City Guide: 48 Hours in Amsterdam

Inside this city guide we show you how to maximize your precious 48 hours in Amsterdam. We teach you some history, recommend restaurants, provide transportation and lodging advice, and ultimately show you how to have an amazing time in Amsterdam.

All About Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known for its intricate canal system, mass of bicyclists, unique architecture, museum district, liberal laws, and so much more. It is one of our favorite cities to visit and it’s not because of the coffee shops! The city is completely walkable with nearly all its major landmarks just blocks away from one another. This 48 hours in Amsterdam city guide will help you see most landmarks and maximize your short time in Amsterdam.

48 Hours in Amsterdam: Day 1 Highlights

Click on the image for a step by step itinerary

Drop Bags at Hotel: 9:00 – 9:30 AM

Whether arriving by plane or train, it’s just a short cab ride to our recommended hotel, the Andaz (see more in lodging section below). If the Andaz is a little too rich for your blood (we used points) then consider other hotels near the Prinsengracht canal. Drop your bags and get ready to venture around the streets of this amazing city.

A view from the Andaz Lobby

Breakfast at BlueSpoon: 9:30 – 10:30 AM

If you’re hungry, we recommend grabbing some breakfast at the BlueSpoon restaurant in the Andaz. Breakfast there was delicious, the service was quick, and the staff were friendly. Sit down and order off the menu or enjoy an amazing spread at the buffet. You can’t go wrong with either option.

De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets): 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Now that you’re all fueled up, head down the road to the 9 Streets area. As you walk around you will find cute, local shops mixed with international boutiques. If you’re anything like us, you will love hopping into stores and enjoying the free, fresh coffee that many owners offer their shoppers. One boutique jewelry store owner even had her dog in the shop and we could not resist! The dog was super sweet and the shop owner gave us fresh veggies to feed her.

A view from the 9 Streets area

Dam Square and Red Light District: 12:00 – 1:00 PM

Continue your morning of wandering and make your way down to the Dam Square. The Dam Sqaure is a giant square that is home to the Royal Palace and National Monument erected in remembrance of those who died in WWII.

Just around the corner from Dam Square is the infamous Red Light District of Amsterdam. Since we aren’t big partiers we chose not to spend a ton of time here, though it is definitely worth a walk around. As you stroll through the streets you will see everything imaginable, including sex shops, brothels, and even red-light inspired museums. If you came to Amsterdam specifically to indulge in this arena, then the streets typically come to life around 11PM, according Amsterdam.info. We recommend walking this area during the day as it didn’t feel unsafe or overwhelming at all. If you’re traveling with kids maybe consider skipping this destination.

View from Dam Square

PANCAKES Amsterdam: 1:00 – 2:00 PM

PANCAKES stood out to us because of their non-traditional pancake recipes. This is probably the first place we’ve seen a smoked chicken pancake or bacon, paprika, and mushroom pancake (what!?). In the end, and against our better judgement, we went with more traditional sweet pancakes with fruit toppings and didn’t look back.

Amsterdam Museum: 2:00 – 4:00 PM

What better activity is there after indulging in Dutch pancakes than visiting a museum!? All jokes aside, the walk down to the museum will help burn some of that sugar off and there are plenty of great photo ops along the way. We suggest taking your time and strolling casually on down to the Amsterdam Museum. The museum is all about the capital city’s history, from its early developments to its current state. You will learn about the formation of the canal system and how the city has used them to defend itself in war time. Spoiler Alert: They actually used to flood the city as a part of self-defense, how cool! They keep it interesting by utilizing interactive screens along the audio-guided path through the museum.

Learning to ride a bike at the Amsterdam Museum

Café De Zwart: 6:00 – 7:00 PM

If the weather is nice be sure to leave a little early for dinner so you can enjoy a beverage at Café De Zwart. The café is right across the street from Kantjil & De Tijger so, if there is a wait, you can sit on the patio while waiting on dinner. They have a great outdoor patio on the corner of the street where there is people watching galore. Nothing too fancy here, just a beer, a patio, and, hopefully, good weather.

