Amsterdam is one of the most popular cities in Europe and you must visit it once in your lifetime. The city is vibrant by night but equally mesmerising by the day. After visiting Amsterdam a few times I wanted to share my experience and how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam.

It is well known for its electric nightlife including the famous Red Light District which attracts millions of visitors every year, but there is more to Amsterdam.

Clogs Amsterdam
Watch Clog making – how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam.

There is so much this city has to offer but this time I want to share with you what is beyond the city.

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If you are visiting Amsterdam for the first time you have to visit the main tourist attractions in the city. But if you have a few days then you must venture out of the city and see what there is beyond Amsterdam.

how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam. 
Visit the windmills of Zaanse Schans

Best Time to go to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination all year round but depending on what you fancy you can chose a particular time. Like many other popular European cities, Amsterdam is bustling with tourists in the summer months when the sun is shining and you can make the most of your time outdoors but this is also the busy period so higher prices and long lines outside museums and other tourist attractions.

If you are after the famous Tulips then the best time to visit is spring and see them in full bloom. Winter is quieter and you can get some great deals but you will have to bundle up as it can get very cold.

If you want to avoid the cold and the peak summer then the best time to visit Amsterdam is April or late September early October.

Tulips Amsterdam
Tulips are synonymous with Amsterdam.

How to get to Amsterdam 

Amsterdam is one of the most connected cities in the world with Schiphol International Airport being a European travel hub. Amsterdam is also well connected to other European cities through a network of trains and busses.

Schipol Airport
Schiphol Airport the main airport of Amsterdam

Have you ever used KLM? The national carrier KLM is a good airline to fly to Amsterdam in.   

Getting Around Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a great public transport system. You can reach the heart of the city from the airport via Train Bus or Taxi quite easily. UBER is plentiful and I did use it to travel to and from the Airport.

The Dutch are famous for their bicycles and you can’t visit Amsterdam and not try riding a bicycle. One of the best ways to see Amsterdam is hiring a bicycle and pedal your way through the city.

I am sure Amsterdam holds the world record for having the most amount of bicycles in a city or country.

Bicycle Amsterdam
Hire a bicycle in Amsterdam

The hop on hop of bus including a canal ride could be your other option but for me it’s walking through the lanes of the city and finding my own way.

I Amsterdam
I Amsterdam office

I  Amsterdam

 I Amsterdam City Card is  the best way discover Amsterdam. It has been tried and tested since 1966. You can order your City Card online and make the most of your time in Amsterdam, with free entry to the city’s top attractions and free public transport for the duration of your stay I would highly recommend it.

The only small shortfall is that the I Amsterdam card does not cover your transport to and from the airport to the city. It offers some great discounts in restaurants and other partners through the city as well. For any information you need about Amsterdam and what there is around it this is your one stop shop for information.  I Amsterdam.

I Amsterdam card is your answer on how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam. 

I Amsterdam pass

Where to Stay in Amsterdam 

Depending on the type of accommodation you are after there is something for every traveller in this city. From some of the swankiest hotels to basic hostels Amsterdam has it all.

The best place to stay in Amsterdam is around Dam Square or Central station. You are in the heart of the city and well connected by the various means of transport the city has to offer. If you are after a longer stay then try one of the many apartments the city has to offer and great place to start your search would be Air BnB.

As we were visiting friends this time so we did not have to use a Hotel but if I had to. I would recommend one of the NH or Marriott hotels for the best location in Amsterdam.

SO LET’S FIND OUT – HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN AMSTERDAM

Spend the first day in Amsterdam in the main city. Soak in the atmosphere and visit some of the famous tourist attractions of Amsterdam. I spent the next 2 days exploring things to see outside Amsterdam.

Day 1 – Things to do in Amsterdam.

Start the day with a visit to Dam Square, the heart of Amsterdam. If this is not your first time and you are not in a rush there is nothing better than sitting in one of the typical Dutch cafes and savouring a poffertjes and coffee.

