If you read my 2017 travel goals post here, you’ll see that one of my favorite 2016 trips was 48 hours in Amsterdam! After spending 5 days in Paris, we hopped on a quick (3 hours to be exact) train ride over to Amsterdam. I’m telling you, trains are the way to go. We showed up at the station 30 minutes prior to departure, grabbed a coffee & a window seat and left the station. It was so peaceful to just put some earbuds in and watch the countryside pass us by. If you have time, make a pit stop in Bruges- we didn’t have time, but I hear it’s darling. So, we arrived in Amsterdam on Tuesday afternoon (around 1:30pm) and left on Friday at 10am. Y’all…Amsterdam is TOTALLY possible to see in 48 hours. All you need is a double espresso & a plan. Let’s dive in…
5 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN AMSTERDAM
#1 Anne Frank Museum
I highly recommend buying tickets ahead of time, online. We showed up at 9:15 for our 9:20 tour and walked right in. Truthfully, it had been so long since I’d learned about Anne Frank that I’d forgotten a lot of the details. Being inside the home she & her family hid in (for years!) and reading her diary was such a touching, emotional experience. Her story is truly amazing and the tour really gives you a detailed history lesson. We found it to be very profound. A must do.
When you’re done with the Anne Frank house (go in the morning to avoid the crowd), head over to the Pancake Bakery- a famous pancake house! This is what Amsterdam is known for, so how could we not go? We ordered a pancake & an omelet to share. Both were huge & delicious! The meal came with OJ, tea, toast & bacon, and our total was less than 25 Euro.
#3 Ride a Bike
This is hands down the best way to get around Amsterdam. It’s a fun, quick, efficient way to get around the city, especially if you’re crunched for time. Our hotel (Andaz hotel – amazing hotel, location & service. Can’t recommend enough!) provided bikes to us and we used them from 12pm-7pm and went all over the city (5+ miles). Careful though- it’s quite scary when you’re dodging cars, pedestrians, mopeds & other bikes.
#4 Red Light District
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was really sketched out by going here. I had this horrible imagine in my head of what this would be like. We rode our bikes here during the day and it really wasn’t that bad. Would I spend hours hanging out here? Probably not. Would I walk around at night? Nope. But it’s one of those things that you have to go and see because you’re there. As expected, there are lots of sex shops and “coffee shops” but it’s fine to walk through once.
Head over to check out the Heineken Experience…an experience is right! This is not your typical brewery. Plan to spend at least an hour or two here tasting beer, learning about the history, petting horses & hopping on a quick interactive ride. It’s such a fun place and totally worth going. If you’ve got time or want something more local, we also visited the less touristy, Brouwerij ‘t IJ- it’s on the southeast side of town in a more local area. Get a beer flight for 9 Euro and sit on the back patio full of picnic tables and shade trees. Also a very fun experience.
Stay in the canal district- it’s little quiet nook in the middle of a great area. You’re away from the touristy noise but have multiple restaurants & bars within 2 blocks.
If you need a fun dinner spot, check out Zazas ! I surprised Terry there with a birthday dinner and it was just perfect. They went above and beyond to recognize his day (I’m talking sparklers on cakes & complimentary champs and balloons).
Visit the Bulldog Coffee Shop – even if you don’t partake, it’s cool to see where this all started.