What to see in Amsterdam in 1, 2 and 3 days
What to see and where to go in Amsterdam?
If you planned a trip to Amsterdam you must wonder: how many days are left for sightseeing in this wonderful city? How do you distribute your time wisely to see as many sights as possible?
Relying on our personal experience we will try to help you find answers to these questions.
Itinerary for Day 1: Strolling through the historic center
On the first day, most tourists traditionally go to explore the most interesting thing: the center of Amsterdam. It is where the most popular attractions are concentrated. And so we will.
Don’t forget you can’t spend the whole first day exploring the city, as you have to spend a lot of time on airport transfers, checking into a hotel/hostel, and other primary matters. And not everyone arrives early in the morning.
We tried to compose a convenient walking route through the historic center, which would cover as many interesting places as possible.
Leidseplein (Leiden square).
Start your walk at Leidseplein. Why here? It’s a small square on the edge of the historic center and it’s a very good starting point to go deep into the old town.
Five streetcar lines intersect here, so if you’re staying away from the city center, it will be quite easy and convenient to get here. The square is very lively and there are many cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets around (such as the Wok to Walk establishment, which we wrote about in the article To Amsterdam cheap), and you can hardly eat after your flight and check-in until then. In short, Leidseplein is the perfect place for a starting point of departure and to satisfy all needs.
From the square we move along Leidsestraat.
We cross the three main city canals (Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht and Herengracht) over bridges and come to a bridge over the Single canal, which forms a small square called Koningsplein. Here is the Frens Haringhandel shop, where you can try the famous Dutch fast food – a hot dog with a herring. The Flower Market on the right is worth a stop: a great selection of souvenirs at the lowest price in town, tulip bulbs, cheeses and free tasting – in general, despite the name, not only flowers are sold here, and the place is quite interesting.
Before you turn on the market, we recommend to walk a little to the left and admire the Gothic church De Kritjberg.
After passing through the Flower Market, we turn left and come to the quite famous landmark of the city – the Coin Tower.
Spuy Square and Beguinage
Next, we walk along Rokin Street and then turn to Spui Square.
Here we need to find a wooden door, which will lead you to a very interesting place – the closed courtyard Begijnhof. It is a very picturesque and quiet courtyard surrounded by typical Amsterdam houses. By the way, the place is not so popular among tourists and not many people, but the atmosphere here is amazing.
Then we return to Rokin Street and head to the heart of Amsterdam – the main central Dam Square.
The main sites here are the New Church (Nieuwe kerk), the Royal Palace and the National Monument.
The Red Light District (daytime) and the Audekerk Church
After admiring the expanses of the square, walk along Damstraat, then turn off at Voorburgwal and along the canal head for Amsterdam’s main church, the Audeckerk.
To get inside the church you need to pay 10 euros. Whether it is worth it or not is up to you to decide, but it is necessary to appreciate this oldest huge church at least from the side.
The block we are walking through, by the way, is the famous Red Light District. You will probably get here during the day or in the early evening and you will most likely catch yourself thinking that this place has nothing to do with what you usually expect to see in the Red Light District. Don’t be intimidated. That’s what it’s supposed to be. By day and by night, it’s two completely different places with a different atmosphere. The architectural splendor of the quarter is unlikely to be seen in the dark, but by day it’s perfect. There are a number of quite unusual and interesting museums nearby: the Museum of cannabis, marijuana and cannabis, the Museum of Prostitution, the Museum of Erotica. You can check out one of them if time permits.
We will return to the Red Light Streets, of course.
After walking to the end of the street we get to the spacious Prins Hendrikkade street.
At first, after the narrow streets along the canals, you will be quite unfamiliar here: too big and open space for Amsterdam. A huge architectural building right in the center is the Central Station.
Here is also the main transportation hub of the city, where three subway lines and many streetcar and bus routes intersect. You may have been here before, as the train from the airport arrives right here (and the bus to our starting point, Leidseplein Square). Read more about transportation in Amsterdam.
