Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and one of the most popular European cities among tourists. Easily recognized in photographs for its extensive network of canals, the city of Amsterdam is often called the Venice of the North.
The Dutch Golden Age (which happened from the end of the 16th century to the end of the following century) was fundamental to the expansion and development of Amsterdam as the main cosmopolitan center in the country and in Northern Europe. Nowadays, part of that legacy is still present in the architecture of the city’s buildings and monuments, as well as in the art collections dispersed by the many museums.
So, do you want to know more about 2 Days In Amsterdam: The Perfect Amsterdam Itinerary? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of Amsterdam
- Visiting Amsterdam
- Amsterdam Itinerary – Day 1
- Amsterdam Itinerary – Day 2
- Map of the Amsterdam Itinerary
- More Posts about the Netherlands
- More Posts about Travel Itineraries
- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of Amsterdam
Currently, Amsterdam is part of the Dutch province of North Holland (in Dutch, Noord-Holland), but its origins date back to the Middle Ages. At that time, the population had settled around the dam on the Amstel River, and in the 13th century, Amsterdam was officially founded as a fishing town.
However, the great event that determined its worldwide acclaim was the Dutch Golden Age, in the 17th century. During the “golden age”, the Netherlands created its colonial empire and Amsterdam became the largest commercial, financial, and economic center in Europe.
The decline of the Dutch monopoly occurred in the early 18th century, largely due to the English Industrial Revolution (and consequent expansion of the British Empire) and France’s Napoleonic Invasions. Amsterdam suffered a severe economic recession and did not resume its development until the end of the First World War, with the construction of industrial and residential areas.
During the Second World War, Nazi troops occupied the city and persecuted a large part of its inhabitants, who were Jews. Many of the port infrastructures were destroyed, but Amsterdam recovered in the following decades.
Amsterdam is a city with excellent air, land, and sea connections. So, if you choose to travel by plane, several airlines fly to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, including the low-cost Ryanair, EasyJet, and Vueling.
As for rail transportation, there are direct trains from the main destinations in Germany (operated by Deutsche Bahn), London (Eurostar), Brussels, or Paris (Thalys or SNCB). Buses can also be an option to consider, as prices are very cheap (Flixbus or Eurolines).
The Amsterdam station with more international connections and better access to urban transportation in Amsterdam Centraal. As the name implies, it’s located in the city center – for those who prefer to walk – and is also served by metro (51, 52, 53, and 54), tram (2, 4, 12, 13, 14, 17 and 26) and bus lines (18, 21, 22, 48 and 248).
I think that it’s not necessary to use public transportation in Amsterdam after arriving in the historic center. The monuments are relatively close to each other and the city isn’t as big as Paris or London.
Amsterdam Itinerary – Day 1
The first day of this Amsterdam itinerary begins at the idyllic Vondelpark, where multiple annual events and celebrations take place. This 47-hectare public park in the style of an “English garden” is located in Amsterdam-Zuid, one of the most populous neighborhoods in the Dutch capital.
The Vondelpark was designed in 1864 by the architect Jan David Zocher and opened the following year under the name Nieuwe Park (New Park in Dutch). Later, it was renamed in honor of the writer, playwright, and poet Joost van den Vondel, a reference of literature in the 17th century who has a statue on the site.
This park in Amsterdam is open every day and receives an average of 10 million visitors a year. In addition to being the ideal place for walking, exercising, or cycling, the Vondelpark has several points of interest, such as a bandstand (the Muziektent) and a pavilion (the Vondelparkpaviljoen), which date from 1873 and 1878, respectively.
In the 20th century, a rose garden and a tea room (the Blauwe Theehuis) were created. In 1953, the private association that ran the park donated it to the city of Amsterdam, which renovated it and built playgrounds, an open-air theater (the Vondelpark Openluchttheater), restaurants, and bars in the following decades. Finally, there are two more statues: “The Fish” (1965), by Pablo Picasso, and “Mama Baranka” (1985), by Nelson Carrilho.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is the second most important museum in Amsterdam, right after the Rijksmuseum. Both are located at the Museumplein, a public square that also houses the Amsterdam Municipal Museum (or Stedelijk Museum) and the famous Koninklijk Concertgebouw concert hall.
The museum’s collection contains the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh paintings in the world. And although it consists mostly of works by the Dutch master, the Van Gogh Museum also includes works by more than 250 artists, especially his contemporaries. Therefore, here you can admire various types of visual art from the 19th century, such as paintings, drawings, letters, sketches, and prints, among others.
