Planning a trip to Amsterdam? Lucky you! With a little bit of planning and a great Amsterdam in 3 days itinerary, you’ll be able to cover all the highlights, experience the Dutch culture and enjoy the local food.
While many visitors to the Netherlands are curious about the progressive mindset toward marijuana and prostitution, there is so much more to see here. World-class art museums, historical landmarks and amazing food will fill your 3 days Amsterdam itinerary.
Each day has been thoughtfully arranged to visit attractions that are reasonably close together. Most sights are within easy walking distance.
If you prefer to use local transportation, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to use in Amsterdam. Trams, metro trains, buses, and ferries are all part of well-planned local transport infrastructure.
To make your travels even more manageable, purchase a city card like the I Amsterdam City Card. With the I Amsterdam, you will be able to hop aboard the local transportation without the hassle of purchasing tickets.
Put on your comfortable walking shoes; it’s time to get started and experience the best 3 days Amsterdam Itinerary.
Amsterdam in 3 days: Day 1
Centraal Station – Damrak Avenue
Most visitors will arrive at the historic Amsterdam Centraal Station, the hub for train arrivals and local metro transportation. Built between 1881-1889, the station is a historical landmark in itself.
Be sure to grab a quick coffee or a stroopwafel from one of the many shops and cafes as you head out the main exit. There is a public restroom here for a fee.
As its name suggests, the station is centrally located and within easy walking distance to most city sights.
Cross the canal at the Central Station bridge, and keep walking down the main street, Damrak Avenue. Within a few short minutes, you will find yourself tucked right into the heart of the city.
From Centraal Station, it is an easy 10-minute walk to Dam Square.
The square is the central hub of tourist activity. You’ll find a labyrinth of food stalls, street performers, shops, and the ever-present pigeons here. Take a few minutes to step into one of the many cheese shops for samples.
Dominating the southern edge of Dam Square is uber touristy Madame Tussauds and Ripley’s Believe or Not. If time permits or there are teenagers in your party, you may want to take a quick look inside. Otherwise, these two attractions deserve a pass.
On the eastern side of the square stands the National Monument, a memorial to honor the Dutch soldiers and resistance fighters who died in World War II. The monument was a popular hangout for hippies during the ’60s who saw the statue as a symbol for liberty.
If you’ve booked a walking tour of the city, your guide will likely arrange to meet here or very close to this square.
For your next stop, head towards the west edge of the square and the elaborate Royal Place.
This extraordinary structure is a palace fit for a king and queen, but it hasn’t always served that purpose. It was first designed by architect Jacob van Campen, and constructed in the 17th century, to be the town hall.
The first Dutch king, King William I, was instated here in 1813. The palace continues to be used by the Royal Monarch nowadays for entertaining, official functions and state visits.
When not in use for royal functions, the palace is open to public visitors. You can buy your Entrance Ticket and Audioguide here.
From the Royal Palace, it’s a quick walk to the Nieuwe Kerk, or New Church. Don’t let the name fool you; this church is far from new. The church was originally consecrated in 1409 and has been rebuilt and restored many times since then.
The church is the grand site for the pomp and circumstance of royal weddings and investiture ceremonies. Most recently, King Wilhelm Alexander was inaugurated here in 2013.
All visitors, including those with passes or the I Amsterdam city card, are required to book a date and time online before arrival.
From the church, it’s another 10-minute walk to the flower market, or Bloemenmarkt, located on the Singel canal. If you prefer to take local transportation, hop aboard either tram two or 12.
The flower market is open year-round, selling fresh-cut flowers and bulbs. It is okay to purchase bulbs here to take home, as they are specially packaged for export.
From here, it is just a quick five-minute walk to your next stop, one of the hidden secrets of Amsterdam.
The Begijnhof courtyard is tucked away in the city’s heart and provides a quiet respite from the busy streets. It was initially the home of a sisterhood of single Catholic women (the Beguines) who lived a simple life, similar to a nunnery.
Nowadays, the homes you see surrounding the courtyard are private residences, so please be courteous and quiet while you are here.
To find the Begijnhof, take Singel to Spui street, and look for the elaborate archway behind the American Book store at Spui 12.
From the Begijnhof, it’s a quick two-minute jaunt to your next spot and some high-end retail therapy.
