Awesome Amsterdam 3 day itinerary by a local

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Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Amsterdam is a city that amazes every type of traveler. The breathtaking canals with the boats that sail through the canals, the beautiful museums, the unique cycling culture, and Amsterdam’s free spirit make it an amazing destination.

There are a lot of things to do in Amsterdam. In this Amsterdam 3 day itinerary, you read the best things you can do in Amsterdam. You can also read what nice day trips are from Amsterdam, the best place to stay, great places to eat and we share all the tips to get the most out of your visit. We have visited Amsterdam more than 150 times so we can give you all local insights, hope you will enjoy our capital!

Amsterdam street
Cynthia walking in the historic centrum of Amsterdam
Canal Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is loved for its canals, small streets, beautiful museums where you can see works by Vincent van Gogh and other fun activities. Amsterdam can be divided into three areas, namely the historic center, the area near the Museumplein, and the outskirts of Amsterdam such as the working-class neighborhood Jordaan. The type of activities is mixed throughout the days so that you have a mix of different activities every day. Amsterdam isn’t a huge city, so certain sights are never really far from each other.

Tip: what to do in Amsterdam in 3 days can be read in this article and map. Below you see the map for all activities, accommodations, restaurants, and metro stations. In addition, we have made a map per day, which makes it easy to orientate yourself per day. Click on the right top corner to view the map bigger. If you click on the star symbol next to the title you can save this map in your Google Maps account. On the map, you can show or hide different categories. You can then use this map to navigate when you reach your destination.

3 Days in Amsterdam | day 1

The first day is mainly devoted to discovering the historic center of Amsterdam. You visit many buildings this day and you have to walk a lot. Because of this, we recommend starting at 08:30 AM.

If breakfast is not included in your accommodation, you can start the day at Greenwoods Singel with a real Dutch breakfast, namely a cheese sandwich. They also have plenty of choices here for vegetarian and vegan travelers.

#1.1 Discover the historic center

The historic center isn’t huge, so you can easily explore it by walking. It is nice to walk through the small streets and along the canals with the beautiful mansions by your side. We recommend following the walking route that you can see on the map. This allows you to visit all the highlights of the historic center.

Starting with the Oude Kerk, the special thing about this church is that it is a typical example of a Catholic cathedral that you can find in Europe. The church has large high windows that let in a lot of light, tombstones on the floor that are very impressive to see and the architecture is unique to see. Because of all these details, the Oude Kerk is one of the most beautiful things you can see in Amsterdam.

After the Oude Kerk, you walk to the Damrak. At the water, you see a couple of canal houses that are beautiful. The condition of the buildings and the way they are built make it a unique picture. If you stand in front of the water and look to the left you will see the central station. Try to look closely at all the architectural details of the building. This was designed by Pierre Cuypers, he also designed the Rijksmuseum.

Continue to the Dam of Amsterdam. On the way to it, you will see the Beurs van Berlage on the left. Exhibitions can often be seen in this historic building. If you walk a little further you will arrive at the Dam of Amsterdam. This is one of the most beautiful squares in Amsterdam. The Royal Palace and the Gothic New Church are located on Dam Square. You can visit the Royal Palace, if you want to learn more about the Royal family its recommended to visit, check availability here. The Nieuwe Kerk dates from the 14th century and is now used to admire exhibitions.

From Dam Square, walk into Kalverstraat, Amsterdam’s main shopping street. Keep following it until you arrive at Begijnhof, this is perhaps one of the most special places in Amsterdam. Here you will find a medieval courtyard where women of Catholic sisterhood live. It is unique to see such a piece of medieval beauty in the middle of the city.

Go through the shopping street to the Munttoren, where the rivers Amstel and Singel meet. Then go to the Bloemenmarkt, where you will find many typical Dutch flowers. If you want to buy something ask the seller if this is a problem for the customs.

The Nine Streets area is very nice to walk through all the small streets with the canals at your side. You will also find nice boutique shops here. Then go to Nieuwmarkt via the bridges. Before arriving here you can visit the Bushuis. A beautiful building that used to be the headquarters from which the trips to East India were organized. At the Nieuwmarkt square, you can find the oldest non-regular building in Amsterdam called De Waag. This used to be the city gate of Amsterdam.

