History, trendy cafés and exciting day trips are only a few things you can do in 3 days in Amsterdam to spend a fantastic holiday in what is considered one of the world’s happiest countries.
Amsterdam in 3 Days: Day 1
Visit Amsterdam Old Town
One of the best ways to begin a romantic time in this beautiful Dutch city is to experience a blast in the past.
Make your way to the Old Centre of Amsterdam, specifically in Begijnhof, a secret garden that is home to historic buildings. This scenic neighbourhood used to be a housing complex for devout and religious women, often unmarried or widowed. Although a tourist destination, this place is actually a complex of private homes, so be respectful as you go around and see the place. Also, two old churches are bordering the community that you might want to visit.
Stroll around Bloemenmarkt
Your second stop is the popular Bloemenmarkt on the Singel canal. This flower market is clearly very popular amongst local and international tourists, as the country is globally famous for its flowers, particularly tulip bulbs.
In the past, florists traded their blooms here on barges. While here, it is easy to imagine how the place used to be several hundred years ago, as you see and smell the vibrant displays of flowers within their mini greenhouses.
Duck into Rijksmuseum
You should know that Amsterdam is well-loved for its amazing museums. Perhaps that is one of the reasons you came here in the first place. Kickstart your holiday with a visit to the country’s leading museum, the Rijksmuseum, one of Amsterdam’s most distinguished institutions.
Rijksmuseum or National Museum is housed inside a grand building from the 19th century, boasting 80 galleries full of art and artefacts that tell the history of Holland. It opened in 1798, and now it is home to more than 8,000 important paintings and over 35,000 books and manuscripts. You can also see medieval handicrafts, sculptures, and modern artworks.
Some of the rarest paintings you can see here are Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”, Avercamp’s “Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters”, Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch,” and “The Sampling Officials of the Amsterdam Drapers’ Guild”.
Insider tip: Book your museum ticket in advance online (www.rijksmuseum.nl/en) to avoid the long lines or to make sure you get inside Rijksmuseum on your first day in the city. This is Amsterdam’s most popular museum and gets visited by 2.5 million people a year.
From here, it is just right to visit the equally important Van Gogh Museum, which is only a kilometre away.
Visit Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the famous Dutch painter. Come here to see Vincent van Gogh’s work and other paintings by his contemporaries from the city. On display here are over 200 paintings and more than 500 drawings. Nowhere else in the world can you see as many of this master’s works.
Insider tip: Make sure to get the “Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience” multimedia presentation to make the most of your visit. You will better appreciate Van Gogh as you learn more about his life through vivid digital reproductions of his work.
Relax in Vondelpark
Don’t hold back on your first day as you move on to another major tourist spot. Take a short walk through Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter to reach Vondelpark, one of the most popular parks in the entire country and a favourite amongst local and international tourists. Prepare to see many people here and maybe even make new friends, as this park is visited by around 10 million people each year.
You can take your time while here. Relax on the grass, chill by the pond, rent a bike and cycle around, stroll through the fountains and statues, or wait a while to catch one of the open-air concerts or festivals.
Chill Out at Amsterdam Coffeeshops
End your first day by treating yourself at one of Amsterdam’s infamous coffee shops. When craving coffee, you go to a café, but when in Amsterdam, a visit to a coffee shop means you came to buy some legal marijuana, joints, and edibles.
Insider tip: There are abusive coffee shops that sell poor quality weed at a high price. The best places you could check out are Green House, which is one of the most famous cannabis companies in the world, Grey Area at Oude Leliestraat 2, 1015 AW Amsterdam, Coffeeshop Solo just outside the tourist area at Korte Koningsstraat 2, 1011 GA Amsterdam, and 420 Cafe at Oudebrugsteeg 27, 1012 JN Amsterdam where you should try the Space Cake.
Amsterdam 3-Day Itinerary: Day 2
Walk Damrak Avenue
Start Day 2 with a lovely stroll down Damrak Avenue, which runs through the heart of the city. Start at the famous Centraal Station until you reach the Damrak Waterfront, where you can see beautiful homes that almost look like gingerbread houses. This beautiful architecture tells you that you are now indeed in Holland.
You will pass by some restaurants and international chains, as you walk further, and even see Beurspassage, which is a pretty little arcade passage.
Head to Dam Square
One of the reasons you would take Damrak is that it leads to the popular Dam Square, a wide-open public square that is a must-see for all travellers. Dam Square is essentially Amsterdam’s main square that is popular for its landmarks and events.
The most notable landmark is the Royal Palace of Amsterdam or (Koninklijk Palace), a massive residence of the Dutch Royal Family. Here you can follow in the footsteps of kings and queens and learn more about the history of Amsterdam in the Dutch “Golden Age”.
Visit Nieuwe Kerk
Continue meandering until you reach Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), a 15th-century Gothic church that sits across a small side street from the palace. This church was where coronations of Dutch monarchs were held in the past. Inside you could see beautiful stained-glass windows, an old organ, a choir screencast in bronze, choir stalls, and the magnificent wood-carved pulpit from the Baroque era. It bears four figures symbolizing Faith, Hope, Charity, Justice, and Prudence.
If you’re lucky, you could catch an antique fair or art exhibition at Nieuwe Kerk. New Church is also popular for housing the tombs of famous historical Dutch figures.
Visit also Oude Kerk
From Nieuwe Kerk, it makes sense to proceed to Oude Kerk (Old Church) located in the Red Light District. True to its name, Oude Kerk is the oldest building in Amsterdam, dating back to the 13th century.
You can actually climb up the church tower to enjoy great views of the city, which is a good idea so you could see a lot more of Amsterdam on your second day.
