I recently had the pleasure of spending three days in Amsterdam, a city rich in culture and known for its diversity. As a full-time traveler, I have the opportunity to visit multiple cities each year and see things that many only dream of.
I spoke with some other travelers who were visiting Amsterdam and they told me that it can be hard to know how long you should spend exploring this beautiful city.
The truth is, no matter how much time you spend there, Amsterdam is sure to make an impression on you. The canals are stunningly beautiful and you can easily get lost wandering around admiring them.
The museums are informative and interesting, while the art galleries provide a glimpse into the history of the city. And if you’re looking for nightlife, Amsterdam has plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.
I’d definitely recommend at least three days in Amsterdam; it’s enough time for you to take in all the sights without feeling rushed. But it’s also not so long that things start to feel repetitive or mundane.
No matter what your interests are or how long your stay may be, Amsterdam has something special that will make your visit truly unforgettable.
As sweet as a Dutch stroopwafel! Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan cesspool of culture, curiosity and is oh so cool. With secret canals, riverside homes and a nightlife that is to-die-for, you’ll find it hard to leave.
So, how many days in Amsterdam? Amsterdam has so many interesting entertainment options, making it a city that you could stay for a while in.
However, for those who are going on a European road trip this year, 3 days in Amsterdam is plenty of time to explore the city’s best features and experience what the Netherlands has to offer. This 3 day itinerary for Amsterdam will knock your socks off with flavor, shopping and architecture.
Jordaan is known for its picturesque canals, narrow streets, and historic buildings as well as a trendy neighborhood with boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. It’s within walking distance of major attractions like Anne Frank House. Or you could use your Amsterdam City Card and the Amsterdam Central Station to get around.
De Pijp is located South of the city center and boasts a lively, multicultural neighborhood with a bohemian atmosphere. It’s famous for the Albert Cuyp Market, vibrant nightlife, and a wide range of international restaurants.
Museumkwartier is home to several world-class museums, including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum. Museumkwartier is a beautiful and upscale neighborhood with elegant streets, high-end shopping, and lovely parks.
Situated West of the city center, Oud-West is a hip neighborhood that offers a mix of cultures, stylish boutiques, concept stores, and cafes. It’s also close to Vondelpark, a popular park for relaxing and picnicking.
Located East of the city center, De Plantage is a green and peaceful neighborhood with beautiful parks, botanical gardens, and the famous Artis Zoo. It’s a great area for those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere.
Springtime in Amsterdam is renowned for its blooming tulips and vibrant colors. April is particularly popular due to the famous tulip fields in the surrounding region. The weather is generally mild, but it can be unpredictable with occasional rain showers.
Winter in Amsterdam can be cold, with temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (36 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit). However, the city takes on a magical atmosphere during the holiday season with festive decorations, ice skating rinks, and Christmas markets. January and February are typically quieter months with fewer tourists.
Plan your trip?
Avoid hidden fees in the exchange rate while withdrawing from millions of ATMs abroad, paying in restaurants and shops, and buying your accommodation and flights using the Wise Card. You can hold up to 40+ currencies at once to spend in in over 150 countries, and convert them in real time with the free Wise app.
Need help planning your trip from start to finish? Check out these helpful links:
- Cheap flights
- Savings on accommodation from hostels to luxury hotels
- Affordable car rental options
- Affordable sightseeing tours and day trips
- Travel Adapter – All in one so you don’t have to carry a bunch around
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Overview Of 3 Days In Amsterdam Itinerary
Day 1 in Amsterdam
- Dam Square
- Van Gogh Museum
- Anne Frank House
- Red Light District
Day 2 in Amsterdam
- Zaanse Schans
- Rembrandt House Museum
- NEMO Science Museum
Day 3 in Amsterdam
- Canal Cruise
- Royal Palace
- Pure Markt
Day 1 in Amsterdam
First up is Dam Square. Dam Square has a history that dates back to the 13th century. It was originally a dam on the Amstel River, which gave the city its name. Over the centuries, it has evolved into a central gathering place and a significant location for events, ceremonies, and demonstrations.
The square is surrounded by impressive historical buildings, making it an architectural focal point. The Royal Palace, originally built as a city hall in the 17th century, dominates one side of the square. Its grandeur and neoclassical style make it a prominent landmark. The Nieuwe Kerk (New Church), a Gothic-style church dating back to the 15th century, is also located on the square.
