it possible to create a thriving city out of swampy marshlands. Dam Square was historically the main market square. In modern times, it’s a transportation hub, a meeting grounds and an excellent place for people watching. Many horse and carriage companies operate out of Dam Square.
Once you’ve checked out Dam Square, you’ll want to visit the New Church. It’s located right on the edge of the Red Light District in Dam Square. It was built in the 15th Century and has many beautiful stained glass windows. Inside, you can visit elaborate altars and monuments. Climb the tower at the New Church for sweeping, panoramic, views of Amsterdam.
The New Church is the most important church in the Netherlands. Many of the recent Dutch monarchs have been inaugurated here.
Finally, finish off your sightseeing with a stroll through the Red Light District. Remember that prostitution in the Netherlands is a legitimate profession. Show respect and don’t take any photos of the sex workers.
Head to Restaurant Blauw in the Red Light District for dinner. Blauw is an upscale Dutch Indonesian fusion style restaurant. Trying Indonesian food is the thing to do in Amsterdam.
Indonesian food is widely popular in Amsterdam, the two countries have shared a colonial past after all. Over 10% of people in the Netherlands have Indonesian roots. So, if you want to do as the locals do, go check out Restaurant Blauw.
After you’re done with dinner, if you have more energy for tourist activities (and the sun hasn’t yet)… take a sunset stroll to the Dancing Houses. These are a group of pretty canal homes that are most notable for their lateral slants.
The Dancing Houses appear to be toppling over, or”dancing”. The reason for this is that they are literally sinking into the ground, and unevenly at that. Many of the canal homes in Amsterdam were built hundreds of years ago on top of logs pinned into the sand. Over time, these logs rot and degrade somewhat inconsistently.
Amsterdam Itinerary Day 2
You’ll start off Day 2 in Amsterdam with a hearty breakfast at the famous Pancake house. Dutch Pancakes are characteristically larger and thinner than American pancakes. They can be sweet or savory, and they’re often served with apple butter or powdered sugar.
Next, you’ll pass through the Flower Market. This is a great place to pick up tulip bulbs for mom or grandma. Also, grab your souvenir magnet and postcards.
Next, head to 9 Streets. This is an especially pretty street with some unique shops. Check out the Dutch line Scotch & Soda. Grab a rental bike at Black Bikes 9 Streets. You’ll need this to get to Rijksmuseum (and to have a truly authentic Amsterdam experience).
From 9 Streets, it will take you less than 10 minutes to bike to Rijksmuseum. Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s antiquities museum. It’s a huge, incredible, museum. Expect to spend at least 2 hours here, but easily spend more if desired.
After you visit the museum, take your bike for a spin around Vondelpark. This is Amsterdam’s biggest and most popular green space.
Head to Foodhallen for lunch and then return your bike at 9 Streets.
Then grab a stroopwafel at Van Stapele Koekmakerij. This is where locals go for fresh stroopwafels! Stroopwafels are Dutch dessert wafer cookies made from 2 thin layers of cookie sandwiching a layer of caramel. They’re amazing!
Late Afternoon/Early Evening
In the evening for Day 2 in Amsterdam, you’ll want to take a self-guided cruise through the canals.
You can rent a canal boat at Mokum Boat. You’ll have 2 hours to enjoy the waterways alone or with a group of friends. I recommend cruising through Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, and Singel. These are the most scenic canals. Another option is to join a canal cruise.
Finish your last day in Amsterdam with a formal dinner at Restaurant De Kas. You’ll want to make a reservation online in advance. This is one of Amsterdam’s hottest restaurants!
Restaurant De Kas is set in a bright, airy, and modern greenhouse space. Their food is grown in the greenhouse or at nearby farms. Menus are seasonal, fresh and careful created. Everything is extremely healthy, so no guilt either! It’s a gastronomic experience in Amsterdam unlike any other.
More time in Amsterdam?
– Visit Prinseneiland. This is an artsy, tourist-free, neighborhood on an island.
– Have an edible at a “coffee shop.” If you like getting high, Amsterdam’s the perfect place to enjoy marijuana legally.
– Museum of Bags and Purses. Any woman’s dream, this museum documents hundreds of purses through history. You can also have high tea here!
– Amsterdam Museum. Learn more about this incredible city at the Amsterdam Museum especially history related to trade, art, and tolerance.
– Botanical Garden. One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world!
Amsterdam Travel Tips
– Skip the iAmsterdam card unless you’re sure it will save you money. (Add up what you could use it for and make sure it is less than the cost of the card) You’ll be highly unlikely to use public transportation (as long as you don’t mind walking). Also, it’s difficult to visit many museums in one day because you will be burnt out. So, it’s hard to save money with this card.
– There aren’t many rooftop bars in Amsterdam (most of the buildings are quite short). For nightlife, check out the bar at the W Amsterdam.
– Consider a free walking tour if you are interested in learning more about the city & its history. We recommend FreeDam Tours.
About Valentina’s Destinations: I’m originally from Nis, Serbia. My family moved to the US when I was young, and I’ve been living in Chicago for the last decade. My passion is travelling the world with my boyfriend, Remigijus. When we’re not travelling, I work as a physician assistant in the psychiatry field. The mental health field is as rewarding as travelling can be.