Amsterdam is bringing a unique scene and with its many canals it comes to no surprise that the capital of the Netherlands has become known as The Venice of the North. Its coffee shops and red light district might be known all around the world, but there is plenty more to see!
We visited the city already a few times and have picked our favourite things to do in Amsterdam in this 48 hours travel guide!
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Language: Dutch
- Airport: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, a convenient train connection takes you to the city center in about 15-20 minutes.
- Train: Thalys high-speed train from Paris or Brussels
Staying at the impressive Kimpton De Witt hotel, we found ourselves straight in the middle of Amsterdam. Not only was this a great base to explore the city, but staying the night here is one of the most amazing hotel experiences we have had so far.
Pictures courtesy of Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam.
You could find yourself in a hotel with some awesome receptionists or with the most delicious breakfast. You might even find yourself in a room that has about everything right. Maybe, just maybe, the hotel offers its guests a complimentary wine tasting in the evening.
We hit the jackpot and found ourselves in a hotel offering all the former, and plenty more. The Kimpton De Witt folks got everything right. I almost considered hiding in the closet so I could stay another night!
Amsterdam gets quite busy during Summer so we started our days early as we always do, making sure we reach the hotspots before queues get too big. Don’t worry about the early hour though, as a morning stroll around the canals is pretty rewarding by itself!
Anne Frank House
Who doesn’t know Anne Frank? Her story travelled the world and with over 30 million sold copies of her diary, she touched many people. Visiting the house where the Frank family has hidden during the war is a historic eye opener that you should not pass on.
Make sure to book your tickets in advance though, as a 2-hour queue is no exception!
Just around the corner of the Anne Frank house, you will find Amsterdam’s most popular church. Have a look inside to experience its unique and modest interior, or climb the tower for a view over the city that is definitely worthwhile!
The 9 Straatjes
Translated as “the 9 little streets” this collection of charming alleyways in the middle of the “Canal Belt” is home to many quirky shops, designer boutiques, vintage clothing stores and a variety of eateries. Pedestrians are king and its picturesque streets are a great escape from the busier Amsterdam.
This is by far our favourite shopping area and we Tinne could easily spend the entire day wandering from one shop into the other!
Holland’s most famous flower market or Bloemenmarkt is located on one of the oldest canals of Amsterdam. A large collection of flowers is displayed here on floating rafts, a relic from earlier days when flowers were shipped in through the canals.
Despite its wide variety of different flowers and plants, the Dutch tulip is most present here. Whether you are looking for the flower itself or some bulbs or seeds, you will not leave empty handed.
Continue your walk along the Amstel towards the Waterlooplein. You get some great views along the canal and its many boats. The Waterlooplein offers a great place to relax along the canal. When doing so, you’ll be sure to see some amusing sights!
At this point you could enjoy a visit to the Rembrandthuis, an excellent museum dedicated to Dutch painter Rembrandt’s life or explore the Artis Zoo if you have some more time to spare.
Red Light District
Like it or not, the Wallen is an iconic part of Amsterdam and of its history! There is no place alike that symbolises the open-minded and tolerant attitude of Amsterdam more than this area. It’s a unique experience to walk through these streets, to say the least!
An evening walk
Spending an evening in Amsterdam doesn’t take much thinking: stroll along the canals or take a boat tour and energize yourself for the evening! Then make your way over to the Leidseplein square and take part in Amsterdam’s most entertaining nightlife!
If you like to spend the evening in a calmer setting, the city also has a pretty vivid comedy scene. Have a look at Boom Chicago or similar venues for an evening of guaranteed entertainment!
Hop on one of the convenient trams and make your way to the Museumplein. Apart from the famous museums, you will also find Amsterdam’s most famous sign here. At least, if you manage to read it through the many selfie-hungry people!
A museum that is definitely worth a visit is the Rijksmuseum, dedicated to art and history. With over 8000 works of art, you could easily spend a few hours inside.
The museum’s masterpiece however, is what impressed us most. Rembrandt’s famous The Night Watch is a huge painting that is quite unique in its kind. In fact, all paintings in this Gallery of Honor, such as Vermeer’s Milkmaid (to name yet another famous piece of art) are true gems.
Back outside, spent some time around the Museum Square. Take your mandatory iamsterdam selfie or stroll around the market stalls. In case your art-excitement hasn’t cooled down yet, the Van Gogh museum is another famous museum that is certainly worth visiting!
Just a few blocks away you will find a large oasis in the middle of the busy city centre. Essentially a paradise for both locals and tourists, this large park is a definite hotspot on warm Summer days.
Wander around the winding paths or chill out on the many greens, this beautiful park does not disappoint.
After a short walk, you can reward your inner self in this indoor food market. Located in a former tram depot, the trendy Foodhallen is one of our favourite spots to hang out. After all, as you might know from our recent Lisbon trip, we are entirely convinced of the concept of having a large hall with as many food stalls as possible!
Regardless of your taste or current mood, the wide variety of options offer you more dishes than you can handle! Now that’s a challenge!
The charming Jordaan neighbourhood is another area where we don’t mind getting lost in. Its narrow streets and typical houses along the canals bring the true Amsterdam atmosphere to live.
Make your way back to the centre, either by foot or by tram, and finish your day around the Dam area. This lively square always has something going on and the imposing Royal Palace always offers an impressive picture opportunity.
Its surrounding streets have many shopping opportunities and a lot of big brands have their shops located here.
All our Amsterdam travel tips gathered on the map:
What we liked
- People in Amsterdam are just so nice! Whether you find yourself in a bar, a restaurant or just on the streets, the Dutch have this genuine interest in trying to help you the best they can.
- The ambiance around the city is so enjoyable and strolling aside the many canals is a unique experience.
What we disliked
- We found a lot of mediocre “touristy” restaurants around the city center but only few that amazed us in a positive sense. However, there are quite a few very nice ones if you walk just a little bit further!
Your own tips to share or questions to ask?