If you were wondering how many days in Amsterdam is enough to really appreciate the City of Canals, you have come to the right place. I will cover all the best things to do and see in Amsterdam to help you plan your perfect itinerary.
Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, in North-West Europe close to Germany, Belgium, and the North Sea. This Venice of the North is famous for its iconic canals, more bicycles than residents, Red Light District, Houseboats, flowers, and many more. Let’s get into the detail of how many days should you spend and what are things to do in this Bicycle Capital of the World.
How long to stay in Amsterdam depends on how thoroughly you want to take in everything the city has to offer. Personally, I find that Amsterdam is the ideal destination for a long weekend. Three days in Amsterdam is enough to take in all the major sights and really get a feel for the city.
Is three days in Amsterdam enough to exhaust everything the city has to offer though? Not at all. There are plenty of things to see and do to fill longer stays and return visits. Spreading your vacation over more days also gives you a chance to relax and take in the uniquely laidback atmosphere.
Giving yourself an extra day or two will also allow you the time to venture outside of the city limits. The Netherlands’ iconic tulip fields and windmills are amongst the popular day trip destinations outside of Amsterdam.
How many days to spend in Amsterdam really just depends on how long you have to spare. Read on as I suggest the best things to do in Amsterdam and 3 days in Amsterdam Itinerary!
If you want to book accommodations before heading to the capital city of the Netherlands, you can take a look at some of the best hotels in Old Centrum of Amsterdam:
|💖 Best Area to stay in Amsterdam:||Old Centrum|
|💎 Best luxury hotel:||NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky|
|🏨 Best mid-range hotel:||Swissôtel Amsterdam|
|💰 Best budget hotel:||Rho Hotel|
NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky This 5-star hotel, in the heart of Amsterdam, is set on the edge of the famous Dam Square and opposite the Royal Palace. It has a grand cafe and a winter garden on site. Set in a 19th-century building, the spacious hotel rooms has stylishly furnished with parquet floors, high quality beds and modern facilities.
Swissôtel Amsterdam This 4-star hotel is located on Amsterdam’s famous Dam Square just 10 minutes’ walk from Centraal Station. It is within easy walking distance from Magna Plaza shopping centre and the Royal Palace. The Dam Square Tram Stop is in front of the hotel, and can be used to reach the Rijksmuseum, a 15-minute ride away.
Rho Hotel Rho is situated on the edge of Dam Square, 950 m from Amsterdam Central Railway Station. It offers free Wi-Fi and the lobby is an impressive Art Deco-style former theatre.
I suggest reading where to stay in Amsterdam to have better ideas about the best areas and hotels to stay in Amsterdam.
Best Things to Do and See in Amsterdam in 3 days
In a city beloved for its vibrant arts and cultural heritage, the Rijksmuseum is the defining exhibition of Amsterdam. The Netherlands’ national museum, the Rijksmuseum houses artistic masterpieces and historic artifacts from across the country and greater Europe.
In addition to the eight thousand pieces on display in the main galleries, the Rijksmuseum also hosts frequent events and special exhibitions. Make sure to check ahead to see if there are any events or workshops running during your stay that would interest you.
Entry to the museum is free for to under 18s. Adult tickets start at €20, which includes access to temporary exhibits.
If you need to take a breather from all the sightseeing and urban excitement for a minute, make an escape into Vondelpark. The sprawling urban park is an oasis of natural calm right at the heart of Amsterdam.
A network of treelined pathways meanders around the various ponds and canals, providing a cool retreat on summer afternoons. There is plenty to discover within the park, from statues and monuments to peaceful flower gardens.
The crowing attraction of Vondelpark is the open-air theatre. Overlooking one of the park’s lakes, the theatre hosts a variety of events, from concerts to comedy shows. There are also several cafes and restaurants within the park, and even a microbrewery just next to the theatre.
Anne Frank House
On an unassuming street overlooking one of Amsterdam’s picturesque canals sits the house in which Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for over two years.
The house and its concealed annex, which acted as their temporary haven during the Second World War have since been converted into a museum.
