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3 Day Amsterdam Itinerary: Best Things To Do [2023]

by - Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Amsterdam, Netherlands is a city that captures the heart of every traveler who visits it. With its picturesque canals, vibrant culture, and rich history, it's hard not to get swept away by its charm. We were lucky enough to visit Amsterdam a few weeks ago and found it to be a great place and easy destination to visit in Europe. It is a city that holds appeal for first-time travellers, families, or seasoned adventurers - Amsterdam truly has something for everyone.

amsterdam itinerary, amsterdam canal houses with bicycles, amsterdam in spring

3 Day Amsterdam Itinerary

If you're planning a trip to Amsterdam, this 3 day Amsterdam itinerary is the perfect guide to help you discover the best sights and experiences the city has to offer. When I travel, I love to research well and plan a full itinerary. It's the best way to ensure you don't miss a thing so I hope you'll find this guide useful in planning your own trip.

Table of Contents:

From exploring the historic city centre to indulging in the culinary delights, get ready to fall in love with Amsterdam. All the people we encountered in Amsterdam speak English so it is an easy city to navigate. The city is highly walkable (just watch out for cyclists!) and though public transportation seems plentiful and easy, you can get the best views on foot. 

I'll share some of Amsterdam's main attractions you don't want to miss and provide recommendations on where to stay and eat. You'll also find a map with a walking itinerary included.

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DAY 1: Canal Cruise and Exploring the Historic City Centre

Dutch Pancakes

For a busy day ahead, you need sustenance. Start off by enjoying one of Amsterdam's culinary delights, the traditional Dutch pancake. These hearty pancakes are platter-sized, and can be taken savoury with toppings like goat cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts or sweet and overflowing with ingredients like sauteed pears, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. 

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We enjoyed ours at The Pancake Bakery, located in the heart of the canal district. Insider tip: arrive 15 minutes before opening as the restaurant does have a lineup most mornings.

Canal Cruise

Guided tours are one of the best ways to get a view of the city on your first visit and see its highlights. Even if you're not a fan of the "hop on, hop off" bus tour varieties, you must take a tour in Amsterdam (and it doesn't happen on a bus). 

Start your day with a scenic canal cruise, an activity every visitor should do at least once in Amsterdam. You will be amazed by the stunning architecture and picturesque scenery as you glide through the waterways of Amsterdam's historic city centre, a tightly woven network of canals around the neighbourhoods of De Wallen (Red Light District), Nieuwmarkt, Grachtengordel (Canal Belt) and Jordaan.

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This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and I researched a lot to find a tour company that would give us a fun and educational experience. Located just around the corner from The Pancake Bakery, Those Dam Boat Guys had stellar reviews and I liked their cheeky website - you could tell this wouldn't be an average boring boat ride. 

Our guide Simon provided our small group of 8 a one hour boat tour, which was an ideal amount of time to learn about the city's history and culture from a local's perspective. He took us up and down the beautiful canals of the Jordaan neighbourhood, out to the Amstel river and past the Opera house (referred to as the Stopera by some locals who claim the building resembles a toilet!), and by the Amsterdam Zoo. We had the best time learning about the beautiful gardens, coffee shops culture, many tourist attractions - and caught glimpses of giraffes and elephants!

Anne Frank House

If you're interested in history, the Anne Frank House is a must-see attraction. You can tour the historic building, once the hiding place of Anne Frank and her family during World War II, which has been transformed into a museum that offers a powerful look into the life of this young girl and her family. 

Seeing the rooms where Anne and her family lived in hiding for more than two years, was a moving and thought-provoking immersive experience for our family including our teenager. It provided a unique and unforgettable perspective on one of the darkest periods in human history. 

Tickets for Anne Frank House should be purchased online ahead of your visit. There is a timed entry but you can linger inside as long as you like. The rooms and flow of people can get very crowded but still orderly at times. There are very steep stairs you need to climb during the tour so be aware of that.

Jordaan and De Negen Straatjes Neighbourhoods

In the afternoon, explore the De Negen Straatjes and Jordaan neighborhoods for some shopping and more sightseeing. These fashionable areas are known for trendy boutiques, vintage shops, art galleries and restaurants. Stop in at the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the Amsterdam Cheese Museum next door for souvenirs then take a leisurely stroll along Westerstraat to do some window shopping.

