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Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe, if not the world. There are so many sights and attractions to see, and exciting activities to do that you could spend weeks exploring it. But if you are short on time, here are the best things to do in Amsterdam in 2 days.
This post was written by Ask The Dutch Guy – your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more on Ask The Dutch Guy or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for local tips.
About Amsterdam and The Netherlands
The Netherlands is located in Western Europe, with Belgium to the south, Germany to the east, and the North Sea to the north and west. People commonly refer to the Netherlands as Holland. However, the provinces of North Holland and South Holland are just part of the country.
Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands, with a population of more than 851,000 (2017). More than 3.5 million foreign visitors come here every year, making it the most visited city in the country.
Amsterdam is a historic city and probably the most planned in northern Europe. In the 17th century, it was the center of the world’s economy.
Today, it remains one of the wealthiest, productive, and tolerant cities in the area. The people are friendly and the culture is very open. Communicating with locals is also easy as everyone speaks English well.
It is not a big city, which means the city attractions, especially the beautiful and historic architecture, are easy to access making Amsterdam an attractive place to visit for a weekend.
Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
Tourism in Amsterdam is at its peak in summer, from June to August, when the city is warmest, with temperatures ranging from 21 to 26 degrees Celsius.
During the peak season, the city attractions can be very crowded and unsafe from pickpockets. It is best to come in late spring or early fall to avoid large crowds of people. In autumn and spring, the air is relatively humid and fog is common. A number of foreign visitors think the city is loveliest this time of year.
Amsterdam 2 day Itinerary
Day 1 In Amsterdam
Begin your weekend in Amsterdam with a stroll along the Jordaan neighborhood and 9 Streets. These are the most charming spots in the city and are very popular among local and international tourists.
While Jordaan is a residential area, you can find some very Instagrammable garden courtyards, upscale boutiques, lively markets, and trendy cafes and restaurants here.
Before settling for lunch, spend some time reflecting inside the Anne Frank House on Prinsengracht in Jordaan. However, you cannot just walk into this popular attraction because hundreds of people are queued to visit the house every day. It is wise to buy a ticket online several days or weeks ahead of your visit.
Now a museum, the Anne Frank House is the actual house where young Anne and her family stayed and hid from the Nazis. In hiding, the brave 15-year-old wrote her diary that would become one of the most famous diaries in the world. Sadly, Anne died just two months before WWII ended.
The Franks’ residence has been wonderfully maintained since after the war. Here you will see several artifacts, pictures, and letters of Anne and her family, including other books that Anne wrote.
If you are interested in learning more about the life of Anne Frank and WWII you can so join this guided walking tour.
Lunch shouldn’t be a problem while in or near Jordaan. There are several eateries to choose from, all serving delicious meals.
If you love seafood, check out The Good Companion on Westerstraat, in the heart of Jordaan. They are known for their mussel dishes, oysters, ceviche, whole sea bass, and unique drinks.
For truly Dutch dining, go to Friet van de Tijger on Nieuw Zeelandweg, not far from the Anne Frank House. They serve huge servings of mini prawns, Kibbeling, fries, and lunch delights.
Check out the other attractions in Jordaan like the floating Woonbootmuseum, Amsterdam Cheese Museum, and the Lindengracht and Westerstraat open markets.
Not far away is Amsterdam’s West Church (Westerkerk), which is a Renaissance church completed in 1630. Westerker’s 85-metre tower, called ‘Ouwe Wester’ is the tallest structure in the city. On the steeple is the bright blue-colored imperial crown, which used to be golden yellow before 2006.
Westerkerk is located at the corner of the Prinsengracht and the Rozengracht, next to the lively Westermarkt and not far from the Anne Frank House. Swing by this old Protestant cathedral to hear its lovely carillon, which can be heard several times a day as performers play the bells by hand.
Another popular attraction inside the church is the large organ that rises high above the church entrance. Gerard de Lairesse made the organ panels in the 17th century.
Late afternoon to evening
From here, proceed to the infamous Red Light District or De Wallen just before nighttime covers the city. People around the world are intrigued about this part of town. It represents the open and tolerant culture of the Dutch.
As day turns to night, De Wallen transforms from a historic place with medieval architecture into a haven for sexual and pleasurable adventures. Watch as the flashing neon lights and women behind the windows take over the Red Light District at night.
