48 Hours in Amsterdam: The Highlights

Weekend Amsterdam Travel Guide. Amsterdam Top 10 Things To Do

A town most commonly known for its red light district and legal cannabis, any visit to Amsterdam’s beautiful streets and waterways will show it has so much more to offer. With a museum for just about everything and bikes and flowers at every turn, you quickly see beyond the many tacky souvenir shops desperate to reinforce the sex and drug stereotype.  Amsterdam Highlights Weekend Amsterdam Travel Guide. Amsterdam Top 10 Things to Do

Join me for a run down of Amsterdam’s Highlights – all which can be visited within 48 hours!

Amsterdam Highlights Weekend Amsterdam Travel Guide. Amsterdam Top 10 Things to do

So you’ve got 48 hours in Amsterdam and not a clue where to start – then this post is for you! I’m going to share with you my highlight’s and ‘must-do’s’ for 48 hours in Amsterdam which will help you experience as mush of the city as possible without having you feeling like you’re racing around the town!

RELATED: This is the first stop on my ‘Europe By Rail in 25 Days‘ Tour. Click the link to find out all about it!

Weekend Amsterdam travel guide. Amsterdam Top 10 Things to do

1. Dam Square Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

A great way to start your 48 hours in Amsterdam is in Dam Square. Central to almost everything, and only 750m from the main transport hub, the square is a great place to meet, people watch and plan your day whilst you stare in awe at the impressive and beautiful building  of the Royal Palace. Weekend Amsterdam Travel Guide. Amsterdam Top 10 Things to Do

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2. Ann Frank Huis Amsterdam highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

If you only visit one museum whilst in Amsterdam, make sure it is the Ann Frank Huis.

Inside you will witness the story of the young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis during the second world war.

Parts of the house have been preserved in the state they were when Ann lived there, there are extracts of her diaries and there is information at all points about her life and her struggle, as was mirrored by hundreds of thousands of Jews throughout Europe.

Its heartbreaking, horrifying (both what people went through and the fact that the human condition was responsible for such fear, pain and death) and informative at the same time. It is more than worth the (approx) €10 entry fee. Anyone with even a slight interest in history will appreciate this museum and everything it stands for.

 

3. Cruise on the Canals Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights Take a trip on Amsterdam’s famous waterways for as little 8 for an hour trip.

Get a different perspective on this beautiful city and enjoy the informative commentary offered on many of the cruises. Weekend Amsterdam Travel Guide. Amsterdam Top 10 Things to do

 

4. Museumsplein Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

Museumsplein is a public space in Amsterdam and home to 3 well known museums – The Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum – and although I love museums, my favorite part about this space is the IAMterdam letters located at the back of the Rijksmuseum.

The area is always buzzing with people and it may take a few goes to go that iconic shot – but it is definitely worth it!

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5. Red light district Amsterdam highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

 Practically what made Amsterdam famous, a trip to the city is not complete without a stroll around the Red Light District. A collection of alleyways boasting brothels, sex shops and museums, everything you have heard about the red light district is probably true – but you must see for yourselves. It isn’t full of seedy men and groups of lads on stag parties (although there are plenty of these types around) – you’ll also see couple and groups of girls wandering round taking a glimpse of a part of society they wouldn’t see anywhere else. It really is a must see when in Amsterdam.

Related: If you’re looking for the salacious read my post on Amsterdam’s Best Museums for Sex, Drugs, Beer & Cocktails!

 

6. Vondelpark Amsterdam highlights weekend Amsterdam travel guide. Amsterdam top 10 things

Amsterdam Highlights

 At 47 Hectares, Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam which welcome 10 million visitors each year. A favorite of both Amsterdammers and tourists alike, you’ll find a whole host of people enjoing the outdoors on any given day. Pick up a take-away lunch and set yourself down for a couple of hours and just watch the world go by. You’ll quickly forget the hubub of Amsterdam – yet you’re only a few minutes away from it all!

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7. Jordaan District Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

A district originally created to house immigrants and the working class, Jordaan has now become a very hip and artsy neighborhood. With narrow cobbled streets and beautiful buildings, it has become one of the most desirable places to live in Amsterdam – and if you’re there on a Saturday – be sure to check out the local markets!

Its easy to fall in love with everything Amsterdam has to offer. Don’t believe me – check out this love letter from Gordon & Paula at Contented Traveler.

