DAY 1: Get Your Bearings
Start your day with a relaxed stroll around De 9 Straatjes (the 9 Streets), a picturesque area, which really shows you what Amsterdam is all about. While you wander up and down the canals you will come across Westerkerk and Anne Frank’s House as well as many trendy shops, cafes and restaurants. You could spend a whole day relaxing in this area if you wanted to but if you’re short on time, spend a morning browsing the shops and then grab some lunch from one of the independent eateries. You can also take a look at the Jordaan neighbourhood, especially the streets, Haarlemmerstraat and Haarlemmerdijk which are at the top end of the area. While walking around look out for the bikes, one second you think you’re safe, next thing you know bikes are coming at you from all directions!
From ‘the 9 Streets’ it’s a short walk to Central Station, in front of which you can catch a canal boat tour, which will give you chance to sit back and relax after your morning of walking. It will also let you get your bearings, see the different neighbourhoods, learn some history and admire the city’s architecture. If you want to see that little bit extra and have a more authentic experience, go on a smaller boat as they can go to more parts of the city.
DAY 2: Get Cultured
Amsterdam has some absolutely beautiful and brilliant museums, so on your second day I would suggest heading to Museumplein. Conveniently, the most famous of the museums are all in one place so you can get from one to another pretty quickly and it makes it easier to see them in the same day. Tickets to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelikj are around €17 for each so if you’re on a budget you may want to pick what you want to see carefully. You can comfortably fit seeing two into a day and make the most of your entrance price. If you want to fit in all three museums, it would be possible, but you may have to make your way around them a little faster and maybe just pick some highlights in the Rijksmuseum, for example ‘The Night Watch’ painted in 1642 by Rembrandt, the Doll’s Houses and the library. The building is reason enough to visit the Rijksmuseum. A couple of highlights of the Van Gogh Museum are ‘Sunflowers,’ painted in 1889 and ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ painted in 1890.
If you didn’t manage to fit in the Anne Frank House on the previous day you could do it today instead of one of the museums. It’s about a 25 minute walk from Museumplein, is only €9 and definitely worth a visit.
After your day taking in the city’s history and art, head to FoodHallen to relax and experience the trendy burgeoning food scene of the city. Located in a renovated tram depot, this indoor food market has a wide variety of independent vendors to choose from and a great mixture of locals and tourists. Grab your food, a drink, sit back and enjoy the bustling atmosphere. There’s live music on Tuesdays and a live DJ on Fridays and Saturdays.
DAY 3: Get Wandering
This is the day to see some of the areas you’ve not explored in the previous days. Of course you won’t be able to fit everything into three days, but hey that gives you more reasons to make a return visit! Of course, what you see first on this day will depend on where you’re staying but the city is very walkable and it’s very enjoyable to wander around as all the streets are just so pretty. I’d recommend going to Dam Square to see the Royal Palace and the National monument. Not too far from there is Begijnhof, a picturesque little courtyard with a long and interesting history.
The street that runs from the Rijksmuseum, Spiegelgracht/ Nieuwe Spiegelstraat is also worth exploring as it is full of quirky, independent shops and art galleries. Then, if it intrigues you, take a stroll through the Red Light District.
Of course there is so much more to see in the city such as Vondelpark, Westerpark, the Rembrandt House Museum, the docks and North Amsterdam. Lots of reasons to stay longer than three days or to go back again at another time! I know I will be!
Enjoy this short little video of my time in Amsterdam: