Picturesque canals with houseboats, cobble-stone streets and bustling squares, historical narrow houses and laid-back attitude. Welcome to Amsterdam! The capital of the Netherlands is not just about windmills, tulips and wooden shoes. This vibrant city destination offers an unforgettable experience to a great variety of visitors, whether you love history and architecture, world-class art, non-stop nightlife, or weird and wonderful food. And in this 3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary, you’ll explore all of these things!
It’s a city where people can be individuals, without being judged for being themselves. That’s why the city is very tolerant towards drugs, prostitution, the LGBTQIA+ community and foreign cultures. And how can it not be? The 180 different nationalities that live in Amsterdam (mind, there are 223 nationalities in the world), make this city an eclectic, multicultural melting pot that’s still very Dutch, like you’ve never seen before. Come and experience it yourself!
Luckily our friend David is not only a huge fan of Amsterdam, but a Netherlands native himself! He has written the best 3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary to show you the best of the city on your trip. So take it away, David!
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3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary FAQs
Amsterdam is my city. Not that I own it or anything (can you actually own a city?), but it’s where I’m from (well, close enough anyway). To me, the biggest attraction of Amsterdam has always been its vibe. It has a very tolerant and laid-back culture.
Every time I visit Amsterdam -the city where anything goes- I get a buzz (no, this has nothing to do with marijuana). I love the energy of this place, its people and its culture. I hope you will too!
How Do I Get Around Amsterdam?
Public transport in Amsterdam is excellent for such a compact city. There are local trains within Amsterdam, buses, trams, ferries and underground trains. The underground line was recently expanded and now gets you to the other side of the city in less than 30 minutes. City transport is organized by GVB (Gemeentelijk Vervoersbedrijf).
Public transport is not cheap in Amsterdam, but it’s reasonable. You get much better value if you buy a day or multi-day ticket. To find your way around Amsterdam, downloading the 9292OV app is a must. It helps you plan your journeys in the whole country, but works great for just Amsterdam too.
Not really public transport (although bicycles get stolen so often they are pretty much public property), cycling is an efficient and green way to get around the city. You need to be used to riding a bike and have eyes in the back of your head though. Traffic and pedestrians are everywhere. There is a network of cycle lanes that get you around safely.
Do I need an I Amsterdam City Card?
Yes absolutely. A 72-hour I Amsterdam City Card costs €100 ($110) and fits perfectly with this three-day itinerary. It saves you money in the end. It includes public transport within the city, free entry to a lot of museums, a free canal cruise and a free one-day bicycle rental. Go figure!
Every activity in this itinerary marks which activities you can use with the I Amsterdam City Card, so you can see how much you’ll save!
What’s the thing with coffeeshops?
The tolerant nature of the city of Amsterdam means that the use of substances like weed, hash and magic truffles are legal. They are sold in places called coffeeshops (I know, confusing!), where you can relax and smoke marijuana. Whether you are pro or against marijuana, it is admirable that it’s legal in The Netherlands, without causing too much trouble in the country. Still, we have left a visit to a coffeeshop out of the itinerary as an activity, so you can decide whether or not to try it yourself.
If you would like to try smoking marijuana for the first time, there is no better place to do it than Amsterdam. Marijuana is legalized in some states in the US now, but you must realize that in The Netherlands, weed has never been illegal. The market is mature, people are used to it and it’s basically ‘nothing special’. Smoking a joint in The Netherlands is as acceptable as drinking a beer.
Coffeeshops are like any ordinary bar. They look a bit like a chill out lounge, where you can smoke and have a (non-alcoholic) drink. There is a menu with all the weed and hash species. Tell the person behind the bar that it’s your first time, so they can advise you accordingly. Don’t take the advice lightly…some of the stuff is pretty strong! It’s best to buy a pre-rolled joint, so you are sure there’s not too much in it. Be aware that you’re not allowed to smoke tobacco inside anymore.
So, the use of marijuana is allowed, but it doesn’t mean that abuse is tolerated! Mushrooms used to be legal too, but have been banned since 2007 because some tourists took too much, leading to fatal incidents. Magic truffles are still legal though (because they are sooo different, right?).
Without trying to sound like a dad, enjoy yourself and try it by all means, but just don’t overdo it (oh sh*t, I really sounded like a dad there!). Have fun!