Dinner at Kantjil & De Tijger: 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Kantjil & De Tijger was our first Indonesian restaurant experience and it did not disappoint. The staff at the Andaz referred us here. We were blown away by the flavors and spices used in the fresh dishes. Although we had no baseline to compare this experience to, our Jordaan food tour guide confirmed it was a good Indonesian spot the next day.

Half eaten spread at Kantjil & De Tijger

48 Hours in Amsterdam: Day 2 Highlights

Click on the image for a step by step itinerary

Jordaan Food and Canals Tour: 10:30 AM – 3:00 PM

We are obsessed with food tours and it’s all because of the Jordaan Food and Canals Tour by Eating Amsterdam. This was our first-ever food tour experience and it set a precedent. Our tour guide was a bubbly and energetic woman who was a blast to be around. You could tell how passionate she was about Amsterdam and its culinary history.

As we walked and boated around the city our tour guide knew every vendor on a first name basis and they were happy to have our group for a visit. All along the tour she would stop and give us photo tips, historical factoids, and insider info for future exploration of the city.

Café Papeneiland

The first stop on the tour is at a café that serves the best Dutch Apple Pie that we’ve ever eaten. Their claim to fame is that Bill Clinton once dropped in for a cappuccino and slice of pie and loved the pie so much that he took a whole one back with him. Our guide also said that he later returned with his crew and scooped up a few more pies to-go.

Butcher Louman

On this stop you can expect to see how the locals buy their meats. The name “Louman” was the last name of the family who founded this place in 1890 and still run it to this day. They had some really amazing sausages and cured meats that you will get to try as part of the tour. We wish we could remember the names of them all but, um, Dutch isn’t that easy for us to understand or spell! Trust us – all that’s important is that it’s delicious.

Trying a selection of meats at Butcher Louman

Urker Viswinkel

So here is where you try the Dutch delicacy, pickled herring. According to our guide, Urker Viswinkel has the best herring in Jordaan for many reasons, the primary being the quality of the fish itself. They pride themselves on buying only locally sourced fish and never from industrial boats. We admit, we were a little scared to try it, as were many in our small tour group. After taking our first bites everyone agreed – it wasn’t half bad. We actually finished the plate! You will also enjoy their famous fish and chips, which is phenomenal!

Swieti Spranang

Step inside this quant Indonesian restaurant and enjoy some of the most authentic food around. The chef, Juliet Chang makes all the food herself and prides herself on the freshness of everything in her small eatery. Juliet was an incredibly friendly host and treated us (and our guide) like family the whole time we were there.

Salon Boat Ride: The “Tourist”

There is no better way to experience the canals of Amsterdam than to cruise around them via boat. On this salon boat you will enjoy Dutch cider, cheese from De Kaaskamer, and bitterballen. The coolest part of the boat tour was when we pulled up and grabbed our bitterballen to-go from the bakery, Holtkamp. This was our first water-based drive through experience and it was a delicious one. The captain kept us entertained the entire time and told stories about the “Tourist’s” history.

View from the boat. Yes, the houses are leaning.

Café de Prins

Mini pancakes. Need we say more? These tiny, fluffy, powder coated morsels are the perfect treat to end the Jordaan Food Tour by Eating Amsterdam. Don’t forget to grab a cappuccino or latte (or a beer if that’s how you roll) before taking off and continuing your jam-packed afternoon from our 48 hours in Amsterdam city guide.

Anne Frank House: 3:30 – 5:00 PM

To be totally honest, we did not get to see the inside of the Anne Frank house. We were slackers and thought we could get tickets just a few weeks in advance. We were wrong. Everyone we know says this is a must see, so get tickets to the Anne Frank house the second you know you’re going to Amsterdam. Tickets can be purchased here. The house is close to the last stop on the food tour so you should try to get tickets that align with the end of the tour. If you can’t get tickets for this time slot, just switch up the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank house. However, remember that Van Gogh Museum closes a little earlier on Saturday so it’s going to be tight if Saturday is your 2nd day in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Museum: 5:00 – 6:00 PM

Even if you aren’t the artsy type, the Van Gogh Museum is worth a visit. The audio guide is helpful and takes you along a journey of Van Gogh’s life through his art. You learn how his technique changed over time and gain unique insight into his personal life. While most know him as the artist who cut off his own ear, many don’t know the story that lead up to he event. At the museum you will learn it all and get to see some amazing works of art.