In addition to being able to visit the very rooms in which the family lived, visitors can also view Anne’s original, handwritten diary. Exhibits in the museum include artifacts and personal belongings of the house’s residents, as well as video diaries from people who knew the families.
Van Gogh Museum
As one of the Netherlands’ most famous artists, it’s little surprise that there is an entire museum dedicated to the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of his art in the world.
More than just his paintings, visitors can also view sketches and personal artifacts, including his handwritten letters. The Van Gogh Museum is more than just a niche art gallery. It is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the life and personality of the troubled impressionist.
Along with the permanent displays of Van Gogh’s paintings, the museum also hosts a range of specialist exhibits and workshops.
From deep dives into the techniques and significance of specific paintings to celebrations of other artists, there’s always something new to discover at the Van Gogh Museum.
NEMO Science Museum
With five floors of science displays and interactive exhibits, the NEMO Science Museum is sure to be able to keep the whole family entertained for a few hours. Whilst most of the museum is targeted more towards a younger crowd, there are also exhibits aimed specifically at adults.
From the human body to space and engineering, the NEMO Science Museum is impressively comprehensive in the topics it covers. Whatever branch of science most interests you or your group, there is almost certainly an exhibit on it to be found here.
The huge ship-shaped metal building is impossible to miss. As if the massive building wasn’t enough already, the NEMO De Studio just across the canal houses even more exhibits.
If you are a fan of brewery tours, then Amsterdam is a playground for you. The Heineken experience is definitely one you will want to have top of your list. Housed within Heineken’s oldest brewery, the Heineken experience encompasses the brand’s history, as well as its hugely popular beer.
The experience takes you through the brand’s development, brewing process, and even the meaning behind their logos and mottos. Of course, no brewery tour would be complete without a tasting. So, naturally, the experience includes a complimentary glass of Heineken in the onsite bar.
If you are looking for where to find the best view of Amsterdam, A’dam Tower is arguably the top spot in the city. Just across the river from central Amsterdam, the 100m high viewing platform on the tower’s top floor offers unobstructed, 360° panoramic views of the whole city.
Adrenaline junkies can test their nerves on the Over The Edge Swing. The swing has you sweeping off the side of the viewing platform over thin air. It’s not for the faint of heart.
The rest of the tower is home to a mix of music studios, events spaces, and bars and restaurants. There’s also a hotel occupying several floors. So, if you want to stay in a room with the best views in the city, this is a great place to look into.
Ons’ Lieve Heer Op Solder (Our Lord In The Attic Museum)
Often overlooked by tourists but beloved by locals, the Museum Our Lord in the Attic is one of the most charming locations in Amsterdam. The museum consists of a secret catholic church concealed within the attic of an otherwise ordinary townhouse.
The church dates back to the 1600s, during a period when Catholicism was banned in the Netherlands. The preserved chapel offers a glimpse into one of the many historical eras that have shaped the Amsterdam of today.
In addition to the church in the attic, the lower floors were converted into a museum in the 19th century. The museum houses various pieces of period furniture, along with religious artefacts and artworks.
De Negen Straatjes (The Nine Streets)
Tucked into the heart of the Canal District, the Nine Streets are a picturesque representation of the charm and style that Amsterdam is famous for. The area is one of the city’s loveliest shopping districts. Perfect for a laidback afternoon strolling along the quaint canalside lanes.
The narrow streets are lined with chic boutiques and local designer stores. Fashionable cafes spill their tables onto the pavements, adding to the lively buzz. In the evenings, the bars and restaurants keep the area buzzing.
By day a fashionable shopping district, by night a more refined nightlife hub. No matter when you visit The Nine Streets, you will be greeted with an unforgettably charming atmosphere.
If you are wondering where to find the bustling hub of Amsterdam’s nightlife scene, look no further than Leidseplein. The vibrant public square is the center of the city’s evening entertainment.
Surrounded by cafes spilling onto the street, Leidseplein is bustling during the day, but it really comes alive after dark.
