Amsterdam Itinerary: Things You Must Do in 3 Days

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The capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam is a lively community that has gotten quite a reputation as a rather progressive city. Known for its abundant canals, Red Light District, a plethora of bikes, and its marijuana selling coffee shops, a weekend in Amsterdam is the right choice for a relaxing good time.

While you could easily spend a week exploring the corners of this fascinating city, a long weekend seems to be the most exercised time allotment. With that in mind, we’ve put together an epic 3 days in Amsterdam itinerary that will show you all the best the city has to offer. 

Mind you, this Amsterdam itinerary is not for the weak of heart. We’ve been to this city more than five times over the years and we’ve packed this guide full of the best things for both first-timers and return visitors. 

Don’t leave without: Lonely Planet Amsterdam (Travel Guide) 


3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Amsterdam city tulip garden

Day 1 – Weekend in Amsterdam

Start your 3 days in Amsterdam by exploring the city’s best-known attractions, including the many iconic sights which are found in the Old City, and in and around the famous Dam Square in the center of the Dutch capital.

Stroll through the city’s streets, through the infamous Red Light District, along the canals, and through the many great public parks to get a feel for life in Amsterdam. 

Canals in Amsterdam

The Old City

Head to the Old City to get a feel for the long history behind the city, on the first of your 3 days in Amsterdam. This is the heart of the Dutch capital, and it’s a great place to start your trip.

Also known by the locals as De Wallen, the center of Amsterdam is where the old walled, medieval city was found in past centuries, and today you can still see much of the historic architecture and iconic buildings and squares that give the capital such a unique character.

Purchase your I Amsterdam Card – City Pass for Amsterdam to view the city at your own pace.

downtown Amsterdam

The Royal Palace 

The Royal Palace is found in Amsterdam’s iconic Dam Square and this royal residence dates back to the mid 17th century when it was first built to be the City Hall.

It was converted into a palace in the early 19th century, and since then has served an important role in royal ceremonies and royal life in the city.

You can explore the stately rooms, admire the elegant works of art and sculptures found through the palace, and see how royalty have lived their lives in Amsterdam over the decades. 

3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

The New Church

The New Church, or in Dutch, De Nieuwe Kerk, is another of the city’s historic attractions that are found in the old part of Amsterdam. This grand church dates back to the 15th century, and like many of Amsterdam’s best sights, was built in Dam Square.

It’s not actually a place of worship anymore, but you can admire the beautiful gothic architecture, visit the museum and explore the many art and history exhibitions that are held within the building. 

weekend in Amsterdam

The National Monument

While you’re in the Old City, you’ll also want to stop off by the National Monument. This is the most important monument in Amsterdam, as the towering statue commemorates Dutch losses during wars around the world, and particularly during the German occupation in World War II. 

Our top recommended tours including The National Monument:

bikes in Amsterdam

Join the Biking Frenzy

The major mode of transportation in Amsterdam is amazing, bikes! This city is a cyclist’s dream with flat terrain, multiple bike lanes, and everyone’s general love of bikes.

But there are things to keep in mind will cycling so that angry locals don’t throw things at you: make sure you know how to ride, do not pedal too slowly, do not use the time to see the sights, stay off of tram tracks (your tires may get stuck), do not cycle in pedestrian areas (there are plenty of bike lanes, use them), and lastly, lock your bike securely.

Actually, the best way to start cycling here is to take a bike tour. That way you have a guide that can show you where you’re going and you will be in the safety of a group.

Our top recommended tours including biking:

Anne Frank - 3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Anne Frank House

Discover the emotional and powerful story behind Anne Frank, a Jew who fled from persecution in Germany during WWII with her family and took refuge in this house for two years.

The front section of Anne Frank’s House contains a small museum that will make you reflect on past and current segregation, while the back is preserved as an homage to what life was like for Anne and the families she hid with.

Our top recommended tours including Anne Frank House:


Amsterdam city

Day 2 – Weekend Break in Amsterdam

On the second of your 3 days in Amsterdam, head over the Museum Quarter, where you can explore the best of the city’s historic institutions.

Amsterdam is a city that is brimming with culture, and you can visit famous museums dedicated to artists such as Rembrandt or Van Gogh, alongside lesser-known historical museums such as the Maritime Museum or the charming Houseboat Museum, in other parts of the city.

3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Rembrandt House Museum

Rembrandt was one of Amsterdam’s most renowned artists, and he lived and worked in the city during the mid 17th century. His old house, a heritage building on the outskirts of the city center, has been well preserved and is now one of the best museums to visit during your 3 days in Amsterdam. 

You can see where he worked on his masterpieces, and you can see many of the unique pieces that he created in this humble setting.

Our top recommended tours including Rembrandt House Museum:

3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

The Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum is found in of Amsterdam’s most historic buildings, an old storehouse overlooking the water which dates back to the 17th century.

The museum is one of the best in the world that’s dedicated to all things ships and sailing, and it’s a great place to learn more about how the city rose to prominence due to its strong naval and merchant traditions. 

Our top recommended tours including The Maritime Museum:

Amsterdam Canals

The Houseboat Museum

Amsterdam is known for its extensive canal system, and these elegant waterways are an inseparable part of life in the city. While you can cruise along with them during canal tours, a great way to see a more unique side of local life and culture is to visit the charming Houseboat Museum.

The museum is found inside an old barge that was converted into a houseboat, and although it’s perhaps the city’s smallest museum, it’s full of interesting history.

Our top recommended tours including The Houseboat Museum:

3 Days in Amsterdam-What to Do & What Not to Do

The Flower Market

During your 3 days in Amsterdam, don’t miss out on a visit to the famous Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt), which is one of the only floating flower markets in the world. 

This is one of the most colorful and vibrant attractions in the Dutch capital, and you’ll find the market arrayed across a number of floating barges on a canal to the south of the Old City.

You’ll find a huge array of flowers for sale, including, of course, classic Dutch Tulips brought in from the surrounding countryside when they are in season. 

Our top recommended tours including The Flower Market:

Dam Square Amsterdam

Dam Square

This is a great central location for exploring Amsterdam as it’s close to the Royal Palace, the National Monument, and Nieuwe Kerk. You can do plenty of shopping and people watching here, as well as pop into its many restaurants and cafes.

You may even catch some of the many performances that go on here daily while admiring the beauty of the buildings around it.

Our top recommended tours including Dam Square:

Looking to take in the sites at your own pace? Check out the Amsterdam Hop-On Hop-Off Bus!

Dutch cheese- 3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Cheese tour

Have a few minutes to spare while waiting for your tour at Anne Frank? Pop over to the Amsterdam Cheese Museum and try many samples guilt-free! Make sure to go downstairs for a small museum on the history of cheese and some fun props to take pictures with.

Our top recommended tours including Cheese:

Amsterdam tulips

Smell the Tulips

The Dutch love their tulips and over the years the tulip has definitely become a symbol of Dutch culture. You can buy them at the Bloemenmarkt (the world’s only floating flower market), see them in the small but enjoyable Tulip Museum.

Or if you’re visiting in the spring, take advantage of the famous Bollenstreek fields located 20 minutes outside of town where you can see vivid tulips stretched out over miles.

Our top recommended tours including the Tulips:


3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Day 3 – Short Breaks to Amsterdam

On the last of your 3 days in Amsterdam, spend your time enjoying the city’s wonderful canals, and shopping for local souvenirs to take home in the shopping districts and in the iconic markets.

Try Dutch snacks, rent a bike to cruise around the city as the locals do, and enjoy a few beverages in the evening. 

dutch clogs -- weekend in Amsterdam

Albert Cuyp Market

One of the most popular things to do in Amsterdam is to visit the Albert Cuyp Market in the De Pijp district of the city. Located on Albert Cuyp Street, the road is lined with hundreds of colorful market stalls, and it’s a wonderful place to stroll through, as you browse and shop amongst the different stalls. 

The market dates back to the early 1900s and is open every day of the week, although of course, it’s always busiest on the weekends. You can find a huge array of things for sale, including fresh groceries and fish, and unique souvenirs. 

Our top recommended tours including Albert Cuyp Market:

3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Stedelijk Museum

For a look at contemporary Dutch art and culture, then head to the excellent Stedelijk Museum. Located in the Museum Quarter, the Stedelijk Museum is dedicated to showcasing the best modern art from both Holland and from abroad.

The museum has hundreds of exhibits, all created through the 20th and 21st centuries by world-renowned artists and creatives. You’ll find permanent exhibits, including masterpieces by Van Gogh, as well as temporary exhibitions and galleries delving into niche topics in the world of contemporary art. 

Our top recommended tours including Stedelijk Museum:

short breaks in Amsterdam

The Heineken Experience

Spend the last afternoon of your 3 days in Amsterdam learning about the city’s famed beer culture, with a visit to the Heineken Experience. 

Located in an old brewery, the Heineken Experience will take you on a journey through the history of beer, as your tour through the brewing process, before enjoying some cold, fresh Heineken at the end.

It is one of the best things in Amsterdam if you’re a beer lover, and you’ll be enthralled by the history of one of the world’s most famous beers, in the home city of Heineken.

Our top recommended tours including The Heineken Experience:

Central Train Station - Weekend in Amsterdam

Rijksmuseum

This State Museum is huge and has much to explore from historical artifacts to famous paintings. A beautifully renovated building, the museum houses mostly Dutch works from the 15th to 17th centuries but also has famous works from noted artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer. Most people spend half a day to a full day here and agree that it is a must-see attraction in Amsterdam.

You can also take pictures at the famous, I Amsterdam letters, located right out front. The phrase has become a symbol of Amsterdam’s inclusion of all people from around the world.

Our top recommended tours including The Rijksmuseum:

Don’t leave without: Lonely Planet Amsterdam (Travel Guide)

Van Gogh Museum - 3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is also a must-see, holding a collection of paintings, prints, etchings, and correspondence by the post-mortem famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh.

Though he only sold one painting during his lifetime before he tragically committed suicide, his work now goes for millions. See familiar works like Sunflowers, The Bedroom, among many others, and on Friday nights they do music and drinks.

Our top recommended tours including the Van Gogh Museum:

weekend in Amsterdam

Canal Cruise

The entire city is dominated by canals, so take a picturesque canal cruise and be wowed by the city’s beauty! You can take a Hop on Hop off tourist cruise or if you’re with a loved one, take a nighttime romantic candlelit cruise.

It is a great way to get a lay of the city, learn interesting facts and feel the romanticism of the city.

Our top recommended tours including a Canal Cruise:

3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Red Light District

The famous Amsterdam Red Light District is definitely a cultural experience to be had. Despite prostitutes luring people in from their brothel windows, the area isn’t as seedy as it sounds.

In general, the area offers a fun night atmosphere (though not for the faint of heart) and the streets have many bars and coffee shops to visit as well. At the very least, it’s worth walking through once to see what all the fuss is about.

Our top recommended tours including the Red Light District:

short breaks in Amsterdam

Shopping Nine Streets

Known to locals as De Negen Straatjes, this is the place to go shopping for those in the know (which thankfully, you are). These 9 cobblestone side streets contain a variety of unique shops, vintage designer stores, boutiques, as well as many cafes, galleries, and restaurants.

Our top recommended tours including Shopping:

weekend in Amsterdam

Vondelpark

Vondelpark is a favorite nature retreat for locals and visitors alike. Take a break from walking and cycling and have a picnic in this massive park or just sit on a bench and people watch.

You can also walk around its outdoor theatre (live concerts in summer), three bars, and restaurants, among a range of other activities.

Our top recommended tours including Vondelpark:


3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a large city, but with great public transport options and a layout that’s based around the easy to navigate contours of the canals.

It’s surprisingly simple to get around the Dutch capital, even if it’s your first time here, and consequently, it’s not too important if you are staying in the center or in one of the neighborhoods further out. 

The type of accommodation you are after, and your budget will be more determinate when you decide where to stay.

If you are on a budget or are looking to meet other travelers during your 3 days in Amsterdam, then there are plenty of hostels across the city, although they are never particularly cheap by backpacking standards.

This is Amsterdam though, and given its popularity, things will always be more expensive. Budget travelers will want to stay in the Oud-Zuid district, in the south of the city, a suburb that’s further out but that has cheap accommodation.

If you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife, then you’ll want to stay closer to the infamous Red Light District, close to where all the best bars are found in the city. Accommodation can be more expensive here, but you’ll still find a few cheaper options if you book in advance.

If you don’t have a budget though and are looking for great quality accommodation in a great location, then you’ll find some of the best hotels in the old city, although if you’re looking more a more relaxed area, with equally high standards, then head over to the Museum Quarter, which is a bit further out. 

Top luxury hotels we recommend in Amsterdam:

Top mid-range hotels we recommend in Amsterdam:

Top budget hotels we recommend in Amsterdam:

Top budget hotels we recommend in Amsterdam:

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

Weekend in Amsterdam

What to Eat in Amsterdam

During your 3 days in Amsterdam, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to delve into the city’s fantastic culinary scene, and in the Dutch capital, you can find a huge array of both international local restaurants. 

Of course, Amsterdam has its famous Coffee Shop scene, where not only can you find great coffee, but you can partake in much stronger local treats too if you desire.

Some of the best local dishes to try include classic Dutch snacks such as french fries and mayonnaise, Frikandell or Dutch pancakes. You can also enjoy plenty of Krokets and Bitteballen while you have a few drinks in the bars and pubs. 

3 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

What Not To Do in Amsterdam

While Amsterdam is an incredibly enjoyable city with freely accessible soft drugs, people can get stupid fast. So we’ve made a counter list of things NOT to do in Amsterdam.

  • Don’t buy drugs from people on the streets – if you’ve come for Amsterdam’s most famous commodity, buy it legally from their many coffee shops
  • Don’t pee in the street
  • Don’t smoke marijuana in public
  • Don’t buy drugs to take home with you – It’s not worth it and you will get caught
  • Don’t photograph the prostitutes – You will most likely be doused in ammonia or shoved into a canal by a bouncer
  • Don’t eat the free cookies – A common scam in Amsterdam is for a pretty Dutch girl, a young boy, or old grandmother to offer incoming tourists free cookies. Welcome to Holland, have a cookie! You will soon find yourself getting drowsy and wake up several hours later in an alley with all your possessions gone.
  • Don’t fall for Hotel Runners – Another scam is to take advantage of tourists who’ve come here on a whim and do not have their accommodation sorted yet. Hotel Runners will come up to you at the train station and quote a random price to you which will become much more expensive after they take you to an unfamiliar location.
  • Don’t walk on the bike paths – While inviting, these paths are ONLY for the many bikes cycling around Amsterdam and you will get run over. Be a good tourist, walk on the sidewalk.

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3 Day Weekend in Amsterdam Itinerary (Plus What NOT to Do!)



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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA



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