Amsterdam is known for its elaborate canals, narrow houses, and artistic heritage. This suggested itinerary is for those who want to see and experience all Amsterdam has to offer. So read on, and get lost in the madness of the capital city of the Netherlands!
HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND IN AMSTERDAM
The number of days to spend in Amsterdam depends on your travel preferences, interests, and the activities you’d like to experience. Ideally, I would recommend spending at least 3 days in Amsterdam to get a good taste of the city’s highlights and to fully immerse yourself in its unique culture. Here’s a suggested breakdown of how you might plan your time:
- 2 to 3 Days: With two to three days, you can cover most of the city’s major attractions, experience its cultural offerings, and still have time to leisurely wander around. Allocate day one for sightseeing and visiting the landmarks. Day two to explore the museums and art galleries. And the third day for a mix of experiences. Such as enjoying the more local spots, and seeing Amsterdam through a panoramic view at the A’DAM Lookout. Do not worry, a detailed itinerary of each day is listed below!
- 4 Days or More: If you have more time, I highly suggest visiting other areas of the Netherlands. You can take day trips from Amsterdam to nearby towns, such as Alkmaar, Delft, Giethoorn, or even Maastricht. Another option is to do a road trip through the Netherlands to experience even more Dutch culture.
Remember, Amsterdam offers a variety of activities for every interest, whether you’re into art, history, nature, shopping, or simply enjoying the café culture. The city’s compact size and excellent public transportation make it easy to get around and explore at your own pace. Whatever duration you choose, Amsterdam promises a memorable experience with its rich history, vibrant ambiance, and unique charm.
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WHERE TO STAY IN AMSTERDAM
I am pretty sure I spent a few days trying to find the perfect hotel at a reasonable price, There are SO many hotel options it can be overwhelming. To help you narrow down your choices, check out Where to Stay in Amsterdam, to help you decide! I finally ended up picking the Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam. Which was a great hotel and close to the train station.
Ultimately, the best area to stay in Amsterdam depends on your personal preferences and the type of experience you want to have. Whether you’re looking for a bustling city center, a charming canal-side location, or a more laid-back and local atmosphere, Amsterdam has a neighborhood that will suit your needs. Please comment below on which hotel you end up staying in!
AMSTERDAM TRAVEL TIPS
Travel passes are a great way to see many attractions in Amsterdam and surrounding areas at a discounted price. Some passes even include public transportation. Before purchasing a travel pass, I suggest researching what attractions you want to see. This way you can see if purchasing a travel pass is an economical decision.
I amsterdam City Card:
The I amsterdam City Card is a great way to explore Amsterdam. The card gives you access to all major highlights and museums, city-wide public transport, a canal cruise, and bicycle rentals.
Go City Pass Amsterdam:
The Go City Pass offers two types of passes. The All-Inclusive Pass, that offers an unlimited amount of attractions each day of your pass. Or the Explorer Pass, where you can choose the number of attractions you would like to see.
Book Major Attractions in Advance:
Make sure to book all major attractions in advance. Especially if you plan on visiting Amsterdam during the spring and summer months. Most museums, the Anne Frank House, and A’DAM Lookout tend to book out weeks in advance. For other attractions, you can book a few days prior. If you purchase a travel pass, the company will give you instructions on how to reserve tickets online for each attraction.
Amsterdam has an excellent public transportation system. The trams and buses are efficient and can take you to all the major attractions. If you choose NOT to purchase the I amsterdam City Card (which includes public transport), then I suggest purchasing a Travel Ticket. They offer a few different options.
For reference, we purchased the Amsterdam Travel Ticket (which took us around the city, and to and from the Airport) and the All-Inclusive Go City Amsterdam Pass. It fit more into what we wanted to see and do. Remember to do your research to see which passes better fit your travel needs!
Exploring by Bicycle:
If you are traveling to Amsterdam, chances are you will want to rent a bike. Cycling is a fantastic way to soak in the city’s charm and discover hidden gems. It is also wild to see how many families and people use bikes as their main mode of transportation. That being said, make sure you are aware of the rules and guidelines to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
Watch Out for Cyclists:
If you choose to walk, be aware of all the cyclists. Bicycles are everywhere in Amsterdam and they have the right of way on designated bike paths. Pay attention when crossing the street and always check for cyclists.
