Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful, unique and friendly cities you can visit. It’s the sort of place that you can return to again and again, not because of its size, but rather the simple fact that it’s an extremely nice and enjoyable place to visit.
For a capital city, it isn’t a particularly large place, so it’s perfect for a long weekend break. Hopefully this 3 day Amsterdam Itinerary will give you the foundations to plan a great trip here.
Getting to Amsterdam
First things first, you need to get there. Fortunately, Amsterdam is extremely well connected and accessible by all different transport routes. Amsterdam airport (Schiphol Airport) is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world, so you shouldn’t have any issues if you want to arrive by air. The airport is only a short 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central station, which unsurprisingly is bang in the middle of the city.
TIP – Whilst at the airport, I strongly recommend buying a 3-day travel card. This will include your train journey into the city and then full access to all trams in the city. As you’ll quickly find out, Amsterdam is not a place for cars, so using the tram network is the best way to get around.
If you are coming from another part of mainland Europe, you can also consider traveling to Amsterdam via coach or train. While this will take longer, it is often a bit cheaper.
For example, on my last trip to Amsterdam, I was coming from Berlin, so instead of flying, I opted for an 8-hour coach ride. It took longer than a plane but was quite a bit cheaper than a flight and a fairly comfortable journey.
3 Day Amsterdam Itinerary
In this 3-day itinerary, I’ve tried to structure it so that you can experience the best Amsterdam has to offer, and what I believe to be the most enjoyable things to do here. However, everyone has different tastes and interests, so I have also included a list at the bottom of some other activities if you don’t fancy anything I’ve suggested.
Day 1 – Canal Cruise and Dam Square
The sight of a classic canal boat cruising along one of the many beautiful Western Canals is perhaps the most iconic images of Amsterdam. What better way to kick off your 3 day Amsterdam itinerary than relaxing on a canal cruise, taking photos and familiarising yourself with the layout of the city.
Canal cruises are very popular, and hence there are cruises for all budgets. Everything from a quick tour of the city to champagne and caviar filled extravaganza. Whatever you choose, 2-3 hours will be enough time to see everything worth seeing.
If you get the cruise done in the late morning and follow it up with some lunch, then you’ll still have a good portion of the afternoon left. This is ‘free time’ on my 3 day Amsterdam Itinerary, but I suggest you spend this time walking the city center.
Visit Dam Square and have fun watching the street performers. Do your shopping and wandering now. You should also try out one of the many lovely cafes, take some photos and just experience the city center.
Day 2 – On your bike
Amsterdam is without a doubt the most bike-friendly place I have ever visited. The place is built for bikes, and it is the fastest way to get around. As I’ve mentioned, the center of Amsterdam isn’t actually that big, and so you can cover pretty much the whole center in a day on a bike.
Bike hire is pretty reasonably priced, at about 10 euros per day. There are hundreds of bike rentals all over the city, so you shouldn’t have any problems getting behind some handlebars.
My number one recommendation is to cycle to Vondelpark. This is one of my favorite places in all of Amsterdam, and even if you decide against a day on a bike, you should still visit Vondelpark.
TIP – If it’s a nice day and you’re on a budget, visit the underground supermarket next to the Van Gogh museum and get your lunch. Then cycle to Vondelpark and have a picnic there on the grass. This will save you a lot of money, as eating out isn’t cheap in Amsterdam. Plus, it’s just a really nice thing to do!
In the evening, after you’ve dropped off your bike, you can visit the A’DAM Lookout. Here, you’ll find the highest swing in Europe (not one for those scared of heights). There is also a restaurant at the top, where you can have dinner looking out over the city.
Day 3 – Museum Day
Now I’ll be honest, I don’t usually bother with museums, but in Amsterdam, I make an exception. Amsterdam has some of the most unique and high-quality museums in the world. Even if you’re like me and aren’t particularly into museums, you won’t regret visiting the museums here.
The biggest question is, which one(s) do you visit?
My personal favorite is the Ann Frank Museum. The museum is built around the actual house that Ann Frank and her family hid in during World War 2. It’s incredible how they have set it up all, and lets you walk the property with an audio guide. As a result, you get a truly unique experience and education of one of the most famous stories of WW2.
The other ‘main’ museums that you should consider visiting:
- Van Gogh Museum: World’s largest collection of original artwork by the man himself. Definitely worth a visit even if art isn’t usually your thing.
- Rijksmuseum: One of Amsterdam’s grandest museums, dedicated to showcasing the unique art and history of the Netherlands.
- Stedelijk Museum: A world-class art museum, but with a focus on contemporary and modern art and design.
My personal suggestion would be to visit the Ann Frank House in the morning and then have lunch in the city center close by. Then take the tram to Museum square (Museumplein tram stop). From there, you’ll be right next to the other museums. I would then suggest you visit one of the other ‘main’ museums in the afternoon.
TIP – All the museums mentioned require you to book your tickets online beforehand. You can’t just queue up and get in, as many people try. Make sure you book your museum tickets a couple of days in advance because they go fast (trust me)!
If anything in my 3-day Amsterdam Itinerary doesn’t appeal to you, or even if you just find yourself with some additional time in the evenings, here’s a few other things I recommend:
- Sex Museum: Smaller than all the others but definitely no less unique! It’s very, shall we say, uncensored, but if that doesn’t bother you then you’ll find it very entertaining.
- Bloemenmarkt: The Netherlands is world famous for its tulips, and the Bloemenmarkt in Amsterdam is where you’ll find them. You can buy all sorts of bulbs and gifts here, and in the summer all of the colors make for a lovely sight.
- Red Light District: One of the most iconic parts of the city, it’s definitely worth wandering around to have a look. Perhaps have dinner close by, and then have a walk around the area for half an hour or so. It’s actually a lovely part of the city, and unlike anywhere we’d been before!
- Diamant Museum: If jewelry is your thing, then you’ll be in heaven in the Diamant Museum! A huge collection of diamonds. You can even try some on.
People of the Planet
Author: Christian Larby, People of the Planet.
Christian is one of the founders of online travel magazine People of the Planet. “We feature useful and inspiring travel articles from bloggers all over the world, as well as information to help people earn money on the road”. Follow them on Pinterest and Instagram to read more great posts!
Which museum would you visit?
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