The Kalverstraat is arguably Amsterdam’s busiest shopping street. Here you’ll find large department stores and small specialty boutiques. Look for clothing, perfumes, specialty gifts and souvenirs.
It was also in this area that the Eucharist Miracle of 1345 took place. Only a few items remain from the Eucharist Miracle, and they are on display at the Historical Museum of Amsterdam.
Every year, on the eve of Palm Sunday, a silent procession takes place in remembrance of the miracle.
Read also: Where to stay in Amsterdam
Tijdens de Lunch – Lunchtime!
If you haven’t stopped for lunch yet, now would be a good time to do so. You’ll want to try the local foods as part of your 3 days Amsterdam itinerary.
A few foods to try include:
- Bitterballen – Meatballs made from a thick beef stew, coated in bread crumbs and deep-fried
- Dutch pancakes – Thin puffy pancakes served with a variety of toppings
- Cheese – Especially the Gouda and Edam cheeses
- Croquettes – Similar to the bitterballen, but bigger
- Stroopwafels – Two thin, extra crispy waffles served with gooey caramel and eaten like a cookie
You may want to stop by a FEBO fast food vending machine shop for a unique take on lunch or a snack. The FEBO shops are all over the city.
Step inside, and you’ll find a wall of vending machines dispensing hot and cold food. Fast food items like burgers, fries and soft drinks are served, in addition to Dutch specialties like bitterballen and croquettes.
With the consecration of the Nieuwe Kerk (new church) in 1409, this historic building became the Oude Kerk or Old Church.
Inside, the church floor is made entirely of gravestones, marking the final resting place of more than 10,000 people.
Check out the marker for Saskia van Uylenburgh, the wife of Rembrandt. Also on display is the recording of the marriage between Rembrandt and Saskia.
Surrounded by brothels, bars, and coffee shops, the church stands at the center of Amsterdam’s notorious red-light district.
Visitors are welcome throughout the week, and services are still held here every Sunday.
Red Light District
No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a stroll through the legendary red-light district. With the Oude Kerk at the center, these alleyways hold the highest concentration of red-light windows, where legal prostitutes entice passers-by.
Sex workers in Amsterdam independently rent these one-room cabins to run as their own business. A nearby panic button can be used by the prostitute if they find themselves in a scary or dangerous situation.
Be respectful while you are here and do not take pictures.
To gain a better perspective on this area’s history, consider taking a guided tour. Local tour guides provide a fun and insightful commentary on the history of prostitution along these cobbled stone alleyways.
One of the best ways to see the sights of Amsterdam is from the water. After a long day of sightseeing, it’s nice to relax onboard one of the many canal boat tours this city has to offer.
There are many good tour operators in the area, and tickets can be purchased ahead of time online. Hop on-hop-off tours provide a combination of bus and boat transportation along with an audio tour.
Amsterdam in 3 days: Day 2
Welcome to the second day of an exciting visit to Amsterdam in 3 days! Today begins with a sobering reminder of the persecution of the Jewish people during World War II.
Anne Frank House
The house at Prinsengracht 263 holds a secret annex that served as the hiding place for Anne Frank, her family, and four others during World War II. The house is now a museum with displays from their time spent here.
The audio tour provides an insight into the life of the residents who hid here for two years, based on passages from Anne Frank’s famous diary.
The museum attracts more than a million visitors every year. It is compulsory to purchase tickets and reserve a time slot online.
Avoid disappointment by booking tickets well in advance as time slots book quickly. Online tickets become available at noon local time, two months in advance.
Learn about Anne Frank and the Jewish Quarter with this Life of Anne Frank and World War II Walking Tour
Across from the Anne Frank house sits the largest church in Amsterdam, the Westerkerk.
Westerkerk is the final resting place for Rembrandt. Although the actual grave is unmarked, a memorial plaque is placed inside the church in remembrance.
This is also the church where former Queen Beatrix was married in 1966.
It is possible to take a guided tour to the top of the Westerkerk tower during the summer months. Book your time slot as soon as you arrive at the church as space is limited.
Entrance to the church is free and open to visitors Monday – Saturday but closed on Sunday for church services.
It’s a short 5-minute walk, across the canal bridge, to the charming Jordaan district.
Take time to enjoy the flower-lined canals in this area. Small shops, artists’ studios and quaint boutiques line the narrow streets.
