How to do Amsterdam in 48 Hours
ONLY IN AMSTERDAM FOR THE WEEKEND? FOLLOW OUR 48 HOUR ITINERARY...
Amsterdam is famed for its curving canals, arching bridges and charming cobblestoned streets. Exploring this compact capital in 48 hours promises a packed schedule of culture, art and of course, bike riding. With a rich history, impressive galleries and colourful streets, two days in Amsterdam offers something for everyone. Here’s our 48 hour itinerary...
RIDE LIKE A LOCAL OR CRUISE THE CANALS
It’s no secret that Amsterdam is the city of cyclists. Compact in size and mostly flat, you don’t have to be a pro-cyclist to enjoy the city by bike. So ride like a local and rent a bike for a day or two during your stay. Green Budget bikes and Discount Bike rental are amongst the cheapest, with Dutch bike costing 9€ for 24 hours. They also offer theft insurance for an extra 3€, which is worth the investment.
Once you have your bike rented, it’s time to explore the city’s infamous canal belt. The UNESCO World Heritage Listed area, is quintessentially Dutch. You’ll ride by tulips, clogs and windmills, as you cycle the winding canals and experience a unique part of Amsterdam. This is also a great way to get your bearings, and learn the city’s biking rules.
However, if cycling just isn’t your thing, then the I Amsterdam card, costing 67€ for two days, can save you loads on public transport and even includes a free canal boat cruise. The leisurely, hour-long cruise, takes you through the watery passageways of Amsterdam. Giving you a unique perspective of the city. It is also a great way to see some sights and get the lay of the land.
EXPLORE COLOURFUL SPUISTRAAT
After getting your bearings, head over to the original HQ for street art in Amsterdam, Wijdesteeg and Spuistraat. Spuistraat’s vibrant buildings and Wijdesteeg’s colourful brick lane are famed amongst street artists. This area was once known for squat houses, colourful murals and political posters. While this energy can still be experienced today, many of the squat houses have been moved in recent times. These electric streets, take you out of the city centre and are worth the visit.
Spuistraat is also home to several historic buildings, such as the Dominicuskerk and the Art Nouveau building of the DC Stähle bakery. The area houses a number of concept stores and trendy cafes, perfect for a quick lunch before you continue exploring.
AN AFTERNOON OF HISTORY
Head back towards the city centre (Centrum) to Dam square. The cobblestoned square is located in the historical center of Amsterdam and is the centre-point for the National Monument, the Royal Palace and Madame Tussauds. The square also hosts a funfair several times a year, namely on King’s Day and Christmas.
Just a ten minute walk away is Anne Frank House, arguably the most popular site in Amsterdam. Come prepared and buy your ticket in advance, from 9:00am until 3:30pm the house is only open to visitors who’ve pre-purchased their ticket. After 3:30pm it’s possible to buy a ticket at the museum entrance. However to avoid massive crowds and long lines, be prepared and explore this profound window into the past without having to wait for hours.
Anne Frank's house
COCKTAILS BY THE CANAL
End the day with American style food and cocktails at Rotisserie Amsterdam West. A short walk from the canal, this Brooklyn-style bar has affordable and delicious burgers, fried chicken and the best gin-tonics in town. A great place to unwind after a day of exploring, this busy evening joint can get pretty packed so get in early to secure a seat.
Prepare for a full day of walking or cycling, with a hearty breakfast at Bakers and Roasters. This bright, modern cafe is known for its brunch, homemade baked goods and speciality coffee. Their Eggs Benedict is a crowd favourite and their coffee is the perfect morning pick me up. With cooked breakfast starting at 12€, it's the perfect place to fuel up without breaking the bank.
Head over to Rijksmuseum and crossing, the Van Gogh Museum and the I Amsterdam sign, off your list.
Start off with the Rijksmuseum, exploring its vast collection of iconic art and variety of artefacts. Showcasing over 800 years of Dutch and world history, this is one of Amsterdam’s largest and most popular museums.
Then exit to the museum gardens for a scenic stroll past the Instagram worthy, I Amsterdam sign. Pass the museum’s rose garden to the world-famous Van Gogh Museum. This museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent Van Gogh. Over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters can be seen here.
I Amsterdam sign
The I Amsterdam card gives you entry into both museums and give yourself plenty of time to soak in these gems. Enjoy an afternoon of losing yourself in two of Amsterdam's most popular museums.
LUNCH IN THE SUN
Walk across to Vondelpark and if the lunch permits enjoy lunch under the trees. This huge park, with several ponds and lakes, is a great respite from the city. Meander through this expansive park by bike or foot. Keeping an eye out for a huge Picasso sculpture in the middle of the park, and the wild parakeets who were mistakenly released in 1976. The park becomes fantastically busy on sunny days, so if the weather is fine prepare to stroll through its lush parklands surrounded by bike riders, joggers and people lazing in the sun.
EXPERIENCE TRADITIONAL A DUTCH BAR
End the evening with a taste of traditional Amsterdam flavour and Dutch culture, by visiting one of the cities brown cafes. These local watering holes are a unique part of the city and a window into Dutch culture, food and beer.
A stone’s throw from Vondelpark, Cafe De Wetering, is famed amongst these brown cafes. It's cost atmosphere, warming fireplace and friendly staff, give it the stamp of approval from locals and tourists alike. It has a range of beers on tap, as well as traditional Dutch finger food. The bar is cash only, so be sure to drop by an ATM on your way. This welcoming brown cafe has all the charm of traditional Dutch culture and is the perfect place to end a weekend in the country’s capital.
Article and photos by Alice Dundon - a Berlin based editorial freelance journalist with a strong focus on travel, culture and social-impact pieces. For more follow her on twitter @AliceDundon.