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As you walk, you'll also encounter the city's famous canals, which are dotted with picturesque bridges and colorful houseboats. If you want to admire the typical canal house, you are in the right place. The houses along the Brouwersgracht canal, not far from the central station, are among the most Instagram-worthy.

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Winkel 43 Apple Pie

For a late afternoon snack, definitely give the famous apple pie at Winkel 43 a try. This cozy yet busy cafe serves up the best pie with a thick crust, chunks of caramelized apples, and large dollops of whipped cream. You might have to wait for a table inside the bar area but if the weather is nice, a seat in the streetside terrace is just as nice. If you're hungry, they have lots of other delicious items on the menu (we highly recommend the pumpkin lasagna!).

amsterdam itinerary canal cruise historic city centre

CLICK HERE for this route map

DAY 2: Cultural Immersion, Shopping and Flower Market

Dam Square

Dam Square is a bustling and historic public square located in the heart of Amsterdam. At the center of the square stands the National Monument, a towering structure that commemorates Dutch victims of World War II. On the eastern side of the square, visitors can find the Royal Palace, an opulent 17th-century building that was once the home of the Dutch royal family, and Nieuwe Kerk, a Protestant church from the 15th-century.

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As one of the city's most popular tourist attractions, the square is surrounded by numerous cafes, restaurants, shops, and landmarks. For a quick bite, grab a cone-full of delicious fries at Manneken Pis, served with Flemish mayonnaise naturally, and people watch in the Square with a stream of tourists, locals, street performers and pigeons to entertain you.

Kalverstraat Shopping

Kalverstraat is one of the most popular shopping streets in Amsterdam. It runs from Dam Square to Muntplein Square, about 2.5 km away. You'll find many international and national retail chains for fashion and shoes including H&M, Zara, Esprit, Nike, HEMA and Urban Outfitters. We loved exploring brands we couldn't find at home like Pull and Bear and all the many shoe stores - Europeans really do have the best sneaker style!


As you wander down Kalverstraat, one detour worth making is at Begijnhof. Begijnhof is a tranquil oasis and peaceful atmosphere that makes it a popular destination for visitors looking to escape the busy streets of Amsterdam and enjoy a moment of calm and relaxation. 

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This charming courtyard, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city, is a serene and picturesque place to explore. The courtyard is surrounded by quaint houses, many of which date back to the 17th century, and historic places of worship including Begijnhof Chapel and the Reformed Church. You can also see the black-stained restored wooden house. Built around 1528, this is the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam.

3 day amsterdam itinerary, bloemenmarkt, amsterdam in spring


Bloemenmarkt, or the Flower Market, is the perfect place to end this route. This unique market is situated on the Singel Canal and is famous for its selection of fresh flowers, bulbs, and souvenirs. You can browse a variety of stalls selling a wide range of blooms, including tulips, roses, and daffodils, as well as exotic plants and bulbs. 

3 day amsterdam itinerary, bloemenmarkt, amsterdam in spring

3 day amsterdam itinerary, bloemenmarkt, amsterdam in spring

In addition to the fresh flowers, Bloemenmarkt also sells a variety of souvenirs, such as wooden clogs, Dutch cheeses, and other traditional Dutch items. The market is open year-round and offers a festive and colorful atmosphere that is perfect for tourists looking for a unique shopping experience in Amsterdam. Whether you are a flower lover or just looking for a fun and vibrant market, Bloemenmarkt is definitely worth a visit.

Head back along the same route or take a different route through the Red Light District and then past the Oude Church and back to have dinner near the Royal Palace. We enjoyed our dinner at CAU Steakhouse and afterwards, sat and savoured a cup of coffee in Dam Square, taking in the bustling nightlife in the square. 

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CLICK HERE for this route map 

DAY 3: Art, Food, and Fun

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Start your day off with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, one of the world's most renowned art museums and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Amsterdam. With over 8,000 works of art, you can easily spend hours exploring the collections of Dutch and European art, including masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer. Book your ticket online before you visit. The Vermeer Exhibition which runs until June 2023, is completely sold out, but you can see many decorative arts, sculpture, photography and the ship model collection which we quite enjoyed.

