This is a jammed packed itinerary with 3 days (actually 4 days) offering you everything you need to know and do, to have an awesome time in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in the world so far. I love the rich history that the city has to offer. As well, I like the architecture of the old buildings dating back to the 17th and 19th century, and their carefree, easy going attitude towards life. When I was in Amsterdam I felt very safe walking around its streets, unlike back at home in London where I always have to keep my wits around me.
Amsterdam has so many more things to offer than just its famous “coffeehouses” (i.e. marijuana shops). The city deserves a better reputation than just being a place to go to smoke weed. Amsterdam is also known for its canals, dozens of museums and its stunning sights and scenery such as the many bridges. One crazy fact: Amsterdam has 1281 bridges!
If you are planning to have a weekend away or just a mid-week break, you will want to make the most of it. This is the Itinerary for you. I have provided you with the best excursions to check out in this Amsterdam Itinerary 3 Days.
The best time to visit Amsterdam?
Amsterdam is a great city to visit any time of the year. However, the peak season is between July and August when the weather is nice and warm with the sun shining. I went in July 2018 when the heat wave was hitting the city hard and the place was packed. As the city is that not that big and is quite compact, it traps the heat making it feel much hotter.
There are a few key dates to remember to try and plan around or to avoid depending on what you want. Koningsdag or King’s Day is on Saturday the 27th of April, Hartiesdagen or Hearts Days festival on the third weekend of August, and Amsterdam Gay Pride is on 1 Saturday of August. Pride Day is huge in Amsterdam, with people flocking in from all over for the party. It is run on the canals which are full of decorated boats, lots of music, all floating down the waterways. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001, hence the first people to get married where in Amsterdam.
Best Way to Get Around Amsterdam?
By Foot: The best way, in my opinion, to really see a city is by just walking around and getting lost, as you might stumble into an amazing place you did not know existed. Most sights are just a walk away, so bring good shoes you are comfortable to walk in for long hours. This is a great opportunity to let the Amsterdam vibes sink’s into your soul.
By Bicycle: You can get around Amsterdam very easily by cycling. There are numerous bicycle rental shops. In fact, there are more than 8000,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, more bikes than people! If you are not great at riding in a city, then I suggest you don’t hire them out, as the people of Amsterdam are strict on their cycling laws and get angry if a person who does not know how to ride well and follow their rules of the road.
By Tram: Another way is to use the great public transport by getting trams or the train. You can get a chip card at a ticket counter. Trams have a ticket cabin inside where you can buy your ticket and they offer one for 1 hour, 4 hours or all day or even a week-long ticket. The 1-hour ticket it cost 3 euros and for a day pass it is 7.50 euros (as of July 2018).
By Boat: With Amsterdam having 165 canals, some people call it “Venice of the North”. There any many boat rides that allow you to explore the wonderful city and later on in the post I will be explained to you in more detail one of the best boat rides to take in Amsterdam. Most people tend to commute by bike, tram or train.
Where to stay
Be aware: Amsterdam is the most expensive city in Europe for city center hotel stays, according to website Cheaprooms.com.
The Amsterdam government has increased the tax on hotels in the city centre to reduce the amount of tourist coming, as they were struggling with the massive influx of tourists. There are only 800k residents with 10 tourists for every Amsterdam resident, according to a new analysis from ABN AMRO. That included 17.8 million foreign tourists and 24.4 million Dutch tourists visiting Amsterdam in 2017.
There appear to be no hostels or cheap hotels for backpackers in the centre of Amsterdam.
We stayed at Q-factory Hotel which is about a 30 minute tram ride from the city centre. At about £80 a night, it is one of the cheapest hotels in Amsterdam as most are over £100 a night. Generally speaking, the further away you are from the city centre, the cheaper the hotels get.
The hotel has a café that serves breakfast for £10 a day each but you can get a nice breakfast outside the hotel for the same price or even cheaper. There is a cinema in the hotel if you fancy it! (The Dutch are one of the only countries in Europe that don’t dub over the English films as they use subtitles instead—nice for us English speakers!).
The hotel is also used as a music college and has lost of studios on the first few floors. They regularly source their music by doing a free music concert in the hotel stage room. The hotel room did not come with any aircon which was a pain during the heat wave but they did provide room fans 2 days after I arrived.