Dam Square is a spacious area that provides ample room for people to gather, relax, and enjoy the surroundings. In the center of the square, there are various monuments and statues, including the National Monument, a white obelisk that serves as a memorial to the victims of World War II.
Throughout the year, Dam Square hosts numerous festivals, concerts, and cultural events. It is a focal point for celebrations on national holidays, such as King’s Day (Koningsdag) and Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag). The square also serves as a gathering place for demonstrations and protests due to its central location.
Dam Square features a hub of activity and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The area surrounding the square is filled with shops, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. It is a vibey shopping district with many well-known international brands and department stores. It’s the perfect way to start off your first day in Amsterdam.
Van Gogh Museum
Next up you’ll experience a different type of artistic flair… One which focuses more on the painting aspect. You’ll head to the Van Gogh Museum. The Van Gogh Museum is a world-renowned art museum located in Amsterdam, dedicated to the life and works of the Dutch post-impressionist artist, Vincent van Gogh.
The museum houses the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s artworks in the world. It holds more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 700 letters by Van Gogh, along with a selection of works by his contemporaries, including Paul Gauguin and Émile Bernard.
The collection spans Van Gogh’s entire artistic career, showcasing his various styles and subjects, from his early works to his famous masterpieces like “Sunflowers,” “The Bedroom,” and “The Potato Eaters.”
The building was designed by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld, which opened to the public in 1973. The museum was later expanded with an exhibition wing designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa in 1999. The architecture provides a fitting backdrop for the collection and offers a spacious and well-organized environment for visitors to explore.
The museum is divided into different sections and exhibition spaces. The permanent collection is displayed on the lower floors, showcasing Van Gogh’s paintings, drawings, and personal letters. Temporary exhibitions are held on the upper floors, focusing on various themes, artists, or aspects of Van Gogh’s life and work.
Throughout the museum, visitors can find informative displays, multimedia presentations, and interactive exhibits that provide insights into Van Gogh’s artistic process, his life, and the context of his works. These displays offer a deeper understanding of his techniques, inspirations, and the challenges he faced as an artist.
Anne Frank House
Continuing with your history lesson, you’ll make your way to the Anne Frank House. The Anne Frank House is the actual building where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who wrote a diary while in hiding, providing a poignant and personal account of life during the Holocaust. Her diary, known as “The Diary of a Young Girl,” has become one of the most widely read books in the world.
The museum is situated in the building’s annex, which was concealed behind a movable bookcase and served as the hiding place for Anne Frank, her family, and four other Jewish people from July 1942 to August 1944. The preserved rooms offer a glimpse into the cramped conditions and the daily life of the occupants during their time in hiding.
The museum features exhibits that provide historical context about the rise of Nazism, the persecution of Jews, and the impact of World War II. Visitors can explore photographs, documents, and personal belongings that illustrate the experiences of Anne Frank and others affected by the Holocaust.
Anne Frank’s original diary is on display within the museum. It showcases the actual notebooks she used to write her diary and includes her famous quotes and reflections. The diary is a powerful testament to hope, resilience, and the human spirit.
Due to its significance, the Anne Frank House attracts a large number of visitors. So you should book tickets in advance to secure a time slot. You can listen to audio guides or take guided tours to gain a deeper understanding of the historical context and the personal story of Anne Frank.
Red Light District
Instead of starting off with a green light, you’ll be starting off your evening with a red light (channeling your inner F1) at the Red Light District also known as “De Wallen”.
It is renowned for its legalized prostitution and iconic red-lit windows where sex workers advertise their services. The best time to visit is in the evening when the red lights shine brighter than ever.
The Red Light District is situated in the medieval city center of Amsterdam and is bounded by canals, including Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Oudezijds Achterburgwal. The area covers several narrow streets, alleyways, and canals, creating a unique and atmospheric environment.
Prostitution has been legal in the Netherlands since 2000, and the Red Light District is one of the few areas where it is openly practiced. The sex workers, who come from various backgrounds, work independently or in brothels. The district also houses businesses like sex shops, peep shows, and adult theaters.
In addition to the sex-related establishments, the Red Light District is home to numerous coffee shops. These establishments legally sell cannabis products and are popular among tourists who wish to experience Amsterdam’s relaxed drug policy. 3 nights in Amsterdam? What could possibly go wrong?