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Amsterdam Canal

Must eat in Amsterdam

Poffertjes are mini-pancakes a Dutch speciality served with powdered sugar. One of my favourites for these along with Dutch pancakes which are more like crepes would be Pancakes Amsterdam.

This is Holland

A stroll through the square and we head towards one of the most spoken about attractions in Amsterdam – This is Holland The ultimate Flight experience.

This is Holland
This is Holland a must visit in Amsterdam

This is a great experience where you get an overview of how the Netherlands was created and learn all about the country and its history. Then you move into a 5D flying experience that takes you over the windmills, tulip gardens, fields and seas.

A great experience and one I would recommend especially if you have children. It has a small shop where you can pick up some great souvenirs.

ADam tower Amsterdam

Next stop is another new attraction and one making headlines on Instagram –  A’DAM Lookout located on top of the A’DAM Tower in Amsterdam North.

Adam Amsterdam

Just a short walk from This is Holland is another great attraction and making waves on social media. A’DAM LOOKOUT is an observation deck in Amsterdam with breadth taking panoramic views of the city.

ADam Lookout has a great bar and restaurant and a unique ride up to the top. You are transported t the top of the building in a disco lift. There is an indoor seating area with a lounge and a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition about Amsterdam’s history and culture.

Apart from the panoramic views visit Europe’s highest swing on the sky deck. You swing out at a 100 metres over Amsterdam on Europe’s highest swing and a experience next to none.

A’DAM LOOKOUT is a great place to spend an evening in Amsterdam and watch the sunset over Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM SWING

Day 2 – The Windmills of Zaanse Schans.

There is so much more to to see outside Amsterdam. Visit the windmills of The Zaanse Schans which attracts a million visitors every year. It is one of Netherlands best kept secret. Zaanse Schans is easily accessible by public transport. It is a 30 minutes’ drive from the city centre.

Zaanse Schans has no admission charges. You can get a guided day tour to Zaanse Schans from the city but suggest you head out yourself and enjoy at your own pace.

Zaanse Schans windmills
Windmills Zaanse Schans

You can hop on a train from Amsterdam’s Central Station. A 15-minute train ride will take you to Koog-Zaandijk. Zaanse Schans is a 10-minute walk from the Koog-Zaandijk.

Just look out for the windmills and head towards it.

Zaanse Schans is famous for its green timber houses and traditional crafts such as cheese and clog making.

The Zaans area was popular with industry and as such the large collection of windmills that powered it. A few of these are still operational and you can visit them for a small fee.

windmills amsterdam

We visited the famous cheese making and wooden clog factory where you get a tour of how these arts are still preserved and get your very own clog.

Apparently they have the largest wooden shoe inventory in Zaanse Schans Clog Factory. You can buy a clog here or get photographed in a giant one.

Watch the clog makers in the workshop and learn about the history of wooden shoes in Amsterdam.

You can walk around the green spaces visit the Dutch café and savour some local delicacies or just relax and soak in the fun.

Visit Zaandam

A short bus ride from Zaanse Schans is the city of Zaandam where you can spend a few hours before heading back to Amsterdam.

One of the most popular sights of Zaandam is the impressive facade of the Inntel Hotel.

zaandam

A stacking of colourful traditional houses that are a reflection of Zaan region. You can visit the café of the Innetel Hotel. The hotel provides the best of tradition combined with modern-day comfort.

Day 3 – Harleem, Bloemendaal and The Canals

We started the day with a train ride to Harleem, a city of remarkable history and culture and a short train ride from central station. The city houses some spectacular monuments dating back almost 800 years including the cathedral. Harleem is a beautiful Dutch town.

It was home to some of the most well-known Dutch artists including Frans Hals.

Visit the Bloemendaal Beach 

We were extremely lucky with the weather and making the most of it our next stop was Bloemendaal Beach. It has a great shore line and a lively nightlife. You can dip your toes in the North Sea or visit one of the bars and beach clubs. Bloemendaal is a popular beach outside Amsterdam. It is visited by locals and now getting known to the tourist world as well.

