Amsterdam, Travel

How to Spend 36 Hours in Amsterdam

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam

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Want to know how to spend 36 hours in Amsterdam?

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful and quaint city. It is rich with history, culture, museums and a thriving nightlife scene. It is the perfect city to add to a European trip at the beginning or at the end.

Known for it’s vast amounts of canals and bicycles, it is sure to be a favorite city when you visit.

Amsterdam Itinerary: Day 1

Start by flying into Schiphol in Amsterdam to start your trip. Then take the train into the city. There were plenty of information kiosks and helpful agents around the airport to help you figure out which train tickets to buy and how to get to where you are going.

It was amazing how fast the train was into the city. It took less than 15 minutes and the train was much nicer than a New York City subway. The first stop is Amsterdam Centraal.

Amsterdam Centraal is in the absolute heart of the city and such a beautiful building. I’m so glad that it was one of my first impressions of Amsterdam and Europe in general.

While in Amsterdam I decided to get an unlimited two day pass for the bus, metro, and tram which was definitely a good idea and super convenient. The hotel I was staying at was pretty close to everything I wanted to see and easy to walk to but it was nice to be able to hop on the tram if it happened to be there at the right time.

If you take the red-eye into Amsterdam, you might want to rest for a few hours and then prepare for an evening out on the town.

Have dinner at Cafe de Klos

Start with a dinner at Cafe de Klos. It is a meat restaurant with a specialty in ribs and they are so good.

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam cafe de klos

The portions here are gigantic and the staff is super friendly. If you do go here, make sure to bring an appetite or at least a friend to share the meal with. I got the mixed plate which had the classic ribs and the smoked ribs. It included four pieces, which was a ton of food because a piece contains three ribs on it!

The meal also comes with a handmade salad, a basket of bread and a baked potato if you choose to add it on. This was definitely one of the best meals of the trip, even if I  couldn’t finish it.

Amsterdam Dutch Wine and Cheese Canal Cruise

After a huge and scrumptious dinner, make your way back to Amsterdam Centraal to be picked up for your Dutch Wine and Cheese Canal Cruise.

Make sure to book these ahead of time because a couple got turned away trying to buy tickets for the night of due to it already selling out.

Although the boat was sold out, it was not packed at all. Each table only had one assigned party. So even if you are only a party of two, you’ll be seated at your own table that could easily fit six.

The canal cruise is a very smooth ride. There was a healthy selection of cheese and other snacks to munch on as well as free-flowing wine.

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam dutch wine and cheese cruise

The boat captain and servers were all very nice and they made sure to mention places of interest as we passed them such as Skinny Bridge and Reguliersgracht or Seven Bridges.

You’ll also get to pass by plenty of houseboats during the cruise and learn about their history.

Walking through Amsterdam at Night

After the cruise ends, walk over to explore the central part of town. In late November, it was already decorated for Christmas with so many lights decorating the buildings throughout the city.

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam dam square town square

Walk by Dam Square, The Royal Palace and the Red Light District. Once you are in the Red Light District you can visit Red Light Secrets: A Museum of Prostitution. Remember to not take pictures while you are walking around the Red Light District. 

The museum is located in a building that used to be a brothel. You can walk through it to see what the inside of a brothel looked like and learn about the culture, industry, legalities and history surrounding Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

There is also a wall of lost belongings in the museum. It displays the items that people have lost among the rooms of the Red Light District.

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Amsterdam Itinerary: Day 2

After a good night of sleep, wake up early and make your ways towards the Anne Frank House. The Anne Frank House only sells tickets online and the tickets are for a very specific fifteen-minute time slot.

Get there early and grab breakfast at the pancake restaurant next door. I took the server’s suggestion and ordered a Dutch pancake with spinach, goat cheese, pine nuts and bacon and it was so delicious!

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam dutch pancake

This is something that I wish I could get back home. A Dutch pancake is thinner and much more savory than an American pancake and the pancake has the spinach and bacon cooked into it and was topped with pine nuts and a circle of goat cheese. This is a place I would definitely go back to if I were to ever be in Amsterdam again. They only take credit cards. 

Visiting the Anne Frank House

After you finish your breakfast, make your way next door to the Anne Frank House. Once your ticket is checked and you go through security, you’ll be given an audio guide. The guide comes nine languages.

When you get into each room, you press the audio guide to a corresponding button on the wall and listen. This was a very moving experience and I think it is worth going for every person that passes through Amsterdam. It’s truly amazing that this piece of history is still preserved and there was so much to learn. 

After visiting the museum, take some time to wander around Jordaan, a neighborhood nearby.

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam

Flower Market in Amsterdam

Afterwards, make your way over to the flower market, Bloemenmarkt, where you can pick up some very, very interesting souvenirs that combined Amsterdam’s casualness with their rich history.

The Museum District in Amsterdam

how to spend 36 hours in amsterdam museum district

Next, take the tram and venture into the Museum District. This is where the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign is located. It is also where the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and many other museums are located. Amsterdam has a plethora of museums to explore on a variety of different subjects, like the Museum of Bags and Purses.

After you are done at the Museum District, make your way over to the Heineken Brewery for the Heineken Experience.

The Heineken Experience

Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam- Home of the Heineken Experience

The Heineken Experience was truly that, it was an experience and much different from any other brewery tour that I had been on because there was so much to see and so much to do.

There was a sign near the beginning of the tour that said it takes about 21 minutes to burn off the calories from one beer and that during the Heineken Experience, each visitor would burn off around the equivalent of six beers.

I thought no way that I would be there for 2 hours. But, I was there for just about 2 hours and I had worked quite quickly through each room.

It was very hands-on and informative while also historical and decorated for Christmas which I thought was great. You can read more in depth about the Heineken Experience here.

Closing Thoughts on How to Spend 36 Hours in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful city. I love how quiet and quaint it was. I loved the canals and the bicycles and it was a truly interesting city to visit. This is only a list of what I did in a very short amount of time but there is so much to see in Amsterdam.

So, when are you planning a trip to Amsterdam?

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Elyse is a Road Twenty author focused on writing about New York City, local and international travel guides & food and cocktail recipes as well as other lifestyle topics. She is based in New York City and has a love for cheesy Christmas movies, tacos and the sunshine.
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About Elyse

Elyse is a Road Twenty author focused on writing about New York City, local and international travel guides & food and cocktail recipes as well as other lifestyle topics. She is based in New York City and has a love for cheesy Christmas movies, tacos and the sunshine.
View all posts by Elyse →

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