The beautiful Internationaal Theater Amsterdam overlooks the square, whilst numerous other theatres are located along the streets nearby. Theatergoers make up the brunt of the early evening crowd, flocking to the local restaurants before heading to their shows.
Later on, the bars and nightclubs that cluster around the area are what keep Leidseplein lively. Whatever your preference for how to spend your evenings, Leidseplein is sure to provide an unforgettable night on the town.
Jordaan is a fascinating district to the north of the city centre. Formerly a working-class residential area, the neighbourhood has developed into one of the coolest areas in Amsterdam, thanks to an influx of artists and creatives.
Despite being a central district, popular with tourists, Jordaan has managed to retain much of its community, village atmosphere. In amongst the trendy boutiques and independent art galleries and studios, you will also find antiques fairs and weekend markets.
Jordaan is the neighborhood to visit when you want to get a taste of everyday Amsterdam life. Pop into the local pubs and cafes to mingle with the residents, or pick up local handicrafts from one of the bustling markets.
Red Light District
Probably the most famous red light district in the world, this is one of those spots you really can’t leave Amsterdam without having at least walked through. It is certainly an interesting experience to walk down streets lined with the sort of window displays you can find here.
The area leans into its unique tourist appeal. In addition to the brothels, sex shops, and ‘coffee shops’ you expect to find, there are also museums and galleries that play into the niche.
The Red Light Secrets Museum details the history of sex work in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, the Erotic Museum exhibits risqué art installations.
Centraal Station – Damrak Avenue
If you are travelling into Amsterdam by train, it is highly likely that Centraal Station will provide your first impression of the city. It’s a good first impression, housed within a beautiful 19th century gothic style building.
Perched on the south bank of the River Amstel, right at the edge of the Canal District, Centraal Station delivers you right into the heart of Amsterdam’s most iconic districts.
The station itself is packed with shops and restaurants. If you just plan to visit to appreciate the stylish architecture, you will have plenty to keep you busy whilst you’re there.
Dam Square is a lively public plaza, right at the heart of the city centre. Straight down Damrak Street, which runs from Centraal Station through the heart of the city, Dam Square is one of the first places many visitors to Amsterdam come to.
Central and overlooked by attractions including the Royal Palace and the Nationaal Monument, Dam Square is a popular meeting place for tourists and locals alike. With tons of sights within a few minutes’ walk, it is a fantastic starting place from which to explore the city.
Dam Square frequently hosts public events, including festivals and concerts. It’s always bursting with life and is a wonderful place to take in the vibrant atmosphere of Amsterdam.
The stunning Royal Palace of Amsterdam was originally built to serve as a town hall in the 17th century. It was later designated as one of three official residences of the Dutch Monarchy during the 19th century.
The elegant palace overlooks Dam Square from the west, providing a stunning backdrop for the many restaurants and cafes that surround the plaza. When not in use by the royal family, the Palace is open for the public to explore.
The Royal Palace hosts various events throughout the year. Each summer sees a new exhibition open within the Palace’s hall, so even return visitors may want to stop by.
One of the oldest residences in Amsterdam, Begijnhof is believed to have been built some time in the 14th century. Home to an order of nuns, the community was able to weather the ban on Catholicism by moving their place of worship to a hidden chapel within the houses.
The concealed chapel is still there, hidden behind the unassuming façades of the townhouses. Many of the houses around the courtyard are still residences, though no longer of nuns. As long as you are respectful that this is a residential square, you’re free to enjoy the gardens and visit the hidden church.
One of the oldest zoos in Europe, Artis makes for a fantastic family day out. The zoo is home to around nine hundred animal species from a variety of habitats. The park also houses an aquarium, a butterfly house, and even a planetarium.
Whatever your preference, there is something to pique everyone’s interests.
With several onsite cafes and restaurants, you can really make a day of it and take time to see all the fascinating exhibits. Alternatively, just a short walk from the city centre, it’s easy to slot into a more packed schedule too.
Built in the 13th century, Oude Kerk, or Old Church, is known as the oldest building in Amsterdam. If you love history and historic architecture, then Oude Kerk is an absolute must see. The spire above its soaring clock tower looms over the surrounding area, making it easy for visitors to find.
