3 days is definitely not enough time to see all that the city has to offer, but unfortunately this was all the time that we had to spend here as we were heading home after an already long holiday in both Iceland and the UK.
I did manage to catch a terrible cold while we were visiting the city so I definitely did not get to see everything that I wanted to while we were there. But, if you are short on time like we were there are a few things that I would highly recommend that you do while you're in Amsterdam. We made sure that we woke up early each morning to make the most of our time there often ending up back at our hotel after around 10 or 11pm.
A Quick Look At 3 Days In Amsterdam
Day 1: Walking Tour, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Night Life Day 2: Cycle around the City, Moco Museum, Heineken Experience, Canal Tour Day 3: Waterlooplein Flea Market, Rembrandt House, Anne Frank House, Red Light District
Amsterdam Itinerary: Day 1
A free walking tour is a great way to orientate yourself in the city. You'll learn some of the history, see where some of the major sites are and walk through the winding canals.
No matter where we go, Dil and I love a walking tour (free or paid). They are often led by a local or an expat who knows a lot about the city that they live in. Our most interesting stories and facts that we share with our friends and family tend to be the ones that we remember from our walking tours.
After years of renovations, the remodelled Rijksmuseum features an extensive collection of Rembrandt's great works. One of the more famous works that you will be able to see is "The Night Watch". The Rijksmuseum has over one million works of art, craft and artefacts, so besides Rembrandt, there’s also an incredible collection of other classic Dutch painters, like Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer.
Van Gogh Museum
Arguably one of the most popular attractions in the city, the Van Gogh Museum features many of Van Gogh’s best works of art alongside an excellent biography of his life and is laid out in chronological order, starting with his earliest works. The museum also houses paintings by other famous artists of the period, like Monet, Manet, and Matisse.
2 hours. Try to come to this museum in the late afternoons to avoid the bigger crowds.
Amsterdam's Nightlife is booming so it's not necessary to plan your night activities ahead of time but I would recommend that you leave some time in the evenings to enjoy what the evening has to offer in the city. From pubcrawls, night clubs and coffee shops there will be something awesome for you to do.
Amsterdam Itinerary: Day 2
Cycle Around The City
A fun fact about Amsterdam is that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than inhabitants. There are roughly 900,000 bikes. This is much more compared to 800,000 (a bit more) people, who live in Amsterdam.
If you want to experience the city like a true local then cycling around the city should be top of your list because its one of the best things to do in Amsterdam. You can do a guided tour and experience the history of Amsterdam from a local, or just take a leisurely cycle around the city.
Make sure to check the weather before hiring a bike for the day. You don't want to be cycling around a city in the rain.
The Villa Alsberg townhouse that the Moco Museum is located in was designed by Dutch architect Eduard Cuypers, cousin of the iconic Pierre Cuypers who designed the nearby Rijksmuseum. Founded by a couple who specialise in art from the likes of Banksy, Andy Warhol, Picasso and Salvador Dali, the Moco Museum now houses over 5o works by the famous street artist, Banksy. You will be able to see a number of his works including the Beanfield work and the SWAT van.
In the heart of Amsterdam you will find the home of, the most famous beer to come from the Netherlands, Heineken®. The experience allows you to travel through time and discover the history of Heineken® and how a small Dutch brewery became the world's most premium brand of beer.
If you love beer then this factory tour is highly recommended.
The city is tied to these incredibly beautiful canals and there is nothing like seeing the city from a boat. There are 2 ways that you can go about cruising the canals - a Big City Boat or a hire boat.
The easiest way to see the city from the water is to find a Big City Boat. There are so many boat companies and hop-on hop-off stops around the city so it's easy to pick a spot nearest to you to start your cruise. Another great thing is that a large number of boat companies accept the IAmsterdam card. If you're comfortable cruising the canals on your own, you can hire a private boat tour for about 20 Euros an hour (look for guides around the Red Light District).
Amsterdam Itinerary: Day 3
Waterlooplein Flea Market
This open-air market is like a giant flea market filled with anything and everything that you can think of. People sell secondhand clothes, hats, antiques, gadgets, tons of flowers and bulbs, and much more. You can also find new and unused items. If there’s something you want, you’ll probably find it here.
Open Monday to Saturday.
The cool thing about this museum is that Rembrandt lived and worked in this house between 1639 and 1658. There are daily demonstrations showing visitors how he worked and you can walk through the house to see a recreation of how it was decorated and used during Rembrandt's time.
I have heard that some visitors have not been too impressed but if you're like me and enjoy a subversive experience into history then I would recommend it.
Anne Frank House
A very popular tourist attraction in Amsterdam making it extremely busy with long queues outside (get there early). There are tons of mixed reviews about the Anne Frank house, either extremely positive or extremely negative. Visitors say that the experience was anti-climatic and others mention that it's an incredible and moving experience.
You can book tickets to the Anne Frank House up to 2 months in advance, which does help you skip the queues, but unfortunately this is not something I had researched before our trip and we ended up giving the Anne Fran House a skip this trip. Plus, there is a virtual tour that you can do online. 😉
1 hour is recommended in the Anne Frank House but you can take as long as you like walking through.
Red Light District
A good activity for the night time is to venture into the Red Light District for a very brief time. Apart from the sex signs and red lights, during the day, the district looks like any other street in the city. There are bars on bars, and coffeeshops on coffeeshops that you could choose from to experience this major tourist attraction.
While it is considered safe around Amsterdam, it's important to be aware of the dangers around the area like roudy drunk tourists, pick-pocketers, prostitution and more.
One Final Amsterdam Travel Tip: Be sure to visit the city tourism office near central station. They have lots of information on free things to do, current events and activities, and discount passes and tickets you can use to save money. They are an underused resource by travellers!