You can easily do this city walk yourself. You will be doing this walk for about 3 hours. The disadvantage is that often you will not understand what you see. If you like to learn everything about certain places, we recommend the following walking tour.

You can easily do this city tour yourself. This tour will take you about 3 hours. If you like to discover the historic center with a local guide, this is possible. The best way is to do this by bike, typical Dutch :). You can easily buy a ticket for a tour via this link.

De Dam Amsterdam

lunch at Broodje Bert

At Broodje Bert you can enjoy delicious sandwiches. The place is small and cozy, ideal for a quick snack and to continue your journey. The sandwich mozzarella with tomato is a must. An old cheese sandwich is also worth trying with a cappuccino. A big advantage of Broodje Bert is that the price-quality ratio is good. For $15 you have a sandwich with a drink, which is not expensive in Amsterdam.

#1.2 Rijksmuseum

After lunch, you have all afternoon to discover the Rijksmuseum. If the weather is nice you can also choose to visit the Rijksmuseum in the morning and do the walking tour in the afternoon.

In our opinion, the Rijksmuseum is the most beautiful museum in Amsterdam. It is great after the hustle and bustle of the city to walk in all silence in this museum. The Rijksmuseum is famous for the fame of the collection’s masterpieces. You can see Van Gogh’s self-portrait, Vermeer’s Little Street, Jan Steen’s household, and the absolute highlight Rembrandt’s Night Watch. Regardless of whether you are a museum enthusiast or not, this museum is worth a visit because of its magnificent masterpieces.

You can buy the ticket for the Rijksmuseum here. If you are going to visit a museum such as the Rijksmuseum, you can choose to do this together with a guide. The guide will tell you the story behind a painting which is great and educational. Check prices and availability here.

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Where to stay in Amsterdam

The ED Amsterdam is located right in the center. The location is perfect because you sleep in the canal belt. The service and bedrooms are very neat. From your room, you can look out on the boats sailing by which is very nice to see. Breakfast is included and very good.
Check prices and availability for The ED Amsterdam here.

NH City Center Amsterdam has a very good price-quality ratio. Neat rooms and despite being right in the center it is extremely quiet. Good base. Breakfast is in the form of a buffet which is very extensive. A great place to relax after you’ve walked through Amsterdam all day.
Check prices and availability for NH city Center Amsterdam here.

Diner at Casa Perú

Casa Perú is a nice place to eat. It is not a place that you immediately think of when you are in Amsterdam, this is because of the kitchen that is Peru orientated. The food is exquisite, especially the lomo soltado is delicious. When the weather is good, you can sit outside on the terrace next to the canal of Amsterdam.

#1.3 Drink in the Jordaan

After dinner, it is nice to take a walk along the canals and finally have a drink in the pleasant working-class neighborhood the Jordaan. If you want to find a cozy pub, we recommend Het Monumentje. If you want to visit more a party café then Eetcafe De Jordaan is recommended.

3 Days in Amsterdam | day 2

On the second day, you will visit the Van Gogh museum, take a canal tour, relax in the Westerpark, have a drink at Brouwerij de Gooyer, and visit the Red Light District. If you have the opportunity, it is best to have breakfast at your accommodation. If this is not possible, you can have breakfast at Staring at Jacob.

Staring at Jacob is a place for brunch, but you can also have breakfast here. They have a very extensive breakfast, we liked the yogurt bowl. This one is richly filled! A nice place to start your day.

#2.1 Van Gogh Museum

In the Van Gogh Museum, you can learn everything about Van Gogh’s life and enjoy works by the master. Van Gogh is a painter who has become known not only for his works but also for his turbulent life. This turbulent life has had a major impact on his work. Van Gogh had periods in his life where he made one painting a day. There have also been periods when Van Gogh struggled with anxiety attacks and psychoses.

The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most interesting museums in the Netherlands to visit. During your visit, you can get a picture of how the master lived, what kind of person he was and you learn and understand how far ahead of his time he was.