On the right side is another noteworthy site, the Church of St. Nicholas – it’s worth checking out.
Stroll along the canals
In front of the Central Station, along Damrak Street, there is a pier from which the Amsterdam Canal boat tours depart.
Be sure to take a tour! It takes about 60-75 minutes. For a standard multi-passenger covered boat you will need to pay 16 euros, for 19-20 euros you can take a small boat for 10-12 people. The driver of the boat will act as a guide. Learn more about the canals of Amsterdam.
The canal cruise ends where it began, so you will be back in front of the Central Station.
Right across from the pier is the Sex Museum, a popular attraction for visitors to the city. The entrance ticket costs only 5 euros, a walk around the museum takes 20-30 minutes. If you are interested, do not hesitate to visit.
In 10-15 minutes walk from the station is another interesting place – the Science Museum Nemo. A lot of interactive exhibits that you can touch, feel, click and get an idea of how the world works. However, this place is interesting not only as a museum.
The roof of its building is an open panoramic platform, which offers a good view of Amsterdam.
There is a café on this site where you can order yourself a drink, take a break from your walk, and admire the views until dark. A visit to the Nemo Museum, however, can be postponed until the third day. The program for the first day we have pretty full, and it depends on what time you arrived in town, checked into the hotel and started your journey.
Red Light District (in the evening).
After dusk begins to fall on the city, return to the Red Light District. This is where it all begins to get interesting, and Amsterdam opens up to you in a whole new way.
If you are visiting Amsterdam just for one day, if you are just passing through and do not need to check into a hotel/hostel, you can walk this route backwards, i.e. start your walk from the Central Station.
Amsterdam in 1 day – itinerary on the map
On the first day you will see the most important sights of Amsterdam, but of course not all of them.
The second day, we mainly propose to devote to the most famous museums of the city. They are concentrated in one place, which, oddly enough, is called the Museum Quarter.
If you live far from the city center, the best way is to go to the familiar Leidseplein. From there, it’s a five-minute walk to the Museum Quarter.
What museums are located here? First and foremost are: Rijksmuseum Art Museum (€17.5) and Van Gogh Museum (€17).
You can visit these museums as part of interesting tours, in the company of Russian-speaking art guides:
- Enjoy a visit to the Rijksmuseum with an art historian
- Understand Van Gogh: Learn about the artist’s life and work at the Van Gogh Museum
There’s also the Diamond Museum (€10), and nearby the Heineken Beer Museum (€16 for an online ticket and €18 if buying on the spot).
Prices, of course, bite – Amsterdam is not known for low prices for tourists, especially for the cultural and historical attractions. Depend on your budget and personal preferences.
Right in front of the Rijksmuseum is the famous I Amsterdam sign, near which you will surely want to take a photo.
A few steps away from the Heineken Museum is the rather popular Albert Cape Market, where you can do a little shopping.
After visiting the museums, we suggest a stroll through the city’s most famous Wondela Park, located nearby.
What to see in Amsterdam for day 2 + map
On the third day, we suggest you leave in the morning for the countryside, in the village-museum Saanse-Schans, 16 kilometers from Amsterdam.
The Netherlands is rightly considered the “land of mills”. Saanse-Schans is a striking confirmation of this.
There are about 10 mills, each of them once produced their own products: oil, mustard, paint, spices, etc. In each of them you can enter, some for free and some for a few euros. In addition to the mills, the village has about 30 buildings, many of which are small museums and souvenir stores, including products that are produced in the mills. In short, a real paradise for tourists.
You can get to the village by train departing from Central Station, so this is where we need to arrive first.
After you return from the village to Central Station, you can go to the Nemo Museum, if you choose not to do so on the first day. In any case, the interesting places in the city are still over.
Directly behind the Central Station is the pier, from which the free ferry leaves for the northern Amsterdam district of Noord. The area itself does not have any interesting tourist attractions, but is mostly residential. But someone may find it interesting to see a very different, non-touristy, Amsterdam.
From the Central Station you can also walk (or take a few streetcar stops) to perhaps the most unusual sight in the city, the Python Bridge.
