I have another guide for you all! This time I am being commissioned by my boyfriend, who is leaving for Amsterdam in the next couple of days. He is traveling with a couple of friends and they had some high-level ideas of what they want to do. My friend, Ronke, is also traveling to Amsterdam around this time so hopefully, this is useful for her as well! The biggest challenge with this guide and How to Do Rome in 2(ish) Days is that I am not building these for myself, I don’t know exactly what will/will not interest Michael and his friends. Feedback on content and format is always welcome!
- Depending on how many museums you end up going to, consider the ‘I Amsterdam’ card. It’s pricey but worth it if you can pack a ton of stuff into 48 hours. Keep in mind you will have to order these ahead of time.
- Take note that if you want to partake in the “soft drugs” of Amsterdam that canabis is sold in “coffeeshops” – no space. You can find coffee/tea/food at cafes or coffee shops (with a space). Also be sure to read the FAQ Coffeeshops in Amsterdam.
- If you ever get stuck on what to do next, check out Tim’s Amsterdam Guide.
- I was surprised that the Tulip Festival isn’t everywhere in Amsterdam. You can track down all the locations by using this map. If you are interested in the famous Tulip Parade, know that it doesn’t go through Amsterdam, you can find out more here. To see curated gardens of Tulips, you can go to the popular Keukenhof, outside of Amsterdam. You can also go rogue and follow this post to find the tulip fields.
- If you want to do a tour instead of following my suggestions consider the Sandeman’s New Amsterdam Tours (free). If you want something a little less traditional but still free, try the Original Amsterdam Alternative Tour. This tour would also be good for people who want to tour the Red Light District with a guide (and during the day). For both of these make sure you reserve a spot online.
Day 1: Plan on renting bikes and don’t get too nervous about the 3-mile day ahead of you – see the complete map of the walk here. Start your day at Dam Square where you can grab a coffee/breakfast and is the perfect spot for people watching. While there take note of your surroundings – you will see the Royal Palace, National Monument to commemorate the victims of World War II, and the New Church.
Next walk down Nieuwendijk, it’s a major pedestrian only shopping street. From here head to de Oude Church, the oldest building in Amsterdam. Going inside will set you back 10 euro. On your way to Waterlooplein, pass through Nieuwmarkt square. Lined with a ton of cafes and a market in the center, this is a good spot for lunch or a snack. Also take note of the Waag, originally part of the city gate in the 15th century. If anyone is a big Rembrandt fan, you can also stop by his House Museum.
Waterlooplein is a huge second-hand market in the Jewish district. Here you should be able to see some of the Tulips on display. If you aren’t interested in shopping continue on to Bloemenmarkt, the floating flower market. It’s a bit of a tourist trap so move on quick. From here walk along Herengracht, known for being one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam and housing the upper crust.
Hopefully, this walk takes a while and you hit the Anne Frank House in the late afternoon since it is super busy most of the time. You can also buy a ticket online to avoid the crowd. They close at 10pm every day and tickets are 10 euro each.
Finish the day in the uber hip Jordaan neighborhood, be sure to get lost along the bars, cafes, and shops. Try to grab dinner at the famous The Pancake Bakery. You can also check out Amsterdams Brown Bars, named that for the wood interiors. Cafe Papeneiland is the oldest in the city. Or finish the night at La Tertulia, a coffeeshop with board games.
Day 2: View the map for Day 2 here. Start your day at the Albert Cuyp Market in the De Pijp district. This market is open every day and offers up fresh produce, as well as plenty of food stalls. Pick up some breakfast and find some cheese, bread, meats, etc for a picnic later in the day. Next prep yourself from some art and head to Museumplein, named for the number of museums in the area. You aren’t going to want to miss the Van Gogh Museum (still one of my biggest regrets that I wasn’t able to go). Tickets are 16 euro and they are open from 9am-6pm. If you are a Banksy fan then check out the Moco Museum, tickets are 12.50 euro, they are open from 10am-6pm.
Next head to the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign is at Rijksmuseum. That part is free, if you are interested in going to the art museum it is going to set you back 17.50 euro (open every day from 9am-5pm). Try to visit the sculpture gardens surrounding the Rijksmuseum (also free).
After you soak up all that culture, spend a couple of hours in Vondelpark. Remember that picnic you prepped at the market? Pull it out, find a good spot, and enjoy the afternoon. It’s around 2 miles in length so take the time to bike to the lesser frequented areas like the Rose Garden, sculptures (find the one done by Picasso), and ponds.
You can finish the day back towards De Pijp. You can also stop by for the Heineken Experience. They are open every day from 10:30am-5:30pm and will cost 16 euro. Here you take a self-guided tour and get 3 8-ounce pours. This wouldn’t be on my list of things to do but I will put it on your radar (there seem to be a lot of micro-breweries in Amsterdam). If that doesn’t interest you head north into Amsterdam Oude West to Foodhallen, an indoor food market similar to Public Market. You can indulge in both food and drink here.
Day 3: Rent a moped! If it is sunny I would recommend taking your moped out to Marken to sunbathe but it doesn’t get warm in Amsterdam until June. Since you will be dealing with weather in the mid-50s (expect some rain as well) try taking the mopeds out to Zaanse Schans, a small village with historic dutch houses and windmills. On the way back stop in Zaandam.
Other options include heading west to Haarlem, it’s a 30-minute ride. Here you can visit De Jopenkeerk, an old church which has been converted into a microbrewery.
The third choice is to go northeast of Amsterdam to Waterland, a collection of small fishing villages. Start off in Broek before heading to Monnickendam, from there you can decide to either visit Marken or Volendam. Looking at the map you will know why you can’t hit both.
Extra Notes and Ideas:
- Prix D’Ami is the largest coffeeshop in Amsterdam and had a ton of pool tables on the top floor.
- Feel partying in an old church? Check out Paradiso! I remember loving my night out here. If you are looking for something a bit more touristy and want to bar hop without hoofing it to another part of town go to Rembrandtplein. This plaza is lined with bars and a couple of coffeeshops. For drinks specials, get there before midnight.
- Try going to Brouweij Het IJ, a brewery located underneath a windmill.
- If you love fried food, you have to try out FEBO. It is small chain pushing fried food out of the wall. It’s not the best but it’s a thing there and it’s super cheap. For what to get check this out – Best Menu Items at FEBO.
- This is a great infographic on which foods to look out for, my favorite are stroopwafels (bring me back one plz).
Have a good trip!Ximena.