Did you know that he made 900 paintings in his life and sold only 3 of them? You can buy tickets for the museum here. You can buy a ticket via the official website.

If you want to visit the Van Gogh Museum accompanied by a qualified guide, this is possible. Buy the ticket for the tour here.

#2.2 Canal tour

There is nothing better than discovering Amsterdam from the water. In the past the 165 different canals were used for trade and transport, nowadays tourists enjoy a beautiful part of Amsterdam. It is magical to have a different perspective on the environment from a tour boat. For this reason, a canal tour is one of the most popular activities in Amsterdam. It is without a doubt a great activity to do that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

There are several organizations, we recommend this tour because you can choose between two departure points. This tour has also been done by many travelers who are all very positive. We recommend that you book your ticket in advance so that you can skip the queues. Buy your ticket for the canal tour here.

Amsterdam Canal tour

Lunch at Bar Spek

Bar Spek is a fun cool place where food is carefully selected. You can enjoy a quick bite or a three-course menu. A benefit is that they work with local products as much as possible. We recommend an avocado sandwich because it is served with grilled vegetables on top.

#2.3 Westerpark

After the fun activities, you can relax in Westerpark. This is a lively area in the west of Amsterdam. Here you will find a beautiful park with great authentic shops, old-fashioned street markets, and traditional Amsterdam cafes.

If you want to relax with a beer you can visit Brouwerij Troost Westergas or De Prael Houthavens Brouwerij. Here you can do a beer tour independently, in both places you can taste local beers of Amsterdam. This is fun to do if you enjoy drinking beer. Both places are close to each other, so check on the spot which of the two you prefer to visit.

#2.4 De Gooyer Brewery

If you want to have a drink at a special place in Amsterdam, you should visit the De Gooyer brewery. The brewery is located next to a beautiful windmill, which makes it a unique location. You can taste different beers here. If you aren’t a beer lover, it is still worth going because you will find a nice mix between local people who come to have a beer and people who come from afar to admire the beautiful location.

Diner at Café Binnenvisser

At Café Binnenvisser they mainly work with seasonal products, which means that the menu changes weekly. They serve fresh food, unfortunately, we cannot give any recommendations. We can tell you that the ambiance is nice and the food is excellent. Check on the spot what you prefer. You will enjoy the place!

#2.5 The red light district

De Wallen is the oldest part of Amsterdam and is one of the busiest and most popular places to visit at night. This is due to the red light district. You will also find many cafes, clubs, eateries, and shops in this area.

Personally, as Dutch people, we aren’t proud of this part of the area, but it is important in the history of the Netherlands. Prostitution has been legal in Amsterdam since 1811. It is good to know that the sex workers have their union, police protection, and information center. Amsterdam is committed to pursuing professional standards.

It is therefore important to adhere to the rules as a visitor. You aren’t allowed to take pictures of the women and to drink in public. In addition, keep in mind that many pickpockets are active. So pay close attention to your belongings.

If you are in Amsterdam, we recommend that you visit the Red Light District to get a complete picture of Amsterdam. However, the advice is to only have a short walk and return to the center.

If you want to know more about the red light district or if you would like to walk through it accompanied by a guide, this is possible. During this tour, you will learn everything about the red light district and the coffee shops of Amsterdam.

Jordaan Amsterdam

3 Days in Amsterdam | day 3

On the last day, you will do a typical Dutch activity, you will cycle in Amsterdam. You will also discover Amsterdam’s most famous park and working-class neighborhood. Finally, you go to the world-famous Anne Frank House and finish the day at a rooftop bar.

If breakfast is not included, you can have a typical Dutch breakfast at Piqniq. We recommend the spelled pancake and cheese sandwich, they are delicious. It is a very nice place where you can have a good breakfast for not too much money.

#3.1 Bike tour

A bike tour is a super fun activity to do when you are in Amsterdam. By cycling in Amsterdam you experience the city differently. It is great to cycle along the canals and canal houses. In addition, taking a bicycle tour is fun because you will discover places that aren’t visited by many other tourists.

There are a lot of bike tours in Amsterdam. You often visit the main sights of the center with a bicycle tour. Because you go by bike you can quickly reach different destinations and you can see more of the city than when you go walking.