Day 2 in Amsterdam
Yesterday you only got to see the tip of the Amsterdam iceberg, so today you’ll continue your exploration by visiting the Zaanse Schans Windmills. 3 days in Amsterdam would not be complete without a visit to this iconic area. The Zaanse Schans is home to a collection of working windmills that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
These windmills played a crucial role in the industrial development of the region, powering various industries such as sawmills, oil mills, and spice mills. Today, they serve as iconic symbols of Dutch heritage and provide a glimpse into the country’s industrial past.
The windmills at Zaanse Schans display different architectural styles and designs, each serving a specific purpose. The most common types of windmills found here include sawmills, paint mills, oil mills, and grain mills. Their wooden structures, thatched roofs, and rotating sails create a picturesque scene that evokes a sense of nostalgia.
Many of the windmills at Zaanse Schans are still operational and can be visited. Visitors have the opportunity to witness the windmills in action and learn about their functions and the traditional techniques used to operate them. Inside the windmills, you can explore the mechanisms, see the grinding stones, and understand how they contributed to the local industries.
Besides the windmills, the Zaanse Schans area features several museums and exhibitions that provide insights into traditional Dutch crafts and industries. These museums focus on various aspects of the region’s heritage, including cheese-making, clog-making, and traditional handicrafts. They offer interactive displays, demonstrations, and historical artifacts.
The Zaanse Schans is situated along the banks of the Zaan River, surrounded by idyllic countryside scenery. Apart from the windmills, the area is characterized by traditional Dutch houses, barns, and warehouses.
Visitors can stroll through the village-like atmosphere, explore the charming streets, and enjoy the picturesque views of the windmills against the backdrop of green fields and waterways.
Rembrandt House Museum
After that outdoor adventure, head indoors to explore the Rembrandt House Museum. The museum is situated in the house where Rembrandt lived and worked for nearly 20 years between 1639 and 1658.
The building has been carefully restored to resemble its appearance during Rembrandt’s time, offering visitors a glimpse into the living and working environment of the artist.
The museum showcases the interior of the house, featuring reconstructed period rooms and displaying a collection of 17th-century furniture, objects, and artworks.
The rooms include Rembrandt’s studio, living quarters, kitchen, and art collection. The museum aims to recreate the atmosphere of Rembrandt’s house during his most successful period.
One of the highlights of the museum is Rembrandt’s reconstructed art studio. This space provides insight into Rembrandt’s artistic process, with displays of his materials, techniques, and tools. Visitors can see how he worked with light and shadow, experimented with pigments, and composed his famous artworks.
The Rembrandt House Museum holds a significant collection of Rembrandt’s etchings, as well as paintings by Rembrandt’s contemporaries and students. The collection provides an opportunity to study and appreciate Rembrandt’s mastery of various artistic mediums.
The museum offers interactive workshops and demonstrations, allowing visitors to gain a hands-on understanding of Rembrandt’s techniques. These activities focus on etching, printmaking, and other artistic practices from the 17th century.
Visitors can try their hand at creating their own prints or learn about Rembrandt’s use of light and color.
The NEMO Science Museum
Finally, you’ll end today’s adventure at the NEMO Science Museum. The NEMO Science Museum building is an architectural landmark in Amsterdam.
Designed by Renzo Piano, the building’s unique shape resembles the hull of a ship, creating a distinctive and eye-catching presence. Its green copper exterior has become an iconic symbol of the museum.
The museum is focused on making science and technology accessible and engaging for visitors of all ages. It features numerous interactive exhibits and installations that allow visitors to explore scientific concepts through hands-on experimentation.
From physics and chemistry to biology and engineering, the exhibits cover a wide range of scientific disciplines.
The NEMO Science Museum encourages a playful approach to learning. Visitors can engage with exhibits that involve building structures, conducting experiments, solving puzzles, and exploring natural phenomena. The interactive nature of the exhibits fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and discovery.
Throughout the day, the museum offers live science demonstrations and shows. These interactive presentations allow visitors to witness exciting experiments, scientific principles in action, and demonstrations of technological innovations.
The demonstrations are often conducted by museum staff who provide explanations and encourage audience participation.
The rooftop of the NEMO Science Museum offers panoramic views of Amsterdam’s cityscape. Visitors can climb the outdoor rooftop terrace and enjoy breathtaking views of the historic city center, the waterfront, and surrounding areas.
The rooftop is also equipped with outdoor exhibits that explore energy and sustainability.
