Picture this: Amsterdam, a city that stole my heart from the very first moment. As a first-timer, I didn’t expect to fall head over heels for this place so quickly, but it happened in an instant. If you want to see the proof, check out my Amsterdam highlight on Insta. Trust me, it’s a visual feast! Every time you turn a corner or look up, you feel like you’re in a movie set. But hold on tight because there’s more to this city than meets the eye! And I’ve got the prefect 3-day Amsterdam itinerary for you!Amsterdam is a gastronomical wonderland! Prepare your taste buds for an extraordinary culinary adventure because this city knows how to satisfy cravings like no other. The best part? There’s no shortage of vegetarian & vegan options! All the restaurants I’ve recommended below also had delicious non-vegetarian food! If Amsterdam has even crossed your mind as a potential destination, stop hesitating and just go! Trust me, you won’t regret it. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your comfiest pair of shoes because Amsterdam is a city made for endless wandering. Embrace the spirit of adventure and prepare to get lost in the awe-inspiring streets of this breathtaking city.
Btw, it’s been almost four years since my last blog post and I wasn’t planning on doing this blog post. So, please excuse the iPhone photos!
Now, let’s plan your perfect Amsterdam adventure, shall we? Before we get into my ultimate 3-day itinerary for Amsterdam, here’s some other helpful information – where to stay, what to pack, all that good info!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Some information to know before get get into the perfect 3-day Amsterdam itinerary –
WHERE TO STAY IN AMSTERDAM
Amsterdam, a city known for its safety, welcomes visitors with open arms. While it’s important to exercise caution and stay aware of your surroundings, rest assured that overall, Amsterdam is a fairly safe destination. Amsterdam boasts a seamless and efficient public transportation system, making it the ideal way to navigate your way through its charming streets. This means you have plenty of options when it comes to choosing your accommodation. Consider whether you want to be in the heart of the bustling action (Amsterdam-Centrum) or prefer a quieter location slightly outside the main city center. Keep in mind that hotels in Amsterdam are infamously expensive so planning ahead is key.
We stayed at the Hilton Amsterdam which, unbeknownst to us, is the hotel where John Lennon & Yoko Ono stayed for their honeymoon, and held their infamous bed-in for peace! You can even stay in the same suite! How wild is that!! This hotel is located in the south of Amsterdam which is more of a residential area. So, it was very peaceful and calm but it’s also just a 15-20 minute walk/tram ride to all major attractions. It’s located on one of the 160+ canals in Amsterdam! If you’re lucky, you might even snag a canal-view room, providing an experience that is truly unforgettable. It’s very close to Vondelpark – a major Amsterdam attraction and the neighborhood itself has lots of restaurants & cafes that you can explore, as well. If (when!) we go back to Amsterdam, we’d totally stay in this area.
If you prefer to be a little closer to the buzzing action, De Pijp or even Amsterdam-Centrum are excellent options for your stay. To truly immerse yourself in the city’s history, consider booking a hotel that’s housed within an original canal house. Talk about a unique and captivating experience! To help you plan, here’s a curated list of the best canal-view hotels in Amsterdam!
BEST WAY TO GET AROUND AMSTERDAM
Ok so Amsterdam is infamous for its biking culture, right? And to be honest, that’s all I could talk about since we booked this trip – “All I want to do is rent a bike, ride around these canals & explore the city …. yay!!” However, I realized when I got there that biking in Amsterdam can be a bit chaotic & dangerous. With more bikes than actual residents (yes, you read that right), navigating the streets becomes a dance with trams, scooters, cars, and pedestrians. Personally, for me, it was a bit much.
So, we stuck with trams. We used Google maps to figure it all out. You can buy a day pass for € 9.00 but we just tapped our credit card in & out, and I believe it maxed out at around that amount each day. Just make sure to always tap out when exiting the tram. Ultimately, you have options for getting around the city!
CAFES VS COFFEE SHOPS
Get ready for an intriguing tidbit we discovered during our Amsterdam adventure. Brace yourself for this: cafes in Amsterdam are the go-to spots for coffee, while “coffee shops” are where you’ll find something a little different…weed! Yes, you heard it right! The distinction between the two can catch you off guard if you’re not in the know. So, whether you’re in the mood for a caffeine fix or interested in exploring a different kind of “coffee shop” experience, Amsterdam has it all. Just as long as you know where to go for what you’re looking for!
Speaking of coffee, if you’re a devoted black coffee enthusiast like me, brace yourself for a slight twist. In Europe, the concept of “just a cup of black coffee” doesn’t quite exist. For your black coffee fix, ask for an Americano!
