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48 hours in Amsterdam
Is 48 hours in Amsterdam enough? Of course not, but as it is so close to the U.K, it really doesn’t matter. It is definitely a city you can return to again and again, and discover a little bit more each time. With so many districts, cafes, bars and sights to explore it would be hard to get bored. If you are heading to Amsterdam for the first time, this guide will definitely help you get the most out of your 48 hours in Amsterdam.
Starting your 48 hours in Amsterdam – Getting there
If you live in the U.K, There are multiple flights a day from a plethora of U.K. airports. With it only being a 35-45 minute flight you really are there in no time, perfect if you do only have 48 hours in Amsterdam.
It is also worth checking out smaller local airports if you are not London based. With Amsterdam being such an international hub for flights, there are often other options. For example, while flying from Norwich airport was more expensive factoring time and car parking costs saved it was definitely worth it.
From the airport take the sprinter train into Amsterdam Centraal and you have immediately arrived in the city!
The other option, if you are London based, is to get the Eurostar from Kings Cross. Again this arrives straight into Amsterdam Centraal. While the train does take longer than flying, there is less time spent before and afterwards as you would if you were travelling through an airport.
The easiest and most convenient way to get around the city, to maximise 48 hours in Amsterdam, is to use the tram service. They start early in the morning and finish at half past midnight.
The cheapest way to use this system is to buy a 24 or 48 hour ticket in advance, available from all stations. If you choose not to do this, you can buy a single on the tram, but it is card only.
Just remember to tap in and tap out every time you get on and off.
Amsterdam is not the cheapest of cities and trying to find something affordable in the centre is nearly impossible . There were three of us on this trip, which made hotels that bit tricker.
In the end we opted for an Airbnb which was a little out of the city. It was only 4 stops on the tram, and with there also being night buses and ubers available it didn’t impact us at all staying a bit further out. I would definitely recommend looking a bit further out for cheap options. It is still very accessible and convenient.
48 hours in Amsterdam begins
Having taken that flight after work, I was in Amsterdam around half seven, local time, Friday evening. Arriving into Amsterdam Centraal you are immediately well placed to go and find some food. I only had about an hour and half before I needed to leave the centre to go and check in. First port of call was to have a bit of wander. The station is located very close to the canals, the Amstel river and right next to the old town. This makes it a perfect place to start your trip! It is also a short walk to the red light district, if you wanted to have a look around there.
Food ~ Little Thai Prince
A restaurant that does come highly recommended is the Thai place, Little Thai Prince. It was only a 6 minute walk from the station and along a very pretty little street in Centrum. As a massive Pad Thai fan and this did not disappoint! Huge portions and reasonably priced. All the other food also looked good. All I can say was this was one of the best Pad Thai’s I have had in a long while. And I have had a lot!
Van Gogh Museum
Get up early to maximise your 48 hours in Amsterdam and for that little bit of culture, head to Museumplein to visit one of the many beautiful museums on offer. We decided to go for the Van Gogh museum.
Going first thing in the morning meant there was no queue and the place was, in theory, quieter. However, even this “quieter” time of day seemed to involve rather a lot of people. You have to book your tickets online in advance, for a certain time slot. They are emailed to you electronically and you can use your iPhone wallet (or the like) to show them.
Depending on how into your art you are, you can do this museum fairly quickly. Arranged over 4 floors, there are a lot of Van Goghs on display. At one point towards the end of his life he produced 75 paintings in 70 days! Who knew! It was impressive to see the sunflowers in real life, as well as some of his lesser known art. Which arguably, might have been more interesting. Of course, if you are an art lover then this museum might be somewhere to spend an entire day. There is a lot to see!
Food ~ Bakers and Roasters
After your early morning culture trip, you have definitely earned a good brunch. Luckily Bakers and Roasters is just a short walk from the museum.
This cute little café in the De Pijp area of Amsterdam and is the perfect spot. It does get busy, so be prepared to wait but it is worth it. We got there around 10.15 and had a 45 minute wait. But grab a coffee and have a little walk area the nearby area, as you can leave your name on the list.
The brunch menu was delicious, with so many different options. I went for the classic eggs Benedict, because it is one of my absolute favourite dishes. It was big portions and I did feel incredibly full afterwards. This was washed down with a chai latte and also a cheeky brunch cocktail. If you can’t indulge on a weekend city break, when can you?
After your brunch at Bakers and Roasters you in the perfect location to then explore the neighbourhood of De Pijp.
A wonderful area in the south of the city. Fairly residential, but full of beautiful houses perfect for snapping away and posing in front of. Also home to some lovely cafes if you’re not too full from brunch.