After spending most of the day inside museums, stretch your legs and take a slow afternoon walk through Vondelpark – A large public park located in the city center and is considered one of the most beloved and well-known parks in Amsterdam.
Vondelpark covers an area of approximately 120 acres and is situated South-West of the city center. It is bordered by the neighborhoods of Oud-Zuid and Oud-West. Its central location makes it easily accessible and a favorite spot for both locals and tourists.
Vondelpark is a green oasis in the heart of the city, offering a peaceful retreat from the bustling streets. It features expansive lawns, winding paths, ponds, and beautifully landscaped gardens. The park is home to a variety of trees, flowers, and wildlife, creating a tranquil and picturesque environment.
It offers a wide range of activities and facilities for visitors to enjoy. You can go for a leisurely walk or bike ride along the paths, have a picnic on the grassy lawns, or relax on one of the many benches. The park also has playgrounds for children, a skate park, an open-air theater, and even a designated area for barbecues.
As you explore Vondelpark, you’ll come across several sculptures and monuments scattered throughout the park. One notable sculpture is the famous statue of the Dutch poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel, after whom the park is named. These artistic installations add an extra touch of charm and cultural significance to the park.
Vondelpark is a hub of cultural and recreational events throughout the year. In the summer months, the park hosts open-air concerts, theater performances, and festivals, attracting visitors from all walks of life. These events contribute to the vibrant and lively atmosphere of the park.
Within Vondelpark, there are various cafés and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a refreshing drink. These establishments offer indoor and outdoor seating, allowing you to relax and soak up the park’s ambiance while enjoying a meal or a coffee.
Day 3 in Amsterdam
Celebrate your final day in Amsterdam by taking a morning cruise along the notable Amsterdam canals. Watching the sunrise over a quiet city will make for a breathtaking moment. Canal cruises in Amsterdam typically depart from various locations throughout the city.
The most popular departure points are located near the city center, such as near Central Station or along major canals like Herengracht, Keizersgracht, or Prinsengracht. If you don’t do anything else in this Amsterdam itinerary, you better make time for this one.
There are different types of boats used for canal cruises, ranging from large tour boats to smaller, more intimate vessels. Some boats have open-air decks, allowing for unobstructed views, while others may have covered or enclosed sections, providing shelter during inclement weather.
The canal cruises follow carefully designed routes that navigate through Amsterdam’s picturesque canals, often passing by notable landmarks and points of interest. The routes may vary depending on the tour operator and the duration of the cruise, but they typically encompass the city’s historic canal belt, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most canal cruises provide informative and entertaining audio commentary in multiple languages. The commentary offers interesting facts, historical insights, and anecdotes about the city’s landmarks, architecture, and cultural significance.
During the canal cruise, you can expect to see and pass by several iconic landmarks, such as the Anne Frank House, the Westerkerk (Western Church), the Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), and the elegant canal-side houses with their unique gables.
You’ll also have the opportunity to marvel at the charming houseboats, picturesque bridges, and neighborhoods along the canals.
As the morning progresses, make your way to the Royal Palace. You’ll want to take your time here and absorb every nook and crevice that’s adorned with Dutch architecture. The Royal Palace in Amsterdam, also known as the Koninklijk Paleis Amsterdam or the Paleis op de Dam, is a magnificent building located at Dam Square.
The Royal Palace is an architectural masterpiece that reflects the grandeur and elegance of the Dutch Golden Age. It was originally constructed in the 17th century as the city hall of Amsterdam, and later converted into a royal palace by King Louis Napoleon in the early 19th century.
The building showcases a blend of classical and neoclassical architectural styles, featuring impressive columns, ornate decorations, and intricate sculptures.
The interior of the Royal Palace is equally stunning. As you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a series of lavish halls, galleries, and chambers adorned with magnificent artworks, chandeliers, and opulent furnishings.
Highlights include the Marble Hall, the Council Chamber, the Citizens’ Hall, and the Empire Room. The palace’s interior offers a glimpse into the regal atmosphere of the Dutch monarchy.
The Royal Palace houses an extensive collection of artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and furniture. Many of these pieces were specifically commissioned for the palace, showcasing the talent and craftsmanship of renowned Dutch artists from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The collection features works by artists such as Ferdinand Bol, Jacob de Wit, and Jan Lievens, among others.
You can explore the opulent interiors, admire the artworks, and learn about the history and significance of the palace through guided tours or self-guided visits. The palace offers a glimpse into the cultural heritage of the Netherlands and provides visitors with a sense of the country’s royal traditions.