Red Light District:
If you decide to visit the Red Light District, be respectful of the area and its rules. Photography and videography are strictly forbidden, and be mindful of the workers’ privacy. We visited the Red Light District during the day and late at night. I felt completely safe at all hours.
Coffee Shops vs. Cafes:
“Coffee shops” in Amsterdam are known for selling cannabis products, while “cafes” are places for regular coffee and food. If you’re not interested in cannabis, make sure you choose the right place, however, you can usually smell the cannabis anyway!
Amsterdam is a modern city, and most places accept credit/debit cards. However, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases and places that may not accept cards. Especially for public restrooms.
Most people in Amsterdam speak English fluently, so you shouldn’t have any language barriers while exploring the city.
Tipping is not mandatory in the Netherlands, as service charges are usually included in the bill. However, it’s common to round up the bill or leave a small tip as a gesture of appreciation for good service.
Amsterdam is generally a safe city, but like any other popular tourist destination, be cautious of pick-pocketers, especially in crowded areas.
Amsterdam Itinerary Map:
THE MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS: AMSTERDAM ITINERARY DAY ONE
Today you will be touring the main hotspots of Amsterdam. Start your day with a hardy breakfast at Omelegg. There is typically a line, so try to get there early. I promise you it is worth the wait!
Our Lord in the Attic Museum (Former Hidden Catholic Church)
The “Our Lord in the Attic” museum is a captivating historical gem. Concealed within a 17th-century canal house, it houses a Catholic church hidden in the attic. During a time when Catholicism was suppressed in the Netherlands, this secret church provided a place for discreet worship. It was very interesting to ascend the narrow staircases and be transported back in time. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed touring the Hidden Church.
Red Light District
Situated in the city center, the Red Light District is known for its red-lit windows and narrow alleys, where sex workers openly display themselves. The area is a hub for adult entertainment and attracts tourists from all over the world. Alongside the famous red-lit windows, you can find a mix of bars, coffee shops, and eclectic nightlife.
I know it may seem odd to suggest the Red Light District in the morning hours, but if this is not your thing, walking through earlier in the day will be a more tame experience. You can spot the red lights in the windows and get a feel for the environment without actually seeing any sex workers. However, visiting at night is a wild experience. Either way, you should visit the Red Light District on your trip! If you want to learn more about the history, pop into the Red Light Secret Museum of Prostitution.
De Oude Kerk (The Old Church)
As one of the city’s oldest surviving buildings, De Oude Kerk is quite a sight. The church’s Gothic architecture and towering spire command attention, while its interior boasts stunning stained-glass windows and intricately carved wooden features. You can either admire from the outside or you can explore the serene atmosphere inside, where centuries of stories seem to echo through the halls.
The Dam Square is located in the heart of Amsterdam. The square is an iconic and bustling gathering place that exudes a vibrant energy. Surrounded by impressive architecture, including the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). The Dam Square is a hub for both locals and tourists. Its open space provides ample room for street performers, cultural events, and lively markets. As day turns to night, the square transforms, with illuminated buildings casting a magical glow.
Begijnhof, tucked away in the heart of bustling Amsterdam, is a serene and enchanting hidden gem. This historic courtyard dates back to the 14th century and has retained its peaceful atmosphere over the centuries. The picturesque green space is surrounded by charming houses, some of which were once occupied by the Beguines, a Catholic sisterhood.
Lunch: Blue Amsterdam
It is time for lunch and to experience Amsterdam from a whole new perspective! Blue Amsterdam is a unique and stylish destination perched high above the city streets of Amsterdam. This rooftop restaurant and bar offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city’s iconic landmarks, including the Royal Palace and Westerkerk. With its modern and chic interior, Blue Amsterdam provides an inviting ambiance to relax and savor a delightful meal or enjoy a refreshing drink.
If visiting in the busier months, make reservations in advance.
Bloemenmarkt – Flower Market Amsterdam
After lunch, head to the markets. Bloemenmarkt is the world’s only floating flower market. This vibrant market is a feast for the senses, with rows of flower stalls offering a stunning array of fresh blooms, bulbs, and plants.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij
Time to try to treat yourself after all that walking! Specializing in a single cookie, the “Chocolate Cookie,” Van Stapele Koekmakerij has perfected this sweet treat to create a mouthwatering indulgence. Baked fresh throughout the day, each cookie is warm, gooey, and filled with a rich, molten white chocolate center.
