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How to Spend 36 Hours in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the vibrant capital of the Netherlands, is a city rich in history, culture, and modern charm. With only 36 hours to explore, you can still experience the best of what Amsterdam has to offer. From its iconic canals to world-class museums and unique local experiences, this guide will help you make the most of your short stay in this enchanting city.

Day 1: Immersing in Art and History

8:00 AM – Breakfast at a Local Café Start your day with a traditional Dutch breakfast at a local café. Opt for a hearty meal of fresh bread, cheese, cold cuts, and of course, a cup of strong Dutch coffee.

9:00 AM – Visit the Van Gogh Museum Begin your cultural journey at the Van Gogh Museum, home to the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork. Here, you can explore the life and work of the legendary artist through more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 letters. It’s advisable to book your tickets online in advance to skip the long queues. Prices for adults are around €19, with free entry for children under 18.

11:30 AM – Explore the Rijksmuseum A short walk from the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum offers an extensive collection of Dutch art and history. Marvel at masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and other Dutch Masters. Online tickets are €20 for adults, and children under 18 can enter for free. Booking ahead is recommended to avoid waiting.

1:30 PM – Lunch at Foodhallen Head to Foodhallen, an indoor food market housed in a former tram depot. Here, you can sample a variety of Dutch and international dishes from numerous vendors. Try some local delicacies like bitterballen or a fresh herring sandwich.

3:00 PM – Moco Museum Next, visit the Moco Museum, known for its contemporary and street art exhibitions featuring works by artists like Banksy, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. The Moco Museum offers a refreshing contrast to the classical art seen earlier. Moco Museum Amsterdam tickets can be purchased online for around €17.50, ensuring you have more time to enjoy the exhibits.

5:00 PM – Canal Cruise Experience Amsterdam from the water with a canal cruise. This is a great way to relax while learning about the city’s history and architecture. Many companies offer 1-hour cruises, and prices start at around €15. Evening cruises are particularly enchanting as the city lights reflect on the water.

7:00 PM – Dinner at De Silveren Spiegel For a memorable dining experience, book a table at De Silveren Spiegel. This historic restaurant offers traditional Dutch cuisine in a charming 17th-century setting. Enjoy dishes like Dutch pea soup or braised beef while soaking in the atmosphere of old Amsterdam.

9:00 PM – Explore the Red Light District End your first day with a stroll through the famous Red Light District. While it’s known for its adult entertainment, the area is also home to historic buildings, lively bars, and unique shops. It’s a fascinating part of Amsterdam’s cultural fabric.

Day 2: Science and Local Experiences

8:00 AM – Breakfast at Pancakes Amsterdam Start your second day with a visit to Pancakes Amsterdam, where you can enjoy traditional Dutch pancakes and poffertjes (mini pancakes). With both sweet and savory options, there’s something for everyone.

9:00 AM – NEMO Science Museum Spend your morning at the NEMO Science Museum, a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages. The museum features interactive exhibits on science and technology, making it a great spot for families. Online NEMO Science Museum tickets are priced at €17.50 for adults and €6.50 for children aged 4-12, while children under 4 can enter for free.

12:00 PM – Visit the Anne Frank House No trip to Amsterdam is complete without visiting the Anne Frank House. This moving museum offers a glimpse into the life of Anne Frank and her family during World War II. Due to its popularity, it’s essential to book your tickets online well in advance. Tickets cost €14 for adults and €7 for children aged 10-17, with free entry for children under 10.

2:00 PM – Lunch at a Brown Café Head to one of Amsterdam’s traditional brown cafés for lunch. These historic pubs are known for their cozy atmosphere and hearty Dutch fare. Café ‘t Smalle and Café Hoppe are excellent choices.

3:30 PM – Bike Tour of the City Discover Amsterdam like a local by joining a guided bike tour. These tours usually last around 2-3 hours and cover the city’s major sights, including the Jordaan district, Vondelpark, and the Museum Quarter. Prices range from €20 to €30 per person. Alternatively, you can rent a bike and explore at your own pace.

6:00 PM – Dinner at a Canal-Side Restaurant For your final evening, dine at a canal-side restaurant like Restaurant De Kas or Blue Amsterdam. Enjoy delicious food while taking in the picturesque views of the canals.

8:00 PM – Evening at A’DAM Lookout End your visit with a trip to A’DAM Lookout, an observation deck offering panoramic views of Amsterdam. Brave the “Over the Edge” swing for an adrenaline rush or simply enjoy the stunning cityscape. Tickets are around €14.50, and it’s best to book in advance.

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