Our perfect Amsterdam itinerary would last more than just 48 hours. The fact of the matter is that you could do Amsterdam in a day, or you could do Amsterdam in a few years and still have more to learn about this vibrant, varied Dutch city. We’ve tried to distill the best of the best down into a 48 hour itinerary with the best things to do in Amsterdam.
On the first day of your Amsterdam itinerary, soak up the city’s culture and explore the many neighborhoods.
Morning: Gaze at art in the famous Rijksmuseum
Start off your Amsterdam itinerary by visiting one of the greatest museums in the world: the formidable Rijksmuseum. Rembrandt’s Nights Watch tends to get lauded as the main masterpiece of the museum, but if you’re looking to see some incredible art and want to lose the crowd that swarms the main exhibition halls head up to the third floor and explore the criminally overlooked modern and contemporary art on display there. If you want to learn more about the history of the Rijksmuseum, you also can’t miss the incredible 4 story library that sits in the corner of the museum.
Lunch: Grab lunch at near Museumplein
After the Rijksmuseum, find a lunch spot in one of the many cafés or restaurants that line the Museumplein and the adjacent streets. You can also grab some food to go and take it to the Vondelpark, the main park of the city, and enjoy the beautiful lawn and duck ponds that sit within.
Afternoon: Hit up the Stedelijk Museum
After lunch, check out the Stedelijk Museum. This is Amsterdam’s great contemporary art center, built around a core idea of making art as accessible as possible to the public. The Stedelijk has an eclectic permanent collection and star-studded special exhibition calendar that brings some of the best modern and contemporary art right to you throughout the year. There’s also a great in-house bookstore, should you want to get some beautiful posters or artistic memorabilia.
Evening: Dinner and nightlife in Reguliersdwarsstraat
Food is never hard to come by in Amsterdam, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t check out the historic, bustling Reguliersdwarsstraat—it’s full of amazing restaurants and bars, and it won’t be hard to find the perfect place to get a bite after a full day of exploration. For after-dinner entertainment, your options are even more numerous. You could catch a concert at one of Amsterdam’s amazing concert halls, like Paradiso, or you could head to the nightlife hub of the Leidseplein. It’s a square (and a surrounding neighborhood) with tons of nightclubs, bars, and late-night eateries—if you’re looking to dance and experience some of the city’s famous club scene, this is a great place to start.
Time to explore! You’ve hit a couple museums now it’s time to get active on your Amsterdam itinerary.
Morning: Shop and dine at Nine Streets
After you’ve finished the cruise, check out one of Amsterdam’s coolest neighborhoods (located near a few of the cruise locations): the Nine Streets. An underrated shopping area that doesn’t have any of the jam-packed tourist bustle of the main shopping areas closer to the city center. Here you’ll find local brands, artisans, and plenty of cafés. After a little bit of window-shopping, find one of the many small cafés throughout the area and grab a delicious local lunch.
Afternoon: Immerse yourself in Amsterdam’s culture
After lunch, it’s time to immerse yourself back into the incredible history of Amsterdam and the Netherlands as a whole. To do this, head to the city center (the famous Dam square) and enter the spectacular Royal Palace. While it isn’t the residence of the royal family—that’s in the Hague—this palace serves as the king’s office. When a foreign head of state visits, they are received here, in one of the many grand rooms or halls. Check out the royal palace with one of their audio guides to get the best experience.
Evening: Enjoy an evening in Amsterdam-Noord
Once you’re done with the Royal Palace, head out and get over to the IJ, the large body of water separating Amsterdam from Amsterdam-Noord, right by the central station. You can take a ferry over across the water, and then check out the up-and-coming neighborhood of Amsterdam-Noord for lots of hip restaurants. It’s a beautiful place to eat—especially if you go to a waterfront restaurant—and after you’re done you can pop right over to the beautiful new EYE Film Institute for a movie! The institute is one of the city’s great cultural centers, and they show a wonderful selection of films throughout the year. It doesn’t hurt that they have a gorgeous bar and incredible views of Amsterdam from across the IJ!