Dinner at De Wallen is a lovely and interesting experience. Enjoy fine dining and great service at Restaurant Bougainville, located in the luxurious suite Hotel TwentySeven, not far from Dam Square and Madame Tussauds wax museum. This restaurant is known for its world-class cuisine prepared by top chefs in the city.
If you feel like going Asian, go to Ku Kitchen & Bar instead. Located on Utrechtsestraat, Ku Kitchen serves healthy Japanese, Asian and seafood dishes, including vegetarian-friendly options. They are open for dinner and late-night drinks.
Weekend In Amsterdam Itinerary: Day 2
Welcome your second day in enchanting Amsterdam by discovering why it is considered one of the artsiest cities in Europe. Spend your morning inside the world-famous Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum.
A visit to the Van Gogh Museum in the beautiful Rietveld building is like stepping directly into Van Gogh’s world. The museum houses the largest and most important collection of his masterpieces, including drawings and letters. You can get entry tickets to the museum here.
Van Gogh’s works represent his growth as a person and artist. His paintings reflect the anxiety, suffering, love and hope that he experienced in life.
Included in the museum’s permanent gallery are Van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters”, “The Bedroom”, “Sunflowers” and “Almond Blossom”. Also featured are the works of other artists who found inspiration from Van Gogh himself. They include Maurice de Vlaminck and Kees van Dongen.
History will tell you that Van Gogh became more famous and an icon after his death. This museum is dedicated to making the artist’s dream come true, which is to inspire the world after his death.
Rijksmuseum, on the other hand, is the Netherlands’ National Museum. A visit to Amsterdam is not complete without admiring the art, culture, and history on display inside Rijksmuseum.
There are several cultural treasures here, but the highlights are Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”, Avercamp’s “Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters”, and Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and “The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild”.
Completed in 1798, Rijksmuseum is home to more than 8,000 important paintings, 35,000 books and manuscripts, traditional handicrafts, medieval sculptures, and modern artworks. They paint a picture of how the art and culture of the Netherlands developed through the years.
You can choose from several guided tours to let you appreciate the museum more. One of the tour packages allows you to cruise Amsterdam’s canals to see the many sites represented in the Rijksmuseum’s collections.
Getting to Rijksmuseum is not easy without pre-booking your tickets. About 2.5 million visitors come here each year, so getting tickets online prior to coming is good.
Both museums are located in Amsterdam’s Museumplein. You can walk or ride a bike to get there.
Have lunch at the Michelin-starred Rijks restaurant on Museumstraat. Try their famous four-course lunch menu and enjoy lovely service from the friendly staff. Rijks is known for its well-balanced menu, good wines and locally sourced produce.
Spend your final hours in Amsterdam cruising the city’s lovely and popular canals. This is the most romantic way to spend an afternoon in the city, especially as the sun is setting when the waterways and their surroundings turn spectacular.
Amsterdam’s canals are protected by UNESCO for their beauty and cultural and historical significance. They are simply Instagram-perfect, a clear representative of Amsterdam’s charm.
Amsterdam’s man-made grachten (in-city canals) is over 100 kilometers long, with 1,500 beautiful bridges and 1,550 monuments. Each canal offers interesting attractions along the way.
There are several guided tours to choose from, but paddling a rented boat on your own is probably the best way to enjoy the canals. Paddling is easy and safe. There are several types of boats to choose from, including pedal boats.
When choosing to go with a guide, the boatman will take you to important landmarks – along the Gouden Bocht (Golden Curve), the well-known The Magere Brug or “skinny bridge,” the bridge on the corner of Reguliersgracht and Herengracht, and the section of Herengracht between Leidsestraat and Vijzelstraat.
Another way to spend a lovely afternoon along Amsterdam’s canals is on foot or on a bicycle tour. Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride through narrow lanes to discover gardens, restaurants, art galleries, breweries, flower stalls, old monasteries, and historic homes, as well as the hottest European clubs.
Find Accommodation In Amsterdam
The Netherlands’ capital promises a type of holiday that you cannot experience elsewhere in Europe. Even with just 2 days in Amsterdam, you’re be sure to have a fantastic time here.
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