I Amsterdam Sign: 6:00 – 6:30 PM

Basically in between the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. This place is a definite tourist trap. Here you will find lots of people standing, sitting, jumping, and photographing the I Amsterdam sign (see picture). We recommend checking this one out later in the day or early in the morning in hopes that you don’t see as many people as we did and are able to get a good photo op.

It gets a little touristy and tough to take a great picture

Dinner at BlueSpoon: 8:00 – 10:00 PM 

After a long day of walking, eating, and touring you’re going to be absolutely beat. We recommend staying local to the Andaz and getting dinner downstairs at BlueSpoon restaurant. The mixologists tending the bar serve up some amazing cocktails. If you’re a whiskey drinker then you have to give the Barrel Aged Smoked Manhattan a shot. We recommend sitting at the bar so you can watch the cocktails being crafted. An added benefit of bar sitting is that you learn how the cocktails are made so you can try to replicate at home. Finally, if you’re feeling really adventurous, they offer a cocktail and food pairing that is supposed to be incredible.

Old Raspberry Sour from BlueSpoon

48 Hours in Amsterdam: Weather

While Amsterdam isn’t known for amazing weather, it is at least fairly temperate. The average lows don’t dip below freezing and the highs won’t have you sweating during the summer. If you’re looking to avoid the rain then you should consider visiting in the fall and winter months when there are fewer days of rain, though the rainfall volume is higher. That said, we would recommend risking it on the rain and trying to visit in late spring or early summer in order to enjoy the warmer temperatures during your 48 hours in Amsterdam.

48 Hours in Amsterdam: Lodging

If you’re visiting Amsterdam and are interested in staying at an amazing hotel, look no further than the Andaz Prinsengracht. First off, the location of the hotel could not be more perfectly paired with our 48 hours in Amsterdam City Guide. It sits directly on the Prinsengracht Canal (Prince’s Canal) which is the outermost canal in the ring around Amsterdam. The hotel itself is located in the historic center of Amsterdam, just a short walk from the Jordaan district, which should ring a bell from our recommendation of the Jordaan Food and Canals Tour.

The inside of the hotel is simply stunning and was recently remodeled with the help of famed Dutch architect Marcel Wanders. It was originally a public library that Andaz purchased and decorated in a manner that preserved the building’s origin. The staff is friendly and helpful, the bar is incredible, and the rooms are clean and elegant. Complimentary wine, coffee, water, and cookies are available in the lobby during happy hour.

With all that said – we understand the Andaz is a little on the pricey side and may not work for everyone. This hotel is proof that points are king because we went all out and used up every Hyatt point we had. This place was worth every point. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option you could always consider a place like the Hotel II Fiore or any well-reviewed hotel in the canal ring or Jordaan district. Staying in these areas will make ensure you maximize your 48 hours in Amsterdam.

48 Hours in Amsterdam: Transportation

If you plan to make Amsterdam a stop along a planned Eurotrip then you’ll be glad to know that the Thayls train is the best way to travel. The train stop you should plan to arrive at is Amsterdam Central. It is centrally located downtown and is easily accessible to most hotels in the area via tram, cab, or foot (depending on how lightly you pack). When spending only 48 hours in Amsterdam we recommend getting a cab as it is typically the fastest and most convenient mode.

As for getting around the city during your trip there are two methods that we recommend. Walking and Biking. Amsterdam is known for being biker friendly and it’s definitely the best way to get around. If you stay at the Andaz they have bikes available to borrow for guests.

That’s all. Don’t forget to share!

If you loved this 48 hours in Amsterdam city guide then please don’t forget to share it with your friends. If you have any questions or want to know more about any of the spots mentioned above please feel free to reach out to us. To see more of our city guides you can check out our Towns page.

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