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT AMSTERDAM
There really isn’t one best time to visit Amsterdam. The city has lots to offer whenever you visit. End of March – mid-May is Amsterdam’s infamous tulip season, but not the best weather. The summer is always a great time to visit but it does get busy. Christmas time is always great – experience all the festive markets and decor! Personally, we found the end of May to be a great time to visit. Although the mornings and evenings were a bit chilly, it was perfect for exploring the city on foot.
WHERE IS THE I AMSTERDAM SIGN LOCATED?
For such a quintessential Amsterdam landmark, it’s nearly impossible to find official information on this. However, what I have gathered is that the sign does move around. At the time this post was published, there’s one in Schipol plaza, close to the airport and another one allegedly at Sloterplas.
Personally, we skipped this. There was so much other stuff to do in Amsterdam.
WHAT TO PACK FOR 3 DAYS IN AMSTERDAM
Here’s a list of things to pack for Amsterdam. I’ve also linked some of my essentials I took on the trip –
- Layers – Amsterdam is always a bit windy and is only really hot about two months out of the year. So, layers are the way to go! I’d recommend a cute raincoat so it’s multi-purpose!
- Comfortable shoes – You’ll be doing lots of walking so comfortable shoes are key! During the entire trip, I wore either these insanely comfortable+cool sandals or these sneakers that are so cute+comfy, I just bought another pair!!
- Adapter – Don’t forget this essential! I love this adapter, it’s got lots of different options/voltages & works perfectly for us.
- Money – We have a card that doesn’t have international transaction fees and we were able to use that everywhere. But if this isn’t an option, it’s a good idea to exchange some cash before your trip.
- Other essentials – Your chargers, toiletries, medications etc. Though I wouldn’t stress too much because you can easily buy something there, if needed. Just make sure you’ve got all your prescription meds!
All ready to explore this vibrant city? Let’s get into it!
3-DAY AMSTERDAM ITINERARY
Highlights – Early breakfast, museum(s), picnic lunch and afternoon at Vondelpark, Indian dinner, drinks at one of Western Europe’s first speakeasy-style bars!
Morning: Start your day early with breakfast at CT Coffee & Coconuts. Their French toast is some sort of sorcery. I typically hate the taste/smell of eggs in a French toast but this, somehow, didn’t have any of that!! My mouth is watering as I’m typing this *le sigh*! After breakfast, head to Museumplein, a cultural hotspot housing Amsterdam’s three major museums – the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum. Psst! Beat the crowds by starting early at the Rijksmuseum, and you can thank me later! :) You can also save the other museums for another day.
Pro-tip: If you’re arriving before the usual hotel check-in time, pack a mini-essentials kit in your carry-on. Trust me, it’s a game-changer. Freshen up in the hotel’s restroom, leave your baggage behind, and start your Amsterdam adventure without wasting a precious minute!
Afternoon: Time for lunch! If you want something fancy, Taiko is your go-to spot for modern Asian cuisine. Don’t forget to make a reservation. For something more casual, head to Blushing Cafe – a quick 4-min walk from Rijks, offering tons of veggies options. After all that walking & exploring, imagine sipping on a refreshing smoothie or relishing in a fluffy Dutch pancake! They also have eggs, sandwiches, salads, coffee/tea & yummy cakes! Here’s a charming idea: grab some takeout from Blushing Cafe and head to the enchanting Vondelpark for a picturesque picnic. Whether you choose to explore the park on foot or rent a bike and pedal your way through, this leisurely afternoon promises a perfect blend of relaxation and people-watching.
Evening: As Amsterdam’s vibrant nightlife awakens, treat yourself to some finger-licking, delicious Indian food at Shiva. After dinner, it’s time to uncover the hidden gem of, Door 74, a speakeasy-style bar that will transport you back in time. This intimate establishment boasts a team of skilled mixologists who craft innovative and delicious cocktails that will leave you wanting more. Finally, complete your night by strolling along Amsterdam’s mesmerizing canals and charming squares. From Dam Square to Museum Square and Centraal Station, wandering the city’s illuminated streets will ignite the perfect sense of wonder & adventure to get you excited for day 2!
Highlights – Early breakfast, see Amsterdam from an over-the-edge swing on the 20th floor, Anne Frank house, spend the afternoon at a shopping complex with 20 food stalls and tons of shops, canal tour, farm-to-table dinner at a conservatory, red light district, drinks at a bar with a range of jenever (Dutch gin)!
Morning: Rise & shine, it’s breakfast time! If you’re an egg-lover, head on over to Omelegg for a plethora of omelette options. If you want more options, make a reservation at The Avocado Show – the infamous Amsterdam restaurant with all things avocados! After breakfast, take a walk along the canal over to Anne Frank House – make sure you buy your tickets in advance!
Next, let’s take your appetite for adventure to new heights! Make your way to the A’Dam lookout – an observation deck with a panoramic view of Amsterdam from the 20th floor. And if you’re feeling brave, don’t miss the chance to experience the thrilling over-the-edge swing that will give you an adrenaline rush like no other!