We recommend this bike tour because it is the best tour from GetYourGuide. We always like to take tours through them because it is easy to book and they stand for quality. In the information about the tour, you can see which places you will visit. The duration of the tour is +/- 3 hours. You will also read thousands of positive reviews, which guarantees a great tour. Check actual prices and availability here.

Bike tour Amsterdam

Lunch at Café Cook

At Café Cook you can enjoy one of the most beautiful terraces in Amsterdam. Great to relax and enjoy a salad or sandwich at the same time. We recommend ordering a dish that consists of asparagus, which is typically Dutch and delicious. In addition, they are also very healthy.

#3.2 Vondelpark

The city park in Amsterdam is the Vondelpark, in this park, the residents of Amsterdam enjoy a beautiful piece of nature. Nice to walk through and enjoy the peace by the water. The garden full of roses is fun to visit.

#3.3 Jordaan

During the walking tour on the 1st day, you have already visited the Jordaan. Most visitors find the Jordaan so beautiful that you want to go again to let everything sink in. Take a wonderful walk through the working-class neighborhood and enjoy your time! For example, you can go to Cafe Chris, this is the oldest cafe in the Jordaan, very nice to have a drink.

House Amsterdam

#3.4 Anne Frank House

The Anne Frank House is located in the Jordaan. This museum is certainly not the nicest museum to visit, but it is a very important museum. In this museum, you can see how Anne Frank and her family went into hiding during the second world war. You will also learn the story of Anne Frank and everything about her diary. A museum that you should visit when you are in Amsterdam because in terms of history it is one of the most important parts of Dutch history.

Tips for visiting the Anne Frank House:

  • Tickets must be purchased online in advance via the official website. The online tickets with a time slot will be released two months in advance. Make sure you are on time to reserve your preferred timeslot.
  • Arrive as early or late as possible so that you have more time to explore the museum. During the normal timeslot, there are a lot of people so you might not be able to see things that well;
  • In addition to the museum, you can also take an Anne Frank tour where you visit the important sights that have to do with Anne Frank and the persecution of the Jews during the 2nd World War. This tour is recommended for people who want to better understand what happened to Anne Frank at the time. It is impressive to hear the story at the places where it all happend.

Dinner at NENI

NENI serves dishes from Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Nice to eat, especially because you can see that the Molcho family runs this business with passion. Ask on the spot which dishes they recommend because they work with seasonal products, the menu is often different.

#3.5 Rooftop bar

After the 3 days in Amsterdam, it is nice to end at a rooftop bar. There are several rooftop bars in Amsterdam. We recommend Floor17 because it is great for every type of visitor. It is located in the middle of the city at the Rembrandtpark, the big advantage of this place is that it isn’t that chic so you feel very comfortable. During the day you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the evening the bar opens and you can enjoy the cocktails. If you want the best view go to SkyLounge Amsterdam. This place is very chic and a lot more expensive.

What else can you do in Amsterdam?

In addition to the 13 activities that we recommend in this Amsterdam itinerary 3 days, there are other activities you can do. Of course, you can add parts of the list below to this 3 day itinerary of Amsterdam, but keep in mind that you will get a very intensive program.

Tip: The weather isn’t always nice in the Netherlands there some outdoor activities aren’t suitable when the weather is bad. Activities that are in italics are recommended to do during bad weather.

  • Hermitage museum: great collection of paintings, antiquities, and more. Works of art from ancient Egypt to modern times can be seen;
  • Nemo: museum of science, if you want to know everything science;
  • Rembrandthuis Museum: learn everything about the life of Rembrandt;
  • Jewish historical museum: do you want to get a better picture of Jewish history in Amsterdam then this is a must to visit;
  • Flea market: in Amsterdam, at the IJ-hallen you can visit the largest flea market in Europe;
  • Muiderslot: 20 kilometers outside Amsterdam is Muiderslot located, a castle that is worth a visit. You can visit the castle by bike or by public transport;
  • Vuurtoreneiland: if you want to visit a unique piece of landscape in Amsterdam, the Vuurtoreneiland is worth visiting. You can combine this with lunch or dinner;
  • Artis Zoo: if you want to visit a zoo, go to Artis Zoo.
Tulips Netherlands
Tulips markt Netherlands

Day trips from Amsterdam

If you have more days in Amsterdam and you want to see more of the Netherlands, you can do a couple of day trips from Amsterdam. We recommend the following day trips from Amsterdam. Read more information about the specific tour via the links.

