While you could easily spend a week in Amsterdam wandering the canals, visiting the city’s 100 museums or indulging in all the delicious ethnic food options, we found that 48 hours was about right to see all the highlights and get a good taste of Amsterdam. Here was our itinerary:
- Arrived by Megabus from Brussels. Though not as fast as the train, certainly cheaper. Seats are available from as low as $1 if you book early. The Amsterdam Megabus station is quite far away from center of city so we took a tram and a subway to get to our hotel.
- Checked in to the Radisson Blu Amsterdam. The hotel was being renovated so a large majority of it was closed, which was a downer, but the highlight of the hotel was it’s prime location within walking distance to almost all attractions.
- Ate dinner at a Thai restaurant near Nieuwmarkt.
- Accidentally wandered through Red Light District on walk back to hotel. This area of the city was heart-breaking to us and I overhead a “negotiation” that is forever burned in my brain. Even several months of doing ministry with anti-human trafficking and anti-sex-tourism organizations on the World Race couldn’t have prepared me for how open prostitution is in Amsterdam’s red light district.
- Attempted to do a walking tour via a free Rick Steve’s podcast but gave up when we kept getting turned around. This is a great resource, but we’d recommend starting in the correct location. There are also free walking tours that meet at the National Monument on Dam Square at 10, 11:15 and 2:15.
- Spent nearly four hours at the Rijks Museum. We’re not normally big museumgoers but this is one of our favorites we’ve ever visited. Highly recommend scheduling a least a few hours here! You can download a free app to provide an audio tour, just search ‘Rijks’ in your app store. You can also buy museum tickets online in advance to skip the line during high season/prime hours. Show up as early as you can as 11-2 brings HUGE crowds.
- Ate lunch at Sama Sebo Indonesian Resturant. Thanks to the former Dutch East Indies HQ in what is now Jakarta, there is a big Indonesian influence in Amsterdam, especially in the dining scene.
- Walked around the Museum Quarter. If you have more time check out the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedlijk (Modern Art) Museum or the House of Bols. We also quickly strolled through the famous Vondelpark. If you visit in the summer this would be a great place for a picnic and wine and people watching.
- Rented bicycle’s from Mike’s Bikes. There are more bikes than cars in Amsterdam and biking the canals is a must-do, even in the winter. We had ours for about 24 hours and loved being able to get around the city easily. If anyone is planning an Amsterdam visit soon, we have some free rentals from Mike’s to give away! Shoot us an email or post a comment below!
- Biked through Oosterpark, browsed the outdoor Dappermarket, and sampled Dutch beers at Brewery ‘t IJ, next to an old Dutch windmill.
- Ate dinner at Debakker’s Pizza in the Pijp Neighborhood. Amazing (and affordable for Amsterdam standards) pizza and prosecco, but you’ll need a reservation. Other good areas to find clusters of cute cafes are Leidseplein, Rembrantplein and Jordaan.
- Toured the Anne Frank House. Definitely, definitely buy tickets in advance online (they sell out several weeks prior), or else you’ll spend several hours in line. Our tickets included cutting the line and a 30-min presentation in English, which was well worth it.
- Walked around the Noordermarkt, open Saturdays 9a.m. to 3 p.m. Ate lunch at Caramba Mexican restaurant in Jordaan.
- Biked around Westerpark.
- Took a cheese tasting and wine pairing class at Raypenaer (~$21 USD p/p), a famous Dutch cheese shop. A unique experience we’re really glad we did. If you like aged Goudas, you’ll love it! If you can’t do the tasting, you can swing by the shop to sample a few. The Cheese Museum near the Anne Frank House also has free samples.
- Took the train from Central Station to the airport. Easy to navigate and much cheaper than a cab.
This itinerary kept us pretty busy for 48 hours and allowed us to get a feel for Amsterdam. We could have easily spent more time there, but two days was enough to catch the highlights. You can view our full budget breakdown below. It is a major European city so it’s not the cheapest place in the world, but we managed to stay around $300 for two people for our 48-hour stay.
Travel Budget Review:
Hotel points redeemed: 50,000 Club Carlson points
Arrival points redeemed: 1,593 Arrival points
Total out-of-pocket expense: $312.79
Daily average: $78.18 per person