Now you know all you need to know about preparing for your three days in Amsterdam, let’s get started. It’s a lot to read, but you’ll have the best trip ever!
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3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary
The time has come! Let’s dive into our 3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary.
Amsterdam Itinerary, Thursday: Arrival Day
- Today it’s all about slowly adjusting to being in a new place, so you’ll be having dinner and taking a little stroll if you like. Take it easy and relax for now, because tomorrow this fully packed itinerary really kicks off.
Airport transfer to Amsterdam
Flying into the Netherlands, you’ll arrive at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. For a small country, Amsterdam Airport is big, but you shouldn’t have any trouble making your way out. I say out, but you don’t actually have to leave the building to get to your next mode of transport.
Depending on your hotel, they may offer an airport shuttle service. You can also take a taxi into the city center, but I wouldn’t bother. Take the train! It’s easy, quick and cheap (and it’s adventurous, right?).
The platforms are below ground. From arrivals, all you need to do is walk into the central hall, find your train and go downstairs to the right platform. Most trains, no matter where they go in the country, stop at Amsterdam Centraal Station (I’ll help you out! That’s Amsterdam Central Station in English. You’re welcome!)
Dinner at Hap-Hmm
Once you’ve checked into your hotel, take some time to adjust until dinner. Now you’ve arrived in Amsterdam, it’s time for some typical Dutch food. Remember there are 180 different nationalities that live in Amsterdam! It makes going out for food an adventure, because there are a lot of different cuisines on offer. So much, that it’s actually quite hard to find typical Dutch food (don’t panic, I’ve got you!)
Hap-Hmm is a lovely small restaurant in the center of Amsterdam. On the menu you’ll find typical Dutch dishes. Don’t expect haute cuisine: most typical Dutch food is based on potatoes, cooked vegetables and meat. Not very exciting, but so comforting! I can really recommend any of their soups for starters and Grootmoeders Gehaktbal (Grandma’s Meatball) as a main. It’s a large meatball like only Dutch grandma’s can make them (yes, any grandma in the Netherlands, no exceptions!). Order some stoofpeertjes (sweet pears stewed in red wine) on the side and you’ll be a happy person!
If you still have the energy to do anything else after this filling meal (I salute you!), perhaps go for a little walk to explore the area around the restaurant. Check out the 17th-century architecture and have a wander through Vondelpark if it’s still light outside. Amsterdam is generally safe, but I wouldn’t go to the park at night. If you fancy a drink, there are quite a few bars around here (“café” in Dutch). Ones to try are Bariq Espresso & Wine Bar or PARCK if you enjoy a drink and a game of ping pong (of course you do!).
Amsterdam Itinerary Day 1, Friday: Getting Your Bearings
On this first day, you’ll explore a lot on foot, but feel free to use public transport in between. You’ll see most of the inner city of Amsterdam and you’ll get an understanding of the layout of the city. Ready? Let’s go!
Anne Frank House
I don’t think Anne Frank needs any introduction. This museum is the house where the young Jewish girl lived for almost two years, hidden away, before she was captured and taken to a concentration camp. Her diary was later published and her tragic story became known worldwide.
It’s good to start your city trip with the Anne Frank House, as it’s very popular and because it’s literally a house, a limited number of people are allowed in at the same time. Inside, you’ll see the different rooms of the house, including the attic where the family used to hide. There are pages of her diary to read, as well as photographs and items that belonged to the Frank family.
This is one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam, which means tickets sell out unfortunately. Book yours ahead of your trip, on the official website. The visit takes around one hour.
De Negen Straatjes
Walk five minutes south (see, I told you Amsterdam is very walkable!) to get to De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets). You’ll find this area behind the Royal Palace, between Singel and Prinsengracht. It consists of nine streets and four canals, which are part of the UNESCO World Heritage canal belt.
The nine small shopping streets are very picturesque. Boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops (the coffee kind!) and 17th-century architecture…it’s all here!
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De Bloemenmarkt (Flower market)
From De Negen Straatjes, it’s less than a 10-minute walk to the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). This market is full of flowers (duh!). This is where you can buy Dutch tulips in lots of different colors, as well as other flowers. Buy a colorful bunch of tulips to bring back home as a souvenir! (Great! Wilted flowers.) You can buy wooden souvenir tulips here, too. Or even better, buy some bulbs of your favorite tulips, so you can watch them grow at home!