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Bloemendaal is busy through the summer and has regular live bands and DJs. It has open air parties that go on well into the night. It is well connected by public transport and is a great place to spend a few hours when the sun is out.

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After spending a lazy afternoon by the beach in Bloemendaal we headed back to the city.

One of the things on your itinerary on how to spend 3 days in Amsterdam must include a Canal Cruise.

head back to the city for a Canal cruise and sign off with a walk down the famous Red Light District.

Without a doubt the canals and waterways of Amsterdam are one of the jewels of this unique city and you can’t visit they city and not go on a canal cruise. If you buy the I Amsterdam card this comes with a free canal cruise. You can enjoy the cruise either by the day or when the city is illuminated at night including the options of a romantic candlelight dinner cruise.

A cruise on the canal takes you back in time and gives you a lot of history about the city and how it was built and operate till date.

Amsterdam canal

We complete our trip to Amsterdam with a walk down the Red Light District which is a popular tourist attraction and attracts millions of tourists every year. Some hate this and some love but everyone is curious about it and tries to visit it on their trip to Amsterdam.

There are a number of bars and pubs along the canal where you can taste some of the finest Dutch beers or simply enjoy your evening just people watching. The area is heaving with tourists, couples groups of friends and loving couples holding hands and walking along the neon light lanes and having the time of their life.

I must say it is an experience that everyone should live through once in their lifetime and wear the T-shirt  – Been There Done That.

Amsterdam is home to numerous bars and clubs and boasts of a very vibrant nightlife, so if you are up for a party you are in the right city.

There is so much to do and see in Amsterdam that I can hardly relate to it as Sin City, so go ahead and plan your trip and experience Amsterdam.

How to spend 3 days in Amsterdam -Take a photo with the I am Amsterdam sign outside Schipol Airport. 

I AM AMSTERDAM SIGN
I AM AMSTERDAM SIGN

If you enjoyed reading about Amsterdam why not find out what to do in Barcelona .

HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN AMSTERDAM

  • Ride a tram around the Royal Palace and Dam Square.
  • Go back in time with a trip to Museumplein in the heart of the museum district.
  • Try out the delicious local treats like pancakes, fries and cheese.
  • Sip a pint of the finest craft beers in the many pubs of Amsterdam.
  • Take a canal cruise by sunset.
  • Ride a bicycle and see the city the Dutch way.
  • Strike a pose by the I Amsterdam sign.
  •  Sip a glass of wine with the famous Gouda cheese.
  • Watch the windmills of Zaanse Schans spin back from time.
  • Swing over Amsterdam at Adams Lookout.
  • Take a canal cruise.
  • Take a few tulips buds home and wake up to the smell of Amsterdam.
  • Visit a Dutch cheese market.
  • Try to fit into a wooden clog.
  • Have a beer at Brouwerij ‘t IJ a small brewery in Amsterdam by the windmill.
  • Visit the Anne Frank House.
  • Go face to face with the masterpiece of Van Gough at the museum.
  • Party at the beach club of Bloemendaal.
  • Visit north Amsterdam by crossing over on the ferry.
  • Taste the Dutch herring at the stall next to the Royal Palace.
  • Fly over tulip fields at This is Holland 5D experience.
  • Get lost in the streets of Jordaan filled with art.

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73 COMMENTS

  1. There is no doubting that Amsterdam is one of the great cities of Europe to visit with so much to enjoy. When I head back to Europe this year, I will be spending a while in the Netherlands and am certainly keen to get out of Amsterdam to see the Zaanse Schans area with the lovely fields and waterways. There is also much to see to the south and east of Amsterdam as well in terms of appreciating the Dutch countryside. However within Amsterdam itself, I know my fiance is keen to see Anne Frank’s house and we will also be sure to take a canal cruise together. Great post showing so much that this lovely city has to offer.