The hotel has a few couch areas to chill on after a long hot day of exploring. Those areas have aircon. The hotel is located in a local shopping area, so there are a few bakeries to get your breakfast and a large supermarket to buy food and drink.
Get an early flight to Amsterdam before the afternoon if you can, so you don’t waste the day traveling and have more time exploring the city. My flight from London Heathrow was only 1 hour and 10 minutes – not that long.
The best way to get to Amsterdam from the airport is to get the train to Amsterdam central station and then a tram ride to your accommodation. I did not do that as I was with my family of 5 and we decided to get a taxi from Amsterdam Central to the hotel cost us £35 pounds, when we could have just spent 3 euros for a 1-hour tram ticket.
The best thing to do on the first day once you have dropped your bags at your accommodation is to explore the city on foot.
One place that is close to the Q-factory Hotel that is Bar Wissse. It is a great place to grab a nice lunch. They offer great sandwiches from avocado on toast. I recommend the steak on toast with caramelized onions and their homemade mustard that was very lovely. I don’t normally like mustard but their homemade Dutch mustard is great.
The rest of the day is time to explore Amsterdam. This is a great way to find what City has to offer. One thing to look out for if you are from the UK or any country where they drive on left – you need to remember to always look left when crossing the roads. There ware many times where I nearly got hit by bicycles.
For dinner, I suggest you go to one of their many Indonesian restaurants, as back in the olden days the Dutch once took over Indonesia and there is now a strong Indonesian influence on the country.
Day 2 (2 days In Amsterdam )
Near the Q-factory Hotel the hotel, there is a great café by the cancel (serves bagels and coffee) and is a great place to have your breakfast with great views. I can’t find the café names but the street name is Oranje-Vrijstaatkade.pickpocketers as people say there are in Vietnam.
The next thing to do after you had your caffeine to get you ready for the day ahead, is to pay a visit to Anne Frank’s House. I went at 10:30 am and it was already very busy. The good thing about it is that they have stopped people from buying a ticket on the day and the only way to get a ticket is to book online (like most of the museums in the city). You can only book 2 months in advance. This helps to reduce the queues. It used to take 2 to 4 hours to get in, but now it only takes about 5 minutes to get in. To see the whole house will take at least 1 hour, but well worth it
The next thing to do is go to a cheese museum. It is not really a cheese museum as such, but they have a small downstairs section about how the Dutch cheeses are made. It is more of a cheese shop where you get to taste all the different types of Gouda and Edam. The shop is very near Anne Frank’s House and is funnily enough called the Amsterdam Cheese Museum.
After you have had lunch the next stop of the day is the Micropia museum. It is a museum based on the idea of providing information about microbes. It is a very fascinating museum of invisible microbes living around us on our body. Well, they are not invisible but very microscopic and we can’t see them.
After you have done this you can then explore more of the city or go to the Artis zoo that is literally next door. The zoo has over 1400 species of Annals. If it is a nice day then I suggest you head over to Vondelpark.one of the many parks Amsterdam has to offer.
Dinner at Bar Basquiat
One restaurant I highly recommend is Bar Basquiat – a lovely place in Amsterdam East. With an interior inspired by the work of one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, Jean-Michel Basquiat. I had one of their dirty duck burgers that came with salad and chips and Dutch mayonnaise and it was delicious. The staff at the restaurant are very welcoming and friendly.
Get ready for lots of walking today – so wear comfortable shoes that you are happy to wear for the whole day.
Find a cafe nearby your hotel, but don’t eat too much as you have a food tour later on that will involve you pigging out to lots of the locally made Amsterdam delicacies.
You will have a bit of time before you have to food tour, so I recommend maybe taking in a museum. If you are not a museum person, then explore more of Amsterdam and maybe go shopping as there are lots of cool shops. But take the morning easy if it is a hot day, so you are fully ready for the unmissable food walking tour.
It is now time for the food walking tour. The company that provided our walking food tour was called Urban Adventures. They do lots of different tours around the world and in Amsterdam besides food tours and food tasting. The food tour starts at 1:30 pm and is about 2 1/2 hours long. They keep the groups small – they never have more than 12 people on any tour.
