I spent 3 days in Amsterdam in June 2023, and it was my fifth time here. Here’s my tried and tested Amsterdam itinerary that you can steal.
What’s the best duration to spend in Amsterdam? It isn’t one day, not even two but at least three days.
But isn’t Amsterdam tiny? It is, but there’s just so much to see and experience that just a day or two won’t cut it.
I do have multiple Amsterdam itineraries on my website – there’s one for a weekend in Amsterdam, another one that’s fast-paced for two days in Amsterdam, and also for spending one perfect day in Amsterdam.
I live close to Amsterdam, so thankfully I get to visit this pretty city over and over for many durations over the last few years.
Now you may not know this but some of my friends call me a “travel geek”. It is because I do everything I can to find the most amazing places wherever I’m visiting.
On top of it, I try to find places with views – so you have restaurants with views, bars with views, buildings with views, and the list goes on. This is exactly why my itinerary posts are loved by my readers.
I have made a quick map for you to pin so that you can find this post on your Pinterest board later on. (I also have a day-by-day itinerary map under each day’s heading that you can save as a Google Map with pins.)
Based on my expertise and pure love for Amsterdam, I want to share this best itinerary for spending 3 days in Amsterdam.
Table of Contents
Day 1 of Amsterdam itinerary + Map
Amsterdam is tiny but it has so many similar-looking bridges, streets, and canals that even the expert navigators can get lost.
I have done all the homework for you, so just use this map and it will take you to all the stops and hidden gems within Amsterdam that you’d normally not find.
Start your Day at the Center
I will be honest – as much as I love Amsterdam, I absolutely hate the middle point of the center – the area around Dam Square with countless headshops and the red-light district lanes.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike headshops or sex workers, but I hate how crowded and disgusting this small area gets.
Technically “Amsterdam Centrum” includes the entire canal ring so not only the Dam Square but also Jordaan, Kadijken, Niewmark, etc, – but the center point of the centrum should be avoided – Dam Square and De Wallen.
So, if you are visiting Amsterdam, you will definitely cross this area at some point and you should see it just once and then get away. But please don’t get stuck here because there’s so much to see and do in Amsterdam.
Just to make your trip time efficient, I will mention a few spots close to Dam Square where you can chill and then move on to the next area.
De Koffieschenkerij for Coffee and Breakfast
I have talked about De Koffieschenkerij in some of my posts before, and it is totally worth the trip to the center if you sit here and sip your coffee.
De Koffieschenkerij is in Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk compound and feels like a bite of peace in the middle of Amsterdam’s busiest area. There are many places to sit both inside and outside.
If you are looking for a romantic place to enjoy your coffee with cake, and a view then De Koffieschenkerij is the place for you.
I love that De Koffieschenkerij has QR Code based service so just arrive here from 9 am to 6 pm, find a nice table, and scan the QR code on the table to order. I ordered a big glass of iced tea and a chocolate-covered date.
Oudemanhuispoort – A Passage with Books on Sale
After your coffee, walk along the canal in the old town for 750 meters as per the map above, and you will arrive at a hidden passage with second-hand books for sale.
This is Oudemanhuispoort, a hidden gem that is in the center but still most people miss it entirely. It is along a courtyard that’s part of the University of Amsterdam. The courtyard has Winkelkasten Oudemanhuispoortmonument.
Some of the secondhand books for sale at Oudemanhuispoort were for as low as EUR 2. I also found a few old records for sale.
Walking in Amsterdam along the canals is fun, but is more fun when one can find a few interesting spots that most people normally miss. Right?
Staalmeestersbrug for the View
As you walk along and discover Amsterdam’s center, do you want to see a bridge with the best view?
From Oudemanhuispoort, walk for 200 meters using my map and get on the bridge with the prettiest view. It is called Staalmeestersbrug and from here you can see “a million dollar view”.
If you walk to the middle of Staalmeestersbrug, you can see the Zuiderkirk (Southern Church) which dates back to the 17th century.
This view of Zuiderkirk from Staalmeerstersburg was often depicted in paintings by Claude Monet and that’s why it is often called a million-dollar view.
