I’ve been living in Amsterdam for almost 6 months now, and yet, I feel like there’s still so much to explore! I’m happy that finally, my co-fox Natalie visited me last August even just for a short trip. And because I’m *almost* like a local now, all the itinerary and planning was left to me…which, I didn’t mind! However, I didn’t take this lightly. I took this as a challenge to create the best 48-hr itinerary in Amsterdam (or Holland) for those travelling for a short amount of time but still want to get the most out of it. By the way, I also made a quick city guide to give you some more information about the city before you travel.
Everyone knows when travelling to Amsterdam, there are only 3 things to remember: Canals, Red Light District, and Coffee Shops. Those are basically the key elements of the whole “Amsterdam Experience”. I always say that’s only 2% of what the city is about – but let’s be honest, you just kind of have to get it out of the way while you’re here. 🙂
IAmsterdam City Card
This is quite key for your 48-hr travel challenge. This city card is a must when you want to save time and money while exploring Amsterdam (and the neighboring cities). Aside from having free entrances to major museums, you also get to use it as a transport card (bus, tram, metro), plus get a free 1hr canal cruise. You can also get a Regional Train ticket that lets you travel outside of Amsterdam city for a couple of days. For more information on the card and discounts, click here.
Rent a Bike
If you really want to travel like a local, then do it the proper way – ride a bicycle! The Netherlands has more bikes than people. In fact, it’s super engraved in their culture that it is still their most popular way of getting around. If you’re confident riding a bike, then you can rent one for a day or two at one of the local shops. I recommend YourCityBike.Com as they have some sturdy, high-quality bikes, plus amazing customer service. Note: if you’re just a beginner, consider walking or using public transportation instead. Believe me, there are some killer cyclists out there 🙂
First 24 Hours
Start in the heart of Amsterdam: Dam Square. Everything is pretty much walking distance from here. Walk through Nine Streets, a quaint, picturesque canal-district where you can find designer boutiques and cozy cafes. The atmosphere is lovely to walk around and take pictures! Walk past the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market) to see and smell some beautiful flowers – something the Netherlands is quite popular for. Then, go up to Blue Cafe to see a magnificent 360-degree view of Amsterdam city while enjoying a hearty lunch.
From Singel Street, walk through Rembrantplein, a small but very busy square bustling with restaurants, pubs, and coffee shops. To get your culture fix, in the middle of the square you will see a statue of Rembrandt, a master Dutch painter, and other men representing his most famous work, the Night Watch. Aside from taking some photos with the statues, make sure to check out the Brasserie Schiller. It’s a lovely 100-year-old Art Nouveau building, decorated with etched-glass panels and stained-glass skylights, serving very traditional Dutch food – certainly worth a visit.
Time to go deep into Amsterdam city! Make your way to Oude Kerk (Old Church) where, ironically, is where the Red Light District is also located. There’s an interesting history behind De Wallen (“The Wall”) and why prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. If you’re curious about it, check out the Red Light District tour or Museum of Prostitution. They’re all pretty educational at the same time very open and liberal. Cap your night with a beer or two in some of the brown cafes while enjoying the sunset by the canals. Welcome to Amsterdam!
Morning – Afternoon – Evening Route First 24 Hours
Total distance: 3.65 Km
Last 48 Hours
Time for some hearty brunch! There are sooo many good places to eat in Amsterdam but my suggestion will be to start in De Pijp. De Pijp is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam because it’s so “downtown” with a lot of really good cafes and bars popping out. Have coffee or eat brunch at Little Collins to start. They have an amazing brunch menu and a lovely atmosphere. Then make your way to the iconic street market, Albert Cuyp. It’s open every day except Sundays, from 9am – 5pm. Try out some local Dutch delicacies like the dried fish herring, stroopwafels, and bitterballen. Mmmm, food trip!!!
Get some nature fix and head to the majestic Vondelpark! Walk, tram, or even cycle your way there from De Pijp. If you’re cycling, even better – you can train yourself here to be confident of the chaotic Dutch roads! Spot a Picasso sculpture, have a picnic, and perhaps people watch. If you’re lucky, there’s an open-air theatre and sometimes concerts happening in the area. Since Vondelpark is also near Museumplein, take a museum trip to either Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum, or Moco Contemporary Museum. Yup, there are 4 major museums in the area, so go crazy! Note that you’d have to reserve tickets online for Van Gogh, and some of these museums have a line so if you’re pressed for time, just pick 1 or 2 for now.
In the evening there a bunch of places to go for dinner and drinks. If you don’t mind the overly-touristy-slash-busy places, you can hang out at Leidseplein after where you can find loads of restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for some nightlife in Amsterdam, this is the place to go! But if you want to go on a real food trip once again, head to Foodhallen, where you will find an eclectic mix of quality food vendors, plus a good gin & tonic bar for gin lovers.
Morning – Afternoon – Evening Route Last 48 Hours
Got More Time?
If you have more than 48 hours or you’d like to add more activities in your itinerary, here are more suggestions you can do:
- Climb the A’DAM Tower – and maybe swing over the highest swing in Europe
- Go to the Heineken Experience and sample the Dutch’s most prized beer
- Book a cheese tasting experience at Reypanaer
- Canal cruise – Amsterdam by boat
- Party at the Gay Street and most popular bar, Soho
- Go bungee jumping (available only on Saturdays at NDSM)
- With a group of friends, play an escape room challenge (there are loads in the city)
- See the only windmill in Amsterdam at Brouwerij ‘t IJ and sample local Dutch beer
- Order the “French Kiss” shot in Lion Noir. You’re welcome.
Are you guys travelling to Amsterdam soon? Bookmark & share this article if it’s useful!