Van Wonderen Stroopwafel
Want to try another sweet treat? Van Wonderen Stroopwafel is a delightful stroopwafel bakery. Their stroopwafels are made fresh to order, ensuring a warm and satisfying experience with every bite. I am pretty sure I ate my body weight in stroopwafels while touring through the Netherlands :).
The 9 Streets
With a full belly, make your way over to The 9 Streets. The 9 Streets, or De Negen Straatjes, is a charming and trendy neighborhood in the heart of Amsterdam. Comprising nine picturesque streets that crisscross the canal belt, this area is a shopper’s paradise. Each street is brimming with unique boutiques, vintage shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes, offering a diverse and eclectic shopping experience.
One of my absolute favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam. Wander along the narrow cobblestone streets, lined with quaint houses and cozy cafes. Jordaan is known for its lively markets, art galleries, and boutique shops, making it a paradise for shoppers and art enthusiasts. As the sun sets, the neighborhood comes alive with a lively nightlife, with bustling bars and restaurants offering a taste of Amsterdam’s culinary delights. Stop in and have a drink at Café Chris.
What better way to explore Amsterdam, than by boat? This is an absolute must when exploring the city. Here is a little sneak peek of how our time went! Book tickets using your city pass or through GetYourGuide. GetYourGuide makes it super easy to buy tickets online or through their app.
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The Pancake Bakery
I found my new favorite pancake delicacy after stumbling upon the Pancake Bakery. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists alike who are looking to enjoy delicious Dutch-style pancakes. There are so many to try, but I recommend the Poffertjes with chocolate sauce.
Anne Frank House
The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is a historical site that offers a glimpse into the life and struggles of Anne Frank, a Jewish girl who went into hiding with her family during World War II. The house, preserved as a museum, is the actual hiding place where Anne and her family lived for over two years, documenting their experiences and fears in Anne’s now-famous diary. You can explore the concealed rooms, witness Anne’s powerful story, and gain a deeper understanding of the Holocaust’s impact on individuals and society. Purchase your tickets online in advance here. I do recommend going here in the evening hours to avoid the major crowds.
MUSEUMS & MORE: AMSTERDAM ITINERARY DAY TWO
You most likely went under these bridges on your canal tour, however, it is a delightful spot to see from above. The area around the Seven Bridges is often depicted in postcards, photographs, and artworks due to its scenic beauty. So take a leisurely walk to admire the serene bridges and waterways that define Amsterdam’s charm.
The Skinny Bridge, also known as the Magere Brug in Dutch, is famous and iconic. The bridge’s history dates back to the 17th century when a wooden bridge was first constructed at the site.
Albert Cuyp Market
After stopping to see the bridges, head to the De Pijp area of Amsterdam. Make your first stop at the Albert Cuyp Market. Named after the 17th-century landscape painter Albert Cuyp, this market is one of the oldest and most famous outdoor markets in the city. It offers a diverse array of products, including fresh produce, clothing, flowers, electronics, textiles, street food, and more.
The market’s lively atmosphere, bustling stalls, and the variety of goods on display make it a favorite destination for both locals and tourists. You can explore the stalls, interact with vendors, and sample a wide range of international foods and snacks.
The Heineken Experience isn’t just a tour; it’s an interactive journey through time. As you walk through the historic building where it all began, you will see where the brewing legacy came alive. Towards the end of the tour, you will be turned into a Heineken Beer in a fun simulation! And then the tour ends of course with tasting a cold freshly brewed Heineken. Book your ticket in advance!
BonTon Stripclub Amsterdam
If it wasn’t for the Go City Card, I would have skipped over this place. Tickets are included in your pass, so we decided to visit. You will learn all about sex work and Amsterdam’s famously legal brothels at The BonTon, which has established itself as the no.1 exclusive strip and sex club in Amsterdam. The guided tour is done by an ex-sex worker and they will explain what it is actually like to work in the sex industry. Truly a fascinating tour.
Make your way over to one of the many museums Amsterdam has to offer. I suggest picking one to visit, but if you have more time, feel free to visit multiple. Remember to make reservations a few days or weeks in advance!
- Van Gogh Museum. One of the most well-known museums in Amsterdam, showing the works of the iconic Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh.