Kapitein Zeppos for Lunch
Amsterdam’s bridges and canals aren’t the only lovely spots. I love Amsterdam’s narrow inner lanes and alleys and I discovered a restaurant back in 2015 that I go back to every single time.
From Staalmeerstersburg walk for 400 meters and arrive in a super narrow alley with a restaurant that has outdoor seating and loads of plants. It is called Kapitein Zeppos.
Get a table outside and enjoy the beauty. If it is raining, they will open their massive umbrellas and you can enjoy a glass of Aperol Spritz and eat grilled eggplants or a fish plate. You can also try their soup of the day,
Now that you have spent half a day in Amsterdam’s busiest part, I want to take you to my favorite area – Jordaan. You can arrive here on foot, by cycle, or by tram – you decide.
The canals get narrower here and the streets are quieter because it is mostly a residential area. As a result, it is super pretty and not stressful.
The distance from Kapitein Zeppos to Jordaan is around 1.2 – 1.5 kilometers. If you walk or cycle, then you will also see De 9 Straatjes on the way. Alternatively, you can take tram 17 from Dam Square to Marnixstraat to arrive at Jordaan.
Walk along Lauriergracht, Bloemgracht, Rozengracht, and Lijnbaansgracht – pick one or all of them. If you like to click pictures, then some of my favorite Amsterdam Instagram spots are right here in Jordaan.
It is fun watching the lovely windows of Jordaan, and how residents bring their chairs out on the street when it is sunny. These residential areas have sometimes a hidden courtyard inside – a hofje. You may end up in a hofje at some moment, so enjoy the peace.
There are a lot of places in Jordaan, I normally spend an entire day here because I love the cafes, bars, interesting shops, and bridges that are decorated with flowers. I’d suggest you check out the below spots:
- Het Muizenhuis – a shop with an elaborate Mouse Mansion that’s built with sticks and no it isn’t just for children. It is like the Miniatur Wunderland but for mice in Amsterdam. It is adorable and you can also buy gifts for children from here.
- Anne Frank Haus – it is a privately owned museum devoted to the life of Anne Frank. I have never visited it because I have always seen a long queue.
- Houseboat Museum – I have seriously never gone inside but have seen it from outside a few times. Just wanted to drop this as an option for you, in case if you want to go.
- Café “Het Bruine Paard” – Relax with a drink as you sit outside along Prinsengracht and enjoy the view.
- Mechanisch Speelgoed – the best toystore in the world. It is small, old school with wooden toys and small things that move with a turn of a key.
- Moods Coffee Corner – it is one of the best cafes in Jordaan with amazing coffee and smoothie bowls.
Jordaan also has a tulip museum and a cheese museum, but I was never interested in visiting them. I’d still like to mention them here just in case you’d want to visit one of them.
Canal Cruise on a Boat
If it is your first time in Amsterdam then a cruise on Amsterdam’s canals is definitely an interesting way to experience this city.
A canal tour can cost from EUR 15 to EUR 30 – depending on which one you pick. I will give you a good way to save money – get an I Amsterdam city card for 24 hours.
The I Amsterdam city card covers one canal tour, museums, Hortus Botanicus entry, and also use of public transport like trams and metro. Normally a museum costs between EUR 22.50 to EUR 20.
This way you can use it for a canal tour on the first evening and for Hortus Botanicus, trams, and museums on the second day.
If you don’t want to get the I Amsterdam city card, I have handpicked some boat tours for you:
- Open Boat Canal Cruise with Onboard Bar: This tour costs EUR 19.95 per person in May 2023, and the duration is one hour. Select “Ann Frank Haus” as your departure when you book. You can purchase drinks on the boat because there’s a bar.
- Lovers Canal Cruises: This is a one-hour tour on a covered boat and costs EUR 16. Be sure to select Ann Frank Haus as the departure point.
- Classic Boat Cruise with Cheese & Wine Options: This tour is for one hour and costs EUR 19.95 without cheese and wine and EUR 21.50 with cheese and wine. This cruise is also on a semi-open boat and is a bit fancier.
I always suggest a canal cruise in the afternoon time before dinner because that’s usually the time our bodies have low energy. So you can sit back and relax on a boat.
