Amsterdam is culturally rich and mesmerisingly beautiful – make the most of your time in the city with this 48-hour insider guide. With so much to see and do, this two-day itinerary enables you to tick off the sights, take in some culture and refuel like a local in the space of a weekend.
Before setting off, reserve a room at one of Amsterdam’s many excellent boutique, affordable or luxury hotels. For centrality, comfort and style, make sure to check out The Hoxton, The Dylan, or Conservatorium Hotel. Hotel de Hallen, a little west of the centre, is a trendy design hotel practically on top of the city’s Food Hallen, a fun indoor market that’s a foodie’s dream.
Pro tip: For the cheapest way to travel around the city, get a GVB card and select different durations for unlimited access to the buses, metro and trams. It’s also well worth checking out the I Amsterdam City Card, which includes unlimited travel, access to the 70+ museums and attractions, as well as a free canal tour. It’s available from 24 hours up to 120.
Morning: Enjoy breakfast in Jordaan
Head to Gs in the Jordaan for brunch. Open from 10am, it welcomes walk-ins and serves up plates from eggs benedict to chicken and waffles. A short walk away from Gs you’ll find Anne Frank House. Pro tip: You have to book online to visit, and it gets booked up far in advance, so be prepared and do this early. If that’s all booked up, check out our list of the best brunch and breakfast spots in Jordaan.
Alternatively, over the road, jump on Flagship Amsterdam’s one-hour boat tour that takes you on a picturesque round-trip of the canal belt for just €16. It’s a more personal experience than some of the larger boats can offer. You can buy drinks on board, and the tour guides share plenty of fun facts about the city.
Afternoon: Check out the Rijksmuseum
Take a stroll south and you’ll find Occo Bar & Brasserie at The Dylan. On sunny days, ask to sit in the courtyard or get cosy indoors and treat yourself to a spot of High Wine, which is Occo’s take on high tea and combines Dutch-inspired plates with wine pairings.
Occo is situated in the heart of the Nine Straatjes, interlinking boutique-lined streets where you could easily spend a few hours and a lot of money in the independent clothing and homeware stores. There are plenty of cafés, if you find yourself in need of a Heineken or caffeine-fuelled pitstop.
Keep heading south and you’ll reach the Rijksmuseum, the largest art museum in the country. It’s home to art and artefacts dating back to the Middle Ages. If modern art is more your vibe, then in the vicinity you’ll find the Moco Museum, which showcases works from Dali and Banksy, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to contemporary art and design. Pro tip: The Van Gogh museum gets booked up fast, and you have to reserve a time slot to visit, so be sure to plan ahead; if you don’t get a slot, there are loads of great museums in Amsterdam.
Evening: Have dinner at a Michelin-star Dutch restaurant
The restaurant at the Rijksmuseum, aptly called Rijks, is a Michelin-star affair that serves Dutch-inspired cuisine. A few times a year, it invites renowned chefs from around the world to take the helm in the kitchen. One for true foodies, it’s well worth booking ahead. Looking for something more low-key? A short walk away is The Pantry, a small and very popular restaurant that serves traditional, homey Dutch food. You can book online. If you’re in town to sample the culinary delights of the city, be sure to check out our guide to the best restaurants in Amsterdam which will point you in the right direction.
Night: Stay in Amsterdam’s museum district for a nightcap
After dinner, head to Door74, a very well regarded speakeasy with an inventive cocktail menu. Otherwise, the five-star Conservatorium Hotel’s Tunes Bar is a lovely spot for a well-earned nightcap after a busy day of sightseeing.
Want to stay out? Check out the Culture Trip round-up of the best nightclubs Amsterdam has to offer.
Morning: Have brunch in Vondelpark
Head east over the Amstel River to Dignita, a glass-walled café in the park that offers up all-day brunch options with a twist, like mushrooms on toast with truffled crème fraîche or umami avocado on toast served with a tempura poached egg. Get there early to avoid the queue and sit outside, weather-permitting. Pro tip: If Dignita is too busy, head down the Weesperstraat to Water & Brood for a hearty plate of fried chicken and waffles or a pancake stack.
Afternoon: Explore Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighbourhood
Head over the picturesque “Skinny Bridge” on the Amstel River, taking in the views, and head south to De Pijp and Europe’s largest daily market Albert Cuyp Markt, where stall holders have been selling their wares since 1905. From traditional homemade stroopwaffels and pickled herring to clothing and leather goods, you can while away a couple of hours walking from one end to the other. If you love a good market, check out our guide to the best markets in Amsterdam.
Afterward, head into De Pijp to CT Coffee and Coconuts or the Scandinavian Embassy for some tea. Once you’ve refuelled, and perhaps had a mooch around the shops, head to the Van Woustraat tram stop and take the number 3 tram to Kinkerstraat where you’ll find the Food Hallen, an undercover market close by. Pro tip: Home to 21 different stands serving up everything from dim sum to pintxos, be sure to try the bitterballen at De Ballen Bar from Michelin-star chef Peter Gast. The traditional Dutch croquette-like snacks contain different fillings like bouillabaisse and truffle.
Evening: Experience classic cocktails at a speakeasy
Kickstart the evening a short walk from the Food Hallen to Bar Oldenhof, a seated-only speakeasy that has a truly vintage feel. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time. The cocktail menu is a welcome mix of old classics and experimental inventions, so ask the knowledgeable staff for advice on what you might like if you’re unsure. Pro tip: If cocktails aren’t your thing, the wine menu is very good, too. There are tons of great wine bars in Amsterdam where you can grab a glass of vino.
Along the road, you’ll find Balthazar’s Keuken, a small restaurant that serves a seasonal three-course set menu of locally sourced ingredients that changes weekly. Each table gets a selection of starters, there is a choice of either a meat or fish main and one dessert option. Alternatively, take a walk to the Singel where you’ll find Breda, a fine-dining restaurant that serves up modern dishes which take inspiration from both Dutch and French cuisine. Choose from three menu options: “a selection of dishes”, a “wide selection of dishes” or “all we’ve got”, depending on how hungry you are.
After dinner, head around the corner to Café Brandon, a traditional cosy brown café. If you’re after something more ritzy, then the bar at the five-star Pulitzer Hotel or the trendy Super Lyan, which can be found in an old 17th-century Dutch house, are worth a visit.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Tom Coggins.