A Weekend In Amsterdam: Things To Do If You Have Two Days In Amsterdam

When you tell people you’re planning a two-day trip to Amsterdam, their mind will immediately show them seedy images of the Red Light District and pungent coffee shops. But while the illicit-made-legit is a theme that shapes most tourists’ experience of the Dutch city, Amsterdam is a popular city break destination for culture lovers and families – as well as horny stoners. I went to Amsterdam for two days on a mission to experience both sides of the laid-back city.

I wasn’t in Amsterdam long enough to visit the iconic tulip fields, but the winding streets and canal banks still offered up a kaleidoscope of colours by day, and the scarlet glow of an Amsterdam night proved to be an experience in itself. I thought I’d share my top things to do if you have two days to explore Amsterdam.

A complete itinerary for two days in Amsterdam

Day one in Amsterdam

Book a tour

Viator has a whole host of options for every type of traveller in Amsterdam. For an overall introduction to the city, I suggest their hop on hop off bus tour. This gives you a great overview of Amsterdam on your first morning, and then you can explore the areas and attractions that suit you afterwards.

Take a walk along the canals

The first thing that struck me about Amsterdam is the charming, if slightly skewed architecture. Every building differs from its neighbour and the streets lean disconcertingly, as though the buildings are half-drunk – or maybe you are. In Amsterdam, it’s hard to tell. This is because it’s a city built on water, and its architecture betrays what’s going on underneath. The concentric circles of 400-year-old canals serve as a reference point for wandering tourists and create a picture perfect city that makes for a ideal weekend away.

What to do in Amsterdam on your first day

A walk along the canal is the best way to take the city in, and if you’re lucky you can grab a table and dine al fresco. A canal cruise is a cool way to see the city from a different perspective, and the headsets will make you feel like you’ve actually learned something about the city you’re visiting. Or make like the locals, and hire a bike!

Don’t miss Jordaan, the artsy part of the city.

Visit the floating Flower Market

Free things to do on a weekend in Amsterdam

Amble through the world’s only floating Flower Market, Blocemenmarkt, and pick up some iconic tulip bulbs to take home to remind you of your trip to the Dam. I tried to convince my boyfriend we should plant bulbs to symbolise our love while we were in Amsterdam, but he wasn’t in to it. Rude.

 

Get cultured

Museumplein is the cultural epicentre of Amsterdam, and this Museum Quarter is where you’ll find the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art. To dodge the crowds, check out the lesser-known  FOAM photography museum, the Tropenmuseum, and the Willet Holthuysen.

Cultural things to do on a weekend in Amsterdam

Alternatively (I feel like any guide to a weekend in Amsterdam inevitably will include a few ‘alternative’ options), the Amsterdam Sex Museum provides some phallic photo opportunities to remind you of your trip to the Netherlands, if that’s what you’re in to.

Join a bar crawl

On your first night in Amsterdam, if you aren’t travelling in a group, a good way to meet people and ensure you go to the rowdiest watering holes is to join a bar crawl starting at Belushi’s. The hostel bar is near Dam Square and is heaving all day and night thanks to the outdoor garden and comfy couches. Smoke outside, pass out inside. Wake up and head next door to The Winston Kingdom – the neighbouring club that hosts live DJs 7 days  a week.

First night in Amsterdam what to do

Day two in Amsterdam

Visit Anne Frank’s House

Learn about the atrocities committed against Jewish people during WWII through one young girl’s eyes at the house where Anne and her family famously hid from Nazis for two years. It’s always busy, so go early in the morning to avoid waiting times.

Shop

Amsterdam has a diverse range of shops in Kalverstraat in the city centre, but the best area for vintage and designer shopping is De Negen Straatjes or ‘The Nine Streets’.

Make sure you stop at the Amsterdam Cheese Shop to indulge your dairy needs. What are you talking about, dairy needs? Of course everyone has dairy needs, don’t give me that lacto-into bullsh*t.

Drink

If you like a pint, you’d be crazy not to visit the Heineken factory while you’re in the Netherlands. For 18 Euro, the Heineken experience is interactive and comes with samples that taste far better than the beer out of the tap in your local boozer.

Should I go to Heineken factory in Amsterdam?