This art museum consists of two buildings, named after their architects: the Rietveld Building (designed by Gerrit Rietveld between 1963-64) and the Kurokawa Wing (designed by Kisho Kurokawa in 1999). The first is the main structure, which opened in 1973 and houses the permanent collection. The second is used for temporary exhibitions.
The Van Gogh Museum is open every day (except on Mondays), from 10 am to 5 pm, but on weekends it closes at 6 pm. You can find more information about schedules and access here. Tickets cost €19 (adults) or €10 (students), and minors under 18 don’t pay admission. There’s also a multimedia guide for a price of €3. Finally, it’s recommended to buy tickets at the Van Gogh Museum’s online ticket office, to avoid queues.
The Rijksmuseum (which means National Museum in Dutch) is one of the most visited museums not only in the Netherlands but also in Europe. For that reason, I decided to create a complete guide in a separate post, that gathers the history, the must-see artworks, and all the practical information about this museum in the most detailed way possible!
The Heineken Experience is a museum in Amsterdam dedicated to the famous Dutch beer Heineken. In fact, the current building corresponds to the first brewery, which opened in 1867 and served as the company’s headquarters until 1988, when the facilities were transferred to the city outskirts.
In 1991, Heineken officially opened the doors of its historic brewery for guided tours. Ten years later and under the new name Heineken Experience, the museum became one of the most popular attractions among tourists visiting Amsterdam.
The Heineken Experience is open every day, from 10:30 am to 7:30 pm, but from Friday to Sunday, it closes only at 9:00 pm. Currently, there are four different tours with prices between €18 and €55.
This is one of those places in Amsterdam so photogenic that it looks straight out of a postcard. Here, two well-known canals of the city intersect: the Keizersgracht and the Reguliersgracht. The Keizersgracht (Dutch for the Emperor’s Canal) is one of the three main canals in Amsterdam, along with the Herengracht and the Prinsengracht.
As for the Reguliersgracht, it’s located in the Grachtengordel neighborhood, one of the most picturesque in the Dutch capital. At about 530 meters long, it was established in the late 1650s. Did you know that in the 17th century, Amsterdam was one of the most important port cities in northern Europe?
To the west and south of the historic center, a large network of channels was formed, which gave it the title “Venice of the North”. At the same time, a waterway developed on the edge of the city fortifications: the Singelgracht. In 2010, the channels within this “water ring” were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It’s in the Reguliersgracht that you find the famous “Seven Bridges of Amsterdam”, one of the attractions of the Dutch capital most sought after by photography lovers. As the name implies, from this point it’s possible to observe the arches of seven different bridges, especially if you are on a boat!
Rembrandt van Rijn is one of the most celebrated local artists in Amsterdam. This is because, in addition to having a gallery with the title of his masterpiece at the Rijksmuseum (that is, The Night Watch Gallery), he also has a historic town square with his name.
Interestingly, the Museum House of Rembrandt where the master lived between 1639 and 1656 is just 800 meters from Rembrandtplein. In historical terms, this square marks the location of an old city gate, from the time when the medieval walls still existed.
The Rembrandtplein features a statue of the painter from 1876 and made by Louis Royer, as well as a representation with bronze figures of “De Nachtwacht”, created by Russian artists Mikhail Dronov and Alexander Taratynov in 2006.
The Bloemenmarkt is a very famous permanent flower market in Amsterdam. Founded in Sint-Luciënwal in 1862, it had to move to its current location on the bank of the Singelgracht in 1883. For a long time, the market was called Plantemarkt and sold only trees and other plants, as the cut flowers only started to be commercialized in the 1960s.
What makes this Flower Market different from the others is the fact that its selling points are on several barges moored on the canal. For this reason, this is the only floating flower market in the world and a must-stop for anyone visiting Amsterdam!
Today, the Bloemenmarkt consists of about fifteen tents, among florists and souvenir shops. In fact, due to the large influx of tourists in recent years, fresh flowers have been replaced by seeds, tulip bulbs, and souvenirs related to this national symbol.
Amsterdam Itinerary – Day 2
Jordaan is possibly the most popular neighborhood in the city of Amsterdam. Once a poor working-class neighborhood, Jordaan is now one of the most expensive places to live in the Netherlands! For tourists visiting the Dutch capital, this residential neighborhood also offers dozens of art galleries, fine shops, and gourmet restaurants.
Another popular attraction in the Jordaan neighborhood is the markets. These are held regularly on three main points: Noordermarkt, Westerstraat, and Lindengracht. The first is a square called “Northern Market”, which is surrounded by cafes, bars, and restaurants. Here, the market takes place every Monday, but there’s also a fair for organic agricultural products on Saturdays.
On Mondays, there’s also a market in neighboring Westerstraat, in this case for textiles. This busy street also has several shops, cafés, and restaurants. Finally, the Lindengracht is a street and a canal, where a market is held every Saturday.
