Amsterdam in 48 Hours
Updated: Jul 18, 2021
Yes, you heard me correctly: 48 hours.
After I graduated college, my two best friends + I flew to Europe for about a month and crammed as much as we could in an attempt to excite three extremely different people. And thus, the trip started with Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is one of my, if not my absolute, favorite city in Europe outside Italy (that's saying a lot). You can definitely enjoy more of this city by spending more time here, but if you're in a crunch to fit as much of Europe as possible, this post will give you the highlights.
First things first: cheese (more specifically, gouda). You can find a cheese shop on almost every street corner, but the Amsterdam Cheese Company was one of my favorites stops because they let us sample everything. Plus, they had dozens of different types of gouda!
Snacks are, of course, a necessity, and what better snack than a cone of french fries?
But it gets better... the french fries are seasoned and coated in yummy sauces! I got a traditional Dutch mayonnaise topping, which tasted way better than the ordinary American condiment, but my friends tried theirs with other seasonings and spicy sauces. We stopped to get them at Vlaams Friteshuis Vlemincks, which is inside a small street near the heart of the town. The french fry stand was simply a window in the street, but you could tell it was going to be good by the small line forming outside.
We ended the evening by heading over to A'dam Lookout, where we swung on "Over the Edge," Europe's highest swing that gives you a 360 view of the city. We passed by the Amsterdam train station on our way and took the free ferry across the river to get to that side of town. We paid €19 each for a premium ticket, which gave us a ride on the swing and two free drink coins! After our ride, we enjoyed our glasses of wine on the 20-story rooftop bar.
The next day, we made sure our first stop was for pancakes. Pancakes Amsterdam is a chain pancake house across the town, but we went to the location on Negen Straatjes, which was so quaint inside. We started the meal with, of course, cappuccinos, and they came with yummy little stroop waffles (the waiter quickly realized how much I loved them and gave me a handful to throw in my purse for later). The three of us got our "own" pancakes, but we ended up cutting each one three ways so we could each share them! I ordered the lemon sugar pancake (€7.70), Shannon got a ham & cheese pancake (€11) and Cat "made her own" with strawberries and Nutella.
We spent the majority of the day wondering the beautiful streets and canals of the city. The Anne Frank Museum was completely sold out when we got there, so I recommend booking tickets in advance! We made a pit stop for coffee a Bocca Coffee Company, which had an amazing espresso blend!
In the afternoon, we went to the original location of the Heineken Brewery. We bought tickets for both the Heineken Experience and a 75-minute canal cruise for €32 each, but the Heineken Experience was so much more than a brewery tour. It was extremely interactive, included simulations, thoroughly explained how the beer was created and even taught you how to properly drink a Heineken! After the "experience" was over, the guides took you to an underground bar and gave you two free beer tokens (one of which I used to participate in a "beer pour" challenge). After, we took the canal boat tour in the evening, which was nice to hear the history of some of the buildings (including Anne Frank's home).
We ended the night with dinner at a food hall called De Foodhallen. There were so many options I couldn't decide what I wanted until I saw this massive hotdog. I'm a sucker for a hotdog, so I couldn't resist, but before I found it, I did share a traditional Bitterballen platter from De BallenBar (kind of like Dutch meatballs but with fun fillings). The food hall also had a super unique gin bar, which we definitely took advantage of!
The next day was our last day in Amsterdam, and it wasn't even a full day so we needed an early start! We had Naked Expresso and quickly ran to the nearest H&M to shop for winter clothes as we were extremely ill-prepared for the sudden change in European climate that May. We explored as much of the town as we could and found a cute hole-in-the-wall bar alongside a canal to have lunch. We sat at the little street tables and enjoyed our Heinekens before it was time to go. For our two nights in Amsterdam, we stayed at Amsterdam Downtown Hotel, which is not, by any means, luxurious, but it was exactly what we needed -small, clean and affordable (many accommodations in Amsterdam can get pricey really quickly, so if you're on a tight budget, this is a great option).