OT Travel Itinerary: 48 Hours In Amsterdam

There's so much to do and see in two days in Amsterdam, you will be surprised
A picture-perfect way of rounding off your trip to Amsterdam is a visit to the Keukenhof Garden
A picture-perfect way of rounding off your trip to Amsterdam is a visit to the Keukenhof GardenShutterstock

Amsterdam is a city that revels in cosmopolitan excess of every kind. It gives you food from around the world, music to fill every hour of day, enough museums to keep you walking for a very long time and lots of freedom to do things you never would otherwise. The figures put out by the Amsterdam Tourist Office corroborate that - at last count the city had 51 museums, 141 art galleries, 55 theatres and concert halls, 1,215 cafés and bars and 1,250 restaurants. Here's how to make the best of a very short stay.

Get Your Bearings

The Centraal Station lies at the centre of a semi-circular ripple of 17th-century canals that define the heart of the city. The north-south spine of the city centre runs from Centraal Station at the northern point - continuing down Damrak to Dam Square and then further south down Rokin to Muntplein. It can take a little while to figure out directions, but you'll never have to worry about getting lost - the city is small and very friendly.

Day One

People in front of the Rijksmuseum and popular 'I Amsterdam'  statue
People in front of the Rijksmuseum and popular 'I Amsterdam' statueInnaFelker/Shutterstock

12 noon Check into one of the many lovely hotels in Amsterdam. One hotel which literally caters to every budget is the 117-room Lloyd Hotel (95-450 euros 31-20-5613605, www.lloydhotel.com). The rooms here range from no-frills to plush. The hotel has the added advantage of being located in the heart of Amsterdam's trendy eastern dock area.

2.30pm Your first stop should be the main tourist office (9am-5pm 5512525, www.amsterdamtourist.nl), opposite the Centraal Station's main entrance. Pick up a map of Amsterdam and a very useful visitor pass called the "I amsterdam Card". The card, which is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours (38, 48 and 58 euros, respectively), offers unlimited use of public transport, free entrance to 24 museums, discounts at restaurants, free canal tours, etc. You can also buy the card online at www.iamsterdam.com.

3pm The best way of getting a sense of Amsterdam is to take an hour-long cruise along its quaint and intricate network of canals. The tours are operated in glass-topped boats your I amsterdam card gives you free tours on Holland International (6227788, www.hir.nl), whose boats start opposite Centraal Station, and Rederij Noord-Zuid (6791370, www.canal-cruises.nl), which uses a landing stage near the Rijksmuseum.

5pm Next, head to the Heineken Experience (10 am-6 pm, www.heinekenexperience.com), a large indoor theme park housed in a former brewery, where for €15, you can see videos and demonstrations of how this incredibly popular beer is made. You also get to "experience" three glasses of lager, and get a take-home glass.

8pm In a city full of excellent food, Moeders ( www.moeders.com) really does stand out. Moeders is Dutch for "Mothers", and the restaurant's walls are covered with photos of them. The Dutch dishes on offer include suddervlees - beef stewed for many hours a salad of beets, goat's cheese and apricots, and pancake with cherries.

11pm The main nightlife hubs are Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and the adjoining streets, where you'll find a bewildering number of watering holes. Some of the best venues for live music are Paradiso (Weteringschans www.paradiso.nl) and Melkweg (www.melkweg.nl).

Day Two

9am Start the morning with a hearty breakfast and some espresso at the Café de Jaren (Nieuwe Doelenstraat, www.cafedejaren.nl) - it has some of the best canal views in Amsterdam, and is possibly the best place to linger, recover from last night and take in the views.

Bike around in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Bike around in Amsterdam, NetherlandsAndrey Krav

10.30am You must have noticed the sheer number of bicycles in the city. Amsterdam has 600,000 of them - that's nearly one for every resident. Get yourself a bike for the day. It will set you back by about €12.5. Try either Bike City (Bloemgracht www.bikecity.nl) or Rent A Bike (Damstraat www.bikes.nl). Start pedalling along the three main canals of central Amsterdam, and admire the curiously gabled 17th-century houses, some of which lean so dangerously that it looks like they might topple over. Some of the finest houses are located in the "Golden Bend" of the Herengracht, which stretches east from the intersection of Nieuwe Spiegelstraat.

2pm The heart of the city's cultural life is the Rijksmuseum (9am-6pm 6747047, www.rijksmuseum.nl). The museum is undergoing a major renovation, so the exhibition area is reduced to the Philips Wing, which is actually a very substantial space. In Room 12 hangs the huge canvas of Rembrandt's famous The Night Watch. The Van Gogh Museum (10am-6pm www.vangoghmuseum.com) is a stone's thrown away. This modern structure has the world's largest collection of the artist's creations - as well as works by his contemporaries. After you're done, head to the Rijksmuseum Shop to pick up a lovely set of Van Gogh coasters.

7pm Time to grab a meal. Van Puffelen (Prinsengracht www.restaurantvanpuffelen.com), which serves Dutch and French cuisine, is a grand but reasonably priced place (about €36 per person).

9.30pm You can't go to Amsterdam and not walk through the touristy red-light district where scantily clad women gyrate behind the iconic neon-lit windowpanes. Explore some of the side streets and then make your way to the Nieuwmarkt, which has many respectable pubs. Wash your drinks down with some traditional Dutch snacks - bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs) and kaasblokjes (blocks of cheese).

11pm The city's tourist board may not be promoting them, but Amsterdam's coffee shops, with marijuana off a menu and staff which is happy to tell you about the subtle differences in the quality of intoxication, are quite a draw. Asian artwork, lanterns and large red cushions give De Rokerij (Lange Leidsedwars-straat www.rokerij.net) the look of an Oriental opium den.

Day Three

8 am - A picture-perfect way of rounding off your trip to Amsterdam is a visit to the Keukenhof Garden (open from mid-March to mid-May www.keukenhof.nl), about 45 minutes from the city. The Connexxion bus company (www.connexxion.nl) runs regular bus services to the garden from Museumplein. With over seven million flower bulbs, this is the largest flower garden in the world. Carpets of red, blue and yellow tulips stretch out in every direction. A restored traditional windmill, quaint coffee shops and many small ponds and winding pathways complete its Elysian charms and a set of three tulip bulbs purchased from its souvenir shop will serve as the perfect reminder of this colourful city.

The Information

Getting There

To reach Amsterdam from India, book a flight from major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, or Bangalore to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, with direct flights typically available. The flight duration is around 8-9 hours. Alternatively, you can opt for connecting flights via major hubs like Dubai, Doha, or London. Once at Schiphol, take a train or taxi to Amsterdam’s city center, approximately 15-20 minutes away. Efficient public transport, including buses and trams, also facilitates travel within the city.


Indians need a Schengen visa to visit the Netherlands. Apply at VFS Global centers or the Dutch embassy. Required documents include a passport, application form, photos, travel itinerary, accommodation proof, and financial statements.

Where To Stay

An unusual mid-budget option is Hotel de Filosoof (€80-170 www.hotelfilosoof.nl), whose rooms are scattered across a series of townhouses on the street. The nearby Owl Hotel (€80-185 www.owl-hotel.nl) is a good alternative. For canal views try the Wiechmann (€85-260, www.hotelwiechmann.nl). And if you can afford to splurge, stay at the Dylan (€295-1,700 www.dylanamsterdam.com), which occupies a grand 17th-century house.

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