The amazing places don’t end there. Have you ever drank a beer right in the shadow of a huge old mill? Then De Goyeer Mill, which is home to the Brouwerij’t IJ brewery bar, is the next stop on your Amsterdam trip.
Don’t forget that Holland is a small country. From Amsterdam you can go to other cities: Rotterdam, The Hague, etc.
What to see in Amsterdam in 1, 2 and 3 days
Article itinerary: find out what you can see in Amsterdam in 1, 2, and 3 days. Hours of operation, ticket prices for museums and attractions, and how to get there. Each subsequent day complements the previous day – so in three days you will visit all the significant places of the city.
See things to see in Amsterdam in 1 day
The main starting point of the route is the Central Station . The main sights of the city – Dam Square, the red light district and others – are within walking distance.
How to get from the airport? Take a train: it takes 20 minutes to Amsterdam Centraal – Central Station. The ticket costs 5 euros, at night the trains leave every hour. Bus number 197 goes to Museum Square, the ticket costs 5 euros. A cab ride will cost 40-50 euros. Read more about how to get from Schiphol Airport to downtown
Dam Square is easily recognized by the snow-white National Monument, it is located at the intersection of Damrak and Rokin streets. To the southeast of the square is the famous red light district, to the west is the Royal Palace and the New Church. The Sin District is best visited in the evening, and you don’t have to worry about transportation – there are buses running at night.
By day, it’s good to walk around the center of the Dutch capital. The Royal Palace is the current residence of the monarchs, so you can not always admire the interior decoration. Sometimes the palace is open to visitors (from 11 to 17), the entrance costs 10 euros. Nearby are the famous waxworks museum Madame Tussauds (admission 22 euros) and the New Church – a temple in the Gothic style.
The historical center of Amsterdam is easy to see in one day – it is quite compact, you can walk around it. Bicycle enthusiasts can easily find bike parking lots at every turn.
(Photo: Tambako the Jaguar / flickr.com / CC BY-ND 2.0 license)
You can buy the best souvenirs, fresh flowers, seeds and plant bulbs at the Flower Floating Market – Bloemenmarket . Market on the canal Singel exists for over 100 years. Previously there were boats with the goods, now all the pavilions are stationary. The market is open on weekdays from 9 to 17:30, and on weekends from 11 am.
Not far from the market is a cheese shop Reypenaer, where you can taste and buy real Dutch cheese, the average cost 5-9 euros.
Near the Flower Market on the Koningsplein side there are pavilions with Dutch herring, easily recognized by the inscription Vis or Verse Haring. The fish costs about 3 euros. The Dutch eat herring by the tail, but for tourists it is cut up and put on a bun. And the famous Dutch sandwich can be bought for 1.5-2.5 euros in the “walls with food” – FEBO or Smullers, their signs everywhere in tourist areas. Read more about how to eat inexpensive and delicious food in Amsterdam and The Hague.
From the Flower Market, it’s easy to get to Amsterdam’s main shopping street, Kalverstraat . Here you can have lunch and make pleasant purchases. At the flower market and the eastern end of Kalverstraat is the Coin Square and its main attraction, the Coin Tower.
In Amsterdam it is not possible to see everything in one day, but we recommend to drop in the evening in the red light district – in the quarter De Vallen, between Central Station and the New Church. Here in the red-lit shop windows, the ladies of love exhibit themselves as merchandise. It is forbidden to take pictures of the ladies, for which the vigilant security guards can inflict light bodily injury.
Young people flock to the numerous coffee shops and smart shops where psychedelic substances are sold legally.
For the especially curious there are museums: from 9:30 to 23:30 – Sex Museum (4 euros), from 10 to 22 – Marijuana Museum (9 euros), from 11 am to 1 am – Erotic Museum (7 euros), from 12 to midnight – Museum of Prostitution (10 euros). At 19:00 opens Casa Rosso sex theater (from 40 euros).
