Today I want to share my itinerary for two days in Amsterdam with you. From canals to museums, parks to markets, this city in the Netherlands is one of the best places to travel in Europe.

Two Days in Amsterdam

Two Days in Amsterdam

I’d been to Amsterdam twice before. I visited the Van Gogh museum, bicycled to the windmills, and toured the nearby Keukenhof Gardens.

But two things made it extra special for me to spend two days in Amsterdam over this particular weekend: a couple of good friends from San Francisco.

One lived there and the other was visiting. It was a great excuse to go back to Holland.

Sculpture in Amsterdam

How to Get to Amsterdam

Getting to Amsterdam was an adventure. I hopped on the Eurostar on Friday afternoon and made my way to Brussels.

After a couple hours of revisiting my favorite places in the city and eating a heart-healthy cone of ketchup-smothered fries, I took an ill-fated bus to Amsterdam.

Brussels train station signs in Belgium

‘A bus?’ you ask. Yes, a bus. In a moment of Pinot Noir-induced insanity during the planning stages of my trip, I convinced myself that paying seven euros for a bus to Amsterdam would result in a positive travel experience.

It didn’t. The bus failed to show up until fifteen minutes after the scheduled departure time.

Then I spent four hours and fifteen minutes listening to the driver’s loud Reggae music, watching Michael Jackson’s This is It on the overhead TV, and witnessing an unrehearsed sing-along when Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” came on.

After all the regular stops and one unscheduled stop at a rest station on the side of the road, I staggered off the bus at Amstel station in Amsterdam 45 minutes late.

It wasn’t the most promising start to my two days in Amsterdam, but I was optimistic things would improve.

Windmill Souvenirs for sale at a shop in Amsterdam, Netherlands

They did. Leaving the station, I met my friends at a bar called ‘t Doktertje for a much-needed drink. Well, drinks.

Between Belgian, Dutch, and even a few American beers, we went from ‘t Doktertje to a few other bars sampling the local genever and everyone’s least favorite shot, Jager.

Amstel beer coasters in a bar in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Two Days in Amsterdam: Day 1

It goes without saying we slept in on Saturday morning. I was staying with one of my friends who’s in business school in Amsterdam, and when we finally got going she took me across the city center to a brunch place she thought I’d like.

Red flowers on a bridge over a canal in Amsterdam, Holland

On the way, I re-discovered another brunch place. My boyfriend had taken me there for breakfast on my birthday in Amsterdam once.

We’d long forgotten both the name and location of Puccini, but not its amazing food. I was glad to have stumbled upon it again during my two days in Amsterdam.

Houseboat in Amsterdam

Coincidentally, when we reached our brunch destination on this Saturday morning I realized my boyfriend had also taken me there on the same weekend we went to Puccini.

It was called Pancakes! In both cases we went there to eat pancakes. Obviously.

Tiny pancakes in Amsterdam, Netherlands

On my last trip I dove into American-style pancakes, but this time I went for the Dutch variety. The thin, plate-sized crispy pancake was filled with onions, cheese, and bacon.

Despite a long wait for the food I couldn’t have asked for a more delicious breakfast during my two days in Amsterdam.

Cheese at a market in Amsterdam

When we finished eating we walked through the funky Jordaan district. My friend was taking me to the Noordermarkt, where there was reportedly a man who made while-you-wait stroopwafles.

I was in no way hungry, but my dessert stomach was agitating for the thin caramel-filled waffles and I couldn’t tell it no.

Roses at a market in Amsterdam, Holland

The market was large and featured row after row of tantalizing foods, including mountains of Dutch cheeses, breads, and herring.

Okay, so the herring only tantalized the locals and the visiting Scandinavians, but the rest of it looked good to me.

Cheese at a market in Amsterdam

Farther along we discovered market stalls selling everything from wasabi peanuts to wrinkled textiles. Among this mishmash of market-mongers we found our stroopwafel man.

He smothered caramel between two freshly-made waffle halves, and we savored the sweet, sticky warmth until it was no more.

Stroopwafel in Amsterdam

Moving on from the market, we continued our two days in Amsterdam by heading south to the Vondelpark.

A huge expanse of green space that always reminds me of the more manicured bits of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the lawns were packed with picnickers, bikers, and even wedding parties smiling up at the sun.

Tulips in Amsterdam, Holland

After a glass of wine at the Blue Teahouse in the Vondelpark, we headed north up the busy canals to Oosterdokseiland.

Along the way a cold rain started falling, and by the time we got to the Amsterdam Public Library we were using my friend’s pink Pashmina as an umbrella.

Nemo Museum in Amsterdam

The building was a contemporary construction with interiors reminiscent of Rem Koolhaas’ Seattle Public Library.

Modern and future-forward in every facet from the facade to the free WiFi, the Amsterdam Public Library was the perfect place to escape the rain.

There was a cafe on the seventh floor, and we sat sipping mint tea as we admired the views of Amsterdam through the downpour.

