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Amsterdam is both the first and final destination of my seven-day trip to Benelux last November. It was also the first and the last time I ever travelled with a new friend from the internet.
I took a flight from Oslo in the morning and had thus half day to discover Amsterdam all by myself. My travel mate and her buddies will reach the city later after their day trip to Zaanse Schans.
On the 2nd day, we (me and my travel mate) spent the whole morning to stop by all the city’s landmarks and… took photos. Just that. In the afternoon, it was time for a free walking tour (of course). And that was also the last walking tour ever that I took in my entire life!
We travelled to Belgium after that and didn’t return until the 6th day of my journey. The 7th day, my last day in Amsterdam, turned out to be the most perfect day as I was totally alone (with my two cameras). That was the day I could enjoy most of the “sin city of Europe”!
So, basically, I spent three days in the city. But after removing all the useless and clueless days, the perfect number should be two days in Amsterdam. And if it just happens that you have more than two days there, add some day-trips and you’ll have your vacation in the Netherlands perfect!
How to spend (more than)
two days in Amsterdam
1. Anne Frank House / Anne Frank Huis
If you have heard about/read the book “Anne Frank’s diary”, you should probably visit this site when in Amsterdam. If you haven’t, it’s a diary of Anne – a Jewish girl from Germany – who was in hiding for two years (1942–1944) with her parents and sister during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
The house and its secret annex where the Franks and other Jewish families were in the hiding, is nowadays one of the three most popular museums in Amsterdam.
Trust me: Even if you have no idea about nor interest in history, Second World War or museum, Anne Frank House is still worth a visit. You’ll spend approx. 3–4 hours living back the darkest time of contemporary history, being at the very place where Anne Frank and the others were living under the occupation, frustrated, scared, worried, but still full of hopes and dreams of the young Anne.
The fastest and easiest way to get a ticket is to buy it online with daily quota. There’s always a longggggg queue outside the building, so, be prepared!
Leave your big luggage/suitcases at the station, eat light and, if possible, find your way to a WC before entering the building!
My advice: You should pay it a visit right after arriving in Amsterdam. You may feel sorrowful during the visit, but once you get out of the building, you may thank life for everything you are having now.
As you cannot take pictures inside, buying a postcard with the house illustration is a nice idea. And if you haven’t read the book before, buy one here (available in different languages).
Address: Prinsengracht 263-267
2. Bloemenmarkt – World’s only floating flower market
If you, all by chance, have ever visited the Vietnamese Mekong Delta and its stunning floating market, you will feel my disappointment when visiting Bloemenmarkt!
They actually should say it “partly-floating flower market”. Seriously!
During my visit (early November 2017), as it was not the right blooming time like in spring or summer, I found it quite boring there. Of course, there were tulips and other flowers, but not in the fullest sense of, you know, a “flower market”.
Anyway, you can find all kinds of bulbs and flower seeds as well as other flower-and-gardening-related stuff there. Also this:
My advice: Maybe you I should give it another try in spring/summer?!
There’s also a place where you can find delicious stroopwafel on the “street side” of the market.
Address: Across Singel
3. De 9 Straatjes
De 9 straatjes are picturesque shopping alleyways in the Amsterdam canal belt. In the hart of Unesco’s World Heritage, just behind Dam Square and on the way from Anne Frank to Rijksmuseum. De 9 Straatjes is the ideal neighbourhood to get to know Amsterdam in all its variety and richness.
The area offers a great overview of the architectural style of Amsterdam heritage. After 400 years it is still very lively with artisanal businesses, hidden cafes, hotspot restaurants and galleries, and a unique offer of specialized and authentic shops dealing in fashion, shoes & bags, vintage, antiques, housewares and one-offs. [Source]
De 9 Straatjes. [Source]
Address: Starting at Wolvenstraat 9
my bad day my worst day in Amsterdam. We spent the whole morning just to take pictures/selfies of/with the city’s most popular destinations without even entering them or at least learning what they were.