3 day amsterdam itinerary, rijksmuseum, best things to do in amsterdam

3 day amsterdam itinerary, rijksmuseum, best things to do in amsterdam

3 day amsterdam itinerary, rijksmuseum, best things to do in amsterdam


Stepping out from the Rijksmuseum, you'll encounter Museumplein, a bustling public square. Located in the heart of the city's museum district, the square is surrounded by some of Amsterdam's most famous cultural institutions, including the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, and the Royal Concertgebouw concert hall. 

The square is a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike, offering plenty of space for relaxation, recreation, and sitting in the bright Amsterdam sun. It's a beautiful place to enjoy a picnic in the park, dip your feet in the fountain, or sit with a coffee at one of the many cafes that line the square. The square also plays host to numerous events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and art exhibitions.

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Albert Cuyp Market

A 15-minute walk away, you'll find Albert Cuyp Market. This open-air local market stretches for over a kilometer, and offers a diverse range of products for visitors to peruse, including seafood, clothing, jewelry, fresh produce, and much more. If you are looking to immerse yourself in the local culture and cuisine, this is a great way to do that.

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Visitors can enjoy browsing the many stalls and interacting with the friendly fish vendors, cheese vendors, or tulip vendors who are happy to offer their expertise. 

The market is also famous for its delicious street food, including traditional Dutch treats like poffertjes (tiny Dutch pancakes), stroopwafel (a waffle-like cookie filled with syrup), and bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs). We enjoyed seeing how the stroopwafels were made at Happy Wafel and couldn't resist stopping for delicious fish and chips at Vishandel. You're sure to leave the market with a full belly!

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3 day amsterdam itinerary, albert cuyp market, fish and chips, best things to do in amsterdam

Finally, end off your 3-day tour of Amsterdam with a pint at the Heineken Experience. Head to this brewery for a self-guided tour with a beer tasting at the end. What better way to cap off your visit to this vibrant city.

Amsterdam 3 day itinerary, Rijksmuseum, museumplein, albert cuyp market, heineken experience

CLICK HERE for this route map

With all these exciting activities, you'll need a comfortable place to rest your head. Check out my recommendations for where to stay and when to visit Amsterdam next.

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Where to Stay in Amsterdam

As you wind down your busy day in Amsterdam, you'll want to retreat to a cozy spot to recharge for the next day's adventures. Lucky for you, Amsterdam has an array of accommodations to suit every budget and preference.

If you want a peaceful and serene setting, consider staying in Amsterdam's Jordaan neighborhood. This historic district has a rich cultural heritage, narrow streets, and quaint canal-side houses and is close to major attractions like Anne Frank House and Dam Square. You'll be surrounded by art galleries and specialty boutiques and can always find local restaurants open for late dinners or early breakfasts.

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A pretty view of the street in front of Hotel Sebastian

We stayed at Hotel Sebastian. The location couldn't be beat. It was an easy walk from Amsterdam Centraal station and is at the end of a quiet and safe street. We found it easy to drop back at the hotel after breakfast out, or as a break from sightseeing. Our triple room was a very good size, though it was located below ground and had a slightly damp smell in the hallways. The staff were very friendly though, and the one hotel breakfast we enjoyed was really good.

If you're looking for a trendy and vibrant area to stay in, choose a hotel in De Pijp neighborhood. Here you'll find plenty of boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, and apartments. The area is bustling with restaurants, cafes, and the Albert Cuyp Market mentioned above, so you'll never run out of things to do.

When to Visit Amsterdam

Our travel dates in the middle of March coincided with the start of spring, though still too early for tulip season. Days were sunny and warm enough that you could make do with a light winter coat or thin puffer jacket. The streets and attractions were already busy though. We waited in some long lines for museums and some restaurants which was a bit surprising. 

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We took an Uber one time and our driver said that traffic and tourists in the summer high season was about 3x what we experienced. I could only imagine how crowded those narrow canal streets get!! For that reason, I'd say the best month to visit Amsterdam is in early spring, from late March to early May. You won't encounter as many crowds as in the summer months and you'll be there for tulip season and really see the city in full bloom.

Amsterdam is a city that will capture your heart and leave you wanting more. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and modern amenities, it offers an unforgettable travel experience. From exploring its historic city center to indulging in its culinary and artistic scenes, this 3-day itinerary has it all. Start planning your Amsterdam trip today and discover why this city is so beloved by travelers around the world.

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