- Note: When you bring back tulip (or any flower) bulbs back to the US, please keep in mind you can’t bring more than 12 bulbs. The bulbs need to be packaged with a phytosanitary certificate. At customs, you need to declare them on your customs form, and have them packed in an easy place, to be inspected. The sellers at the Flower Market sell bulbs that are marked US approved. These bulbs will have the certificate on the packaging.
Lunch at Beers & Barrels
I hope you’ve worked up an appetite walking around this morning exploring Amsterdam. There will be a lot more exploring to do, but now…time to eat. I can recommend Beers & Barrels on Rembrandtplein (not because it has beers in its name, honestly!). This steakhouse has some excellent burgers and lighter bites on their lunch menu, as well as an abundance of different beers on tap (oh you got me, busted!).
I love their pulled pork nachos. The meat is so tender, which goes really well the crunchy tortilla chips. I think you should also order a portion of bitterballen (they don’t taste of bitter balls, don’t worry). Bitterballen are typical Dutch snacks that go really well with a beer or two (oh snap!). It’s basically a very thick roux and beef stock based stew, loaded with pulled beef and/or veal. The stew is rolled into balls, breaded and deep-fried (hey, I never said they were healthy). You eat them dipped in a bit of sweet mustard. Yum!
While you’re here, you might as well order a beer. It’s Amsterdam after all, where anything goes!
Dessert: Poffertjes at Mama Pancake
Hope you didn’t eat too many bitterballen, because now it’s time to try a Dutch dessert. You can’t beat poffertjes! These are small, puffy pancakes, made in a special pan called a poffertjespan. They are served with butter and powdered sugar. Walk towards Dam Square along one of the main streets called Rokin. Mama Pancake is at number 100, where you can get some tasty poffertjes to take out.
Following Rokin, you’ll eventually end up on Dam Square. It just might take a while, as there are so many interesting buildings and shops to see. Dam Square -or The Dam, as locals call it- is the absolute center of Amsterdam. There is always something to see and do here. The cenotaph in the middle is the National Monument, which symbolizes the respect the population has for Dutch war victims all over the world.
The big building to the west is the Royal Palace (one of a few, as the Dutch royal family doesn’t live here). The street in the northern direction leads to Amsterdam Central train station. (Wait, don’t go there yet! This is only your first day!)
You can easily spend an hour on Dam Square. The vibe is amazing! It’s where everybody in Amsterdam seems to come together. There are street performers, food stalls and maybe you’ll even see an old-fashioned organ player, shaking his coin-collecting tray.
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Sex Museum De Venustempel
Most museums in Amsterdam are the opposite of the big, serious exhibitions that you may think of. The Sex Museum is one of them. This museum exhibits the historic and artistic side of eroticism throughout the centuries, including statues, drawings, clothing and devices.
Amsterdam being a tolerant city, this very popular museum is a fun way to spend an hour. It’s in an old townhouse, so it does get hot upstairs, especially in summer (I mean high temperatures, what were you thinking?)
Blush your way through the exhibition, while you see lots of nudity. Great to have a laugh alone, as a couple, or with friends. (Just don’t go with your mum, dad or in-laws… awkward.)
Red Light District
Sex sells, and in Amsterdam it’s big business! The most natural thing in the world is probably also the oldest thing in the world, so why not visit the 600+ year old Red Light District? This infamous district is called De Wallen in Dutch and is renowned for prostitution. In The Netherlands, this is a legally recognized profession. The girls make money and pay taxes like any other employed person in the country. Pretty open-minded!
The neighborhood is a unique place full of opposites. De Oudekerk (Old Church) -of all buildings- is the center of the Red Light District. (You can visit the church for free with an I Amsterdam Card.) Boasting 200 windows, 350 sex workers, brothels and sex clubs, it’s also a residential area for more than 2,500 people. There’s a day nursery for the children who live here, right next to the 5D Porn Cinema and windows with sex workers! Unthinkable in most other places, but this is Amsterdam after all! The biggest opposite is the time of day you visit. The difference is like…day and night (hey, is that tumbleweed?).
I recommend visiting during the day. It’s quieter, you can feel the vibe of the neighbourhood better, and you can still have a good idea of what goes on here in terms of red lights. At night it’s often crowded and the atmosphere changes. It’s not dangerous, but definitely seedier.