Walk around Red Light District
While already here, walk around Amsterdam’s most infamous spot, the Red Light District, also known as De Wallen. During the day, minus the blinking red lights, it’s a regular place where people walk around and do some shopping. You would, however, come across sex shops, brothels, peep shows, and similarly focused museums.
Clearly, this place is not for everyone, but it is one reason Amsterdam is very popular worldwide, so a visit here is an excellent cultural and touristic experience. If you want to see what this district is really known for, then come back around nightfall.
Insider tip: There is a guided walking tour of the Red Light District that you can book if you want to know how this “sinful” quarter came about.
Cruise Amsterdam Canals
The highlight of any and all visits to the Netherlands is a cruise on Amsterdam’s lovely waterways. It’s now time to explore them and really feel how it is like having an Amsterdam-brand holiday. The city is best viewed from the water, as you see the little bridges crossing the canals, rows and rows of old buildings, iconic Dutch architecture, magnificent palaces, hotels, restaurants, cafés and so on.
Amsterdam’s man-made grachten (in-city canals) is over 100 kilometres long, passing under 1,500 lovely bridges and along 1,550 monuments. Each canal offers an interesting site that could easily leave you breathless.
Other than taking boat tours, you can also experience Amsterdam’s canals on foot or by cycling. There are so many surprises at every turn and through narrow lanes. Take a leisurely stroll to discover gardens, breweries, restaurants, art galleries, flower stalls, old monasteries, historical homes, and the hottest clubs.
Visit Anne Frank House
One of the best ways to slow down a bit after an exciting time at the canals is to visit the Anne Frank House and reflect on how lucky you are to be free and alive.
This is the actual house of Anne Frank that has been converted into a museum dedicated to the brave young girl’s short life. She and her family hid here during the Second World War. This was where Anne wrote her bestselling diary.
Insider tip: The Anne Frank House can only be visited with a ticket bought online for a specific time slot. Buy tickets about two or more months in advance online at www.annefrank.org/en/.
Explore Jordaan Neighborhood
The Anne Frank House happens to be located in one of Amsterdam’s most charming neighbourhoods, Jordaan. Look around and walk through the narrow streets to see several art galleries, antique shops, courtyard gardens, and restaurants.
You can also check out Woonboots Museum, a floating museum dedicated to houseboats, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, and a couple of open markets – Lindengracht and Westerstraat. The Jordaan neighbourhood is always a lovely place to end a busy day of city touring.
3 Days in Amsterdam: Day 3
Amsterdam is not just an amazing city with tons of beautiful landmarks to discover. It is also the gateway to the rest of the country. There are so many day trips from Amsterdam that you can choose from, and several interesting towns, villages and tourist spots to see that make for some of the reasons to visit The Netherlands.
Take a day trip to Giethoorn
One of the best yet still relatively unexplored Dutch villages is Giethoorn in the province of Overijssel. Suppose the canals of Amsterdam weren’t enough. In that case, you should definitely make your way to Giethoorn, which is often referred to as the “Venice of the Netherlands” for its enchanting canals and overall medieval ambience.
This quaint village is popularly known as a car-less town. Locals and tourists make their way on a boat as there are several boats you can book to enjoy a lovely cruise around this green village.
The Dutch make it a point to see Giethoorn at least once in their life, and so should you. It promises a dreamy, medieval experience that is rich with blooms of all colours. As you arrive here, you will be asked to park your vehicle outside the village, to let you enjoy life as it should be – raw, pollution-free and straightforward.
Prepare to experience peace, as even most of the boats here don’t have engines and those that do have engines are equipped with silent motors. They are called “whisper boats”.
There are also footpaths and bicycle trails that allow you to walk or cycle around. You can always rent a bicycle or an e-scooter so you could appreciate Giethoorn at your own pace. The leading tourist destinations here are the Museum Giethoorn ‘t Olde Maat Uus, a farm museum just outside the village, De Oude Aarde museum, specialising in precious gems and jewellery, and the vast De Weerribben-Wieden National Park.
Insider tip: Giethoorn is an actual town with about 3,000 residents. Remember to be respectful as you walk around and admire the lovely thatch-roofed homes and traditional farmhouses.
Clara Maria Cheese & Clog Farm, De Haar Castle and Utrecht
Coming to Giethoorn from Amsterdam, you can visit three destinations along the way. You can stop first at the Clara Maria Cheese & Clog Farm, which is popular for its traditional wooden clogs and Gouda cheese. You can watch first-hand how clog shoes and cheeses are made.
Then move along to De Haar Castle, the largest castle in the Netherlands since the 19th century. Here you can have a taste of the extravagant lives of the Rothschilds. You will be amazed to see extravagant fixings decorated with valuable antiques.
Finally, just before you reach Giethoorn is the historic city of Utrecht. A short stop here will let you see their ingenious canal system, historic shops and cafés, and give you enough time to relax while walking along the canals. This is also a university city with a rich history. Walk around the city to Utrecht’s Cathedral and Dom Tower, and on to the gardens of the Pandhof Domkerk. Move further along to see the DOM Under, which is an underground display of Roman ruins.
Giethoorn is only 120 km away from the capital city. Make your way back to Amsterdam to end your day with a lovely dinner and wine, and spend a comfortable night in the comfort of your hotel room.
People come to Amsterdam for several reasons, as this amazing city does have a lot to offer. You won’t run out of exciting things to do and unique places to see while here, which is why it is important to organise. Come up with your own itinerary if you must. But you will certainly not be disappointed as the city has plenty of surprises for you that and three days in Amsterdam will quickly become only the starting point!
Author Bio: Ask The Dutch Guy is your go-to guide when it comes to The Netherlands. The goal of Ask The Dutch Guy is to showcase the beauty of The Netherlands and to inspire others to explore the country. Read more about Ask The Dutch Guy.