Amsterdam Public Library in The Netherlands

Braving the rain again, we continued our two days in Amsterdam by meeting up with the rest of our group from the previous evening at the NH Amsterdam Schiller hotel bar in Rembrandtplein.

We caught up and dried off over a glass of wine, then walked down the street to dinner.

In another instance of culinary deja vu, our dinner was at Tempo Doeloe, an Indonesian restaurant my boyfriend had taken me to for a surprise Rijsttafel dinner on our last trip to Amsterdam.

I’d suggested it to one of my two visiting friends. A a fellow foodie, she was convinced. We found ourselves at a table for seven with 25 delicious plates in front of us.

Strawberry Dessert at Tempo Doeloe in Amsterdam

Two hours later we were stuffed full of an array of dishes ranging from vegetables in peanut sauce to spicy chicken with hot yellow peppers.

Despite a bottle of amazingly disappointing wine, we enjoyed every small portion on the table.

Light at the Amsterdam Public Library cafe in Holland

Two Days in Amsterdam: Day 2

The next morning my two days in Amsterdam continued with my third and final episode of foodie deja vu. Having shared with my friends my excitement about rediscovering Puccini, we decided to meet up there for Sunday brunch.

After getting thoroughly soaked by the rain on the way to the cafe, six of us gathered around a table in the small whitewashed room. There we holed up for two hours enjoying one of the best brunches I’ve had in a long time.

Tulips in Amsterdam

I started with a hot chocolate that consisted of a glass of steamed milk and a cube of solid Belgian chocolate on a stick.

I stirred the creamy cocoa goodness into the cup to make my own delicious drink and finished every sip before I even ordered my food.

Hot Chocolate at Puccini in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Breakfast was scrambled eggs with toast and some of the most flavorful smoked salmon I’ve ever tasted.

Having eyed the giant strawberry tarts in the window when I arrived, I split the meal with my friend so as to save room for dessert. As I savored each soft bite of fresh strawberry-marzipan goodness, I was glad I did.

Tulips in Amsterdam

Getting Home from Amsterdam

When we finally forced ourselves up from the table, it was already time for me to travel by bus back to Brussels.

Unfortunately my bus didn’t feel much like cooperating. It arrived an hour and 15 minutes late, leaving me worried I would miss my connection to the last Eurostar of the night from Brussels to London.

Between the long wait, the depressing waiting room, and the rain, the phrase “you get what you pay for” repeated loudly in my head.

Cheese Sculpture in Amsterdam

When the bus finally arrived, the driver took his time getting us out of Amsterdam. We finally got underway as he talked loudly to himself and swigged soda while swerving onto the shoulder of the highway.

The farther we got from Amsterdam, the more unnerved and disconcerted I felt by the whole terrible bus experience.

Bookshop in Amsterdam

Then, after speeding through pouring rain and completely skipping a scheduled stop, the driver had us in Brussels a mere six minutes after our stated arrival time.

I don’t know who draws up the bus timetables, but I’ll assume they’re at least as crazy as the people they put behind the wheel.

Green sculpture in Brussels, Belgium

With two hours in Brussels before my Eurostar to London, I walked from the Gare du Nord to the Gare du Midi.

I stopped off at a few shops along the way to pick up a gift for my boyfriend, who was celebrating his birthday the next day and was very relieved to hear I wouldn’t have to spend half of it in Brussels.

Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium

When I finally made it to the Gare du Midi, I flashed my Carte Blanche and collapsed into a sleek orange-and-gray chair in the lounge.

With me came a glass of too-young red wine and a heaping plate of olives and peanuts I called my dinner. It was the first meal of the trip that wasn’t a repeat of my last visit to Amsterdam.

Eurostar Sign

Two Days in Amsterdam

I don’t have a pressing need to return to the lovely Dutch city soon, but a bad final dinner is a good enough reason if an opportunity presents itself.

Nemo Museum in Amsterdam

Just remind me not to take the bus if I spend two days in Amsterdam in the future.

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Two Days in Amsterdam

8 Comments on Lady’s Itinerary for Two Days in Amsterdam

  1. Definitely, don't take the bus anymore! I didn't imagine buses could be that terrible in Belgium and the Netherlands (but I usually avoid them wherever I go, I simply don't like them much). However, Amsterdam was surely worth this bad trip. And I definitely need to go there back again soon, too!

  2. I wish I'd read this before my visit to Amsterdam 2 weeks ago, but we did manage to find our way to Tempo Doeloe and have a great meal. The pancakes look fabulous though; wish I'd known about them.

    Shelli

  3. Amsterdam is such a pleasant city I think it’s great to have an opportunity to revisit it for non-touristic purposes.

    Dalia

  4. It’s always interesting to read about foreigner’s experiences in Amsterdam 🙂 (And it’s a plus that not everyone focuses on the Red Light District/coffeeshop vibe of the city. Thumbs up!)

    • Thanks! Amsterdam is such an amazing city. Before my first visit, I didn’t realize there was much to see and do beyond the red light district and coffee shops, but I have always been amazed at how much there is beyond those things (thankfully!).

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