Another place to quell your thirst is the Plaza, where bars and coffee shops like Smokey’s have outdoor seating that sprawls across the pavements and into the streets.

 

Cruise along the canal

Hop aboard a sightseeing boat at sunset for a dinner cruise with drinks. This way, you get to enjoy a slap-up meal with a view of the city from the water. Book your dinner cruise here.

Peep in to the other side of Amsterdam

Curious about Amsterdam’s infamous sex industry? A peep show will give you a glimpse of the city’s X-rated activity without you getting your hands dirty (sorry).

Do some ahem, window shopping

Window shopping is a fabulous past time in Amsterdam. Cringe at the winks and licked lips that will be directed your way as you saunter past girls working their windows. I discovered that the window seat in Tiger Bar is a great spot to sip a beer with your friends and time clients as they dodge in and out of the prostitute’s doors, one after the other.

 

Where to stay in Amsterdam

I stayed with a friend while I was in Amsterdam, then got drunk and booked a room at the Marriott because we couldn’t be bothered getting ourselves to her flat. Oops! Our room was gorgeous and the bed could easily fit four people. I had a great time rolling around. I can highly recommend the hotel, and my friend’s flat – although I’m not sure she’s taking bookings.

Budget friendly options for backpacker accommodation  include The Flying Pig Hostels and Via Amsterdam.


Search more accommodation options in Amsterdam for every budget


How to get to Amsterdam

You can catch the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam. The sailing is 16 hours 30 mins and you should book in advance.


Search flights to Amsterdam


Pick up the Lonely Planet guide to the The Netherlands

Got more time to spend in the Netherlands? You might enjoy a day trip to Bruges. Alternatively, you can see Zaanse Schans, Volendam, and Marken on a half-day or full-day windmill tour departing from Amsterdam. You even get to visit a cheese factory!

Other things to do in Amsterdam

  • Ride the ferry to the North of Amsterdam – it’s free and just because it’s off the beaten path, doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. NDSM is a cool indie hangout you shouldn’t miss if you have more time to explorer.
  • Try herring, a traditional Dutch snack. Best served from a food cart!
  • Visit a microbrewery under a windmill. You can do a beer tasting at De Gooyer in the Oostelijke Eilanden (Eastern Islands).
  • Check out a food market or festival at Westergasbafriek.
  •  If you’re visiting Amsterdam in spring, then take the short 20-minute trip out to the world famous tulip fields (Bollenstreek).
  • Go to an outdoor theatre at 47 acre Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s biggest park.
  •  Eat at Food Hallen – a street food and drink haven in the Oud-West neighbourhood.
  • Escape the crowds at The Begijnhof, one of Amsterdam’s oldest inner courtyards.

 

Have you been to Amsterdam? What would you recommend people do if they only have one weekend there? Leave your recommendations in the comments – I’d love to hear about some local gems.

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Explore Amsterdam in two days: a complete itinerary for a culture filled weekend in Amsterdam that will please every type of traveller

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36 Comments

  1. March 27, 2015 / 7:25 am

    Wow, Amsterdam looks very beautiful. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:36 pm

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  2. March 27, 2015 / 8:39 pm

    Headed over to your website after a comment you left on mine – love your blog name and the design…very well done!

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:35 pm

      Thank you Jennifer!

  3. March 29, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    Cool photos! I visited last summer and loved it.

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      I can’t believe I waited so long to be honest Christine! Love your blog 🙂

      • March 31, 2015 / 5:49 pm

        Thank you! 🙂

  4. March 29, 2015 / 6:29 pm

    Amsterdam is lovely. I have been there just months ago and your photos make me miss that place! Glad to hear that you enjoyed your stay.

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      Thanks you Aileen!

  5. March 29, 2015 / 6:45 pm

    I would love to visit the Heineken factory since I am a big beer fan!

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      I like it even more now 🙂

  6. March 29, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    I am DYING to see Amsterdam, and not just because I’m a horny stoner (but there’s that, too). The canals look so picturesque, and I’ve always liked the idea of biking around a city but feel most places are too intimidating with all the traffic…I think I could handle it in Amsterdam because the city’s so well designed for it. How lucky you’re so close!

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:33 pm

      Haha! Well there really is something for everyone, especially those of us who like a little culture after a heavy night!