Dinner at Fow Fow Ramen
The thing about big cities is that their local food isn’t just limited to their original ethenic cuisine anymore but has expanded to include the international population.
So if you want to eat well in Amsterdam, don’t limit yourself to Dutch food but experience as many cuisines as you can and I will help you find good restaurants because I did that homework for you.
Fow Fow Ramen is a simple ramen restaurant with something for everyone – vegans, meat eaters, and fish lovers. I ate a Tori Lemon Ginger ramen bowl with seaweed and pork. It was delicious.
We discovered this place by chance because we wanted to eat a sandwich at the nearby Chun restaurant but the queue was shockingly long. As a result, we had an amazing meal and would like to recommend this restaurant to everyone.
Quick Walk Through the Red Light District
As the day progresses, Amsterdam’s oldest neighborhood De Wallen changes a little bit. The windows turn red and sex workers stand under the red light at each window.
Understand that prostitution is the world’s oldest trade and is legal in the Netherlands. Don’t disrespect the sex workers by trying to click their photo. If you do then you will most likely get caught by their pimp or the police.
Walk through the Red Light District. This is a scene you may have seen in a lot of movies or TV shows. It was also featured on Killing Eve – my favorite TV show!
Make the most of your 3 days in Amsterdam and enjoy the laughs as you come across some weird museums, shops, and shows.
De Sluyswacht for Sunset Cocktails
If you have to miss one of the places in my Amsterdam itinerary, please don’t let it be this one.
De Sluyswacht is an amazing bar with water on two sides so is perfect for watching the sunset as you sip something. It is close to the Red Light District so walking to it is a funny experience.
Believe it or not, De Sluyswacht feels like a hidden gem because you have to cross a residential area and maybe you discover a secret hofje (the Dutch word for courtyard) in order to arrive here like we did.
De Sluyswacht is super lively but at the same time, it didn’t feel like a headache as the nearby De Wallen area. My friend and I had a table next to the water.
As the pub started filling up, we eventually shared a table with two other women who turned out to be local residents.
Overall, for me, it was one of the best bar/pub experiences in Amsterdam because we watched how the sky changed colors at sunset time and then the nearby buildings started lighting up.
Day 2 of Amsterdam Itinerary + Map
Since you have crossed off some of Amsterdam’s busiest areas on your first day, we will take it a little easy today and visit a few relaxing places.
You won’t be walking as much as you did on your first day in Amsterdam but still be prepared to move around a lot. So, start your day with high energy and eat a solid breakfast.
Use the below map that I have created and download an offline version of it before you start your day.
I understand that some of my itineraries can be too fast-paced for some people, so take it easy when you need to because this is a flexible Amsterdam itinerary of 3 days.
De GroenteMeesters for Breakfast
Fancy a big Dutch fusion breakfast with coffee or a mimosa? If yes, then you will love De GroenteMeesters in De Pijp
I ate sunny side eggs cooked with harissa sauce with arugula leaves over wheat bread. I drank an oat milk cappuccino and then a mimosa and had an amazing start to the day. My friend is vegan and she was very happy with her chickpea bowl.
De Pijp is often called Amsterdam’s Bohemian neighborhood and honestly, I keep going back there because it has the best restaurants, cafes, and bars.
De GroenteMeesters has a nice outdoor area to enjoy the weather and decent indoor seating too. The vibe is relaxed, and exactly how a breakfast/brunch place should be.
Albert Cuyp Market
I have a thing for flea markets and I have visited Amsterdam’s Waterlooplein, IJ-Hallen in Amsterdam-Noord, and also the floating flower market on Singel but for me, Albert Cuyp Street was the best one.
Albert Cuyp Market is on Albert Cuyp Street and felt so much more affordable than the Waterloo market. There were not only shops for clothes, jewelry, decor, etc but also food stalls and coffee stands.
This market is almost on the entire street and I also saw a couple of vintage furniture shops and plant shops.
Depending on how much time you have, you can either just walk through Albert Cuyp street or spend a bit longer exploring this market.