Want to prepare a bit, so you know what to expect? You can find lots of information here, and you can also book a 2-hour audio tour. Walking tours of the Red Light District are now no longer allowed, so if anyone offers, please decline.
Walking around by yourself is very easy to do. I would really recommend visiting PIC Amsterdam (Prostitution Information Center), right next to the church. This is a very friendly place where you can just walk in and read about prostitution, or ask any questions you may have. It gives you an insight into sex work from the perspective of sex workers. This center is founded by Mariska Majoor, a former sex worker, who is the absolute expert on sex work in The Netherlands.
- Insider tip: PIC Amsterdam organizes Walk & Talks, starting at 5:00 PM on Wednesday till Saturday. These talks are super informative and give you an excellent tour from the sex worker’s point of view. As guided walks are no longer allowed in the Red Light District, you get the talk first, then walk on your own.
Dinner in Chinatown
Amsterdam’s Chinatown is right next to the Red Light District. Don’t expect a Chinatown like in New York City. It’s very small in comparison and not strictly Chinese (and no one’s hawking fake designer bags either). It’s a great representation of different Asian cultures, only covering a few city blocks. Great food, either way!
These are the best restaurants in Chinatown:
- Nam Kee – The most famous of all. It featured in a Dutch film in 2002 (Oysters at Nam Kee’s) and still carries its fame. The simple decor makes the restaurant feel authentic. Try their famous black bean sauce oysters, and their Cantonese menu is great!
- Wing Kee – Not as famous, but this is my favorite restaurant in Chinatown. With over 100 Cantonese dishes on the menu, you might find it hard to choose (try Peking duck!). Don’t worry, I’ve never had a bad meal here!
- New King – This restaurant offers Mandarin cuisine. They don’t take reservations, so it’s first come first serve, but the food always arrives very quickly. It’s the perfect restaurant for a quick bite. The dim sum is to die for!
Do you feel like going for a drink after this long first day? In Amsterdam you never have to look too hard to find a bar. There is a cluster of great bars around Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein.
Amsterdam Itinerary Day 2, Saturday: Arts & Culture
- Cycle and swerve your way through Amsterdam. Admire the arts of the Dutch master painters and see the city from a different point of view. If you can, start early today.
Rent a bike
Today we’re going to cycle around the city, like a local. You may have been on a bike before, but this is a whole different level. You need to have eyes in the back of your head (and on the sides, ideally!). There are bicycle lanes, but still watch out for cars and pedestrians (especially tourists who think it’s a great idea to stand in the middle of a cycle lane, taking a photo of some wooden shoe or windmill). You have a bell, you will use it. It’s your right of way! Now be careful, and have fun!
Have you never ridden a bicycle, or did you see how the cyclists swerve around everybody and everything and thought that was scary enough? Don’t worry, the places you visit today can easily be reached by public transport too!
If you have the I Amsterdam City Card , hiring a bike for a day is free at Discount Rental Bikes, Yellow Bike Rental, A-Bike Rental, Macbike and Amsterbike. Without the I Amsterdam City Card, the average rental price is $15-$20 a day.
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Visit the Rijksmuseum
As soon as you’ve got your bike sorted, cycle straight in the direction of Museumplein. The Rijksmuseum is where you can see famous paintings by the Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, Steen and Van Gogh. Amongst more than 8,000 paintings are the famous Milkmaid by Vermeer, Van Gogh’s self-portrait and the impressive (enormous) Night Watch by Rembrandt.
The Rijksmuseum is absolutely stunning! The building itself, as well as all the fine art, historical books and collections of porcelain, historical objects, furniture and photographs, make this a unique place to visit. The collection tells 800 years of Dutch history. Can you see it all in a day? No chance! But you can easily spend most of your morning here.
Best of all, the Rijksmuseum is free with the I Amsterdam City Card!
Load up at the Foodhallen Amsterdam
A short bicycle ride away is Foodhallen, a large food market with independent pop-up stalls. You can find anything here, from Dutch food to Asian and Italian cuisine. Your challenge is to refrain from eating so much you can’t move anymore (I would 100% fail this challenge). Find some food that you can take with you, think picnic (yes, bitterballen are totally picnic food!).