A’Dam lookout is a bit of a hike. If you’d rather stay in Amsterdam-Centrum, you can check out one of the other museums after the Anne Frank House. Alternatively, there’s always the option indulge in some over-the-top shopping on PC Hoofstrat – the most expensive shopping street in the Netherlands!
Photo credit: A'Dam Lookout Website
Afternoon: Worked up an appetite yet? I’ve got the perfect spot for lunch – Foodhallen Amsterdam! It’s a food hall in De Hallen, a shopping complex of multiple buildings and restaurants that was once a tram depot. With its diverse array of 20 food stalls offering various Asian cuisines, Mexican delights, Mediterranean flavors, and even traditional Dutch Bitterballen, there’s something to please every palate! But De Hallen is so much more than food! Take a break from indulging in all the delicious flavors and discover the unique shops in the area. All that shopping counts as cardio, amirite?! So you can start with a scrumptious meal, engage in some retail therapy, and then return for another round of delectable treats at Foodhallen Amsterdam! De Hallen Amsterdam is the perfect place to spend the afternoon!
The only thing missing from this perfect afternoon in Amsterdam is a little sweet treat and/or caffeine fix! My recommendation is to take a quick 12-min stroll over to Miuz to indulge in some divine coffee and gelato! There are lots of gelato/ice-cream spots in Amsterdam but trust me – Miuz is worth a special trip. The owners are from Italy and their products are focused on quality and sustainability.
Now that you’re caffeinated and fed, it’s the perfect time to do something that’s at the top of my list of things to do in Amsterdam – a canal tour! Experience the city from a unique perspective that will leave you in awe! There are tons of companies that do canal tours in the Centraal Station area so, you can take your pick and buy the tickets on the spot. These tours are usually 60-90 minutes – a great way to relax after an exciting afternoon, and learn more about Amsterdam’s history & culture.
Evening: For dinner, make a reservation at Restaurant De Kas in advance. Unfortunately, we didn’t secure a reservation in time but if I’m ever back in Amsterdam, this will be at the top of my list. It’s a stunning conservatory where they serve farm-to-table Mediterranean dishes on-site. It is a bit of a hike so make sure you give yourself time to get there an truly revel in the space and the experience. Another restaurant option – Bird Thai or Silom Thai (which we went to and absolutely loved!)
After dinner, make your back to the heart of Amsterdam to visit the infamous red light district. I would definitely recommend this – it is quite the surreal experience, unlike anything I’ve seen before. We didn’t spend a lot of time there because it get pretty crowded, but it’s certainly an experience.
End your night at De Drie Fleschjes – a bar dating back to the 17th century, that serves a wide variety of jenever (Dutch gin) and other traditional Dutch liqueurs.
Highlights – Another early breakfast, visit the tulip fields and/or a local Dutch town, stroll through local markets back in Amsterdam, Nepalese dinner, and drinks at a bar that’s been around since 1798 and a stroll to cap off the perfect 3 day Amsterdam itinerary!
Morning: Last day in Amsterdam so you know we’ve got to make the most of it! If this is during the short tulip season in Amsterdam – end of March to mid-May – visit Keukenhof tulip gardens. As you’d expect, it gets very busy so I’d recommend going early in the morning.
If you’re there outside of tulip season, worry not. You can immerse yourself in the charming, little town of Zaanse Schans that’s a quick 20-min drive from Amsterdam. Explore the iconic windmills, wander through local markets filled with local delicacies and handicrafts, and take in the unique architecture. It’s the perfect, tranquil getaway where you can spend the morning or the whole day.
Afternoon: If you’re spending the afternoon in Zaanse Schans, grab lunch at De Hoop op d’Swarte Walvis, a beautiful waterfront restaurant housed in a former shipyard. Otherwise, head back to Amsterdam and take a leisurely stroll through Amsterdam’s famous flower market on the Singel canal. You also have the option to explore Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp market – a bustling street market with over 300 vendors, selling fresh produce, clothes, souvenirs, and more! Alternatively, you can do the Heineken brewery tour.
Evening: Back in Amsterdam, treat your taste buds to an extraordinary Nepalese feast at Bhatti Pasal – they have two locations and I’d suggest making a reservation. Trust me, you won’t want to miss their pan-fried momos and the heavenly gud pak dessert. Once you’ve taken your time to come to terms with how much you’re going to miss this incredible food, head over to Café de Dokter – a traditional, Dutch brown bar tucked away in a narrow alley. Founded by a surgeon in 1798, this unassuming bar has been serving customers for centuries!
Of course, you can’t end your last night in Amsterdam without another aimless stroll taking in all the charm of this city!
And that’s a wrap on my ultimate 3-day Amsterdam itinerary! Follow me on Instagram for lots more!