Located in The Netherlands, Amsterdam is a city you have to visit when you’re in Europe. This vibrant city used to be a fishing village back in the 13th century, but it’s now grown into a town big for culture and tourism. You’ll see thousands of locals riding bikes through the streets and appreciate being in such a large city that has so few cars. From tulips to the Red Light District, there’s plenty to see with 2 days in Amsterdam.
Transportation in Amsterdam
From the airport, take the train to Amsterdam Centraal. You’ll be in the center of the city and can either walk to your hotel or take the metro.
The metro is an easy and cheap way to get all over the city once you figure out which routes you’re taking. There’s a small office right outside the train station to buy your card for the duration of your trip. The staff is very friendly and will help you figure out which metro to take.
You can also take an Uber to and from the airport, which will cost around €20-30. It can often take you longer in a car though, as Amsterdam is such a bike-friendly city that getting around in a car is difficult. If you have heavy luggage or are in a rush during your 2 days in Amsterdam, you might prefer this way., however.
Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of the best cities to visit in the Netherlands, so you’ll want to be prepared for your trip. The winter and summer bring completely different weather, so here’s a quick overview of what to expect.
Amsterdam in the Spring
The best time to visit Amsterdam If you want to avoid heavy crowds is spring. This is also the tulip season, which lasts from mid-March to May. There are many tulip fields near Amsterdam that you can easily visit on a day trip.
Amsterdam and its surroundings are very colorful during this season. There is a more-than-decent chance of good weather, though make sure to bring layered clothing and a rain jacket.
Amsterdam in the Summer
This is the season when Amsterdam starts to feel truly alive. Even though the weather is not perfect and bouts of rain can happen, there are plenty of sunny days. The parks are full, and people spend a lot of time outdoors, so this is the best time to visit Amsterdam if you want to enjoy the city’s surrounding nature. Be careful though, because this means the number of tourists is generally very high. The lines for every attraction can get very long, so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you’re in Amsterdam with kids.
Amsterdam in the Fall
Fall in Amsterdam means lower prices, that gorgeous autumn contrast in colors, and increased general accessibility. Though the weather starts to get a bit chilly, this is arguably the best time to explore the streets and to drink coffee at the many cafés in the city.
Amsterdam in the Winter
Amsterdam can get pretty romantic in winter. There’s a certain coziness about the city, and once February comes around the canals tend to freeze which allows people to ice skate on them. This is also the cheapest time to go to Amsterdam, but also be wary that the temperatures aren’t that hospitable once November starts to come to a close.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
Hotel Museum Lane – For a budget hotel that’s in the center of the city, Hotel Museum Lane is a great option. Restaurants and bars are only a few minutes walk away. It’s right by several metro lines as well.
Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken – To treat yourself a bit, stay at the Bilderberg Hotel Jan Luyken. It’s on the outskirts of the central part of town, so it’ll be much quieter to sleep at night.
Spend your first day in Amsterdam relaxing and getting to know the city. Walking around the canals can be confusing at first, but the ones in the main part of the city essentially go in a U shape so keep that in mind to know what direction you’re going.
Best Things to Do in Amsterdam on the Weekend
EYE Film Institute
The film institute is more than just a cinema. It’s also a film museum, café, and restaurant, and it has an astonishing collection of classics. It’s the ideal place for film buffs because the shop has numerous memorabilia that will make film buffs hop with joy.
While there are many beers to choose from in Amsterdam, you can’t visit without having a pint of Heineken. I always find factory tours fascinating, and the Heineken Experience was no exception. You can see how they make the beer from start to finish as well as the history of it.
This giant park is 120 acres and a good place to get away from the city, especially in the warmer weather. Over 10 million people come here each year to relax or catch a show in the open-air theater.
Rent a bike
Do as the Dutch do and rent a bike for your trip. There are actually more bikes than people who permanently live in Amsterdam! Bike paths are all over the city and they far outnumber cars.
Many shops are available to rent a bike and lock. You can essentially ride to anywhere you want, lock your bike up outside, and go in. This is a great activity to do when you’re in Amsterdam with family as well.
Stop and smell the tulips
I’ve always been obsessed with pictures of tulips in Amsterdam so was happy to see some even though it was winter when I was there. Come in the spring to see fields of these beauties. There’s also an Amsterdam Tulip Museum you can visit in town.
This is one of the oldest zoos in Europe, and even though it’s compact, it’s very competently organized. The animal collection includes wild cats, giraffes, and elephants, but you can also find an aquarium and planetarium. This is a great place to spend if you’re exploring Amsterdam in two days.
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Savor Dutch coffee
If you love trying different kinds of coffee, get a cup of Dutch coffee while you’re in Amsterdam. It’s a different method of brewing, so it’s less bitter and acidic. Mine came with an eggnog liqueur and whipped cream, which was amazing.
Drink at one of the oldest pubs
Fun fact: there are over 1,500 bars and cafes in Amsterdam. I’ve never had an easier time finding somewhere to pop in. Trying to get a straight answer about which bar is the oldest bar in Amsterdam is tough, but it was documented that Café Karpershoek got its liquor license in 1606. Either way, it’s fun to drink at a bar that’s at least 400 years old.
TIP: Want to save money on Amsterdam attractions? Book your tickets in advance before you even leave for your trip to The Netherlands!