Lunch at Vondelpark
Cycle to Vondelpark. This is one of the biggest parks in Amsterdam, with 116 acres of winding paths, little bridges, ponds, green lawns and lovely cafes (good thing you brought your bike!). Cycle around the park for a bit, until you find the best picnic spot. My favorite spot is the peninsula in the middle of the Grote Vijver (Big Pond). It’s nice and quiet, plus there are toilets nearby. Sit down in the grass, unwind and enjoy your loot from the food market. Save some space for dessert!
Shop (and dessert) at the Albert Cuypmarkt
This is where the locals shop. The Albert Cuypmarkt is a street market in district De Pijp (on a map it has the shape of a pipe). This market has been here since 1905 and is famous in the whole country. This is where the locals shop. Not only because they’re -well- local, but also because you can pretty much buy anything you need at this market. Whether it’s fresh fish, fruit, cheap clothes, jewelry, that USA-to-Euro adapter you forgot to pack, or some great souvenirs to take back home, you’ll find it here.
Ready for dessert? Have a stroopwafel! Stroopwafels are thin waffles stuck together with a sticky caramel syrup. You can buy them in supermarkets, stacked up to about the size of a mug, cold, 10 in a pack, and they are delicious.
The only versions that are even better, are the freshly baked ones on markets. If you get your stroopwafels from Rudi’s at the Albert Cuypmarket, you’re talking big league. One of the best family recipes in the country, hot waffles the size of a small plate and made to order. I’ve seen Rudi’s food truck change throughout the years, but the quality has always been amazing! They cost around $2. (I sincerely apologize for not introducing you to these earlier. Have another stroopwafel to make you feel better!)
Enjoy a beer (or two)
You may have heard of a small beer brand that is brewed in Amsterdam, has been around for years, and is sold in a green can or bottle, called Heineken? I’m only joking. Heineken is sold around the world and you’ve most likely had a few of these bad boys before. Because it’s so famous, there’s the Heineken Experience at close distance to the Albert Cuypmarket.
This tour gives you access to the old brewery and the first brew room, where the beer was produced before the company grew too big and moved elsewhere. You’ll learn everything about Heineken and end up on the roof terrace where you can enjoy two beers, included in the tour. With your I Amsterdam City Card you get a 25% discount, but tours must be booked with your card in advance.
Or…if you don’t care too much about the brand and you know what Heineken beer tastes like (you know!), I have a more local suggestion for you: have a beer at Brouwerij ’t IJ.
This brewery, right on the IJ-Kanaal, is a 15-minute, cross-city bicycle ride away from the Albert Cuypmarket (but you’ve made it in one piece this far, so you’ll be absolutely fine, based on absolutely nothing). This industrial-style brewery in an old bath house, is right next to a windmill. The beers are tasty, the atmosphere is amazing and they have some great pub snacks on offer too. Just a cool place to hang out and try a few beers.
They do (cheap!) tours too, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, starting at 3.30 pm. You can’t pre-book them and it’s limited to a maximum of 20 people, so be early. Private tours can be booked too. Just send an email for prices and availability. It’s a great opportunity to see a small, local brewery and windmill at the same time!
Dinner at Kartika
Many people in The Netherlands are Indonesian, or of Indonesian descent. This has to do with the colonial past of Indonesia. Representing such a large part of the population, The Netherlands is blessed with Indonesian restaurants. It’s a cuisine you really need to experience. Stir-fries, satays and curries with complex flavors is what Indonesian food is all about. You should really try it at Restaurant Kartika when you’re in Amsterdam.
If you have never had Indonesian food, I can recommend a rijsttafel (rice table). It’s basically the best of Indonesian cuisine in one meal. Your table will be covered with small portions of the most popular dishes. Hope you’re hungry, because this will be a lot of food!
Not haven’t-eaten-for-days-hungry? Maybe it’s better to choose a separate dish. Try rendang daging sapi, a slow-cooked beef stew that is out of this world. Or maybe soto, a light chicken and vegetable soup you eat with rice. Want something hot? Try sambal goreng, which is made with fried red chili peppers. Nasi goreng is Indonesian fried rice. Combine this with chicken satay if you want some comfort food.
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Have a legendary night out in Amsterdam
Tomorrow is your last full day in Amsterdam. If you don’t want to be sleep-deprived and/or hung-over on the flight back (flights leaving Amsterdam must be the quietest in the world!), tonight is the night to go out. A big night out in Amsterdam is pretty big. Clubs start going when most people go to bed. House and techno is the choice of music, the venues industrial and most clubs only close when the sun comes up.