Tijdens de Lunch – Lunchtime!
Arrive around lunchtime, and pop into one of the many cafes and restaurants.
If you’ve not tried an Indonesian rijsttafel yet, now would be a good time. The rijsttafel, or rice table, is a series of small dishes served alongside rice.
At the connection point for Amsterdam’s four main canals, the Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht, lies a picturesque shopping area known as the Nine Streets.
Tucked among these cobblestone alleyways are an eclectic maze of little shops, cafes, boutiques and second-hand stores.
Stop for a coffee and support the local economy with a purchase in one of the specialized boutiques.
If you skipped lunch in the Jordaan district, grab a sandwich or snack at the nearest Albert Heijn market and have a picnic at Vondelpark. Weather permitting, of course.
Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest city park. You’ll find people enjoying the day by walking, jogging, skating and just plain people-watching.
There are several children’s playgrounds, skate rental stands and lots of open grassy areas for a leisurely picnic.
During the summer months, free performances are offered at the open-air theater, located at the entrance off Eeghenstraat.
Museumplein (Museum Square)
From Vondelpark, take a short 15-minute walk to the Museumplein, or Museum Square. Here, you will find Amsterdam’s three major museums: the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum.
Plan to spend the rest of the afternoon soaking in the art of the famous Dutch masters.
Van Gogh Museum
In 1973 a museum was created that is dedicated to the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. The artist’s nephew, Vincent Willem van Gogh, created the museum. He wanted to establish a place where the artist’s collection could stay together and be accessible to visitors.
The museum houses the most extensive collection of works by Van Gogh, with over 200 paintings, 500 drawings and an astonishing 700 of his letters.
If you could only visit one museum in Amsterdam, this should be it. Enter this impressive building to see works by the great Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh.
The museum houses over one million works of art, with up to 8,000 pieces on display at any given time. There are also unique items on display, including three 17th century antique dollhouses.
There is even a Michelin starred restaurant, RIJKS, in the museum’s Philips Wing.
Purchase your ticket online before arrival. A timeslot is mandatory for all visitors to the museum, including those with the I Amsterdam city card.
Round out the day with a visit to Leidseplein, Amsterdam’s lively square for nightlife.
You’ll find nightclubs, cinemas, discos and a casino all within a short walk of the square. Many bars in the area add outdoor seating during the warm summer months, where guests can relax over a drink.
Give the local transportation a try. Multiple tram lines intersect here at the Leidseplein transportation hub, making this a great place to ride the tram.
Amsterdam in 3 days: Day 3
You have arrived at day three. Hurrah! This has been an intensive and fun 3 days in Amsterdam Itinerary.
As you have seen, people of the Netherlands are crazy about their bikes. At least half of Amsterdam’s citizens ride a bike every day. The flat terrain and lack of hills make this the perfect place for riding.
Now it’s your turn. For day three of your Amsterdam in 3 days tour, become a local, and ride a bike!
Rent a Bike for the Day
With so many bike shops throughout the city, the question is, which one should you rent from?
If you are staying at a hotel or hostel, ask for suggestions at the front desk. They are the locals and will direct you to the best options close by.
While you are at the bike shop, ask about rental insurance and the best ways to keep the bike safe. Bike theft is a huge problem in Amsterdam. Protect yourself from becoming a victim of theft.
If you are using an I Amsterdam city card, a free bike rental for 24-hours is included. Check the I Amsterdam site for a list of vendors. You can also book this Small-Group Bike Tour of Central Amsterdam.
Albert Cuyp Market
For lovers of local markets and street food stalls, Albert Cuyp Market is the place to go. A visit to this market is an absolute must for a tour of Amsterdam in 3 days
With 260 market stalls of food, clothing, antiques, housewares and more, you are sure to find something to fill your suitcase for the trip home. If you need to buy a second suitcase, they have those too!
Park your bike in a designated bike zone or rack so you can wander through the stalls.
The market is a great place to try all the local foods. If you’ve not had breakfast yet, start with one of the poffertjes, the little puffy Dutch pancakes.
If you really want the local experience, then try the raw herring whole, or sliced and served with onions or pickles. Or have it served as broodje haring: in a bread roll sandwich.
Then move on to the warm, ooey-gooey, stroopwafels. It’s okay; you will work off the calories riding a bike today.