8. Visit a windmill (and have a beer!)

Amsterdam Highlights

Although in 48 hours, there is no time to head out of the city to see the windmills – it doesn’t mean that you still can’t visit one! Head to Brouwerij’tij, Amsterdam’s most famous brewery (even if Heineken have moved into town!). The building was originally used a municipal bathhouse, but it had the good fortune of being located right next to Amsterdam’s – and the Netherlands – biggest wooden windmill, making it the perfect landmark. So head on over, grab yourself and cold one and be proud to say you’ve seen a windmill – even if it wasn’t surrounded by a field of tulips!

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9. Try the Local Food Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam Highlights

From Pofertjes (small fluffy pancakes make with buckwheat and flour served with powdered sugar and butter) to Appeltaart and Stroopwafels (a chewy syrup waffle which I wanted to include because it sounds cool!) Amsterdam has a range of delights for the foodie in you to try. Check out IAMsterdam’s post of the top 15 foods to try and see if anything takes your fancy!

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10. Science Center NEMO Amsterdam Highlights

Amsterdam HighlightsThe Science Centre Nemo is a kid friendly interactive museum, just a short walk from Dam Square – and is perfect if you need to entertain the little people for a while. If (like me) you are all museum-ed out at this point, skip the exhibits and climb to the top of the very impressive looking building for the ultimate view over Amsterdam city. With a helpful info-graphic you’ll be able to spot all the of the places we have visitied on this highlight’s tour – along with many others and is a great way to sum up your 48 hours in Amsterdam!

So there you have it – my top picks and highlights for 48 hours in Amsterdam! Let me know if I have included your favorite spots – and let me know if there are any that I’ve missed!

WANT TO STAY ON THE TRAIN? NEXT STOP: 48 HOURS IN BERLIN: THE HIGHLIGHTS

Related: Looking to do Amsterdam on a backpacker budget? The Broke Backpacker has Amsterdam Backpacking covered in this post

Oh, and don’t forget, if you liked this post please pin & share – I would really appreciate it 🙂

Amsterdam Highlights

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124 thoughts on “48 Hours in Amsterdam: The Highlights

  1. Lyn - A Hole in my Shoe says:

    Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard and sharing this great post on Amsterdam. I was there in November and thoroughly enjoyed being taken back there again with your article. The only thing I would add to your great suggetsted highlights is a walking tour.

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  2. Tom Gorec says:

    In Amsterdam I was 20 years ago with a girlfriend. I’ve forgotten what it looks like.

    Thanks to your article, I wanted to see Amsterdam again. Above all, I want to see the house of Anne Frank.

    My cousin lives near Amsterdam. 🙂

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  3. Rob says:

    We are headed back to Europe in May with no set plan as where we will be going but Amsterdam is definitely on the list. So much to do and see, we would love to take a canal cruise and I would definitely like to go to the The Rijksmuseum I have checked out their extensive collection of artwork online for years.
    Of course my son would love The Science Centre, thank you for including a kid friendly site!
    Rob recently posted…Baker Creek Mountain Resort: The Perfect Family GetawayMy Profile

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  4. Anda says:

    Oh, if you only knew for how long have I been dreaming to visit Amsterdam! Your beautiful pictures made me want to go there even more. It seems you can cover a lot of territory in 48 hours, although considering what the city has to offer I’d like to stay longer.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Anda! I could easily stay longer in Amsterdam but yes, you are able to fit a lot in in 48 hours as it is actually quite a compact city. I hope you get the visit soon 🙂

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  5. Paula says:

    I visited Amsterdam for just 3 days a few years ago at the end of 6 weeks on the road. I think we were a little tired because I really didn’t love it but when I look about on it now I don’t think I really gave it a chance so I hope to go back one day.
    I think you have a great list. I also loved the Van Gogh Museum and a small but very interesting place called the Museum of Handbags that was way cooler than it sounds.

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  6. Alina Popescu says:

    Great guide, Vicki! I managed to do 8 out of 10 during my trips to Amsterdam, plus a few others amazing things. I totally agree with your suggestion to have a beer, there’s nothing like trying the local brew wherever you travel 😀 If I were to add to this, I’d say Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum are both worth a visit. And try to find out when and where a cheese market happens. I’ve only seen them in smaller towns, but they are super fun.

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    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Alina! Good work on hitting 8 out of 10! 🙂 I agree the Rijksmuseum and Van Gough museum are worth a visit – we just found we were museum-ed out by the time we got to them, which was a real shame 🙁 And super sad I missed the cheese market – I LOVE cheese!