  2. OMG I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam. Not only for the windmills clogs and cheese but as you say to venture beyond Amsterdam. This is such a helpful article. Thanks.

  3. Your post really made me want to go to Amsterdam. I’ve passed through this city so many times on my way to other destinations. However, never stopped to spend at least a few days there. I’d love to go in spring and get to enjoy their famous tulips.

  4. The tulips, the clogs, the windmilss!! Amsterdam is so beautiful. There’s something dreamy about this place.
    This post has everything one needs to know about Amsterdam. Loved the must do list.

  5. I lived in Amsterdam for a year and I loved reading your post! But you made me hungry now as you reminded me of the amazing flavor of poffertjes! 😀 I love them so much! I wish I could have some right now! Great post! I like how you summarize the must-dos at the end of your posts 😉

  6. Amsterdam is one of our favourite cities. Looks like you had an incredible time there. Those pancakes look delicious, we didn’t see those when we were there. We loved the tulips too and ended up bringing a bag of tulip bulbs home and creating our own mini field lol.

  7. We are just looking for a stop over somewhere when flying to see my family next summer in Europe. Amsterdam is one option and it looks absolutely amazing! I have used that route multiple times but never gotten out of the airport. I especially love those houses… a must see if we go. Looks like you guys had a lot of fun!

  8. Oh I haven’t been to Amsterdam in a long time. I really like your pictures of the tulips, it is so typical of Amsterdam..especially in spring! I always went for a day trip but I would love to stay a little longer. I will definitely go with the 72h card that you recommend.

  9. It looks like you had a great few days in Amsterdam. I’ve only been there once and I enjoyed it a lot. I’d love to go back and see a bit more. I’d have to try Poffertjes!

  10. I have been to Amsterdam 2 years back and I explored the place in a similar manner like yours. It is beautiful indeed. I chose to visit Kinderdijk instead of Zaanse Schaans. The places like Harleem, Bloemendaal, also Delft and Rotterdam seemed really interesting to me. Glad to see that you had a great time.

  11. Oh my gosh! I don’t even know where to start. Every places you visited in Amsterdam and beyond are just special in their own way and your pictures are just great! The poffertjes and Dutch pancakes at Pancakes Amsterdam are to die for and I know my son will beg me to go there everyday for breakfast. lol. Watching the clogs maker and tasting the cheese are something that ones shouldn’t miss. The Inntel Hotel, hmm… how does it feel to stay in the upper right room? There are so much in this article that makes me want to visit Amsterdam badly.

  12. This looks like a well-done itinerary. And you guys must have had fun there. I have had Amsterdam on my wishlist for a long time now. Hope to visit it soon. And see some of these attractions. Your guide will surely come in handy. I love that Pancake place by the way.

  13. I LOVE Amsterdam! Your post has me missing it so much! And what a great overview of the many different types of experiences the city has to offer. I’m all about the tulips and cheese too! My fiancé really wants to go and I am going to bookmark this post to reference when we decide to visit again!

  14. I have visited Amsterdam many times in the past but after reading this, I think it’s time to visit again. It’s great that you took a day trip to Zaanse Schans- I love that place. It looks like you had a great few days in and around Amsterdam.

  15. My husband has stayed in this beautiful city and talks lot about Amsterdam. I have not visited yet but it would be great to see canals, beautiful houses and some nightlife in this city. As I am an avid art lover, it would be great to see some masterpieces. The nearby city of Zaandam looks worth a day trip from this city. Visiting wooden factory and the Zaanse Schans area would be great too.

  16. I love Amsterdam! The city is beautiful and spotless, the people are friendly, and the food is unbelievable. You’re absolutely right – you can’t visit the city and NOT go on a canal cruise! I got to make a brief visit to Zaanse Schans – I really wished I had more time to spend there. But if I go again, I know your post will be the perfect guide for me!

  17. I will be there soon for the Tulip festival and looking so much forward to it! Your beautiful pictures just reminded me of how pretty it is there. I have visited several times but still found some of the places you highlighted to be added to my list like the ADAM lookout for a great shot of Amsterdam!