Rijksmuseum & Van Gogh Museum at Museumplein
From Albert Cuyp market, a leisurely 1-kilometer walk or cycle ride will bring you to the Museumplein which has some of the most famous museums in not just Amsterdam but in the entire country.
If you did buy the 24-hour I Amsterdam city card, then you can visit all of the museums in Museumplein for free. Otherwise, it costs EUR 22.50 for Rijksmuseum and EUR 20 for Van Gogh Museum.
So a quick list:
- I Amsterdam City Card: If you have this then you don’t need to pay for the canal cruise, museums, and public transport.
- Rijksmuseum entry: This is like the Lourve of Amsterdam, perhaps even better.
- Van Gogh Museum: A must-visit for those who love Vincent Van Gogh’s art.
Don’t get discouraged if you see a queue outside the Rijksmuseum. If you have booked a time slot then you will be moved forward. If everyone has booked a time slot then the queue will move pretty fast.
Relax at Hortus Botanicus (+ Lunch)
Why should you visit a botanical garden in Amsterdam? Here’s why – Dutch gardeners are world-famous not just for their tulips but also for garden design (Piet Oudolf), houseplants, and general gardening know-how.
So to truly experience things that the Netherlands is famous for, visiting a place like Hortus Botanicus is something that I highly recommend.
Hortus Botanicus is 2 km away from Rijksmuseum. Get to the “Rijksmuseum” tram station and get on tram 1, 19 to “Weesperplein”, from there you can walk to Hortus Botanicus.
There are many stunning themed gardens within Hortus Botanicus. My favorite one was the tropical rainforest and a cactus-themed section. I also loved the butterfly garden where hundreds of orange butterflies fluttered around my face in slow motion.
The entrance for Hortus Botanicus is € 12,50 for adults but is free with the I Amsterdam city card.
Lunch at the Orangery (Hortus Botanicus)
There’s a restaurant within Hortus Botanicus and it is called “the Orangery”. Surprisingly it is called a historical national monument because tropical plants were cultivated here in greenhouses as early as 1715. The building was constructed in 1875 as a lecture hall for plants.
Yes, the Orangery is a pretty restaurant and is historical but I’d like you to visit it to experience the food. I ate a memorable meal here alone and it was super delicious with fresh ingredients – pasta with green asparagus, artichoke, pine nuts, and cherry tomatoes.
Waterlooplein, Spinoza Monument & Skinny Bridge
Now that you have explored Hortus Botanicus and hopefully relaxed a little there, it is time to walk through some interesting areas of Amsterdam.
From Hortus Botanicus, if you walk for around 600 meters, you will arrive in Waterlooplein, a square where Jewish merchants moved their shops as the Jewish quarter filled up. Since then, it is now the location for Waterloo Flea Market.
Walk through Waterlooplein and admire this historical street market that is much smaller than the Albert Cuyp market. This market looks pretty because some parts of it have water in the background so it photographs well.
Cross Waterlooplein and walk towards Zwaneburgwal and you will see Spinoza Monument. It is a bronze statue of Baruch Spinoza, who was a Dutch philosopher from a Jewish family and is known for his ideas of freedom of expression and tolerance.
Walk along the Amstel River and go on Magere Brug, the Skinny Bridge. It is a historical bridge that was originally much narrower than it is today.
They say you can count 15 bridges in every direction if you are on top of the skinny bridge. I couldn’t!
Skinny Bridge is a good spot for seeing the sunset, so you can come back here after dinner if you want. It is definitely a super romantic spot in Amsterdam.
Dèsa or Sarvana Bhawan for Dinner
Amsterdam has an amazing Indonesian food scene because the city has a large number of migrants from Indonesia. This is so because Indonesia was once a Dutch colony.
Amsterdam also has an amazing Indian food scene and in my experience, one can find amazingly authentic dosa in Amsterdam.
Dosa is a super crispy rice pancake that is enjoyed with coconut chutney. If you can’t handle spicy food then order a plain dosa and eat it with coconut chutney and I can guarantee you that it will be your favorite Indian meal.
So, if you want to experience food like a local then I hope you enjoy these two amazing options for dinner that are tried and tested.
