3 Fantastic Days in Amsterdam

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Advisor - Valerie Mattox
Curated By

Valerie Mattox

  • Amsterdam

  • Active Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Local Culture

  • History

  • Shopping

a pond with lily pads and a swan in a green covered village
Curator’s statement

Amsterdam is one of those cities that has you at hello! Not your typical city with high-rises and skyscrapers, instead think canals, small narrow canal houses, and quite a collection of art museums. A bustling city full of bicycles, boats, and many parks, squares, and wide-open spaces. To this day Amsterdam has my heart. I will definitely get back here in the future.

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Day 1: Arrive in Amsterdam

small boats cruise on a small canal in a historic city

On your first day, explore your area. Walk along the canals, grab lunch at one of the many cafes to people-watch and stop in on any number of little local shops along the way. There is so much to see in Amsterdam so the first day is a great time to get to know the lay of the land and get inspired for the rest of your stay. Walk through any number of their 14 parks, sit, relax and count the bicycles that go by! Let me know how many you count.

One of the best ways to see the city is by water. I would recommend leaving just before sunset, and while you'll see part of the city in daylight, it really comes alive as all the bridges start to light up. Most tours run around an hour and point out different points of interest along the way. It's the most relaxing way to cover a lot of ground and take in the beauty of this city at night.

If your real adventurous, they rent small boats that you can skipper yourself! When they tell you there is no way to get lost, don't believe them. Trust me we did! However, it is still one of our most talked-about experiences ever. We had so much fun and laughs; I don't believe we will ever top it. And fortunately, the Uber drivers are so super helpful they got us back to our starting point and helped make the evening complete.

Day 2: Museums oh my!

a museum on the water with a large historic sailboat

Amsterdam is not lacking in museums. Whether is history or art, there is something for everyone.

My advice is to obtain tickets early if you plan on seeing the Anne Frank House, as it is always busy and sells out often.

The Van Gogh Museum houses the world's largest collection of works by Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh, featuring masterpieces such as Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, and The Bedroom.

Head to the Rijksmuseum to learn all things Netherlands. The completely renovated museum tells the story of the Netherlands from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. It includes works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, and more. Most famous is Rembrandt's masterpiece the Night Watch.

For something completely different go experience Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum). This museum holds one of the world's largest and most notable maritime collections including paintings, ship models, navigation instruments and sea charts. Discover 500 years of Dutch maritime history and its strong link to the society of today and tomorrow.

Day 3: Windmills, historic villages and wooden clogs!

yellow clogs sit on the rock in front of a charming town on a small river

Take a day trip to the historic villages of Zaanse Schans and see the oldest shipyard important since the 17th century. Stop off in the quaint little village of Monnickendam, walk around and head to Weeshuis Monnickendam for some of the best Dutch Apple pie in the world! After all you are in the home of the Dutch.

Visit the little clog-making company to learn how clogs are made. Marken clog-makers is in the town of Marken and offers you a great overview of how the clogs have been made over time. You can even purchase a pair to take home with you.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Arlette Diederiks' guide, Local's Guide to Restaurants & Sightseeing in Amsterdam.

Advisor - Valerie Mattox

Travel Advisor

Valerie Mattox

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Amsterdam.