As we were the only ones on the tour so we got to personalize the tour. We got the added bonus of the historical tour with local food stops on the way. You start off by going to taste their famous and best lip-smacking street food which is “patatje oorlog”. This is basically fries/chips with mayonnaise, curry ketchup, onions and satay sauce! Oorlog means war as I think they had it as a snack or meal in the war times.
You also get to stop off and have Dutch pancakes, traditional herring, and freshly made street waffle’s from Banketbakkerij Lanskroon, plus Croquettes and lots more wonderful foods. They take you to a traditional bar to have a drink of their Gin Liqueur served in small tulip-shaped glasses and filled to the brim. To sip, you must bend down to the glass and slurp your first sip. The tour guide was very knowledgeable on Amsterdam history and the great guy to talk. The Urban adventures Amsterdam Food by Foot cost £40 for an adult ticket.
As you will be very stuffed from the food tour of Amsterdam, you would not want to have a heavy dinner, so I suggest you should go to the local supermarket, as we did, and get a light dinner.
There are a few pancake restaurants near the Q-factory Hotel if you are willing to have sweet food for breakfast, or you can go to one of the many cafes nearby.
After you have had breakfast you should head over to IJ HALLEN FLEAMARKET a great market that is opened 2 days a month. You need to get there eerily if you want to get some great clothes. There are lots of wonderful things you get your hands on like designer clothes for cheap.
A restaurant near the flea market is Pllek. They pride themselves on providing food that is organic and with vegetables, as most of their menu is 75% vegetarian and 25 of it is vegan. I had one of their meat burgers and it was very lovely. The restaurant space is by the river that makes it a stunning place. It turns it into a bar at night with a great area that has a few fireplaces to sit around and big pillows to sit and lots more.
Now it is time to head back into Amsterdam central to go to one of their many museums they have to offer. One museum I recommend you should goo that I went to was the Tropenmuseum.
The Tropenmuseum is an ethnographic museum located in Amsterdam, Netherlands, founded in 1864. It is one of the largest museums in Amsterdam, Their exhibitions are changing all the time and one I went to was about Africa and showcased African fashion and the future of Africa.
One place that you should try out is another Indonesian restaurant that is called Mo Mo and it is in the mid-range price. I had the slow cooked Chicken that had lots of flavors. They offer lots of excellent quality Asian-fusion dishes. Also to make you go even more David Beckham was seen eating there by Grazia Magazine.
Day 5 (Last day/leaving)
As it is the last day left you should go out with a bang and get some more pancakes. The restaurant I recommend is called Pancakes Amsterdam. There are 4 restaurants in the city and they serve over 30 different types of delicious pancakes from Dutch to the classic American ones. All the pancakes are made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Next, after you have just wolfed down the pancakes, the next thing to do is to go on one of the many Amsterdam river cruises tours. The one Amsterdam river cruise I really recommend you should do is go with the boat tour called Those Dam Boat Guys and it was featured on a recent Channel 4’s Travel Man show. It cost £25 each for the boat ride but the captain driving the boat is very friendly and knowledgeable, so it is with the paying the extra money for it. It lasts about a one and a half hours.
One cool fact I learned while on the boat tour was that each year Waternet, Amsterdam’s Water Authority, fishes between 12,000 and 15,000 bicycles from the canals. The Bicycles were either discarded deliberately or tossed in by hooligans. Some university students are required, as part of their initiations/celebrations, to throw a bicycle into the canal! The canals are quite deep—3-4 meters, and the water quite clean (but not drinkable).
Now after the boat ride is done and you had a little walk around it is time to head over to the Foodhallen where there is an indoor food hall full off lots of different types of delicious, independent, freshly made food stalls and dessert stalls. Try the best French pastry outside of Paris there!!
Now it is time to head off back to your hotel to pick up your bags and then head off to the airport.
Amsterdam is a great place to visit with the old world charm of its historical buildings and kind people. It’s also full of diverse experiences with its famous coffee shops and the Red and Blue Light District.
Four days is normally is not enough to explore and see everything the City has to offer, but with Amsterdam’s compact nature, it’s absolutely enough time to see all the major attractions. This Amsterdam itinerary 3 days (actually 4 in total) will help you make the most of your stay in Amsterdam while getting you on, and off, the beaten track.
Have you been to Amsterdam? Tell me – what did you like most about this city?