As your time in Amsterdam comes to a close, there’s one more bucket list item that you need to tick off… the Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum boasts an impressive collection of over 8,000 objects, spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day.
The museum’s most famous masterpiece is Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch,” but it also showcases works by other renowned Dutch artists such as Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen.
The collection encompasses paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, prints, photographs, and historical artifacts, providing a comprehensive overview of Dutch art and history.
The Rijksmuseum itself is a work of art (excuse the pun). The main building, designed by Dutch architect Pierre Cuypers, is a stunning combination of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. It features intricate details, decorative elements, and a grand entrance hall.
The museum underwent an extensive renovation and reopened in 2013, ensuring a modern and visitor-friendly experience while preserving the historical integrity of the building.
The museum’s galleries are organized thematically, allowing visitors to explore different periods and genres of Dutch art.
Some notable highlights include the Gallery of Honor, showcasing the Dutch Golden Age masterpieces, and the Asian Pavilion, which displays an impressive collection of Asian art.
The Rijksmuseum also houses a dedicated section for Rembrandt’s works, providing a comprehensive overview of the artist’s career.
The Rijksmuseum is surrounded by beautiful gardens, providing a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city. The gardens offer a pleasant space to relax, have a picnic, or enjoy the views of the museum’s exterior.
The museum also features a variety of amenities, including a shop with art-related souvenirs and a café where you can grab a bite to eat or have a coffee.
Finally, to end off your trip with something sweet and something savory, head to Pure Markt. The Pure Markt is held in different locations across Amsterdam, including some venues in the city center. The market typically selects picturesque spots such as parks, squares, or cultural venues to set up its stalls.
At the Pure Markt, you can find an array of food stalls offering a wide range of culinary delights. From freshly prepared meals and international cuisines to local specialties and organic products, the market caters to diverse tastes.
You can savor dishes such as gourmet burgers, artisanal cheeses, Mediterranean cuisine, Dutch snacks, pastries, and much more.
In addition to the food stalls, the Pure Markt also features a selection of artisanal and sustainable products. You can explore stalls offering handmade crafts, fashion accessories, jewelry, natural skincare products, and other unique items.
The market focuses on supporting local and independent producers, making it an ideal place to find one-of-a-kind souvenirs or gifts.
The Pure Markt often includes live music or performances to enhance the festive atmosphere. Local musicians and artists may entertain visitors as they stroll through the market, creating a lively and enjoyable experience.
The Pure Markt is held on selected dates, usually on weekends, throughout the year. The market operates during the evening hours, usually starting in the late afternoon and continuing until around 10 PM.
It’s recommended to check the official website or social media pages of the Pure Markt to find the upcoming dates, locations, and specific opening hours.
See… It’s totally possible to visit Amsterdam in 3 days. And what a jam-packed couple of days it has been! But you wouldn’t have it any other way. Amsterdam is a city that you could keep returning to without becoming bored.
Each time you visit , you’re bound to see something new. Who knows, perhaps you’ll even discover the next hidden gem? Amsterdam is a masterpiece in motion, with canals that weave through the city like a tapestry of charm.
Amsterdam stands with regal grace – A testament to history’s grand design that echoes tales of power and divinity.
Recommended tours in Amsterdam
- Amsterdam Classic Boat Cruise with Live Guide, Drinks and Cheese
- Van Gogh Museum – Exclusive Guided Museum Tour (Reserved Entry Included!)
- Keukenhof Gardens and Zaanse Schans Windmills Guided Day Tour from Amsterdam
- Anne Frank Guided Walking Tour through Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter
- Rijksmuseum (with Reserved Entry)- Exclusive Guided Museum Tour
- Amsterdam Red Light District and Coffee Shop Private Tour
- Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Bus and/or Boat
- Amsterdam’s Jordaan District Small-Group Food Walking Tour
- Explore the Van Gogh Museum with a Local Guide
Read more on Amsterdam:
- Best places to Stay in Amsterdam
- 18 MUST Things to see and do in Amsterdam
- 48 Hours in Amsterdam – 2 Day Itinerary
- Best Day trips from Amsterdam
- Review of Misc Eatdrinksleep Amsterdam
- Best Dog Friendly Hotels in Amsterdam: A Guide for Every Budget
If you’d like to save it for later, please save it to Pinterest.