    • ADam lookout is a great place to visit for a panoramic view of the city and a relaxed Evening

  18. Your post brought back vivid memories of my visit to Amsterdam. It remains one of my favorite cities in the world by far. Zaanse Schans is such an outstanding place to visit.The canals of amsterdam are the best place to be when in the city. I didn’t know about the watch tower Adam, i guess it’s a new development.

  19. It’s always great reading about the dam, as I used to visit so often. I never made it to see the windmills weirdly enough or see Haarlem or that wonderful beach either. I much prefer reading about lesser known places, as clearly there’s more to see in Amsterdam than just the canals, and the red light district lol!

    • Indeed most people end up just with main Amsterdam and not the beautiful places a short distance from the centre. Hope you can visit again and see the Zaanse and other areas.

  20. Amsterdam looks like such a family-friendly city. Perfect for my little traveling tribe. Dam Square reminds me of a square we visited in Bruges. Can’t wait to try the pancakes!

  21. My husband was in Amsterdam last year for some work and he was clueless regarding what all to see and how. This is a very informative post and ticks all the right boxes. The travel card is a very helpful tip. The Poffertjes look so yum.

  22. Glad that you mentioned Uber. It was a lifesaver during my Amsterdam walkabouts. I tend to wander around and go off major thoroughfares. Since Amsterdam is such a walkable city and side streets are so pleasant and full of unexpected surprises (a pub, a coffee shop, simply chatting with locals…), it’s so easy to get lost somewhere over there. At some point, your legs just give up and refuse to make another step. Since taxis are not always around on some smaller streets away from tourist attractions, Uber comes to the rescue.

  23. I am in love with Amsterdam. I love the art and history here. Pity I did not have enough time to get around here else I would have gone biking. Have noted quite a few attractions that I did not know of earlier through this post. Hopefully will get around to seeing those soon

  24. This is a very helpful post for Amsterdam. I have plans to visit this year and will try and cover most of it as mentioned above. I am definitely very keen around the canals and museums and food.

  25. Thanks for sharing this detailed Amsterdam guide. I think visiting them during the summer and spring would be lovely, and I wish to visit their cheese factory and clog makers. Do you think a week would be enough?

  26. This is a very helpful article for Amsterdam. I have plans to visit this place and nearby and will try and cover most of it as mentioned by you. The pancake, windmills and canals are just amazing…

  27. I have been to Amsterdam many many years ago in my early twenties and I can’t remember much let me tell you that way! But now a bit older and bit wiser I hope to go back there to see the Amsterdam with a new pair of eyes! I am mostly interested of going there on speing for the tulip festival! And I am alos keen of having a tour on a bike like the locals!
    Ahh, thank you for reminding me that there are more to Amsterdam than the Red light district !

  28. I really wanted to visit Zaanse Schans when I was in Amsterdam but didn’t have enough time, so next time I go back, that would be my priority. You’ve definitely included a solid list of activities to do there. Glad you guys had a great time!

  29. This is a great detailed itinerary to Amsterdam. You definitely noted places of interest that were outside the traditional, tourist traps. I love all the beauty and natural elements in Holland. Your photographs are fantastic!

  30. I have been visiting Amsterdam every year or two now for more than two decades, and it never fails to surprise me. You’re really captured the essence of the city and all the various attractions it offers. Even after visiting so much, going through your Must Do list I can see i’ve missed out on quite a few things like Amsterdam Lookout (which is new), Bloemendaal, or try the Dutch herring. Next time!

  31. Those windmill , cheese and the clogs they are the highlight according to me, specially those shoes. Those clogs are something; so quirky, giant, tiny and everything, I would love to take one home with me as a souvenir. I have never been to Amsterdam so your guide is good to go for me. Also, amazing pictures.

  32. I always thought of Amsterdam as a transit city. Your post made me realise how wrong I was. There is so much to explore there. It’s so muchore than windmills, tulips and clogs.

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