Although many parts of the church have been altered or restored over the centuries, there are still parts of the wooden ceiling that are known to date back to the 14th century.
The huge church is impressive from the outside, but from within you can really appreciate the artistry of the elaborate stained-glass windows.
Contrasting against the old church we have Nieuwe Kerk, or the New Church. That said, it was only new as of the 15th century, so still hardly modern. Located right next to the Royal Palace, Nieuwe Kerk is the venue for royal occasions, including weddings and coronations.
No longer used as a place of worship, when not serving a royal function, the Nieuwe Church acts as an exhibition space. The frequently changing exhibitions cover a wide array of subjects, from fashion and photography to anthropology. It is always a good idea to check what’s on during your stay.
Vibrant and cosmopolitan, De Pijp is one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Also known as Amsterdam’s Latin Quarter, this is one of the top nightlife spots in the city.
A lively student neighbourhood, it is little wonder that some of the hippest bars and clubs in the city have found their home here in recent years.
During the day, De Pijp is a bohemian wonderland, filled to the brim with quirky shops and cosy cafes. It is also where you will find the Netherlands’ largest daily market, Albert Cuypmarkt.
Meanwhile, nearby Sarphatipark provides a calm reprieve, where you can take a break from all the hustle and bustle.
Kalverstraat and Vlooienmarkt
If you are looking for somewhere to browse for the perfect souvenir, then you may want to take a wander around Kalverstraat. The bustling street is known for its many small stores, galleries, and craft shops.
With its mix of well-known brands and independent boutiques, Kalverstraat is a smorgasbord of shopping opportunities. Running right through the centre of the city, it offers a convenient break from all the sight seeing at nearby attractions.
If you prefer a more bohemian shopping experience, try nearby Vlooienmarkt. The famous flea market is one of the oldest and largest in the Netherlands. At the hundreds of stalls that comprise the market, you can find everything from furniture and antiques to traditional wares and food.
One of the many things the Netherlands’ is known for are its flowers. Specifically, its fields of colourful tulips. With that it mind, it is unsurprising that there is a thriving demand for fresh flowers amongst the local people.
The Amsterdam Flower Market is a vibrant explosion of colour and aroma. Flowers and plants of all kinds can be found on display around the market, whether as cut bouquets, potted, or even as seeds or bulbs. You can even pick up some of those iconic tulip bulbs.
Of course, customs may object to you carrying fresh plants or bulbs back home. Instead, perhaps select a colourful bouquet to liven up your hotel room during your stay.
With many of Amsterdam’s main art galleries displaying primarily classic artworks, the MOCO Museum offers a refreshing alternative. Instead, the MOCO Museum focuses more on modern and contemporary art.
MOCO Museum is located on Museumplein, right between the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. It’s super easy to meander between the various art galleries in this area. With a focus on surrealism, the MOCO Museum pairs well with a visit to the Van Gogh Museum.
Located in a converted townhouse, the MOCO Museum may seem less impressive than its neighbours. However, it houses works by some impressively big names. Salvador Dali and Banksy are just two legendary artists whose work is on display here.
Amsterdam is a city famous for many things, and one of those is how cycle friendly it is. Few other cities in Europe are such a pleasure to cycle around. Rather than contend with crowded public transport to get around, consider exploring the city on two wheels instead.
There are plenty of tour companies offering guided bike tours around Amsterdam. These will take you around all the major sights and prettiest streets, with your guide providing fascinating insights and information along the way.
Alternatively, you could simply hire a bike from one of the many cycle hire stores, and explore the city at your leisure. When the weather is nice, this is one of the most charming ways to see Amsterdam.
One of Amsterdam’s most defining traits is its vast network of canals and waterways. With many of the city’s most beloved landmarks overlooking the water, taking a cruise along the canals is one of the best ways to see them.
It is especially perfect for appreciating the colourful architecture and the iconic ‘Gingerbread Houses’ that Amsterdam is known for.