While you are at the Albert Cuyp market, check out the lively surrounding area. The De Pijp, or Latin Quarter, is popular among creatives and students for its bohemian vibe.
Pet the animals at the Kinderboerderij petting zoo. Take a walk through the lovely landscaped garden of the Sarphatipark.
Be sure to ride past the “huis met de kabouters” or goblin house. The goblins on top of this small apartment building seem to be tossing a red ball to each other. You’ll find the goblin house at 251 Ceintuurbaan.
You will notice that many of the streets here in the De Pijp neighborhood are named after famous Dutch painters.
For over 150 years, Heineken has been brewing the beer that is instantly recognized by its iconic green bottle.
The Heineken Experience is a made for tourists attraction located in the sight of their former brewery. The 90-minute tour shows the history, the stories and the process behind the beer.
A 4D interactive experience shows the visitor what it’s like to be inside the beer.
Tasting is included with the tour for visitors over 18 years old. A VIP option is available for purchase as well.
Book tickets in advance online to schedule your desired date and time.
Artis Royal Zoo
From the Heineken Experience, it’s a quick 10-minute bike ride or 30-minute walk to the ARTIS Park, home to the oldest zoo in the Netherlands.
When the park first opened it was called Natura Artis Magistra. A Latin term meaning “nature is the master of art.” Eventually, the name was shortened to ARTIS.
An entrance ticket to the zoo also includes admission to both the planetarium and aquarium. You can add admission to Micropia, a museum dedicated to the invisible world of micro-organisms, for an additional fee.
While visiting the zoo, be sure to check out the Amsterdam Butterly Pavilion. Inside the pavilion’s tropical interior, more than 1000 butterflies roam freely.
Admission to the ARTIS Royal Zoo and Micropia is included with the I Amsterdam card.
Purchase your ticket online before arrival. A timeslot is mandatory for all visitors, including those with the I Amsterdam city card.
Hop on your bike for the short ride to the home and art studio of one of Amsterdam’s most famous painters, Rembrandt van Rijn.
From 1639 to 1658, Rembrandt lived and painted some of his greatest works at this house. Within these walls, you will gain a better understanding of Rembrandt as an artist, an entrepreneur, and a teacher.
The house is painstakingly restored and furnished to appear as it did in his time. While his paintings are on display at art museums worldwide, including several at the Rijksmuseum, most of his etchings are on display here.
Reservations, while not compulsory, are still recommended and can be made online.
NEMO Science Museum
During your time in Amsterdam, you may have passed this large oxidized copper building, which resembles a ship, and wondered what it was for.
The NEMO Science museum provides interactive exhibits dedicated to science and technology. With kid-friendly displays, the museum offers something for all ages.
Purchase your ticket online here before arrival. A timeslot is mandatory for all visitors, including those with passes.
Brouwerij´t IJ Windmill and Brewery
For your next stop, head towards the tallest windmill in Amsterdam, the De Gooyer. This wooden windmill stands 26.6 meters tall and is registered as a national monument.
Unfortunately, the windmill is not open to the public. However, the brewery next door is!
Brouwerij’t IJ is a small brewery housed in the former funenkade bathhouse. The taproom is open daily, with outdoor seating available during the summer months. Most of their signature beers are offered on tap, along with basic pub food.
Guided tours and tastings are offered. Check the website for dates and times.
If you’ve not tarried for too long at the brewery, enjoying a few pints, then hop on your bike and head to the opposite side of the IJ river. If you have tarried too long, you might try walking with your bike!
The A’dam lookout stands 100 meters above the north bank of the IJ river. Indoor and outdoor observation decks provide a full panoramic view over central Amsterdam.
Discounted tickets can be purchased online and include a digital memory (photo) plus an audio tour. Casual food and drink options can be added to the ticket’s cost.
Reservations can be made for an elaborate two-course lunch or three-course dinner. Restaurant Moon slowly revolves around the tower from its location on the 19th floor.
Lest you should think all of this sounds too tame, fear not, an optional thrill-seeking adventure awaits. Dangle your feet from an Over the Edge Swing 100 meters above the city.
Or take a virtual ride on the Ultimate Roller Coaster Experience. While wearing the VR glasses, you will be seated in a roller coaster cart that moves along with you on a thrilling roller coaster race.
As you can see first-time travelers will find plenty to do visiting Amsterdam in 3 days.