Three of the hippest (yes, I’m that old!) clubs in Amsterdam:
- Radio Radio – this is a fairly new club, but is very popular. It’s a club, a radio station and a pizza restaurant, all at the same time (why the f*ck not!). It’s in the trendy Westerpark area, just west of Central Station.
- Canvas – This is a hotel, bar and restaurant in an old newspaper office. On the 7th floor, on Friday and Saturday, the tables are removed and the space is turned into a club. The terraces and chill-out areas are beautifully lit and offer amazing views of the city at night. Club nights are free!
It always pays to buy tickets in advance, where applicable, so you won’t be disappointed if they sell out.
If all-night clubbing is not your thing, there are lots of bars and smaller venues where you can drink and dance (part of) the night away:
- Hannekes Boom – This bar is one of my favorites in summer. Right on the waterfront, close to the NEMO Science Museum is this gem of a bar. It feels a bit like being in someone’s (admittedly big) garden. Colorful picnic tables, green lawns and terraces by the water. It all feels very homemade, with an amazing atmosphere. Boats dock, people have drinks and even have a quick swim if it’s hot. Amazing location.
- Waterkant – This bar is in a wild location. Right at the bottom of a large multi-story carpark, by the water. This unlikely location houses one of the best bars in Amsterdam. It is inspired by the Waterkant, an area in Paramaribo, the capital of Surinam. Drinks are great, the Surinam food is amazing, and on Fridays and Saturdays the place changes into a club.
- De Druif – Looking for an old-fashioned Dutch bar? This is the one! De Druif has been around for at least 400 years. The wooden casks and dark furniture add to the atmosphere. This is the perfect place to try a Dutch jenever (genever), the forerunner of gin, even though technically it isn’t the same drink. Jenever is more malty and junipery (surely that’s not a word, but you get what I mean). You can also have a beer here. Or both in quick succession, which is called a kopstoot – head butt in Dutch (I would tell you why it’s called a head butt, but I had one and forgot).
This is only a small selection, as there are over 1,400 bars in Amsterdam. That’s a lot, but luckily it means you never have to look far to have fun in this city.
Amsterdam Itinerary Day 3, Sunday: Touring & Eating
Your last full day in Amsterdam! The last two days have been pretty intense, and if you had one of those legendary nights out last night, chances are you’ve missed your hotel breakfast this morning. Or maybe you hung out in a coffeeshop and had the best night’s sleep of your life. Either way, we’ll take it easy today.
Van Gogh Museum
As far as museums go in Amsterdam, there is -in my humble opinion– only one museum that beats the amazing Rijksmuseum: the Van Gogh Museum. It gets very busy throughout the day, so let’s start the day with this must-see attraction. Head to Museumplein. As you don’t have a bike and we’re taking it easy, take the tram.
Vincent van Gogh doesn’t need much introduction. The man is world-famous for his beautiful paintings. Yes there are other famous painters from his era, but Van Gogh was a legend (in an I’m-going-to-cut-off-my-ear-with-a-razor kind of way). Troubled mind, but a brilliant artist.
This museum tells his life story and showcases his masterpieces. Get up close and personal with his self-portraits, The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers and 200 other paintings of the master. This is the largest Van Gogh collection in the world, as it also showcases 400 drawings and 700 letters by Van Gogh. It felt amazing to see those famous paintings, and the ones I didn’t know, in real life. You can see clearly that he went through different styles and techniques.
You can find tickets for the Van Goh Musuem here.
Take a guided foodie tour of the Jordaan
De Jordaan is a district of Amsterdam that many people consider to be über Amsterdam. This is where people have the strongest accents, a strong community feel and the best stories. The Jordaan was built in 1612 and was named after the French word for garden – jardin.
You will find lovely hidden hofjes (inner courtyards), hidden behind and between the houses. From the street, you often don’t see much more than a very unassuming door. Opening the door takes you to small, secret gardens that you would never expect to be there.
On this food tour, a guide will walk you through the Jordaan in 3 and a half hours, telling you the stories of the neighborhood and showing you the best spots. De Jordaan has always been a working-class area, but now it has transformed to a trendy district, famous for street markets, artisan food, art galleries, bars and restaurants. You will visit the best places to eat and try some of the local specialties.
This gentle walking tour guided by great storytellers is a fantastic experience and a great way to get to know the Jordaan and its foods. Book the Jordaan foodie walking tour here on GetYourGuide.
