What to Do in Amsterdam for 3 Days. Everything you Need to Know—in My Personal Guide

streets of Amsterdam

My husband and I took a trip to Amsterdam in July, and it was truly wonderful. In this city, every detail illustrates the fusion of Dutch neatness with chaos and confusion. Classic pubs, markets with tulips of all possible colors, free love, and easy drugs—meet the guide to, without exaggeration, the most charming city in Northern Europe. 

I’ll start with an important life hack: before our trip, we bought an I amsterdam City Card, which allows you to ride public transportation for free, rent bicycles, enter almost all museums in the city, take an hour-long cruise along the canals, and much more. You can get an online version of the card or stop by the central station to pick up the physical counterpart. For three days, this pleasure cost us 90 euros per person.

Read more tips for a trip to Amsterdam.


From the airport, the best way to get there is by train. It only takes 15 minutes to get to the main station (Amsterdam Centraal stop). Trains run like clockwork, and you can buy a ticket at a yellow and blue machine with a clear interface.

Public transport in the city is very well organized: metro, streetcars, buses, high-speed trains, and free ferries run like clockwork. As I’ve already written, we bought a City Card and had a carefree ride on any of the modes of transportation when we needed it. As for cabs, they are really expensive here—from 15 euros and up.

As for bicycles, In Amsterdam, it is not just a means of transportation, but a real lifestyle. Keep your eyes on the road, remember to keep your rhythm, show your hand at turns, and don’t race if you’re not confident in your abilities. The Dutch are pretty tough drivers, so if you do decide to be a pedestrian, stay off the bike lane and walk on the sidewalk.


We chose to stay in the original and beautiful Bunk Hotel Amsterdam. It seems that previously it was a church (look at the photos). Overall, we enjoyed our stay and can recommend it without a doubt. The cost for three days in the capsule for two was around 360 euros.  

By the way, we lived not in the center but in the northern part of Amsterdam—Noord. It’s already much calmer and quieter; more locals live here. All in all, cool.

Bunk Hotel Amsterdam
Our hostel
Northern part of Amsterdam—Noord
Noord, the northern part of Amsterdam, where we lived
Houses in the Noord part of Amsterdam
Houses, where ordinary Amsterdamers live

Here, you can find the top cheap hotels in Amsterdam.

Cultural program

Day 1

The first station in our cultural program was the Van Gogh Museum (Paulus Potterstraat, 7). One ticket cost 20 euros. And don’t forget that in Amsterdam, you must pre-book your visits to museums. 

I’m assuring you that this is a place worth visiting. Here, you will learn in detail about the artist’s life and work and see the famous “Sunflowers”, “Potato Eaters” and “Wheatfield with Crows”. You will also find a collection of works by the artist’s contemporaries: Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, and others. 

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Inside of the Van Gogh Museum

After the museum, we joined the classic tour across the city from our beloved international project, the Free Walking Tour. We also pre-booked a spot on this excursion beforehand. Our meeting point was Dam Square, from which you can get anywhere in the capital.

While walking with our guide, we learned a lot of interesting facts about history, architecture, bicycles (there are more of them than there are people), free love, Red Street Light, and, of course, food in Amsterdam (especially love to herring). For example, back in the day, the place where the current city is located was a swamp, so houses here were built on wooden stilts to keep them from sinking. And imagine that, because of the lack of housing, many people live in boats and even raise some chickens on the territory. 

Dam Square in the center of Amsterdam
living boat in Amsterdam

In the evening, we went to the Red Light District. De Vallen is the largest network of alleyways with red-lit rooms. Just be aware that taking pictures of people in the windows is forbidden and closely monitored. 

Next to the Red Light District is Chinatown. On the small streets of Zeedijk and Geldersekade, lovers of all things oriental will find many stores and restaurants with a corresponding atmosphere. The He Hua Temple (Zeedijk, 106-118), the largest Buddhist temple in Europe, deserves special attention. You can get inside on all days except Monday. 

Red Light District in Amsterdam

As for coffee shops, there are a huge number of them in Amsterdam, so if buying marijuana is on your personal to-do list, check out the most famous ones and choose what you like. The vendors will always tell you what’s best to get from the menu, so don’t be timid.

cafe in the Red Light District in Amsterdam

Day 2

In the morning of the next day, we went to the Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat, 1), which has the largest collection of Dutch art. The Golden Age of Dutch painting in all its glory, with Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” at the center of the exhibition. Plus, don’t miss the secret Rijksmuseum Gardens right in the courtyard. 

