An Efficient 2 Day Amsterdam Itinerary

boats along the canals in amsterdam
This post most likely contains affiliate links to things such as tours, accommodation, Amazon associates and products. This means when you use the link we may receive a small commission at no additional charge to you

Thinking of visiting Amsterdam for the first time? Fantastic! Two days in Amsterdam is a great amount of time for a first visit, it is just the right amount of time to see the main attractions but leave you wanting to return again.

This efficient 2 day Amsterdam itinerary aims to help you see the highlights as well as a few hidden gems.

If this is not your first visit Amsterdam, why not consider visiting a different Dutch city? With train travel being so efficient in The Netherlands it is simple to get to many cities from Amsterdam Schipol Airport.

If you would like a more peaceful alternative to Amsterdam, I would recommend a weekend in Utrecht or if you are a food enthusiast then head to Rotterdam.

Combining your 2 days in Amsterdam with visiting the tulip fields? Here is everything you need to know about the tulips in Amsterdam.

An Efficient 2 Day Amsterdam Itinerary

To further help you plan your 2 days in Amsterdam, be sure to check out my weekend in Amsterdam cost breakdown. This handy post shares the prices of main attractions, accommodation, food and more!

Map Overview

How to get to Central Amsterdam from Amsterdam Schipol Airport

There are 3 modes of transportation available from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) to the city centre of Amsterdam: Taxi, Train and Bus.

The fastest route to the city centre is by hiring an Amsterdam airport taxi. Though it will cost approximately 39€, it will only take 15-20 minutes to reach your destination. If you prefer to plan in advance, you can book this private transfer service, it is more expensive but can work out very cost-effective if travelling as part of a group. 

The quickest method of public transportation is the Train. Train tickets cost 5.40€ and it takes around 20 minutes to reach the downtown area.

An alternative cheap option is the Bus. Tickets for the bus cost 5€ and the journey takes 35 minutes.

If you are looking to fly less, it is possible to get the Eurostar direct from London’s Kings Cross to Amsterdam Centraal, it is longer than flying (3 hours 41 minutes) however you are taken directly to the centre of Amsterdam and on occasion, you can get some really good deals.

Check here to find the best Eurostar prices from London to Amsterdam. 

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Deciding where to stay in Amsterdam, like most cities, is really going to depend on your travel style. I always tend to go for moderate hotels, as I now feel I am past staying in hostels but at the same time I do not want to pay out for a luxury hotel if I will not be spending too much time there.

Read: Where to stay in Amsterdam – a guide for all budgets 

My go-to place to stay in Amsterdam is any of the Ibis hotels as they are fairly priced and have all the facilities I need.

If you are looking for a good hostel, I would point you in the direction of the StayOkay brand as I have heard nothing but good things about them. There are three in the city, two which are more centrally located and one which is closer to Vondelpark, if you are looking for somewhere in a quieter part of the city.

Alternatively, if you are looking for luxury while staying in Amsterdam I would recommend The Hoxton or the Sir Adam Hotel.

Accommodation in Amsterdam does book up quickly, therefore be sure to book in advance to secure the best deals. 

Amsterdam is a moderately sized city but it is well connected and easy to get around. Therefore you will not need to worry too much about the location of your accommodation in terms of what you want to see.

Most people tend to opt to stay in the De Wallen or Centraal areas as they are closest to all of the attractions, I personally prefer the Jordaan or De Pijp neighbourhoods as they are quieter.

flowers along the jordaan area of amsterdam - a great addition to a 2 day amsterdam itinerary

The best way to get around Amsterdam

If you are able, Amsterdam is a great city to walk, it is not overly large and it is fairly easy to navigate. I have personally always felt safe walking around the different neighbourhoods in Amsterdam throughout the day and evening.

If you prefer, the city is well connected via trams and you can purchase a travel ticket (1 – 3 days) which allows unlimited travel on the tram, bus, metro, ferry as well as the Airport Express. You can purchase these online prior to your visit or at various places in the city, including Amsterdam Schipol and Centraal.

There are also multiple places throughout the city where you can hire bikes (most hotels will offer a rental service). Amsterdam is a lot busier than other Dutch cities for bike riding and while there are dedicated bike lanes on the roads, I would only recommend city riding for more confident bike riders.

Alternatively, book on to a fun bike tour:

For the benefit of this 2 day Amsterdam itinerary, I will plan it as if you were spending a short weekend in Amsterdam. Arriving Friday late afternoon and leaving late afternoon Sunday. However, everything in this itinerary is interchangeable across different days.

Friday Evening In Amsterdam

After checking into your hotel or hostel, it will be time to go for dinner and drinks. If you are able, in Amsterdam I will always recommend walking to your destinations, the canals are beautiful to walk alongside and I always feel perfectly safe in the city.

boats along the canals in amsterdam

I would personally avoid walking through the Red Light District on a Friday evening as it will be full of loud stag-dos and generally very noisy, and not a fair representation of the Dutch city.

For dinner head to the Ellis Gourmet Burger, there are multiple throughout the city but there is a one in Jordaan just past the Anne Frank Huis which has an outside eating area by one of the canals. If burgers are not for you, then I also recommend the Little Thai Prince in the De Wallen area.