Amstelhaven for Cocktails
Amstelhaven is 500 meters away from Sarvana Bhawan and is a cute cocktail bar with an interesting atmosphere next to the Amstel River.
They have both indoor and outdoor seating, cocktails, and bar food. They also sometimes have live shoes and open mic nights.
Sit next to the water at Amstelhaven and enjoy your cocktail or a beer for an epic end of your second night in Amsterdam.
Day 3 of Amsterdam Itinerary + Map
Since today is the last day of your three days in Amsterdam, we will take a quick ferry to my favorite hipster neighborhood – Amsterdam-Noord where we will visit a free art exhibit and an amazing beach bar.
We will then return back to the center and make our way to the best place to eat in Amsterdam. Whether you are doing this Amsterdam itinerary by foot or by bicycle, I will share very clear instructions from one point to another.
Download the below map to make the last of your 3 days in Amsterdam epic:
Greenwoods Singel for Brunch
Greenwoods Singel is a small but cozy restaurant where you en enjoy a hearty and delicious breakfast before you start your day.
On the menu, you can find eggs, sausages, bacon, avocado, yogurt, shakshuka, pancakes, oats, and pretty everything else that makes any breakfast experience epic.
De Poezenboot (Optional)
From Greenwoods Singel, walk for around 900 meters to reach Amsterdam Centraal. On your way at around midway, you will cross De Poezenboot, which is a houseboat with rescued cats, and some are up for adoption.
De Poezenboot is an optional stop because it is open just three times a week from 1 am to 3 pm. It is open just on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. So if it is open, then go inside by all means.
I’m a cat lover and I absolutely enjoyed my visit. I fell in love with a few furry lovelies inside but had to eventually say bye to them.
The entry for De Poezenboot is free but donate some money please so that the cats can be taken care of.
Ferry from Amsterdam Centraal to NDSM
Amsterdam Centraal is the main train station of Amsterdam. If you are arriving in Amsterdam by train, then most likely you already visited this station. There is a ferry terminal on the other side of Amsterdam Centraal that’s along the IJ River.
From Amsterdam Centraal ferry terminal, there are ferries that leave after every few minutes to different parts of Amsterdam-Noord, in the direction of both A’Dam tower and NDSM.
Make sure you get on a ferry that’s going in the NDSM direction, else you will have to walk a lot if you get on the wrong one. You can surely bring your bicycle with you on the ferry.
Explore NDSM Werf
NDSM Werf was once a shipyard but contains a free-to-view art exhibit with interesting installations, a river beach bar (which we will visit after), cafes, graffiti, and more.
This part of Amsterdam gets ignored by many first-time visitors but I highly recommend it because you will have fun here.
Go inside the NDSM Kunststad – the art exhibit area that’s photographed above. Walk around and notice the interesting installations. There are a lot of funny and quirky things inside.
Discover the NDSMplein area and see the big crane. It is actually a high-end Airbnb with a hot tub on top.
If you have some time, you can also see STRAAT – the street art museum. Or you can just photograph the massive Ann Frank mural outside.
Pllek for Lunch or Beer
Pllek is one of those places where you will get comfortable and wouldn’t want to leave. There are many canal-side bars in Amsterdam, but not beach bars. but Pllek is one of them, it is on the IJ River beach.
Eat lunch inside and then come and sit outside to enjoy a few drinks on the beach. You can order easily with the QR code, and pay online. Your order will be delivered to you. I really like this way of ordering.
Pllek also has many live performances. If you are lucky, you will catch one of them.
Note that Pllek is on a river beach, so if you want to visit a real beach, then you need to make a day trip to Zandvoort Beach near Amsterdam.
Get on Pontsteiger – NDSM ferry
When you are done with NDSMplein, get on a different ferry than the one on which you arrived. Look for the ferry that’s going in the Pontsteiger direction, then you will be much closer to your next destination.
From Pontsteiger, you have a long walk to your next destination, or you can take a tram from De Wittenkade to Kinkerstraat to make this journey quicker for you.
Food Hallen (De Hallen) for Dinner and Drinks
Yes, I saved the best for the last. Food Hallen is my favorite place for eating in Amsterdam because you can eat the best of everything in one place. Plus, there are beer taps and cocktail bars too.
