How to Spend 3 Days in Amsterdam | What to See and Do in Amsterdam

by | Oct 21, 2021 | Europe live work and play | 34 comments

Riding a bike is one of the best ways to get around Amsterdam

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Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands and is famous for its cultural and quirky environment. Due to its large number of canals, the city has even been called the Venice of the North! The city attracts visitors every year with its world-famous windmills, high-end museums, interesting nightlife and bike-riding culture that adds to the city’s character. Amsterdam is as diverse as it gets and has something to offer for every traveller. So here goes, here’s how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam including where to stay, how to get around and the top places to visit.


Where to stay in Amsterdam – Accommodation options


Amsterdam has a plethora of accommodation available ranging from hostels to five star hotels. As you will be staying 3 nights on this 3 day Amsterdam itinerary you may want to spend a little more and secure a place with cooking facilities. This way, you will be able to cook your own meals and save a few dollars to spend on your accommodation.

Hostel: Very central in Amsterdam and near  many of the tourist spots is Hostel AnnemarieSt Christophers Inn and The Flying Pig. If you are wanting something a little different get a room on a boat such as at Amsterdam Hotel Boat Angeline
Budget – Mid range Hotel: Botel or Leonardo Hotel Amsterdam.
Splurge: Sofitel Legend The Grand or NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizan Palace.
For more options get pricing and availability from our Amsterdam accommodation map.

How to get around Amsterdam


Many of the places on this Amsterdam itinerary are in easy walking distance or a short public transport ride. However, many hire a bike to get around. Before you start your journey, consider getting an I Amsterdam card. It offers free public transportation and entrance to many the exhibits. Although the city is perfectly explorable without the card, it’s going to save you time and energy in case you’re planning to visit museums and attractions anyway.


Day 1 in Amsterdam


Anne Frank House is a place you shouldn’t miss when visiting Amsterdam. It is also a great place to begin your 3 days site seeing in Amsterdam. The museum is a story about Anne Frank, a Dutch writer, who hid from the Nazis during the period of World War II. Anne wrote a diary during the terrifying times hiding in the house. It was published in 1947 and has become a worldwide bestseller. Her time in the 17th century house ended after over 2 years of hiding when the shelter was discovered by the Germans. Book your ticket into the Anne Frank House and a walking tour of the area here.

After your visit to the Anne Frank House, take a walk in the Jordaan neighbourhood, a popular neighbourhood in Amsterdam. Have lunch in one of the bubbly cafés and try traditional Dutch dishes, Kroketten on bread, twaalf-uurtje and fries! Or peek into one of the many small boutiques while wondering around enjoying the colourful houseboats on the narrow canals. Maybe check out some funky museums like the Houseboat Museum or the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. At Noordermarket square market grab an antique, jewellery, clothes or food bargain. Don’t forget your camera as there are many Instagrammable spots here. 

After your afternoon in the Jordan neighbourhood you are a mere 20-minute walk or so, to the Red Light District. It is here, where you will discover a different side of Amsterdam. The Red Light District is known as the neighborhood of drugs, brothels, and sex shops. You can wonder the streets and see the ‘ladies of the night’ sitting behind the windows of the shop! This area is also the oldest part of the city and offers much more than prostitutes and fantasies. There are cool bars and superb restaurants along the cobbled streets and alleys. There are also historic churches and buildings with compelling architecture. Whether during night or daytime, the Red Light District should be strolled through on your visit to Amsterdam. It will be an interesting place to finish your first day in Amsterdam before heading to your accommodation for the night.


Day 2 in Amsterdam


I hope you love museums, because today is museum day. If you have the I Amsterdam Card you may get into some of these museums for free as they are included in the price of the card. Museumplein is a popular hub in Amsterdam. It is a park where you can relax and take refuge from the busy city life of Amsterdam. It is surrounded by the most popular museums of different kinds including those on the agenda today – the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedeliijk Museum. 

The Rijksmuseum is a huge building full of art from the past 800 years. As one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam, it’s exhibitions change rapidly to keep visitors interested in coming back time and time again. Inside the museum you can find works of some of the best Dutch artists, including Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

The next museum on day 2 of our 3 day trip to Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum. This museum is home to the biggest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s works in the world. The museum holds his paintings, letters, and drawings and is among the most visited museums in the entire world. See how the style and methods of the great artist developed over time. View his self-portraits, post-Impressionistic artworks and paintings from his early-days.

If you are still enjoying your art, there is the Stedeliijk Museum to visit. However, if you are all ‘arted out’ why not head to the Heineken Experience. The Heineken brewery started in 1864 and is now one of the biggest beer producers in the world. The Amsterdam Heineken Experience, located in their former factory building, is a museum with many attractions and exhibits with of course, beer to try. The museum offers a chance to experience the world of Heineken, learn about their history and study the process of beer making. What a great place to end Day 2 or find a nice restaurant for dinner. If you want to stay out late, there are plenty of bars to pop into. Or maybe head back to the Red Light Area.


Day 3 in Amsterdam


Get your bike riding pants on today cause we are riding to Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is a neighbourhood north east of Amsterdam in the town of Zaandam. If you are seeking a ‘typical’ Netherlands experience of windmills, wooden houses and clog carving then you will love this place. So rent yourself a bike and lets get going. It is quite an easy ride to Zaanse Schans as Amsterdam is rather flat and should take about an hour. On arrival, admire the windmills, step into the bakery museum, discover the cheese factory, maybe a chocolate factory too and learn how clogs are made. In case you fancy a snack, the local pancake restaurant makes delicious fresh goods for you to enjoy at anytime of the day.

