The list of things to do in Amsterdam is endless, so with just two days set aside to get to know one of the coolest cities in Europe, you’re gonna need a plan. We set off on a trip to Amsterdam with the I amsterdam 48-Hour City Card to help us save money and make the most of our two days in the Dutch city. The card got us into tons of museums and canal cruises for free, plus free transport to get us from A to B and make our trip as stress-free as possible.
On day one, we visited some of Amsterdam’s must-see museums and indulged in a local sweet treat. On day two, we wanted to see more off-the-beaten-track Amsterdam, so headed over the river to Amsterdam Noord and NDSM Wharf to explore.
Are you heading to our favourite Dutch city anytime soon? Check out this 48-hour Amsterdam itinerary to make your trip one that’s sure to be unforgettable.
Watch our video on how to make the most of 48 hours in Amsterdam:
WHERE TO STAY IN AMSTERDAM
First things first, you’re gonna need a bed to sleep in. provides cheap accommodation in Amsterdam’s Red Light District so you can literally roll out of bed and be in the heart of one of the most bustling areas of the city. With private rooms and dorm rooms available, as well as a busy backpacker bar, Belushi’s, downstairs, it’s up to you how sociable you’d like your stay to be!
Amsterdam’s famous ‘floating’ flower market is every photographer’s idea of heaven. The market has existed since 1862 and used to be the world’s one and only floating flower market. Now, it’s set up permanently on the edge of the Singel canal and no longer floats, but is still one of the prettiest places to see in Amsterdam. Take the tram for free with your City Card to Koningsplein and from there it’s a quick two minute walk to the row of flower tradesmen and their great variety of local tulips, exotic plants and beautiful blossom that covers the entire ceiling.
There are signs that say no photos allowed, however the shopkeeper is often more than happy for you to go ahead, just be respectful and ask him or her first.
WALK ALONG THE CANALS
From Bloemenmarkt, take a 20 minute stroll to Museumplein, or another free tram to the ‘Rijksmuseum’ stop if you’d rather not walk. The walk will take you along the canals where you’ll come across classic Amsterdam photo opportunities on every bridge.
Credit: Ellie Roberts
VAN GOGH MUSEUM
Explore the largest collection in the world of Van Gogh’s work in Amsterdam’s Museumplein. Even if you have an I amsterdam City Card you’ll have to book your slot online beforehand, however all you’ll have to do when you get there is have someone scan your card and you’ll be let in for free.
The work displayed in the museum is organised chronologically and laid out into the five periods of his life, the different places in which he lived and worked. Art lovers will love musing through all of the 200 paintings and 500 drawings displayed here, as well as the work of other artists in which Van Gogh had a close connection to.
Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is the Dutch national museum, showcasing Dutch art and history some of which dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. It’s so large that those interested could spend hours going through it all and exploring the grandeur of the building itself. We went in to see the world famous painting ‘The Night Watch’ by Rembrandt, known as one of the most spectacular pieces of art in the world.
Credit: Ellie Roberts
The painting takes up an entire, large wall and is a seriously impressive piece that we recommend you visit, especially with the I amsterdam City Card to allow you to get in for free, making the purposeful visit all the more worthwhile.
I AMSTERDAM SIGN
It’s not a trip to Amsterdam without posing in front of the I amsterdam sign! Right in the middle of Museumplein, you don’t need to walk far to get to this free tourist attraction.
PANCAKES AT DE VIER PILAREN
Take a 5 minute walk from the Museumplein to De Vier Pilaren, a quaint, fairytale-esque restaurant on the edge of the canal to indulge in a lunch of the best pancakes in Amsterdam. If you’d prefer something savoury to get you through to dinner, their classic ham and cheese option is delicious. If you’re looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth instead, their perfectly thin and crispy sweet pancakes with a variety of toppings from apple and cinnamon to classic nutella are also a winner.
However to really get your taste buds tingling, do it the Dutch way and order the little puffy poffertjes complete with butter, icing sugar, strawberries and whipped cream. Once you try the tiny pancake pillows, no other pancake will ever compare!
Take a tram back to the hostel, freshen up and maybe have a drink (or two) at Belushi’s before you head over to De Foodhallen for an evening of foodie fun.
Hop on another tram for free with your City Card to Ten Katestraat and follow the signs to the Foodhallen, packed full of street food from around the world and young people having a great time. Try bitterballen (a must), eat loaded hot dogs, share a couple of tacos or indulge in whatever you fancy because here, they have it all. On Tuesdays, get there after 6 to eat along to live music while sipping a proper gin and tonic.
FERRY TO AMSTERDAM NOORD
Behind Centraal Station, ferries leave every few minutes to cross the IJ river over to Amsterdam Noord, one of the cities less-explored areas for tourists. Just walk on any ferry heading to Buiksloterweg which will take about 3 minutes to cross and is completely free to everyone!
Are you a bit of a film fanatic? The EYE Filmmuseum is another one of those available to get in for free with the I amsterdam City Card. From the outside it looks a little like a spaceship, but head inside to learn a thing or two about film, sift through an enormous Dutch film archive and walk around the jaw-dropping exhibition they have on display.
Credit: Darcy King
Get panoramic city views of Amsterdam from the top of the A’Dam Lookout, just next door to the Film museum. You won’t be able to miss it towering high above the city, and with the City Card you’ll get a discount on your ticket. Head up in the jazzy lift to the Sky Bar, walk around edge and see if you can brave looking down while standing on the glass floor. One level up from there, the sky deck is open air, giving you awesome 360 degree views as far as the clouds will let you see!
Credit: Darcy King
To get to NDSM Wharf, it’s either a 30 minute walk, 10 minute cycle, or it’s a ferry back to Centraal from where you got on followed by another ferry to NDSM Wharf - but the walk is easy if you have no bike.
NDSM is one of those areas of a city that make you feel like you’ve been transported somewhere totally different. The difference between here and Amsterdam’s main city centre is crazy! It’s full of incredible graffiti, enormous warehouses packed with interesting designs and sculptures that’ll have you looking twice, plus most of the time there’s barely ever another tourist in sight.
Check out the impressive ships, the crane hotel and the strange red building that resembles a rude sculpture of a person and a sheep. The cafes and cultural spots around this area are some of the coolest hangouts in the city, including our next stop, Pllek.
A DRINK AT PLLEK
Resembling a stack of graffiti-covered ship containers from the outside, Pllek is actually one of the best places not just in NDSM, but in the whole of Amsterdam, to go for a drink. Inside, the place is big, bright and spacious and set over two levels, with the entire front side covered in glass giving a view of the canal.
Credit: Darcy King
Head to Pllek during the summer where it turns into a hub for young locals to hangout and drink in the sun by the water.
BACK TO HOSTEL FOR A BELUSHI’S LUNCH
Get on a ferry back for a final meal at Belushi’s. The newly refurbished bar serves up the best burgers in Amsterdam with some great vegetarian options on the menu, too. The best part is you can enjoy 25% off that awesome burger if you stayed at the hostel upstairs!
Before you leave the city, make the most of the I amsterdam City Card one last time and go on one of Amsterdam’s many canal cruises, using the card to get on for free. We chose the Gray Line cruise nearest to the hostel which took us past some of the city’s most famous landmarks, as well as some more offbeat attractions explained perfectly by our driver.
A few were the Nemo Science Museum, the Bridge of 15 Bridge, the narrowest house in Amsterdam, the world’s only floating cat sanctuary and many, many more. The cruise is only one hour long, making it a great way to see a load of attractions in one go if you don’t have the time yourself.