I was introduced to Food Hallen in 2021 by a local and I fell in love with it instantly. With so many options for food, snacks, and drinks all under one roof, you can’t go wrong here.
I revisited Food Hallen in 2023 and loved it even more. Here’s what I suggest you try:
- Mer Du Nord: Crab Bun
- De Ballen Bar: Bitterballen, a Dutch specialty and this restaurant is by a Michelin star chef Peter Gasteat.
- Dim Sum Thing: Dimsums – they are all good. I have tried pork, chicken, prawns, and veggie ones and all were amazing.
- Gin and Tonic Bar: Ginger spritz – a yummier version of Aperol Spritz without the Aperol, but with ginger, mint, and lemon.
I did want to try something new but I couldn’t resist ordering the same Bitterballen and Dimsums from last time.
My vegan friend ordered a veggie noodle bowl from a South East Asian restaurant here and she loved it. She also tried the vegan Bitterballen and enjoyed the snack.
Night Walk in Amsterdam along Canals
Do you know what’s the best time to see the beauty of canals? At night when everything is dark but the warm lights glow. That’s when some of the windows of the narrow houses light up, the old-school street lamps shimmer and the atmosphere turns super romantic.
I don’t recommend De Wallen for this because the vibe is trashy but pick Jordaan or maybe walk along the Amstel River in Oost.
Find a bar that has a lively atmosphere or just do bar hopping. We did walk around and go into random bars for a cocktail or two but after a few drinks, I forgot to note down the names of every bar that we went to.
Honestly, I did this every single night with or without company because I love looking at my favorite city when the sun goes down and the crowds disappear.
Where to Stay in Amsterdam
Having stayed in Amsterdam a few times, below are the places that I have tried and tested and I recommend them:
This is where we stayed in 2023. I love the location of this hotel because it is close to the Skinny Bridge but still far enough from noisy De Wallen and Dam Square.
Our room in PH Hotel had a coffee machine, hairdryer, and blind-out curtains. There was also a desk, so it was perfect for my friend who had to work on her laptop.
Click here to book PH Hotel Oosteinde.
It is the perfect place to stay for solo travelers, and I stayed here in 2021 when I traveled solo to Amsterdam.
It is one of the most comfortable hostels that I have stayed in, the beds all had their individual lights and charging sockets.
It is close to Oostpark and I loved the location. They have bunk beds but they also have private rooms. I loved their breakfast.
Click here to book Generator Amsterdam.
NH Collection is high-end and has hotels all over Amsterdam. The bed was very big and comfortable. I stayed here in 2017.
Click here to book NH Collection City Center.
Amsterdam Itinerary 3 Days – Closing Thoughts
I don’t know if you have noticed this already but I’m obsessed with Amsterdam. I have visited this lovely city over and over again since the time I moved to Europe from India.
In my numerous visits to Amsterdam, I have done a lot of touristy activities but also a lot of nontouristy things with the locals. I was lucky to have collaborated with I Amsterdam Tourism a few times and once I even cycled from Haarlem to Zandvoort (the nearest beach to Amsterdam).
The reason why I’m mentioning this to you is that I’d like you to consider my Amsterdam itinerary since it is made with a lot of love and research, compared to some other website publishers who have spent just one day here and used AI or Chat GPT and royalty-free images to write an itinerary which may not be very feasible because it isn’t tried and tested like mine is.
If you are new to my website and would like more information about traveling to Amsterdam, be sure to check out the below posts too:
Amsterdam for couples – Romantic things to do in Amsterdam,
Weekend in Amsterdam – how to spend the most amazing weekend in Amsterdam,
2 Days in Amsterdam – a fast-paced itinerary for spending 2 epic days in Amsterdam,
1 day in Amsterdam – when you have just a day, this is what you need,
Amsterdam travel quotes to inspire you,
30 Amsterdam Tips that are ridiculously useful,
Amsterdam-Noord – Hipster neighborhood guide,
NDSM Werf – how to reach, what to do, where to eat,
Amsterdam Instagram Spots – my favorite photo spots of Amsterdam.
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