After dinner head for drinks at Tapzuid in the De Pijp neighbourhood which serves over 25 locally brewed craft beers. De Pijp is a great area to have drinks in the evening, it is away from the main tourist area meaning it will be slightly cheaper but most importantly it has a lot more local feel.

Read more: Fun things to do in Amsterdam at night 

Saturday Morning

Get up early and head for breakfast at De Pluk for a healthy breakfast bowl or pancakes, there always seems to be a queue so I would recommend arriving early.

Alternatively, if you are looking for something a bit different then hop on board G’s brunch boat for a boozy breakfast along the canals (the brunch boat only runs on a weekend). The boat sails for 1.5 hours and will be a great choice if you were planning on doing a canal tour.

After breakfast join a walking/bike tour of some form. Guided tours with a local are the best way to see any city in a short amount of time, you will learn more and it is a great chance to talk to a local and ask for recommendations on their favourite things to do in the city as well.

Depending on your interests there are many types of tours to join in Amsterdam:

2-Hour Saturday Street Art Bike Tour
3-Hour Guided Bike Tour Of Historical Amsterdam
Amsterdam Free Walking Tour

Saturday Afternoon

van wonderen stroopwafel in amsterdam
Stroopwafel from Van Wonderen

After this, I recommend either visiting The Anne Frank Huis or The Heineken Factory, both completely different of course but I do recommend both places out of all the tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Both get extremely busy therefore it is important to book your tickets in advance.

With regards to purchasing your tickets to the Anne Frank House, 80% of the tickets for your chosen date will be released two months before the date, the remaining 20% will be released on the website on the day. You cannot buy tickets at the museum on the day, you must purchase your tickets online

Depending on which attraction you opt to visit, you will have a few hours left in the early evening. The Heineken Factory/Experience is close to Vondelpark which is a great green area in the city to spend some time if the weather is bright.

If you choose to visit the Anne Frank House, spend some time after wandering around Jordaan, here you will find the canals with the bright colourful flowers lining the bridges making it a great area to photograph. In this area, you will also find the Amsterdam Tulip Museum alongside the museum is a shop where you can buy various tulip bulbs to plant at home.

bunches of tulips from the tulip museum amsterdam

Saturday Evening

After freshening up at your hotel head for dinner and drinks at the Foodhallen. Foodhallen in De Hallen is a large indoor food hall with over 20 different stalls, varying from Michelin star concepts to international street foods.

Due to the stall aspect, you can purchase food and drinks in different places, then sit at the tables in the middle, this is a particularly good option if you are visiting as part of a group. After dinner stay inside the Foodhallen for drinks at the G & T bar and Wine bar.

How to get to Foodhallen from Amsterdam Centraal

To reach Foodhallen you can either walk from the city centre (about 15-20 mins) or take tram 17 from Central Station or tram 7 from Leidseplein to the “Ten Katestraat” stop.

Sunday Morning In Amsterdam

Start the day right by heading to Bakers and Roasters for breakfast. They serve a wide variety of breakfast from healthy fry-ups, pancakes and my favourite the Huevos Rancheros – crispy tortilla topped with organic Brazilian black beans, melted cheese, two fried organic free-range eggs, avocado, fresh tomato salsa, jalapeños and sour cream.

After breakfast head to the Amsterdam Lookout for a panoramic view above the city. I have added this in on Sunday morning as it will be one of the quietest times to visit. 

Located in Buiksloterweg, the A’DAM Lookout Tower features a 360º Sky Deck and a 360º indoor panorama deck, 20 stories off the ground. This also where you will find the Amsterdam Swing ‘ Over the Edge’ where thrillseekers will swing 100 meters high, back and forth over the edge of the tower with Amsterdam below their feet. The Amsterdam Swing costs an additional €5 on top of your entrance fee into the tower.

After this head to the famous Rijksmuseum to admire over 400 masterpieces by great artists such as Jan Steen, Frans Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. This is one of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions, therefore, if you are tight on time, it is essential to book your tickets in advance to receive skip-the-line tickets.

Alternatively, if you have a later flight I would recommend a half-day trip to the Zaanse Schans Windmills. This half-day tour will offer a completely different view of Amsterdam, where you can see the historic windmills of Zaanse Schans with a professional guide.

On the tour, you will also learn about Gouda cheesemaking, walk on wooden shoes, see the interior of a working windmill and view the wooden green-painted houses and shops. This 3.5-hour tour is a must on your 2 days Amsterdam itinerary and can be booked here

windmills of Zaanse Schans in amsterdam a great day trip when spending 2 days in amsterdam

After spending some time here, it will be time to head home. If you are travelling via Eurostar you will need just need to make your way back to Amsterdam Centraal station, however, if you are flying ensure you leave enough time to take the train back to Schipol Airport (Takes around twenty-five minutes by train).

By following this 2 day Amsterdam itinerary you will start to get a real feel for the city which will hopefully leave you wanting to come back. As Amsterdam is quite an outdoors city, I much prefer visiting in the spring and summer seasons over winter, therefore, would recommend your first visit is during a warmer season.

Need free help planning your trip to The Netherlands? Join our Netherlands Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions, stay up to date with what’s happening in Holland and as well as meet fellow travel enthusiasts.