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How can I spend 3 days in Amsterdam?
Wondering how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam? Then this is the perfect itinerary for you. One of the most magical Christmas city breaks in Europe but perfect at any time of the year, there are many amazing things to do in Amsterdam to fill any trip. But this super detailed itinerary for 3 days in Amsterdam will share with you the must-dos (both unique and popular) when it comes to sights, experiences, canals, food, bars and so much more! Plus, it will give you the full details of how to get from the airport to the city, the best time to visit, and a full disclosure of my travel costs so you can budget!
3 days in Central Amsterdam – fly home on the morning of day 4, unless time is tight then schedule this for the evening of day 3
Know before you go
Always check the entry requirements for the country you are visiting to see if you will need a Visa to enter, and that you have enough validity left on your passport.
Always have a good level of travel insurance for every international trip. This is a non-negotiable part of any trip abroad, as the unexpected can happen.
What is the best month to go to Amsterdam?
Depending on your preference, Amsterdam is a year-round travel destination.
April-May and September-November are best if you want to avoid the peak of the summer season which can often mean crowds and inflated prices.
December is a beautiful time to visit to enjoy the Christmas lights and ice-rinks, but it can be pretty chilly.
January-February can be very cold and dingy, with the weather picking up late-March.
The currency in the Netherlands is the Euro.
Arrive and tour the canals: Day 1
Take an early flight from your home country to Amsterdam to maximise your time in the city. The easiest and fastest way to get from Schiphol Airport is to take the train directly to Amsterdam Central Station. Trains on this route operate 24 hours a day, take ~15 minutes, and are an affordable option for transport into the city. You can use the NS Journey Planner to find train times from/to the airport, and buy your ticket. Alternatively you can buy tickets at yellow vending machines in the airport or ticket desks.
Tip: Unless you are staying close to Amsterdam Central Station, you will need to walk or use alternative transport to get to your accommodation. There are buses, taxis, trams and undergrounds in Amsterdam, and going by foot can be quite pleasant too (as long as it’s not too far with excess amounts of luggage).
Once you’ve checked in to your hotel, it’s time to commence day 1 of your 3 days in Amsterdam itinerary. To begin your trip, I would suggest you put on some comfy walking shoes and do a self-guided tour of the canals which are the heartbeat of the city. Be sure not to miss Keizersgracht (also known as the Emperor’s Canal) which is one of the main three canals in Amsterdam, Brouwersgracht where there are plenty of iconic Dutch Gingerbread Houses, and the view of Bridge 73 and Reguliersgracht opposite from Bridge 72 which is one of Amsterdam’s prettiest spots.
If you’re spending your 3 days in Amsterdam during the winter (more specifically November-December), then the Amsterdam Light Festival usually takes place around this time. During this period, illuminated art installations created by artists worldwide are placed (usually) around the canals, creating a magical aura throughout the city. The best way to see these is by foot or by going on a canal boat tour. If you’re doing your Amsterdam itinerary during the winter, then check the dates for this years festival on the I Amsterdam website, as they differ year-by-year.
Finish off day 1 with getting something yummy in your tummy. I would highly recommend Meat and Greek on Utrechtsestraat located just off of Prinsengracht canal. They serve the best homemade Gyros and other Greek delights, and if you can grab yourself a window seat then it’s the perfect place to watch life pass you by.
Tip: There are public urinals dotted all around Amsterdam – not so useful for us ladies, but a great convenience for our male counterparts.
Amsterdam sightseeing: Day 2
Allocate day 2 of your 3 days in Amsterdam to sightseeing. After breakfast, head to the sociable Rembrandtplein. After, Walk up Reguliersbreestraat which goes west from Rembrandtplein to Munttoren (Mint Tower) and find the cheese tasting shop called Henri Willig Proefzolder – step in and try Lavender Cheese (I know it sounds strange, but just trust me on this one). After sampling (and perhaps buying) some cheese, wander across to Bloemenmarkt which is just a stone’s throw away, and marvel at the colourful tulips which line the market. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around Bloemenmarkt so it’s a good place to stop for a spot of lunch.
With a full tummy, spend the afternoon of day 2 of your 3 days in Amsterdam delving deeper into the city. Be sure not to miss Dam Square, the Oude Church (Oude Kerk), the picturesque Café de Sluyswacht (where you could stop for a photo and a coffee if you wish), and the narrowest facade in Amsterdam which is located at Singel 7.
Visit the unique De Poezenboot (The Cat Boat) which is a rescue centre for stray and abandoned cats – be sure to check the visiting times before you go because these are usually limited to a few hours in the afternoon. After all that walking, you could head across to Cafe de Zeepost which is located a ~10 minute walk from De Poezenboot near to Amsterdam Central for a drink. Cafe de Zeepost is a cosy little bar just perfect for people watching!
For dinner this evening, I’d recommend heading to the Vegan Junk Food Bar (even if you’re not a vegan) at Marie Heinekenplein 9, because they serve the most awesome veggie-based burgers and scrumptious fries. If you’re spending your 3 days in Amsterdam in winter, then ice-skating at the Rijksmuseum is a must-do after your dinner. Finish off your evening with a cold beer in Cafe Berkhout which is a Brown Cafe (a traditional cosy Dutch pub) next to the Heineken Experience.
Tip: If you want to visit the Rijksmuseum which is the museum of the Netherlands, then you’ll need to do this during the day time. Perhaps incorporate this into day 1 or 2 of this itinerary (somewhere in the morning).
History and culture: Day 3
No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a visit to the Anne Frank House which is one of the most unique places to visit in Europe. Book this in advance of your trip, because it is at the top of a lot of peoples itineraries and you don’t want to miss out (personally, I pre-booked my visit way before departing for Amsterdam). Spend a few hours looking around the Anne Frank House, walk behind the bookcase into the Secret Annex and take your time to digest the sobering information and exhibits on offer.
Late afternoon, head across Nieuwmarkt (New Market Square) and see De Waag (Weigh House) which takes pride of place there. As night falls over Amsterdam, explore the Red Light District which really begins to come to life. Stop for a drink at Cafe de Zeevaart which is a traditional Dutch pub in the heart of the Red Light District – perfect to take in the chaos and bright lights which surround.
Return home: Day 4
On the morning of day 4, it’s time to say tot ziens to Amsterdam and return home. If time is tight, schedule this flight for early evening on day 3, but if you can afford to then depart on the morning of day 4 so you have 3 full days sightseeing in Amsterdam (this is what I did, and is reflected in my trip costs below). As you did on day 1 (but in reverse), make your way to Amsterdam Central Station and use the train from here to Schiphol Airport for your return flight home.
This 3 days in Amsterdam itinerary is perfect if you’re on a short timescale and want to get a quick taste of the city. By booking early flights to Amsterdam on day 1, you can pretty much have 3 full days of sightseeing. If time is on your side, you could quite easily span this 3 day itinerary into more by distributing some of the things to do in Amsterdam on day 2 across the other days and adding a few additional things into the mix. But whatever you decide, Amsterdam makes for one of the best city breaks in Europe, so there’s no doubt that you’ll have a fabulous time!
Trip costs breakdown (per person)
Return flights from Bristol International Airport to Amsterdam = £68.63pp
Bristol International Airport parking for trip duration = £17.59pp*
Return train from/to Schiphol Airport to/from Amsterdam Central = £8.15pp
3 nights in a central hotel including breakfast = £104.50pp*
Total = £198.87 per person
for 3 nights and 3 full days in Amsterdam