There are tons of tour companies operating throughout the Canal District. You can choose to head out on one of the regularly scheduled group tours, or pay a little extra for the privilege and comfort of a private boat and personal guided tour.
Foodies will definitely want to pay a visit to Amsterdam’s Foodhallen. Located in the Oud West district, Foodhallen is a massively popular location for both locals and tourists to hang out.
The huge food hall is home to over twenty food vendors, offering a wide array of cuisines. Foodhallen allows you to sample incredible international dishes and delicacies from around the world, all in one place.
From Asian street food and French patisserie to local Dutch fare, Foodhallen offers something for everyone. It’s ideal if you are travelling with a group and no one can agree on where to eat.
At the east of Amsterdam, at the mouth of the river, is the little island of Vuurtoreneiland. The secluded island is perfect for anyone who wants to escape the city for a more scenic location.
The island is home to the remains of an old fort, which closed in the 1930s, along with a still functioning lighthouse.
The main attraction of the island though, is its singular restaurant. The main building of the restaurant is constructed almost entirely of glass. Diners can enjoy delicious food along with stunning panoramic views over the river.
Brouwerij´t IJ Windmill and Brewery
Brouwerij’t combines two of Amsterdam’s most classic icons, windmills and beer. The striking windmill is actually the tallest wooden windmill in the Netherlands. Even if you don’t care for beer, it is still worth making the visit to appreciate the unique structure.
If you do like beer, however, the brewery offers tours, allowing visitors to learn about the beer brewing process and the brewery’s history. A glass of the brewery’s beer is, of course, included in the ticket.
If you would rather just enjoy a relaxed drink, Brouwerij’t boasts a chic beer hall. The brewery creates a wide range of beers, most of which are available to try in the beer hall.
In the north of the city, a former gasworks plant has been converted into one of Amsterdam’s coolest events spaces. Located within leafy Westerpark, Westergasfabriek is a unique location that is well worth paying a visit.
Aside from the events hall, which hosts frequent concerts and shows, there is also the Zuiveringshal West building. This striking factory building now houses numerous shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. A large central hall often hosts markets and festivals.
A theatre and cinema round out the offerings of Westerpark. No matter when or what time of day you visit, there is always sure to be something going on.
Tulips of Keukenhof
Tulips are one of the most famous icons of the Netherlands. Fields of colourful flowers attract thousands of visitors each year, along with being one of the country’s best known exports. If you want to visit the tulip fields during your trip to Amsterdam, then Keukenhof is your best bet.
About 10 miles southwest of Amsterdam, Keukenhof makes a popular day trip for those spending a longer stay in Amsterdam.
The park is open when the tulips are in season in spring, between March and May. With windmills, canals, and stunning blooms, Keukenhof is exactly what foreign visitors expect from the Netherlands.
EYE Film Institute
The EYE Film Institute is a celebration of cinema. The waterside arts centre hosts regular screenings of indie and cultural films from around the world. In addition to the screenings, the walls are covered in tons of film posters from across the decades.
Old film props and recording equipment are also displayed around the building. The ground floor of the building houses a large coffeeshop, surrounded by glass walls. Even if you don’t care for the intricacies of cinema, the view of the river from your table is well worth paying a visit.
Albert Cuyp Market
The largest daily market in the Netherlands, Albert Cuyp Market is a bustling treasure trove of over two hundred stalls. Selling everything from antiques to handicrafts and street fashion, Albert Cuyp Market is an awesome place to go bargain hunting and search for some interesting souvenirs.
A wide array of street food stalls populate the market too. There are vendors offering dishes from around the world, alongside local sweets and delicacies. If there are any traditional Dutch foods that you have been wanting to try, you may well find it at Albert Cuyp Market.
Once you’ve snagged some delicious food, you can then escape the crowds by heading to nearby Sarphatipark for a picnic.
Is three days in Amsterdam Enough? 3 Days in Itinerary
Three days in Amsterdam is enough to see the city highlight attractions. Let’s look at the detail of the best things to do in Amsterdam in three days:
Day 1 in Amsterdam Itinerary
For the first day of your trip, spend some time getting a feel for the city.