It took us even half an hour to try to take a picture in front of the famous iAmsterdam without the crazy crowd climbing on it. Of course, it was mission impossible!
It just got even worse in the afternoon when we took part in a free walking tour (yes, when in Europe, take a free walking tour, dude!) It was a huge group with about 30 people, and we just walked so fast (but not furious) through the city that now I actually cannot remember where we were to.
I didn’t enjoy it. Not at all!
So what I would have done instead?
Needless to say, this is the most popular museum in the Netherlands, although the entrance ticket is not cheap at all (17,50 Euro, no discount for student). To be honest, you should consider before buying the ticket.
Unlike Le Louvre in France with both in- and outdoor areas, Rijksmuseum is quite “packed” with large collections of paintings, sculptures and other masterpieces… spreading through centuries with different styles. If you are not prepared, or not that into art, it can be *too much* to visit Rijksmuseum in such a short time.
Outside the museum, there’s a group of street musicians playing classical music. At first, I thought it was the loudspeakers system of the museum as it was so good to be true!
Inside Rijksmuseum, you’ll find this library, which is still in use. You lucky Amsterdam-ers!
You can easily spot Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and the concert hall Concertgebouw located at the Museumplein. I personally enjoy Vermeer’s paintings but didn’t have time to make my way to Delft that time. So I simply skipped Van Gogh Museum.
This museum is considered to be the only one in the world that has a bicycle underpass/bike tunnel for people!
You are welcome, bikers!
My advice: For a better experience, you should rent an audio guide set (5 Euro). You can choose among the themes, or discover the museum by yourself and learn by entering the numbers of artworks you’d like to know more about.
Address: Museumstraat 1
2. Albert Cuyp market
From Rijksmuseum to Albert Cuyp you’ll find two interesting stops: De Caroussel where you can find the best poffertjes in town and Heineken Museum.
I chose the first one. Then head to Albert Cuyp.
You can basically find almost everything in this market. From fresh seafood and herring (herring, herring everywhere), to clothes and ceramics. There’s also a Vietnamese food truck selling spring rolls (egg rolls). Strolling through Albert Cuyp market, I bet you’ll at least eat something or buy something!
Address: Albert Cuypstraat, right behind Heineken Museum.
When taking part in the free walking tour, you’ll be guided to (and through) Begijnhof.
It’s an enclosed courtyard dating from the early 14th century. The Begijnhof was originally built as a sanctuary for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns, although they took no monastic vows.
Houses in Begijnhof are still occupied by single women, so please respect their privacy and be quiet. [Source]
After a long day of being amazed by Amsterdam’s masterpieces, beer, and food, Begijnhof is the place to recover and find your inner peace. This small court is simply cut off from the sin of this city.
I went there on a cloudy afternoon, and later on, it rained unexpectedly. Suddenly all the tourists vanished, leaving me with the raindrops falling tenderly on the roofs of those old houses.
Address: Begijnhof 30
Day three, four, or five
After two days, you’ve seen more or less the most of Amsterdam.
If you plan to they there for more than that, there are a lot more for you in Amsterdam: visit other museums, picknick in Voldenpark, rent a bike and rock it like the locals, and so on.
Are you totally clueless? Visit iamsterdam.com for more interesting information.
And because this blog is about how to spend MORE THAN two days in Amsterdam, here are some day-trips options. You can take one a day, or try to squeeze two in one day. It’s absolutely up to you.
- Zaanse Schans, where you will be brought back to the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th century. You can buy the ticket on the day of travelling from Amsterdam Central Station. Click HERE for more information.
- Giethoorn, so-called “Venice of the Netherlands”, which is almost car-free, well known for its waterways, footpaths, bicycle trails, and centuries-old thatched-roof houses. Read more about this village HERE.
- Keukenhof, situated in Lisse, one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Within 8 weeks (March to May), it’s opened for tourists to visit seas of tulips and other spring flowers. For its official website, click HERE. If you want something funnier, read THIS BLOG instead 😉