Amsterdam in 2 Days: everything you need to know

Are you going on a 2-day getaway to Amsterdam? Although it may not seem like it, 2 days can give you a lot to do in the Dutch capital. Here's how.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

7 min read

Amsterdam in 2 Days: everything you need to know

Amsterdam canals | ©Adrien Olichon

At first glance, it might seem that getting away for 2 days is not enough to experience all there is to see and do in Amsterdam. However, the capital of Holland is not a huge city, but quite manageable. That's why, during 2 days, although you won't be able to explore everything in depth, you will be able to get to know the must-sees.

Day 1: Getting to know the best of Amsterdam

Dam Square| ©Travelinglao
Dam Square| ©Travelinglao

On the first day we will take in the most interesting monuments, streets, canals and districts. It's a good opportunity to wander around and soak up the atmosphere of the city.

I'll show you how to get the most out of it on foot, but of course you can book Amsterdam bike tours that will reveal much of these charms while pedaling.

Book a bike tour in Amsterdam

Having breakfast in Dam Square and its surroundings

This is a historic space dominated by the baroque National Palace and the National Monument, a nearly 22-meter obelisk commemorating the Dutch fallen in World War II.

Dam Square is also a meeting point for locals, so there is no shortage of places to sit and have a drink. In fact, it may be the best place to start the day with a hearty breakfast. I advise you to order a typical Dutch breakfast, which includes toast with butter, cheese and jam, as well as sausage, juice and coffee.

Nearby is one of the most outstanding monuments of the city: the Nieuwe Werk, a late Gothic cathedral that you can enter for 10 € from 11:00 to 17:00 hours.

Strolling along the canals

Amsterdam canal cruise| ©DennisM2
Amsterdam canal cruise| ©DennisM2

Amsterdam has more than 160 canals and just a 10-minute walk from the Nieuwe Werk you will reach the Raadhuisstraat artery, which runs through several of them:

  • Singel
  • Herengracht
  • Keizersgracht
  • Prinsergracht

Getting to know the canals will take you just 20 minutes of walking and it is a very satisfying plan. However, if it is one of the things that attracts you the most, and you do not want to settle for the views from the bridges, you can take a canal cruise in Amsterdam.

Book a canal cruise in Amsterdam

Grab a bite to eat in the Jordaan district

If you've worked up an appetite, you're very close to one of the city's most dynamic districts: Jordaan. It's just past the Prinsergracht canal, so you won't have to deviate from your itinerary.

It is a district full of dining options and, if you want to optimize your time, you are in a neighborhood full of tourist attractions that you can not miss. After lunch, you can continue your exploration of the city in Jordaan, with the most important places in this district:

Back to the history of the Netherlands in the Anne Frank House

Exterior of the Anne Frank House| ©Daryl Mitchell
Exterior of the Anne Frank House| ©Daryl Mitchell

About 6 minutes walk from one of the arteries of the Jordaan, Rozengracht, is the Anne Frank House. A space dedicated to the figure of the famous Jewish girl who wrote in her diary the daily life of the Jewish community under the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

In this place you can immerse yourself in the history of Anne Frank. Photos, archives, films and original objects help to better understand the political and wartime context surrounding Anne Frank.

If you prefer, you can also take an Anne Frank tour of the Jewish Quarter, so that in addition to learning about Anne's story, you can discover the neighborhood with a local guide.

Book an Anne Frank tour of the Jewish Quarter

A little nightlife in Leidseplein and the Red Light District

Approximately 15 minutes walk from the Anne Frank House, you will find the Leidseplein square and its surrounding streets. It is one of the liveliest areas of the city, where restaurants, stores, bars and nightclubs abound.

Wouldn't it be great to take a stroll through its streets and squares and then take the opportunity to have dinner and then go out for a while? In addition, in your walk you will also find some outstanding buildings such as the following:

  • Municipal Theater
  • American Hotel
  • The Holland Casino

Want to keep the party going? Well, about 15 minutes in the direction of the city center you will find the Red Light District. A controversial place that, however, is also a party area with pubs and nightclubs. In fact, there is a Red Light District tour that will show you everything there is to see.

Book a tour of Amsterdam's Red Light District

Day 2: The museums, the Jewish Quarter and some coffeeshops

Exterior of the Van Gogh Museum| ©Marcelo Campi
Exterior of the Van Gogh Museum| ©Marcelo Campi

The second day will be used to focus on a few places that are worth enjoying in detail, as Amsterdam has an impressive artistic offer.

Visiting the Van Gogh Museum

One of the essential visits in Amsterdam where you can learn about the work of the famous Dutch painter, precursor for many of the avant-garde of the twentieth century. Inside you can see some of the most famous works of the painter, such as "The Sunflowers" or "The Potato Eaters", among others.

It has a total of 3 floors, but I advise you not to see absolutely everything. You could leave in a daze and the idea is to make the experience as pleasant as possible. To avoid this, it is best to take a guided tour of the Van Gogh Museum with a guide who knows exactly what the most important parts are.

Book tickets and visits to the Van Gogh Museum

The baroque splendor of the Rijksmuseum

Visiting the Rijksmuseum| ©Becky Houtman
Visiting the Rijksmuseum| ©Becky Houtman

The Dutch School of Painting is one of the most recognized and popular in the world. It has given birth to some of the most outstanding works of art, as well as unrepeatable authors such as Rembrandt, Rubens or Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum is the National Museum of Painting, so there you can see the highlights of the painting of the Netherlands.

It houses works such as "The Night Watch" by Rembrandt or "The Milkmaid" by Vermeer.

  • Duration: perfectly 3 hours (if you are not passionate about painting, less).
  • Opening hours: from 09:00 to 17:00 hours
  • Ticket price: from 28 €. Except for children under 19 years, who enter for free.
  • To learn more... Visit the post about tickets and guided tours to the Rijksmuseum.

Book a guided tour of the Rijksmuseum

Grab a bite to eat in the Jewish Quarter

Amsterdam had one of the largest Jewish communities in Western Europe in the 17th century, largely due to the expulsion of the Jews in Spain and Portugal.

If you decided to take the tour of Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter the day before, you will have to come back to satisfy your hunger, and if not, you can also take the opportunity to get to know it again. In fact, it may be the perfect opportunity to do the tour if you missed it.

There you will have at your disposal a wide range of restaurants, including kosher food establishments. The quality-price ratio is quite good and you can eat from 6 €.

Book a tour of Amsterdam's Jewish Quarter

End the day in a coffeeshop

Coffeeshop Dampkring| ©Gary Todd
Coffeeshop Dampkring| ©Gary Todd

Coffeeshops are establishments where it is possible to smoke marijuana and hashish. Something that is allowed by law, but only in these premises. Far from being semi-clandestine places or of dubious reputation are fully accepted.

They are bars to all intents and purposes, so if you just want to have a drink or even dinner, you can also do it. In Amsterdam there are more than 200 coffeeshops, so it will be very easy to run into one. Most of them close at 00:00 or 01:00. If you are curious, here are some of the most popular ones:

A bit pressed for time, then opt for tour buses!

Amsterdam Sightseeing Bus| ©John D
Amsterdam Sightseeing Bus| ©John D

If you think that two days will not give you enough time to see so many things, you can always take the tourist buses. This is a good alternative if you want to see the essentials without taking longer than necessary.

This way, you will have more time to relax in a park or, why not, add a couple of museums to your visit. The tours usually last around 7 hours and are accompanied by explanations.

Also, if you want to stop at a particularly interesting place, just get off and enjoy it! Later you will take another tourist bus to continue your exploration.

Reserve your seat on the Amsterdam sightseeing bus