48 Hours in Amsterdam: Fun Things To Do & Where To Stay!

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.
Scroll down the for our guide to 48 hours in Amsterdam including the most fun things to do in Amsterdam – to help you plan the perfect weekend break!

48 hours in 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!

48 Hours in Amsterdam: TOP 10 FUN THINGS TO DO

Dam Square

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

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


Ann Frank Huis

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

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.


Cruise on the Canals

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam Take a trip on Amsterdam’s famous waterways for as little 8 for an hour boat tour. You can book this as a combination tour with other activities or as stand alone tour on Viator.

Get a different perspective on this beautiful city and enjoy the informative commentary offered on many of the cruises. boat tours, day trips and food tours are all great things to do in Amsterdam



48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

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 visiting during your 48 hours in Amsterdam! When visiting the van gogh museum or the Stedelijk museum book early.

Red light district

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

 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 one of the most fun things to do in Amsterdam!

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



48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

 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!
RELATED: Vondelpark is totally free to enter. Click for more free things to do in Amsterdam.


Jordaan District

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

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!

Want to know more about Amsterdam’s districts? Check out this guide to Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods


Visit a windmill (and have a beer!)

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

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!


Fun Things To in Amsterdam

Try the Local Food

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam

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 or book a place on an Amsterdam Food Tour and try a range of these local delicacies for yourself!

. fun things to do in Amsterdam

Science Center NEMO

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in AmsterdamThe 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 visited on this highlight’s tour – along with many others and is a great way to sum up your 48 hours in Amsterdam!



Images of rooftops along amsterdam canal to illustrate where to stay in amsterdam

  • Ams Suites – Luxury Stay ($200+ per night) -Strategically located in the heart of the city, this 5-star bed & breakfast makes for an ideal base in Amsterdam. It is ideally positioned for those wishing to visit local attractions and is within walking distance of Dam Square, Royal Palace at Dam Square and Theater Bellevue.The surrounding neighbourhood is also famous for its shops and boutiques.
    Like more info? Click to Read Trip Advisor Reviews
  • CitizenM Amsterdam City- Mid-Range Stay ($100-$200 per night) – CitizenM Amsterdam City provides modern 4-star accommodation in Amsterdam.
    CitizenM is close to Amsterdam Zuid, making it easy for guests to discover Amsterdam and its surrounding areas. Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre is a brief walk away.
    Like more info? Click to Read Trip Advisor Reviews
  • Motel One – Budget Stay (<$100 per night) – Located less than a 10-minute walk from Amsterdam RAI Railway Station, the hotel offers guests a convenient base when visiting Amsterdam. It is also found only minutes away from Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre.
    Motel One Amsterdam serves breakfast each morning, and guests can unwind with a drink in the lounge bar.
    Like more info? Click to Read Trip Advisor Reviews

Or if you have specific requirements, click through to Hotel’s Combined and narrow down your options to suit your own needs!



  • Tour search engine Viator offers affordable organized tours to see different parts of Amsterdam and the Netherlands in General


  • The train lines in Europe are incredible! Plan your route with RailEurope and book your tickets in advance to get the best deal!
  • If you prefer to get a little more off the beaten path, driving yourself can be a great option. But Car Hire can be expensive, use the  HolidayAuto comparison site to get the best deal from 20+ providers!

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!


Further Reading:

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.

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

48 Hours in Amsterdam - Fun Things To Do in Amsterdam


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129 thoughts on “48 Hours in Amsterdam: Fun Things To Do & Where To Stay!

  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.

  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. 🙂

  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!

  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.

    • 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 🙂

  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.

  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.

    • 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!

  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

    • 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 🙂

    • Vicki says:

      Aw no! Kind of perfect timing but not all at the same time! I hope you get to experience more of Amsterdam one day – it really is a great city!

  8. Agness says:

    I’ve been living in Amsterdam for 2 years now and I must admit your recommendations are super fun! Can you believe that I’ve not been to Ann Frank Huis yet?

    • 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!

  9. 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 .

    • 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!

  10. Sara Broers says:

    I have never been… This looks like a great guide when it comes to spending 48 hours in Amsterdam. You could find me floating through the canal. Great photos and thanks for the inspiration to venture to Amsterdam.

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. Erica says:

    Amazing that you were able to cover all of these in 48 hours! Amsterdam looks like such a lovely city and I’m pretty sure I’ll fall in love with it instantly.

    • 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. Hugo Cura says:

    Amsterdam has so many visitors and somehow I’ve managed to stay away so far despite having been to other parts of the Netherlands. I really need to visit and these are some nice highlights for sure!

  17. Holly says:

    I have heard some great things about Amsterdam so I hope I get to visit soon, even if it is for only a couple of days. I will have to save this post to refer to later.

  18. 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!

  19. Rosemary says:

    What a great walk down memory lane. Loved Amsterdam and especially the Anne Frank museum. Never made it to a windmill, but will certainly visit one on my next trip. So much fun to read. Thank you.

  20. 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!

    • Vicki says:

      Staying on a canal boat would have been a great experience Drew! Glad you enjoyed Amsterdam – it’s a great city 🙂

  21. 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!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Nathan! It’s quite easy to pack a lot into a weekend in Amsterdam as it’s a compact city and easy to get around 🙂

  22. Marteen says:

    I didn’t think you’d get to see so much in 48 hours. Ann Frank Huis is definitely on the top of my list of places to visit in Amsterdam. Her diary has left a lasting impression on me.

    • 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!

  23. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie says:

    Great suggestions for 48 hours in Amsterdam. It’s a good mix of museums, sights, and local flavor that seem comfortably doable in 2 days. I’ve wanted to visit the Anne Frank House and cruising the canals would be a great perspective from which to view the city!

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Jackie – the great thing about Amsterdam is that it is compact enough to fit a lot in in 48 hours – and the Ann Frank Huis is well worth a visit.

  24. Lotte says:

    As a Dutchie I can truly say this is a great itinerary for people who want to explore the highlights of Amsterdam in a relatively short amount of time! Really nice post 🙂

  25. 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!

  26. Lori says:

    Amsterdam is on my list of cities to visit for a long time. I want to visit many places – definitely Museumsplein and the park – also stroll the streets and just enjoy the city. Lovely photos – and great idea for a short itinerary through the city!

  27. 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 🙂

  28. 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!

  29. Jessica says:

    Hey! I will be in Amsterdam in four days and this one looks a great guide though I will have more than 48 hours there. Hehe. I am excited to see some tulips and windmills!

  30. 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

  31. Lyon says:

    I’ve just booked my flights to Amsterdam though I will lose one day in Lisse for the tulips but great tips none the less. Thank you

  32. Bo says:

    omg your post is such a very very nice and helpful post! i really wish i could visit amsterdam anytime very soon.. your post is amazing! xx

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Monika – I think there are so many weird and wonderful museums in Amsterdam that you could just keep going back!

  33. Aaron says:

    There is much to love about Amsterdam … I will definitely use this to plan my itinerary when I make it to the city in the coming year or so!

  34. Jennifer Melroy says:

    Great guide for Amsterdam. I really want to go see the Anne Frank house the most. It would be amazing to see.

  35. neha says:

    This is exactly what I have been looking for my upcoming Amsterdam trip because I have got exactly this much time allocated over there. Loved your tips. Going to bookmark your post

  36. Let's Fly Travel says:

    Hi Vicki,
    Thank so much.
    Great summary! Since Belgium is so close to the Netherlands, I`ll make sure to use your tips on my next visit to Amsterdam.

  37. Turaab Hussain says:

    I’m looking forward to to enjoy this beautifull place.please let me know about the ticket and other procedure.thanks

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