After your fill of the lovely De Pijp catch the tram, making use of your 48 hour ticket, to the Jordaan. This upscale neighbourhood is just west of the central of Amsterdam. This is the perfect place to explore the picturesque canals and get the photo you crave.
This area is full of specialist shops, cafes and some very nice houses. It is also in this area you can find Anne Frank Huis. If you do want to visit this make sure you book online in advance.
Food ~ Van Wonderen Stroopwafels
You can’t spend 48 hours in Amsterdam and not try a Stroopwafel. You can find these all over Amsterdam, but Van Wonderen Stroopwafels are something special. The shop is located in Centrum, and only a short walk from the Jordaan area. For those not in the know, Stroopwafels are made from two layers of thin, baked dough stuck together with caramel filling.
In Van Wonderen you can choose your topping, everything from Oreo, m&m, peanuts and many more. I opted for a medium sized stroopwafel of salted caramel. Be warned though, the medium is still plenty large enough!
A short walk away is the famous flower market in Amsterdam. You can wander along the floating stalls and take in the atmosphere. Lots of flowers to see, of course, and on the other side of the road there are lots of cheese shops.
I did feel this was a little touristy, with many stalls selling tourist wares, but it was still lovely to visit.
Brouwerij ‘t ij
Is there anything more Dutch than home brewed beer and sitting under a windmill? Hop on either tram 14 from Dam square or bus 22 from Centraal station out to this beautiful windmill.
It is the perfect place for a drink before dinner. However if you have more time make sure you book yourself onto a tour, where you can learn about the history of the mill and the brewing there. If you have less time, like we did, it is a lovely spot to sit outside and have a drink. Situated on the edge of a canal, a lovely outdoor space and a very extensive list of beers.
To finish the day
We headed back into towards the old town. Before finding some food we had a brief walk through the red light district because; when in Amsterdam. But not really my thing!
For dinner we ate in a Dutch restaurant called Hofje Van Wijs, located very near the train station. It had a lovely outside courtyard area but the food was fine. They are lots of bars and restaurants in this area, so a good place to head if you don’t have a destination in mind for food or drinks.
Saturday packed an awful lot in, mainly to maximise the 48 hours in Amsterdam, but as such Sunday was designed to be a much calmer day!
Food ~ Pluk
I had read a lot about this place and so it was very high on my list of places to go in my 48 hours in Amsterdam. It did not disappoint.
Arriving about half 10 in the morning, we had a short wait of about 15 minutes for a table. Not a problem however, as there was a lovely courtyard at the back to wait in. In addition to this there was the, very tempting, shop to browse around. I wanted to buy a lot from here, but managed to resist! They also turn the tables over really quickly, so the wait isn’t too long.
The menu was varied with everything from pastries to mermaid bowl. I went for eggs benedict again, because I can just never resist.
I wasn’t too full to not be able to make room for one of the delicious looking cakes! I went for the vegan blondie and it was so tasty and light.
It did live up to its name as a very instagrammable place, so be prepared for lots of people taking photos of food.
After brunch we decided to take an hour trip around the canals. It is a great way to see the city and you learn some really interesting facts.
Head to the Anne Frank Huis as right opposite are multiple companies offering very similar tours. No need to pre book, and they have very regular tours. Usually around €15 and some even offer a free drink. Talk to the guys on the waterfront to get the best deal.
The tour takes in some of the smaller canals, the Amstel river, the Herengracht, the kissing bridge and the old locks of the river. You also get to see some of Amsterdam’s most famous buildings and learn just that little bit more history and context. If you only have 48 hours in Amsterdam this is a great way to get to see that bit more of the city.
For the final stop of the trip head to Amsterdam’s lookout spot. From behind Centraal station you can take a free ferry across the river to the A’Dam lookout. I unfortunately mistimed things slightly, so didn’t get a chance to go up the tower! But I was shown pictures of the great views and lift on the way up and it definitely looks worth it.
I caught the ferry across the Amstel and had a bit of time taking in the views on the edge of the river, before heading back to catch my train.
This tall tower has a panoramic viewing platform so great views of the city. As well as bars and restaurants at the top. It is highly recommended to go at sunset.
At the top of the building is also the highest swing in Europe, where you can swing out over the edge of the building. The wait when we arrived was 2 and a half hours. So if you want to do this, factor in more time and be prepared to wait!
The end of 48 hours in Amsterdam! From A’Dam look out you are well situated to get the ferry back across to Centraal Station. From there catch a train to Schipol airport or the Eurostar back home.
It was a whistle stop 48 hours in Amsterdam, packing an awful lot in. Next time I head back I would like to take things slower and spend more time in some of the gorgeous neighbourhoods. However it was the perfect weekend break. Amsterdam – I am in love with you.
Have you ever been? What was your favourite place to visit?
For more city break inspiration have a look at my post on New York
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