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  7. mark wyld says:

    I must be the only person who did not like Anne Frank Haus. I thought it was uninspiring and a tourist trap. We have been to Amsterdam twice but not for the last 10 years I loved the times we visited Amsterdam. Heineken experience was great value to visit

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Mark – some things aren’t for everyone, and I think it would depend on when you visited the Ann Frank Huis. I know you have visited Auschwitz and so if you visited the Ann Frank Huis after there I can understand why you thought it was a tourist trap! I also really enjoyed the Heineken experience (even as a non beer drinker!) and so included it on my top museums round up too 🙂

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    • Vicki says:

      Awesome that I got your approval as an Amsterdammer 🙂 But I can’t believe you haven’t been to the Ann Frank Haius yet – it’s definitely worth a couple of hours one afternoon, and is both educational and heartbreaking at the same time. After your visit I recommend heading to the House of Bols to life your spirits!

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  8. jill says:

    I did Amsterdam in 48 hours a few years ago and made it to the same except we never made it to the Science Center. I really enjoyed Amsterdam! My niece is going there this summer so I am forwarding your blog link on to her .

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    • Vicki says:

      I can imagine the red light district being awkward with any family member apart from your significant other! It’s definitely not at the top of my list of family vacation destinations! Ha!

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  9. Amanda - EatWorkTravel says:

    Great round-up of things to do! We only spent 18 hours there for a short layover. But already have a list for our next trip. Museumsplein and a windmill visit is on our list for next time. We loved the Stroopwafels and found a Dutch specialty shop at home that sells them! Thank you for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust

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  10. LeAnna says:

    Another great thing to do in a limited amount of time is to take one of the free walking city tours. It’s a great way to see a ton and get great info. For those short on time, it’s a great overview and for others w/ more time, they can pick and choose what to go back to later for more in depth exploration

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Erica – Amsterdam is surprisingly small which makes it so that everywhere is within a short walk/tram ride from each other – perfect for exploring on a tight schedule!

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  11. Ruth says:

    Whoa! You were able to hit a lot of cool place in 48 hours. I haven’t been to Amsterdam in a long time. Every time I see a photo of the city on Instagram, I get the itch. It would be nice to travel around The Netherlands and Belgium.

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  12. Andi says:

    I have been to Amsterdam a few times and you have definitely covered the highlights! Besides Dutch food, I love the Indonesian food scene as well – so amazing! It is such a great walkable city you really can’t go wrong wandering around!

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  13. Tess Andrade says:

    I’m planning a very short trip to Amsterdam in May – so this is perfect timing! Can’t wait to explore this fantastic city and you gave me some great inspiration on fun things to do. Jordaan district really reminds me of Nyhavn in Copenhagen! Gorgeous!

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  14. Drew says:

    We went to Amsterdam last January and had a blast. We even stayed on a boat on one of the canals, which was awesome! Loved this city, especially the Van Gogh museum, which I loved (and had a great audio guide). The late night french fries on the street were a highlight as well!

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  15. Saiful Islam Opu says:

    Wow, great writing Vicki and it’s highly appreciated your suggestions about Amsterdam! I Specially liked Vondelpark which is looking as a green haven!

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    • Vicki says:

      Hi Mateen – the great thing about Amsterdam is how compact it is – you can fit so much in in 48 hours – and the Ann Frank Huis is one of the best things to do!

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  16. Joanna says:

    I have never been to Amsterdam but I discovered a little bit of the city by reading your post. Unfortunately this city, how amazing it is, it’s not on my travel list for the near future. I would love to go and enjoy a nice cruise or visit a windmill pub, it sounds really interesting!

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  17. Samiya says:

    We did Amsterdam over 2 days, just hubby and I, without the kids for a change! Vondlepark was definitely one of our favourites, as was food, museums and walking along the canals, lovely city 🙂

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  18. Mar Pages says:

    I love putting Stroopwafels on top of my cup of hot coffee or tea, the caramel melts a little and gets wonderfully warm and sticky. I need to revisit Amsterdam for the museums, unfortunately didn’t get to drop by most when I was there for a couple of days. Now I have many reasons to go back!

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  19. Kate says:

    Really great suggestions for Amsterdam Vicki. I loved Anne Frank Huis as sad as it was going through the rooms. Dam Square and Museumplein were full of people during the day and had lots to do around those areas. The Red Light District is a very unique experience! We walked through at night and it was an education hahaha. You have to see it to believe it. A couple of things here I didn’t get around to but would love to have a beer next to a windmill. Great post
    Kate recently posted…Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, North YorkshireMy Profile

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