Seeing Amsterdam in two days is quite a feat, but if you do so make sure not to miss the only museum in the world dedicated to fluorescent art. The Electric Ladyland is a fascinating experience, especially for first-time visitors, and it’s also possible to become part of the art installation for a few moments. Head here if you plan on seeing only a few attractions in Amsterdam in two days.
People watch at a cafe
I loved that the mornings didn’t seem rushed in Amsterdam, even for locals who were going to work. Back to Black is a cute coffee shop to people watch and even has a cat that resides there.
The Foodhallen is the foodie’s paradise. It’s Amsterdam’s premier culinary corner, and with over 30 bars and food stalls, it’s impossible not to find something to satisfy your hunger. It also has an exciting atmosphere because it’s located in an old tram depot. It’s a great place to go for lunch during your 2 days in Amsterdam.
Have Dutch pancakes
You must try a Dutch pancake when you’re in The Netherlands. I went to Pancakes Amsterdam, and they were by far my favorite treat while I was there. They’re very thin and large, and you can get sweet or savory.
De Ton Ton Club
Everyone wants to escape the burdens of adulthood and go back to their childhood. This is a center where adults go to be kids again and to enjoy relaxing sessions filled with Mario Kart, arcade games, and nice craft beer.
Anne Frank House
Everyone knows the story of how Anne Frank hid from the Nazis in World War II, so take some time to see where she was in hiding and learn more about her history. They show her diary and the bookcase that hid the secret passage. When I was there they only took online reservations, so check before you go.
Amsterdam Cheese Museum
The Netherlands produces some fantastic cheese, so stop by this museum to have a few free samples. You’ll also learn how they make the cheese and the history of it. Make sure to stop here during your 2 days in Amsterdam.
This is a beautiful neighborhood with plenty of picture-worthy shots. Take your time strolling through here, grabbing a coffee, and popping into the boutique shops.
Red Light District
You can’t spend 2 days in Amsterdam without seeing the famous Red Light District. It gets its name from the windows with red lights where women hang out to offer their services. Pictures are absolutely forbidden here, so don’t even try to sneak one in.
There are a ton of places where you can buy edible marijuana. Many places also sell joints that you can smoke in the bars and cafes. I would advise you to be careful with how much you consume and preferably be with a group.
I felt safe here at night and was traveling alone, but I would advise people to be on guard. As with any area that’s a tourist attraction, there will be more pickpocketers hanging around.
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If you’re here on a Monday, check out this giant flea market in the Jordaan neighborhood. They have clothes, household goods, and even beauty products for sale.
Van Gogh Museum
I’m not always the biggest museum buff, but the Van Gogh Museum has tons of the famous artist’s original work. You’ll also learn the story of his life and see some lesser-known paintings.
You can’t go to Amsterdam without getting a selfie with the Iamsterdam sign. Go early to try to get it to yourself during your 2 days in Amsterdam.
Day Trips From Amsterdam
If you have the time, there are many great day trips from Amsterdam you can do while you’re spending 2 days in Amsterdam.
The city of Utrecht is a modern chic city that has seen a large boom in recent years because of the largest university in the Netherlands. It’s an incredibly vibrant city that has a relaxed student culture, and it’s ideal for a day trip if you only have 2 days in Amsterdam.
Besides an excellent shopping district, Utrecht has a central pedestrian area that borders a beautiful canal. The canal is an ideal place for picnics, relaxing in cafés, or late night drinks with friends. Utrecht is quite easy to reach, and visiting it is one of the best day trips from Amsterdam. You’ll have a lot of fun and an unforgettable time.
Large portions of Netherlands’ landscape is actually under sea levels, which is why there are so many windmills. The windmills were built to pump out the water to prevent floods. Kinderdijk is one of the oldest spots in the country that has windmills like the old ones. Kinderdijk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has 19 windmills from the 1700s positioned alongside a canal.
You can take a boat ride on the canal if you don’t prefer walking along it. Whatever you do, make sure to see the windmills from the inside. They’re a fascinating time capsule, worthy of a visit if you enjoy seeing the natural sceneries of Amsterdam in two days.
If you only have 2 days in Amsterdam and you’re visiting in the spring, then you have to see the tulip fields of Lisse. There’s a certain magic found in this place, and you’ll come to understand why when you’re taking photos of a colorful field full of tulips.
One of the best ways to explore the fields is by renting a bike. That way you’ll not only get around easy but also experience the Dutch lifestyle. This is one of the best day trips from Amsterdam and, one that you won’t forget anytime soon.
This is another student city like Utrecht, only that its atmosphere and ambiance is much closer to Amsterdam. It has quite an irresistible charm, but it’s great that there are no tourist hordes that roam on its streets like Amsterdam.
The city center is incredibly picturesque, and with like most traditional Dutch cities it’s packed with canals and bridges. Leiden is a city that’s best explored by bike so that you can enjoy your day trip while only spending 2 days in Amsterdam.
Rotterdam has a very colorful, but also turbulent history. The entire city was practically demolished in World War II from bombings, and from its ashes, Rotterdam was rebuilt. Today it’s an amazing city with an incredibly kind soul, and it has a certain vibrancy rarely seen in other Dutch cities.
You can take a boat tour around its harbor, explore its enormous market, or just explore its many fascinating buildings. If you only have 2 days in Amsterdam but crave another historic city, then Rotterdam is an excellent choice.