As you head to the next destination – the Anne Frank House – you can pass through the Rozengracht, the canal where Rembrandt van Rijn lived during his final years. The artist was buried in Westerkerk Church, which is less than 60 meters from Anne Frank’s Secret Annex.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank Huis is a biographical museum based in the building where Anne Frank, her family, and four other Jews remained hidden from the Nazis during World War II. The museum was founded in 1960 after Otto Frank (Anne Frank’s father) created a foundation in memory of his daughter.
As soon as the book “The Diary of a Young Girl” was published and translated into dozens of languages, the Anne Frank House gained worldwide notoriety. Thousands of people started traveling to Amsterdam, just to visit the old hiding place – nicknamed the Secret Annex by herself (in Dutch, Achterhuis).
For about two years and a month, Anne Frank and the rest of the people hiding there managed to escape the Nazi persecution, which had occupied the Netherlands among other European countries. Unfortunately, they were all discovered, arrested, and deported to death in concentration camps. Otto Frank was the only one in the group who survived the Holocaust.
Anne Frank House can be visited every day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (Monday to Friday) and from 9 am to 7 pm (Saturdays and Sundays). Tickets have three different prices: €14 (adults), €7 (10 to 17 years old), and €1 (0 to 9 years old), and there’s a cost-plus €1 for the booking fees. You can find all the essential information on the official website of the Anne Frank House.
Dam Square is the most important square in Amsterdam, with several monuments and historic buildings all around. Among them, the Nationaal Monument op de Dam, a National Monument, stands out. This white stone pillar was erected in 1956 and honors the victims of World War II. Every year, there’s a special ceremony in this place on the 4th of May.
Another of them is the Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam (which means, Royal Palace of Amsterdam), also called Paleis op de Dam (Palace on the Dam). This neoclassical palace was built in the 17th century (during the Dutch Golden Age), to serve as the town hall. In the following century, it became the official residence of King Louis I and, later, of the Royal Dutch House.
At Dam Square, you can also explore the Madame Tussauds Amsterdam, belonging to the wax figure museum franchise based in London and with more than twenty branches on four different continents! The Madame Tussauds Amsterdam is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets cost €19.50 (over 16 years old) or €15.50 (from 5 to 15 years old) and can be purchased at the museum’s online ticket office.
Finally, you should visit the Nieuwe Kerk (or New Church in English), which stands right next to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. This religious temple began to be built in the late 14th century when the Oude Kerk – the Old Church – became too small for the population of Amsterdam.
Between the busy Dam Square and the Amsterdam Centraal train station, you’ll find this very long avenue called Damrak, right in the heart of Amsterdam.
In the early 20th century, it became known as the “Dutch Wall Street” for housing some of the country’s most important financial buildings, including the Beurs van Berlage (the former stock exchange house).
Nowadays, Damrak is an avenue dedicated to tourism and commerce, with lots of bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops. But the best-known area is the one in the photo, next to one of Amsterdam’s many canals.
Here, the houses seem to “dance” due to their crooked shapes, while tourist boats fill the bank.
Red Light District
The Red Light District – known in Dutch as De Wallen or De Walletjes – is a legalized prostitution zone in Amsterdam. The neighborhood is made up of strip bars, nightclubs, sex shops, erotic cinemas, and cannabis coffee shops, in addition to the prostitution houses themselves, with huge red-light showcases facing the narrow alleys.
Currently, Amsterdam City Hall has been implementing measures to protect the rights of those working in the Red Light District. Among the greatest concerns of the municipality is the fight against human trafficking, the relocation of the sex business to the outskirts of the city, and the limitation of the number of tourists.
Museum House of Rembrandt
The Museum Het Rembrandthuis is the last destination on this two-day itinerary in Amsterdam. At about 500 meters from the Red Light District, the former home of the painter Rembrandt van Rijn was converted into an art museum in 1911. Its collection has on display almost all of Rembrandt’s known etchings, works made by him but reproduced by his contemporaries, and paintings by other figures of the Dutch Golden Age.
This historic house has undergone several renovations throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. One of the most important was in 1998, with the construction of a new wing to serve as a research library. Currently, the museum also seeks to reliably recreate the environment in which Rembrandt lived, with copies of objects and furniture similar to those that the artist had.
The Museum House of Rembrandt is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm. Prices for visiting the museum vary from €15 (adults) to €10 (students) and €6 (from 6 to 17 years old). The tickets include an audio guide and can be purchased in advance at the online ticket office of the Museum House of Rembrandt.
Map of the Amsterdam Itinerary
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