This tour is worth the price, but if you prefer something more low-key, there is a good self-guided tour available on GPSMyCity. You’ll miss out on the food and the great stories though!
Go on a Canal Cruise
See Amsterdam from a different point of view. A canal cruise is a perfect way to relax, see more of the city and listen to interesting and fun stories about the city (the guides are real characters!). I love going past the houseboats to see how people live on the water, seeing the different narrow houses glide by, sights like the Westerkerk, Anne Frank House and the Skinny Bridge and watching people living their life while you sail past. It’s a serene experience!
The barges are low and wide with panoramic glass roofs. The moment you sail under the first bridge you know why. To say things get tight is an understatement! The captains do three-point turns like they’re maneuvering their car. Impressive!
There are many different cruise operators and cruises. I can recommend just the standard cruise, but there are also cheese and wine cruises, pancake cruises, smoke and chill cruises, city lights cruises and pizza cruises, to name a few. You can book them all here on GetYourGuide. The LOVERS Canal Cruises, Amsterdam Circle Line, and Amsterdam Boat Cruises can all be booked for free with your I Amsterdam City Card.
Cruises depart from Prins Hendrikkade (in front of Centraal Station), Damrak, Rokin or near the Rijksmuseum.
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Dinner at FEBO
Time for some insight into Dutch food culture! So, the Dutch have places called snack bars, where you can buy fries. Not French fries, but the thick, home-style version. The Dutch eat them with mayonnaise and they love it (what’s with your “I-just-ate-a-lemon facial expression?). All I can say is to just try it. Mayo isn’t the sour stuff you know. It’s much sweeter in The Netherlands. You can also have fries with mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and finely cut raw onions (order “speciaal”), or with mayonnaise, satay sauce and raw onions (order “oorlog”).
There are lots of deep-fried snacks to go with your fries. Most of them are meat-based and that’s pretty much all you need to know (don’t want to know what’s in it? Don’t ask!), apart from the fact they taste delicious!
These are the most popular (and delicious!) deep-fried snacks. Add the word “broodje” in front of the snack to have it in a soft white roll.
- Frikandel: meat and herb sausage, popular as “speciaal”, so with mayo, ketchup and onions.
- Kroket: beef ragout-filled breaded snack, basically a sausage-shaped bitterbal, great with mustard.
- Berenhap: sliced meatball with onion rings between the slices, on a stick, deep fried. Popular with satay sauce.
- Kipcorn: sausage-shaped breaded chicken nugget.
- Bamibal: Indonesian fried noodles dish, breaded and deep-fried. Eat this on its own.
- Nasibal: Indonesian fried rice dish, breaded and deep-fried. Eat this on its own.
- Mexicano: flat, square, spicy sausage. Like a frikandel, but with a bit of heat.
- Loempia: a large spring roll, deep fried. This is a meal on its own.
The oldest and most famous chain of snack bars in Amsterdam is FEBO. It’s named after the street the first FEBO snack bar was opened in: Ferdinand Bolstraat. Now you’ll find them everywhere in The Netherlands.
FEBO invented de ‘automatiek’, columns of hatches in the wall. An employee on the other side of the wall places the deep-fried snacks in the hatch (which keeps them warm). You insert coins or swipe your card, and you can open a hatch to grab your hot snack. (You think you know fast-food? Think again!). The food is fresh and waiting for you to open a hatch.
Amazing for a quick snack or meal!
Depending on which cruise you’ve chosen, you will be in a different location. Luckily there are many FEBO’s in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Itinerary, Monday: Departure Day
Today is the worst day of your life, because you’re leaving Amsterdam (dramatic much?). You have seen a lot of Amsterdam, especially for a first visit! Depending on what time your flight is, you still have time to get some souvenir shopping in, revisit a place you really loved, or explore another part of the city you haven’t seen yet. Here are some great I Amsterdam City Card activities if you need inspiration.
Please don’t go dragging your suitcase through the streets (the cobblestones will kill it in no-time). Your hotel will most likely have an option to keep your baggage for you, until you take the train to the airport.
Don’t forget to buy three packs of stroopwafels to bring home. Why three? Easy! One won’t even make it back home, as it will be eaten on your way to the airport. The second one is to enjoy back home and the third one is to share with other people!