Heusden

Where to stay in Amsterdam?

in Amsterdam, you have a lot of choices of where you can stay. We recommend staying 3 nights in the center of Amsterdam. Therefore you can walk to every sight. Keep in mind that it is expensive to stay in Amsterdam.

Tip: if you know when you want to stay in Amsterdam, it is best to book directly to secure your accommodation.

Location, location, location:
The ED Amsterdam

the ed amsterdam

The ED Amsterdam is located right in the center. The location is perfect because you sleep in the canal belt. The service and bedrooms are very neat.
From your room, you can look out on the boats sailing by which is very nice to see. Breakfast is included and very good.

Great value for money:
NH City Centre Amsterdam

NH City Centre Amsterdam

NH City Center Amsterdam has a very good price-quality ratio. Neat rooms and despite being right in the center it is extremely quiet. Good base.
Breakfast is in the form of a buffet which is very extensive. A great place to relax after you’ve walked through Amsterdam all day.

What are the best places to eat in Amsterdam?

In this 3 day itinerary of Amsterdam, you can read which restaurants we recommend. To help you, we have included all the recommendations in the table below so that you can see at a glance where to eat in Amsterdam. At the beginning of the article, you can see on the map where all restaurants can be found.

Day 1Day 2Day 3
BreakfastGreenwoods SingelStaring at JacobPIQNIQ
LunchBroodje BertBar SpekCafé Cook
DinnerCasa PerúCafé BinnenvisserNENI Amsterdam
Restaurant Amsterdam

Transport in Amsterdam

Transport from Schiphol Airport to the center of Amsterdam costs $5 by train and $60 by taxi. You can buy transport tickets here.

For longer distances, we recommend using the train or bus. In the Netherlands, it isn’t possible to buy a ticket with cash. You need to buy an OV chip card upon arrival at a machine, supermarket, or travel agency. Via this link, you can easily see where a point of sale is nearby. You can use this card for all buses and trains. There are two different cards, namely an anonymous card and a personalized card. If you come to the Netherlands once, we recommend buying an anonymous card, which you can use with several people at the same time. Costs for such a card are around $12.

For shorter distances such as the center of Amsterdam, we recommend walking or to rent a bicycle. You can easily rent a bicycle via this link.

tram Amsterdam
OV Amsterdam
Use these machines to charge balance for public transport

Best time to visit Amsterdam

Amsterdam is easy to visit all year round, of course, some months are better than others. The best time to visit Amsterdam is during the spring (March-May) or autumn (September-November). The temperatures are pleasant in the spring and autumn periods. Summer (June-August) is a great time to visit Amsterdam, but it can be hot. Temperatures around 30ºC are then very normal. A disadvantage of the summer is that you travel during the school holidays in Europe, so prices are higher than in other periods. The quietest period is winter (December-February). Prices are then a lot lower and it is less busy, the only disadvantage is that temperatures are less pleasant.

Is Amsterdam safe to visit?

Amsterdam is safe to visit, you can visit the whole of the Netherlands without any problems. Amsterdam is the 4th safest city in the world according to the report of the Economist Intelligence Unit and even the safest city in Europe!

Of course, you should use common sense in Amsterdam as in any other city. During your trip, you can have bad luck, for example by spraining your ankle, your mobile phone being stolen or other things. For Amsterdam specifically, the neighborhood Bijlmer and the red light district aren’t safe. The red light district is world-famous, we recommend making a short walk and returning to the city center. During the evening you have a lot of pickpockets and drug dealers in this area, so pay attention.