After your bike trip and you’ve returned to Amsterdam, it’s time to explore tasty local dishes! Head to the Foodhallen, an indoor food market with diverse trendy street food options. While you’re enjoying your late lunch or dinner, don’t forget to take a look at your surroundings. The historic building of the food hall used to be a tram depot, dating back to the year 1902. Now, the area is a popular meeting place for people of all kinds and all taste preferences.

And so ends 3 great days spent in Amsterdam. If you really loved Amsterdam that much, it is a great base to have for future European travels. You could spend up to a year living, working and playing in Amsterdam if you wanted to by apply for the Netherlands working holiday visa.


Final Words on this Amsterdam 3 day itinerary


Amsterdam is a spirited city with a long history. The best way to get a feel of the capital is to bike along its many canals, explore the many museums and eat and drink in its vibrant cafes and restaurants. When you travel to the Netherlands, you simply cannot miss its ultra-popular capital – Amsterdam. If you have been to Amsterdam or are planning a visit I’d love to hear from you in the comments following.


How To Spend 3 Days In Amsterdam PIN.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!


Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers and World Normads has policies for general and adventure travel.


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Hi. Sharyn here. Savvy Australian female with a passion for travel and working abroad. I’m on a mission to provide you with my best tips, tricks and hacks to work abroad and travel the world. If I can do it, so can you!  Read more.


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Hi, Sharyn here. I’m the face behind Live Work Play Travel. I’ve travelled all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline – thanks dad! I’ve been a travel writer/blogger and living a location independent lifestyle since 1993. My aim with Live Work Play Travel is to provide you with the info to start living, working and travelling around the world like I do. I currently live in Melbourne with my partner and 2 kids. 



    The Van Gogh museum is really interesting. I am usually a fan of museums, but this one was extraordinarily good.
    Did you take a day trip to Rotterdam or Giethoorn?

  2. Alma

    Love Amsterdam! Will have to go back to do some of the great activities that you suggested.

  3. sue

    I love Amsterdam but haven’t visited it for years! You’ve whet my appetite to return. I found the Anne Frank museum fascinating but I have never been to Zaanse Schans & love the idea of cycling there. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. Ella

    Spent a week there and adored every second!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’ve spent a few weeks in Amsterdam and I love it each time.

  5. Cosette

    Amsterdam has so much to offer. I’ve been many times now and haven’t seen all the things you mention. Nemo museum, Artis and the A’dam Tower are also fun visits in Amsterdam.

  6. Linnea Jordan

    I love Amsterdam! Biking around the city was one of my favorite parts! I need to go back!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I agree, biking around Amsterdam is great fun.

  7. Paula

    I love Amsterdam but I never made it to Van Gogh Museum. Will need to do it next time!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      As you say, next visit. I’m not really into museums but I found this one interesting.

  8. Susanna

    I had no idea there were some nice bars and restaurants around the Red Light District! But, this three-day itinerary for Amsterdam looks like a great combination of art and culture with all those museums and the traditional neighborhood. Great way to spend time in Amsterdam!

  9. simplyjolayne

    I would love to return to Amsterdam and the surrounding areas, especially in the Spring to see the tulip fields. Happened to walk through the Red Light District on my way back from the Anne Frank house. Didn’t expect to see the women in the windows!

  10. Terri

    I absolutely adored the Van Gogh museum. Great post!

  11. Krista

    This is a great itinerary! We only had a few hours in Amsterdam on our last trip so we didn’t see half of the places you’ve mentioned. Hopefully we will next time!

  12. Kelli

    Amsterdam is magical!

  13. Neha

    There is so much to do and see in Amsterdam. Love the cities that can be explored on bike leisurely. I wanna visit the Anne Frank museum.

  14. Elyse

    I went to Amsterdam years ago and loved it! But would be so keen to go back and see the Van Gogh museum (now that I’m a bit older I’ll appreciate it more Lol)

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Oh the Van Gogh Museum is fabulous – I hope you get there one day!

  15. Shelly

    What great tips for a great trip to Amsterdam!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Thank you. I love visiting Amsterdam so it is easy to give tips on how to visit this great city.

  16. kmf

    I love Amsterdam and love your guide on how to spend three days there. I still need to visit the Van Gogh Museum for sure.

  17. Nina

    I spent four days in Amsterdam and did most of this itinerary. Loved the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house!

  18. Karen

    I’ve only been to Amsterdam for a two hour bus trip on a airplane layover. I would really like to spend more time and bike all over the city. Your itinerary is great to see all the places I would like to see.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I hope you make it back to Amsterdam and spend more time there – you won’t be disappointed.

  19. Lindsay P

    This looks like such a fun itinerary! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I enjoyed spending 3 days in Amsterdam – I hope you do to.

  20. Mihaela |

    I drove through the Nederlands on the way to Italy but did not plan a stop in Amsterdam on that occasion. We are waiting for these crazy times to end so we could drive there for a long weekend. My kid mentions Ann Frank and her tragic destiny often; it would be a fascinating experience to learn more. Thanks for pointing out the absolute must-see and do!

    • Sharyn McCullum

      I hope you get to Amsterdam on your next trip. And definitely visit the Ann Frank House – it is fascinating.

  21. Under Flowery Sky

    This is pretty useful as I’m planning to come in Amsterdam
    in April. Amazing ideas, but you forgot Keukenhof..

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Glad you like the itinerary. What’s Keukenhof?

  22. simplyjolayne

    Was able to spend a couple of days exploring Amsterdam while my husband worked. I would really love to go back during tulip season.

  23. Jeanine

    We loved walking about the streets day & night, this is a great short stay itinerary. I can’t wait to be able to get back and explore more.

    • Sharyn McCullum

      Me too, I can’t wait to get back even if it is for 3 days.


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