  7. March 29, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    Just remember while “window shopping” at night not to get caught taking photos of the actual girls – they don’t take too kindly to that and I’ve seen one or two bouncers jump out of nowhere and throw very expensive tourist cameras in the nearby canals!!

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:32 pm

      Haha Meg, the boys I was with warned me about this when I tried to take out my camera… thank god they told me in time!

  8. March 29, 2015 / 9:38 pm

    Sounds like you had a good time. I can say that it is a great challenge to manage a career and travel at the same time. But I am thinking you can make it work. My time in Amsterdam was very laid back. Walked a lot, visited a couple bars, but didn’t do the things you did.

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:32 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement! It means sacrificing some things, but travelling is totally worth it!

  9. March 29, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    Thanks for the Amsterdam info! That’s the great thing about Europe, you’re so close (literally a 45 min flight or less) and you’re in a new country. I think that’s so incredible. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, or much of Europe, but it’s on my list.

    Cheers.

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:31 pm

      I know, I really want to take advantage of all these amazing places that are right on my doorstep 🙂

  10. Andrea
    March 29, 2015 / 11:53 pm

    Aha oh the city of sins 😉 Fifteen hours man oh man! Sounds like a weekend of partying and enjoying each other’s company. Have flown into Amsterdam a few times and still have yet to explore. How was the Mariott’s?

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      Mariott was amazing! Nice to have a bit of luxury on an otherwise messy trip 🙂

  11. March 30, 2015 / 3:52 am

    I Love Heineken, and I’ve been paying an exorbitant amount to keep drinking it while in Thailand (it’s definitely one of the more expensive imported beers where we live in Chiang Mai!). I think the trip to the brewery to do the tour would be enough reason for me to visit Amsterdam alone! 😀

    • Dannielle Lily
      March 30, 2015 / 12:30 pm

      I would totally stick to Chang in Thailand!

  12. March 31, 2015 / 2:17 am

    I would love to visit Amsterdam! Thank you for all the tips about it. good photos! (:

  13. Madaline
    March 31, 2015 / 1:28 pm

    I think the main draw for me are the adorable and interestingly designed buildings – its just soo… well Dutch! And I actually never have seen one of those vending machines – but that’s enough to get me back there! The child in me adores a vending machine…

  14. March 31, 2015 / 1:27 pm

    I didn’t really enjoy Amsterdam as much as other places but I’ll be the first to admit I only really saw a touristy snapshot of it. Maybe it’s time to go back and give the place another chance?

  15. March 31, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    I have never been to Amsterdam yet, but I’m dying to go!!
    Hopefully I could make it to Netherlands this year, and then I’ll definitely visit Amsterdam, too!

    http://www.therussianabroad.com

  16. March 31, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    15-hour ferry ride to Amsterdam sounds like a lot of fun but would probably be the end of me. Wise decision on the flight. Great pics.

  17. April 1, 2015 / 4:38 am

    You had me at Amsterdam Cheese Shop. It’s one of those cities that’s a must on my list. I MUST GO.

  18. April 1, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    I want to go to Amsterdam. Whenever I see pictures it always reminds me of Copenhagen.
    I think it’s great that you do weekend trips around Europe!

  19. April 2, 2015 / 11:16 pm

    Ive never been to Amsterdam but I would love to go biking around it. I tend to be that boring backpacker that doesn’t drink and prefer to stay in bed reading than going to the hostel bar but, somehow I would love to experience Amsterdam’s night life.

  20. April 5, 2015 / 5:04 pm

    I’ve never really fancied Amsterdam, I guess because of all the bad hype and hedonism, but its great to see there is so much more to the city!

  21. August 3, 2015 / 10:35 am

    Haha the bit about timing people as they go in and out of a window – we do that all the time and the longest we counted was about 2.5 mins 😉 People watching is just the BEST in this city!

    • Dannielle Lily
      August 3, 2015 / 10:38 am

      Hahaha seriously? We had one OLD man who went for ages! Good lad haha. It really is, I’m dying to go back and spend a bit more time taking everything in!

  22. Valeria @ Rome, New York, London, World
    August 27, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    I’m headed to Amsterdam this weekend, thank for your tips! I’ll loo into visiting the Sex Museum 🙂

    • Dannielle Lily
      August 27, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      Have fun!