Do you have travel insurance? If not, we recommend that you always have one! You don’t want to travel uninsured and experience an unpleasant situation. This doesn’t only apply in case your mobile is stolen, but also if you break your leg and you have to visit a hospital, for example. In these cases, travel insurance is a must. So be smart and buy travel insurance before you leave for your trip. For our trips, we always use World Nomads and recommend them. You can do this easily by filling in the form below.

Amsterdam 3 day itinerary FAQ

1. How many days do you need for Amsterdam?

Before you travel to Amsterdam, it is important to know how many days you need. Amsterdam in 3 days is the perfect amount of days to discover the capital of the Netherlands.

Of course, you can visit Amsterdam in 1 or 2 days, but then you will not have enough time to see all the important things. If you have 3 days, you have to make choices about what you do and do not want to visit. If you want to do the program of 3 days in 2 days, activities are planned on top of each other so that you will walk through Amsterdam in a hurry. You have to ask yourself if you want this.

As an example, if you visit the Vincent van Gogh Museum you need to the whole morning. If you still want to see the historic center, your day is already packed. If you don’t have 3 days for Amsterdam, it’s recommended to only visit activities that can be found within the canal belt.

2. I want to do a day trip to Amsterdam, what can I do?

If you want to visit Amsterdam in 1 day, it is best to visit the historic center (activity 1.1), take a canal tour through the canal belt (activity 2.2), and visit the Rijksmuseum (activity 1.2). Keep in mind that this is a lot of activities in 1 day so make sure you start on time. Starting at 09:00 am is more than fine.

3. How much does 3 days to Amsterdam cost?

Amsterdam is not a cheap city to visit, but if you follow our tips shared in this Amsterdam itinerary, it doesn’t have to be that expensive at all. We don’t take into account transport costs to Amsterdam because these can vary differently per traveler. The overview below shows each cost category per person based on this 3 days in Amsterdam itinerary. Amounts are rounded and assume 2 adults.

CategoryTypeTotal
MuseumsRijksmuseum | $24
Van Gogh Museum | $23
Anne Frank house | $17
$64
ActivitiesCanal tour | $17
Bike tour | $48
Rooftop bar | $48
$114
FoodBreakfast 3x | $55
Lunch 3x | $61
Dinner 3x | $110
$221
Sleeping3 nights | $440 | $220 p.p.$220
Transport3 days bike | $73$73
OtherSnacks, drinks, other | $36$36
Total$728

So you need +/- $730 budget per person for 3 days in Amsterdam. As you can see, the costs of sleeping and food are high. It is difficult to make savings on this because you will not easily find good restaurants or eateries that are cheaper. You can stay at cheaper accommodations but then you don’t stay in the center of Amsterdam or the quality is a lot lower.

4. What do you need to know about drug use in Amsterdam as tourist?

The Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular are also world-famous for their drug use. In addition to all the activities, you can do in Amsterdam, visiting a coffee shop is also an activity that many travelers want to do. In Amsterdam, there are many legal coffee shops where you can smoke. We don’t do these kinds of things, so we cannot give you any recommendations, only to visit a legal coffee shop. Please make sure that you realize in advance what the impact is on your body.

5. What else do you need to know before visiting Amsterdam?

  • During your city trip to Amsterdam you will walk a lot, so wear good shoes;
  • Amsterdam is busy, try to get up early to visit the sights in front of the large crowd;
  • In Amsterdam, you will visit many museums and other sights. To save time, you need to book skip-the-line tickets in advance. In this itinerary for 3 days in Amsterdam you can read per section which ticket we recommend;
  • If you are going to visit many museums and other sights, buying The I Amsterdam City Card cheaper than buying single tickets;
  • If you visit Amsterdam by car, you can park at Q-park Amsterdam Central for €25 / 28 per day.

Want to see more of the Netherlands?

We hope this travel guide to Amsterdam has helped you to get a clear picture of a perfect city trip in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is an amazing city to visit. A city that has something to offer for everyone. Enjoy your stay in Amsterdam.

There is a lot to see in Amsterdam. But there is more to discover in the Netherlands. Do you want to see more of the Netherlands? Groningen is one of the best cities to discover in the North of the Netherlands. Read here the best things to do in Groningen.

What do you think of Amsterdam? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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