For a city best known for its scenic waterways, there’s no better introduction than to head out onto the water on a canal tour. There are tons of routes and guides to choose from so pick one depending on what you most want to see.
Once you are done with your waterborne introductions to Amsterdam, head over to Dam Square.
The bustling central plaza is a fantastic place to soak in the atmosphere of the city. Take a break at one of the cafes lining the square and appreciate the historic buildings and monuments that surround you.
The Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk both overlook Dam Square, so take the opportunity to head inside and have a look around. Once you’re done with the New Church, take a short walk east towards the oldest building in the city, Oud Kerk.
Oud Kerk sits right on the edge of Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District, so head there next. You’ll want to get here in the late afternoon or early evening to get the best of the atmosphere, but without the rowdy crowds that come out after dark.
For dinner, head to the Panorama restaurant at A’Dam Tower. You’ll be able to enjoy dinner with the best view in the city. If you get here early enough, you may even be able to dare a ride on the Over The Edge swing on the roof terrace.
Day 2 in Amsterdam Itinerary
Start your second morning in Amsterdam with breakfast at one of the cafes overlooking Museumplein. This will have you in the perfect position to explore some of Amsterdam’s top museums and art galleries, before the heavy crowds descend.
The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum are the two best known galleries in this area, so make sure to hit them first to avoid the tourist crush. The smaller museums in the surrounding streets are perfect for later in the morning.
Once you get tired of wandering museums, head to nearby Vondelpark. The leafy park will offer you a breath of fresh air after spending your morning inside.
Once you’re ready to head back into the urban jungle, head north into the Canal District, towards Nine Streets. The quaint shopping district encompasses all of the charms Amsterdam is known for. It’s the perfect place to stop for lunch in one of the canalside cafes.
The Anne Frank House is just a short walk north. This is the perfect opportunity to visit one of Amsterdam’s most significant locations.
Circle back around to the Oud-West neighbourhood to Foodhallen for dinner. There’s plenty of options to choose from, so you’ll be happy with whatever you’re craving. The lively atmosphere of the food hall will give you more energy to head out into the numerous nearby bars for the evening.
Day 3 in Amsterdam Itinerary
For day three, take it easy and enjoy relaxing into your last day in Amsterdam. Booking onto a cycle tour is a fantastic way to get around to any sights that you may have missed so far.
When you are ready to stock up on souvenirs to take home, head on over to Albert Cuyp Market in the De Pijp district. Aside from curious trinkets and bric-a-brac, Albert Cuypmarkt’s food vendors are the perfect opportunity to try any local delicacies you haven’t gotten around to yet.
Once you’ve picked up your lunch from the market, head into nearby Sarphatipark to escape the crowds and enjoy a laidback picnic. Once you’ve lined your stomach, take a short walk north to the Heineken Experience.
Head north again and pass through the National Holocaust Memorial, on your way to Waterlooplein Market. One of the oldest and largest markets in Europe, this is the perfect opportunity to hunt for any souvenirs or local craft items that you couldn’t find at Albert Cuypmarkt.
Once you have everything you want, head east to De Gooyer Molen, the oldest wooden windmill in Amsterdam. The stunning windmill is attached to another local brewery, where you can wind down with some local craft beers, in their waterside terrace bar.
If you have a few more days to spend in Amsterdam, then there are plenty more museums, markets, and local neighborhoods to explore. You could even take the time to make a day trip outside of the city. If you are visiting in spring, you should definitely make the trip to the Keukenhof Tulip Garden.
Regardless of whether you are staying in Amsterdam for a short weekend break or a longer vacation, there is plenty to see and do to keep you busy. Whilst you can definitely take in all the major sights within just a few days if you plan well, a longer, lazier break has its benefits too.
Now as you know how many days do you need in Amsterdam and some of the best things to do, all you need to do now is to determine the best time to visit Amsterdam, select the perfect place to stay, and start getting everything booked, so you can experience it all for yourself.