Book hotels in Amsterdam in advance! We allowed ourselves to procrastinate on our trip to Holland and ended up with the best-priced options already sorted out. To find hotels at the best price, use Roomguru – it’s a search engine that compares prices and allows you to find the best deal. If you start looking for accommodations ahead of time, you can find good hostels for prices starting at 21€ per person, and rooms for two people in a downtown hotel starting at 70€.
(Photo: HereIsTom / flickr.com / License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Day 2 in Amsterdam: What to see?
If the first day is devoted to the main sights, the second day in Amsterdam is worth devoting to museums and less touristy places.
From the Central Station take the streetcar (#12, 11, 5, 2, 3) to the famous Museum Square, stop Hobbemastraat. There are four major museums: the State Museum (Rijksmuseum), Van Gogh Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (Stedelijk) and the Diamond Museum. In front of the Rijksmuseum are huge letters “I AMSTERDAM”. So you can combine a photo shoot with a cultural program.
The Rijksmuseum is a wonderful place to visit, and even for a quick tour you should allow at least 1-1,5 hours for each museum. The Rijksmuseum contains paintings by Dutch artists and the famous “Night Watch” by Rembrandt. The Van Gogh Museum has more than 200 paintings of the genius. The Stedelijk Museum has paintings by Picasso, Cézanne, Kandinsky, Monet, Chagall and Kazimir Malevich.
The Rijksmuseum is open from 9 to 17, the Van Gogh until 18 and until 22 on Fridays. The Stedelijk is open from 10 to 18 and until 22 on Thursdays. There may be lines at the entrances to the museums, so better buy tickets online and walk down the special corridor with prints. Tickets cost 17-20 euros.
The diamond museum was founded by Coster Diamonds, which fulfilled the British order to polish the Koh-i-noor diamond. The ticket costs 8.5 euros and people can watch the jewelers’ technique and then admire the stones in the vault.
What else can I see in Amsterdam in 2 days? When the weather is warm, take a boat trip. Usually the easiest cruise takes just over an hour and costs 13-16 euros. From Museum Square you can walk along the three Grand Canals.
Another option is to visit the Natura Artis Magistra Zoo in Amsterdam (metro stop Waterlooplein), which is home to over 6,000 animals, take a walk in the botanical garden or go to the planetarium and museums. Admission to the zoo costs 20 euros (16.5 euros for children 3-9 years) and is open all year round until 6 pm. You can buy tickets online.
In the evening you can go to the Chinatown, which runs parallel to the red light district on Zeedijk Street. There are lots of Asian restaurants where you can eat for 8 euros. There’s also the authentic Buddhist He Hua Temple.
(Photo: visualpanic / flickr.com / CC BY 2.0 license)
Day 3 in Amsterdam: What to see?
The third day in Amsterdam can be devoted to the prestigious Jordaan neighborhood . To do so, take the subway and get off at the Nieuwmarkt stop. At 69 Sint Antonijesbreestraat, there is a public library in the house of the banker Pinto, an old building from 1605.
Nearby on the Jodenbreestraat is the Rembrandt House Museum. In the house, the interior has been restored according to an inventory, which was preserved after the sale of the artist’s property at auction. The interior has engravings by Rembrandt and paintings by his students. Not far from the museum on Waterloo Square is a grand flea market and the Jewish Museum in 4 synagogues on Nieuwe Amstelstraat. The museum is open from 11 to 17, admission is 15 euros.
If you have time and energy, you can visit the Western Church on the waterfront Prinsengracht. From its bell tower you can easily see the whole city. Admission is from 10 to 15, except Sundays. On the church square there is a monument to Anne Frank and her house-museum is nearby. The exhibition focuses on the life of a Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation. Opening hours vary and admission is 10 euros.
In the evening you can go to Leiden Square, Leidseplein streetcar stop. The square has a city theater and more than 100 restaurants, where you can taste any cuisine of the world.
If you did not get to Amsterdam everything you wanted to see in 3 days, do not be disappointed – it is a good reason to return to this wonderful city again.
From Amsterdam it is easy to get to other cities and countries by train and bus: