With its elaborate networks of picturesque canals, vibrant café culture, and significant history as an economic and intellectual capital, Amsterdam packs a surprising amount for a city its size. Here is a recommended 3 day itinerary to give first-time visitors an unforgettable glimpse into the character of this charming Dutch city. Day One, titled “Amsterdam’s Heart & Heritage”, focuses on the central sights related to civic life and history. Day Two, or “Artistic & Cultural Amsterdam”, features major creative attractions. On Day Three, aptly named “Offbeat Amsterdam & Local Living”, the focus shifts to canal life and more immersive neighborhood experiences. Over three activity-filled days, these Amsterdam must-sees and hidden gems offer a multidimensional understanding of what makes this city such an alluring destination. If you want to travel write for us any other 3 day itinerary for different cities, we warm welcome you, so let’s begin.
Day 1 in Amsterdam
- Morning Canal Cruise Start your first day in Amsterdam by seeing the city from its famous canals. Board one of the glass-topped boats for a leisurely one hour cruise taking in sights like the Skinny Bridge, the historic Canal Ring, and elegant merchant houses lining the waterways. It’s a perfect introduction to the city.
- The Dam After your cruise, walk over to the Dam – Amsterdam’s central square. See the Royal Palace, the Gothic Nieuwe Kerk church, the National Monument, and do some people watching. This bustling plaza is the very heart of the city.
- Red Light District Stroll down the narrow lanes of Amsterdam’s infamous Red Light District. While the scantily clad women beckoning from red-lit windows have given the area notoriety, the neighborhood has much more to offer. Historic churches and architecture make for an interesting visit.
- Afternoon Van Gogh Museum Spend your afternoon getting to know Amsterdam’s most famous resident painter at the Van Gogh Museum. See an outstanding collection featuring over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and over 750 personal letters by Vincent Van Gogh. Learn about the artist’s life through these vivid works created during his decade as an artist.
- Vondelpark Cross over to Amsterdam’s largest park, Vondelpark, for a lovely afternoon stroll. The sprawling urban greenspace has ponds, open lawns, winding footpaths and bicycle lanes. Its free-spirited vibe makes it a popular hangout for residents. Stop at the Blue Tea House for a drink and snack on the large patio.
- Evening Jordaan District Spend your evening wandering the postcard-perfect Jordaan neighborhood with its pretty canals lined by tilted gabled buildings. Once a working-class quarter, the Jordaan is now one of Amsterdam’s most desirable addresses. Its vibrant restaurant and bar scene draws visitors to jazz clubs, brown cafés, and craft beer hangouts.
Day 2 in Amsterdam
- Morning Rijksmuseum Begin day two with Amsterdam’s top museum, the magnificent Rijksmuseum. Follow the evolution of Dutch art through the ages from medieval times onwards via paintings by Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals. The expansive museum also displays delftware, dollhouses, and weaponry. Don’t miss Rembrandt’s giant “The Night Watch”.
- The Begijnhof Just behind Amsterdam’s cathedral lies this charming 14th-century courtyard that was once home to a beguinage – a sanctified semi-religious community of laywomen. Explore two churches here as well as tiny houses showcasing traditional Dutch life. Make sure to learn the local legend about the “miraculous” well that never freezes over.
- Afternoon Foodhallen Enjoy lunch Amsterdam-style at Foodhallen, an indoor food hall featuring 21 vendors cooking up local and international street food. Choices range from Dutch bitterballen to Vietnamese noodles to gourmet burgers, accompanied by artisanal beer, organic wine and Dutch gin at the central bar.
- Albert Cuyp Market No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to a street market. Check out the Albert Cuyp Market in the multicultural De Pijp district. Amsterdam’s largest and busiest market has over 250 stalls selling flowers, vegetables, cheeses, fish, spices, fabrics, clothing and more. Taste local specialties like stroopwafels and grab a snack from the food stalls.
- Vondelpark Head back to Vondelpark for an afternoon bike ride. Rent a bike and pedal around sprawling green space that’s three times bigger than Central Park. Check out sculpture gardens and quirky contemporary art pieces as you ride. In summer, spread out a blanket and relax on the grass listening to free concerts at the open-air theater.
- Evening Leidseplein Spend your evening in Leidseplein – one of Amsterdam’s most vibrant nightlife districts. The bustling square features bars and restaurants ranging from touristy to ultra hip. Take your pick from wine bars, dance clubs, live music venues, comedy theaters, jazz cafés and lively brown cafés.
Day 3 in Amsterdam
- Morning Anne Frank House Dedicate the morning to visiting the Anne Frank House for a powerful lesson on Amsterdam’s WWII history. Step behind the bookcase into the secret annex where Anne and seven others hid from Nazis for over two years. See the diaries, photos and videos documenting her life in cramped quarters before her tragic death in a concentration camp at age 15.
- Ride Bikes along the Canalways Biking is the best way to experience Amsterdam like a local. Ride through the scenic Jordaan neighborhood and along the Prinsengracht – arguably Amsterdam’s most beautiful canal. Look out for historic landmarks and funky houseboats lining your route as you pedal along tree-shaded lanes. There’s no better way to travel through this laidback capital of biking and walking.
- Afternoon Museum of Bags and Purses This quirky museum holds a delightful collection of over 5,000 bags, pouches and purses through history and across cultures dating back hundreds of years. Categories cover designer handbags, 1920s art deco clutches, politically-themed bags and men’s ‘murse’ satchels. The unique exhibits provide an insightful look into human history through our portable accessories.
- I amsterdam Sign On your final afternoon in Amsterdam, get that quintessential tourist shot in front of the iconic “I Amsterdam” letters in Museum Square. The red and white slogan mounted on an undulating strip of metal makes for the coveted selfies and social media brags.
- Evening House of Bols Immerse yourself in Dutch gin culture at the historic House of Bols for your final night in Amsterdam. Get shaken up or stirred at the cocktail bar before trying your hand at mixing drinks. The self-guided tour includes sniffing over 20 Bols liqueurs, learning distilling history, and lastly, sipping personalized potions in the intriguing “Bottle Your Own Genever” room.
As this itinerary illustrates over a whirlwind three days, Amsterdam has an embarrassment of attractions and neighborhoods to explore. But this careful selection gives those with limited time an ideal mix of iconic sights and local flavor to better know this Venice of the North. With museums celebrating seminal creators like Rembrandt and Anne Frank, worldwide innovations in genever production, an always-buzzing cafe scene running on legalized vices, Amsterdam wears its storied heritage proudly as it embraces the future. There is always more to discover across its web of canalways but this 3 day introduction showcases the magic that makes the city consistently rank as one of Europe’s happy favorites year after year.
A spirited way to bid Amsterdam tot ziens (goodbye)!