Where Should I Stay in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a small city. The city’s layout with cobbled streets, low-rise buildings and excellent public transport network, makes it feel more like a large town than a country’s capital. There are plenty of places to stay in the city center, but they come at a higher price. If you stay just outside the city center, you’ll find lower rates at maybe only a ten-minute walk away. Hotels in Amsterdam are not cheap, but I’ve found some great options for you.
- Hans Brinker Hostel – Do you like quirky hotels? Hans Brinker Hostel is just that (although, their marketing is more quirky than the actual hotel). This place used to profile itself as the worst hotel in Amsterdam. Their funny ads with slogans like “It can’t get any worse, but we’ll try our best” made the place really popular. Nowadays it’s more of a cheap, no-frills hostel, but with a great atmosphere. They have dorms, so you need to enjoy sleeping with strangers in a room (yep, didn’t think so). Luckily there are some private rooms too. The philosophy behind this hotel is that you only really need a simple bed on a city trip. The adventure is what you experience in Amsterdam, which makes sense. It’s in a perfect location too, right in the city center.
- Outside Inn – If quirky is not enough and you’re looking for something different, this one’s for you! Outside Inn is an open indoor space that’s made to look like an outdoor space. A campsite/music festival in this case. You sleep in a caravan, a shepherd’s hut, a VW camper van, or a surf shack, all on fake grass, but all indoors! (Absolutely bonkers, right? But why not!). There are even outdoor (indoor) movie nights and lawn games! You will come across other guests here, which may or may not be your thing. It’s in the Duivendrecht area of Amsterdam, which is a short train or underground ride away. Unfortunately, because it’s outside of the historic city center, it doesn’t look like the Amsterdam you know.
- The Times Hotel – This boutique hotel has a bit of everything. It’s in a great location, right on the Herengracht Canal, at a short distance from most sights. It’s reasonably priced and offers nice rooms in a beautiful building. Choose this hotel if you’re looking for something a bit more standard than the other options, whilst still getting the full Amsterdam vibe. If canal views, a small boutique hotel in a quiet but central location is all you need for your Amsterdam city trip, look no further!
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3-DAY AMSTERDAM ITINERARY SUMMARY
Here’s an easy breakdown of this 3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary:
- Dinner at Hap-Hmm | Address: 1e Helmersstraat 33, Amsterdam
Friday Day 1:
- Visit Anne Frank House | Address: Prinsengracht 263-267, Amsterdam
- Walk around De Negen Straatjes | Address: Between Leidsegracht and Raadhuisstraat, Amsterdam
- Stroll around the Bloemenmarkt | Address: Singel, between Muntplein and Koningsplein, Amsterdam
- Lunch at Beers & Barrels | Address: Rembrandtplein 27, Amsterdam
- Poffertjes for dessert at Mama Pancake | Address: Rokin 100, Amsterdam
- Feel the vibe at Dam Square | Address: Dam Square, Amsterdam
- Visit the Sex Museum | Address: Damrak 18, Amsterdam
- Experience the Red Light District and PIC | Address: Enge Kerksteeg 3, Amsterdam
- Dinner in Chinatown | Address: Zeedijk 111-113, Amsterdam
Saturday Day 2:
- Experience the Rijksmuseum | Address: Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam
- Shop at the Foodhallen | Address: Hannie Dankbaarpassage 16, Amsterdam
- Picnic lunch at Vondelpark | Address: Vondelpark, Amsterdam
- Shop and dessert at Albert Cuypmarkt | Address: Albert Cuypmarkt, Amsterdam
- Enjoy a tour and a beer at Brouwerij ’t IJ | Address: Funenkade 7, Amsterdam
- Indonesian dinner at Kartika | Address: Overtook 68, Amsterdam
- Night out, choose your venue
Sunday Day 3:
- Famous masterpieces at Van Gogh Museum | Address: Museumplein 6, Amsterdam
- Discover the Jordaan on a Foodie Tour | Address: meet at Prinsengracht 2, Amsterdam
- Go on a canal cruise | Address: embark at Prins Hendrikkade, Damrak, Rokin or Rijksmuseum
- Deep-fried snacks for dinner at FEBO | Address: Leidsestraat 94, Amsterdam
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About Our Guest Poster: David Breeker was born and raised just outside of Amsterdam. This being his nearest big city, he spent a lot of time exploring the city until he knew it like the back of his hand.
What are your thoughts on our 3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary? Let us know below!
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