- Rijksmuseum. With a rich history dating back to the early 19th century, the museum offers a comprehensive journey through Dutch art and history, featuring iconic paintings such as “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt and countless other treasures from various periods and genres.
- House of Bols, the Cocktail Experience. If museums are not your thing, check out the House of Bols cocktail museum, where you get to design and develop your own drink!
After touring some museums, make your way outside to enjoy Vondelpark. Vondelpark is a picturesque urban oasis located in the heart of Amsterdam. The park features meandering pathways, lush green lawns, and serene ponds. It’s a great place to relax and picnic after a long day of exploring.
Foodhallen is a great place to enjoy dinner. Situated in a repurposed industrial building, it adds to its hip and modern vibe. Inside, you can explore a wide range of international cuisines. The setup allows patrons to choose from different vendors with communal seating areas, creating a lively social environment where everyone can enjoy their chosen dishes together.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH: AMSTERDAM ITINERARY DAY THREE
Now that you have seen the major highlights of Amsterdam, it is time to explore the lesser-known areas. This is a great day to explore by bicycle. The area you will be visiting is less crowded and much easier to maneuver.
Your first stop of the day will be the famous A’DAM Lookout. The A’DAM Lookout is a prominent observation deck and fun attraction located a short ferry ride from Central Station. The ferry is extremely easy to navigate and is free!
Perched atop, the A’DAM Tower offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city’s skyline, the historic canal district, and beyond. Additionally, you can go on the Sky Deck swing that extends over the edge of the tower, providing an exhilarating and unique perspective of the city. If you purchased the Go City card, it will cover your entrance into the Lookout, but you will have to pay extra to do the swing – it is well worth it! I promise.
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This is Holland
This is a MUST-do experience. You will soar in a simulated ride over the iconic sights of the Netherlands and see areas such as the tulip fields and windmills. The special effects like mist, wind, and even tulip scents will ensure you see and feel the Netherlands like never before. It was honestly one of the highlights of my time in Amsterdam. If you purchased the Go City card, this attraction is included with the pass.
Van der Pek Neighborhood
If you rode your bike over, bike through the charming Van der Pek neighborhood. Known for its historic architecture and strong community spirit, this district offers a mix of early 20th-century buildings and modern developments. Stop and have a drink at Café de Ceuvel, a funky dockside cafe serving drinks and burgers. Afterward, bike to NDSM-werf. If you walk, you can either take a cab or ferry over to NDSM.
The NDSM-Werf is a former shipyard turned creative and cultural hub. This vibrant area has been transformed into a dynamic space that hosts art studios, galleries, music venues, restaurants, and events. The repurposed industrial buildings and open spaces of NDSM create an eclectic atmosphere. If you are lucky enough to visit during the once-monthly IJhallen, make sure to go! IJhallen is the biggest and most unique flea market in Europe, remember to bring cash.
Happy Hour at Noorderlicht or Pllek
Pllek is built from repurposed shipping containers and offers a unique and relaxed atmosphere with stunning views of the city’s skyline. It is known for its organic and sustainable approach to food, as well as hosting events like live music performances, film screenings, and yoga sessions. Making it a popular destination for locals and tourists seeking a creative and vibrant experience by the water.
Noorderlicht is a charming and rustic restaurant. This unique eatery provides a cozy and welcoming atmosphere inside a creatively designed old greenhouse building. Known for its focus on sustainable and organic ingredients, Noorderlicht offers a diverse menu of dishes prepared with care, making it a popular spot for enjoying delicious food while immersing oneself in the artistic and cultural vibe of the NDSM district.
AMSTERDAM ITINERARY DAY FOUR OR MORE
If you have more time, I highly suggest visiting other areas of the Netherlands. If you are visiting during the spring, make sure to add Keukenhof to your itinerary! You can also do day trips from Amsterdam to nearby cities and towns, such as Zaanse Schans, Alkmaar, Delft, Giethoorn, or even Maastricht. If you are looking for a more in-depth range of Dutch culture, follow my road trip through the Netherlands!
Tag me on Instagram @Mels_Scene, if you use this guide, and I will happily share your trip on my stories!
Need help planning or have questions? Please comment below or message me on my contact page! I would love to hear about how your trip went as well. What were some of your highlights in Amsterdam? Tell me in the comments below!