We always seem to forget how amazing Amsterdam is until we get there, and then we’re reminded of how much we adore it. We are quickly wooed by the reflections of the canals, the buzzing atmosphere and the architecture that has to be seen to be appreciated.
We’ve spent a couple of weeks there in total, but if you only have 2 days in Amsterdam to visit, don’t worry — it will take you less than that to fall in love. Here are the top activities and must-see attractions that will be sure to make Amsterdam one of your favourite European destinations.
Morning Day 1
Ease into the city’s sights by taking a canal tour. It’s a beautiful (and historical) way to see the character of the city and an up-close look at its amazing architecture. These tours lap around the historical centre of Amsterdam. What a charming way to have all of your senses to soak in the city! You could take an open boat cruise or enjoy breakfast on a specialized catered trip.
Afternoon Day 1
A trip to Amsterdam isn’t complete unless you take in the Dutch Masters. A visit to an art museum or two will be a treat to your aesthetic sensibilities. Rembrandt has a museum dedicated solely to himself (Rembrandt House Museum), or you could take in the Van Goh museum if your interests are more in tune with the modern art movement.
Evening Day 1
Your first day in Amsterdam has most likely left you famished. To fill your appetite for everything Dutch, tasting the cuisine of the Netherlands is a must, especially if you have a craving for homey, comfort food. The Pantry has the greatest variety of traditional Dutch foods for you to choose from, like the classic erwtensoep (split pea soup) as well as dishes inspired by Indonesia, a former Dutch colony. Moeders is another popular spot which serves traditional cuisine, albeit with a slight more luxurious flair.
Morning Day 2
When most people think of the Netherlands, they think of tulips. The Tulip Festival is the pride of the whole country. The famous Keukenhof Gardens are located right outside Amsterdam, and if you happen to be visiting the city between March 18 and May 18, this is a must-see. The gardens are located only 30 miles away from the city and are an idyllic backdrop for an afternoon stroll. If you can’t visit during tulip season, there is a tulip museum to visit located in the historic centre of Amsterdam.
Afternoon Day 2
Probably the most memorable attraction in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House. In order to fully absorb the haunting experience, take your time to peruse everything— the pictures, the text— very carefully. You can take specific guided tours through the house; the family program is recommended especially for those with younger children, or you can move through the very narrow spaces on your own. Because it is such an important location, it is recommended that you purchase tickets online before visiting in order to avoid long lineups.
Evening Day 2
Amsterdam is considered the most bike-friendly city in the world, so before settling on your last place for dinner in the city, be sure to rent a bike to zip through all there is to see that can’t be done on foot. There are countless bike rental terminals throughout Amsterdam where you can pick up a bike and ride to another location to return the bike. There are guided bike tours throughout the city, or you could choose your own adventure. And you’ll blend in—trust me. It is estimated that 60% of inner-city traveling is done on bicycle.
After your quick trip you’ll realize that spending 48 hours in Amsterdam isn’t nearly enough time for such a charming city. However, these sites and activities are sure to give you the best taste of what it has to offer, and may even inspire reasons for you to return at another time.