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum Gardens in Amsterdam

In the Dutch Science Museum NEMO (Oosterdok, 2), which was also on our list, you can learn about the structure of the universe and the world of technology. For this purpose, the center’s employees make all exhibits interactive and conduct lectures and presentations. The creators hope to popularize science among the youngest children as well.

Moreover, the roof deck of the NEMO Science Museum is the largest observation deck in Amsterdam.

Science Museum NEMO in Amsterdam
the roof deck of the NEMO Science Museum

Then, taking the Heineken on the road, we enjoy the view of the city with a one-hour boat tour across the canals. By the way, although the geography of the “Venice of the North” is not easy to understand, there are only four main canals: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht. They form the famous ring of canals that has been circling the historic city center since the 17th century. 

There are tons of companies offering tours; we personally chose Stroma. 

at the start point of canal cruise in Amsterdam
view while on boat tour across the canals in Amsterdam

And the final note in our cultural activities for this day was an organ concert in the Basilica of St. Nicholas. We learned about this event accidentally while walking around, and it was a really lovely and kind of meditative experience. If you are interested, you can check the schedule on the site of this church. We paid 20 euros for two. 

Basilica of St. Nicholas in Amsterdam in the evening

Day 3

The morning of the third day, we met at the one giant free open-air museum—the NDSM Werf. This is a creative “self-made city” that has grown out of a former shipyard. Note that this place is pretty far away from the center, so the best option is catching the ferry. But as we were living in the Noord district, this place was more approachable, and we appeared there in 40 minutes of walking. 

free open-air museum—the NDSM Werf
The NDSM Werf in Amsterdam

The one more perl among the museums in Amsterdam that we visited was the Moco Museum. Here, we saw many works by Banksy and other contemporary artists, as well as interesting and original installations. 

And, of course, we couldn’t miss seeing how the Heineken Experience looks at Heineken’s oldest brewery. Here it is!

Heineken Experience musium in Amsterdam

On our last evening in Amsterdam, we decided to step away from the busy streets, took the bus, and went to the outskirts of town (point on the map — Bert Haanstrakade). This appeared to be a great idea: we were strolling along the waterfront and seeing the quiet life of the Dutch.

outskirts of Amsterdam, Bert Haanstrakade
walking along the waterfront in a quiet district of Amsterdam

Food and drinks

Food in Holland is a separate topic, about which one can talk endlessly. I will tell you about our gastronomic experience.

For the most budget-friendly snack, buy sandwiches and salads from the Albert Heijn supermarket chain. They are always fresh and taste quite decent. Best of all, they cost €4. 

If you’re in Holland for the first time, try traditional Dutch herring. Locals pick up the fish and, with their heads up, take bite after bite. You can get sliced herring with onions and cucumber or broodje herring—herring in a hot dog-like bun. It will cost €3.5-4 for a snack. 

The local fast-food idea is to sell food from special vending machines consisting of heated cells. A variety of burgers and simple snacks are offered by chain company FEBO. We, for example, tried these croquettes, and they were delicious! 

FEBO chain in Amsterdam

A favorite and almost traditional Dutch food is French fries. Look for the crispiest fries on Damrak Street, a minute from the central station. There you’ll find the Manneken Pis stall, which has repeatedly been recognized as the best French fry maker in the Netherlands.

Manneken Pis in Amsterdam
fried potato at Manneken Pis in Amsterdam

We didn’t forget about the famous waffles with hot syrup (stroopwafels). Expensive (7 euros a piece, but delicious!). 

stroopwafels in Amsterdam, Netherlands

And of course, you should try the local cheeses (Kaas)—there are stores with them at every turn. 

cheese stores in Amsterdam

The places where you can stay for lunch or dinner are: Blue Amsterdam (we tried apple pie with coffee) and BLEND Coffee & Wine (choose a place on the terrace).

Look for the best Amsterdam burgers near the Red Light district: Burger Zaken (Oude Hoogstraat, 2) offers veal, chicken, and even vegan burgers with cool add-ons to choose from.

Probably the largest stock of different beers can be found at Gollem (Raamsteeg, 4, near Rembrandt Square). Gollem serves more than 200 beers from all over the world, including as many as 14 cask beers, which are regularly changed. The bar often hosts themed beer weeks, and this attracts a large audience of tourists and locals alike.

As a coffee lover, I can recommend drinking a good one at places like Barmhartig, Bocca, or the oldest Coffee Company chain.

coffee at Barmhartig in Amsterdam

I hope this guide has been helpful to you. Share your favorite places in Amsterdam in the comments.

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