Exploring a new city is always an exciting experience, especially when you’re in a different country. Although you wish you could spend forever there, many times you’re limited to just a few days. I recently got the chance to spend 3 days in Amsterdam, and I wanted to see as much as I possibly could while I was there. If you get a similar chance, here are all the must do’s of the city!
Day 1 – Museums & Tours
The best thing to do when you first get to Amsterdam is to head to the museum district. Note that you’re going to want to get all your tickets in advance because they’re pretty strict on how many people can get in at one time.
Van Gogh Museum
I loved the Van Gogh museum! It was so cool to see how much his work changed throughout his life. It was also interesting to see how different events in his lifetime influenced his painting style (what colors he used, subjects, style, etc.).
We didn’t get a chance to go in because we were short on time the first day since our plane landed late and we had other things that we wanted to do. However, if you do have the time to go to the Rijks, I’ve heard only fabulous things about it! Make sure you allot a few hours for it, though, because it’s very big.
Anne Frank House
Only go to this museum if you’re booking your trip very far in advance. If you don’t have a booking, you have to go and wait in line for hours, and you only have a chance of getting in after 3:30. We thought about trying, but then we decided it wasn’t worth spending a whole day waiting.
This is a must do. You see so much more of the city when you’re on a canal than you do from the street, and it’s a very relaxing way to get acquainted with Amsterdam. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to take photos! What more could you want?
Red light district
This is kind of one of those things that you should do when you’re in Amsterdam. Even if you’re not interested in the things that go on there, take one lap around one of the streets and head back to town center. That’s what we did!
Day 2 – Castle & Heineken Experience
This castle is right outside of Amsterdam. I highly recommend going on a ferry because of the beautiful views. It takes about 45 minutes by boat, but it’s so worth it! Once you get to the castle, there’s a guided tour that takes you to a few different places on the inside, and then you have free reign when it comes to exploring the rest. This trip is definitely worth 4 hours of your time!
Amsterdam is known for their Heineken beer! It’s so well known, in fact, that they created a tour that takes you through the history and the process of actually brewing the beer. There’s a bunch of interactive features to the experience, plus you get to sample the beer at the end! Definitely get tickets beforehand though so you can skip the line!
I Amsterdam sign
This is one of the most touristy things ever, but it’s a great photo op! Make sure you don’t go on a Saturday or in the middle of the day because it’s harder to get a good picture with all the rest of the tourists around.
Day 3 – Windmills at Zaanse Schans
This little village is about a 40 minute bus ride outside of Amsterdam, but it’s the cutest thing in the world! It’s exactly what you think of when you think about Holland – cheese making, windmills, flowers, and wooden clogs. We spent about two hours there in total, but you could probably spend the whole day there if you wanted to!
Extra Tips about Amsterdam
Buy a travel pass
It feels like nothing in Amsterdam is close by to each other besides a few of the museums, so you’re definitely going to want to get a travel pass. It can get you on the busses and the trams, and it’s much less expensive than getting taxis or Ubers everywhere.
Use a route planner
When you know where you’re going next, use the route planner on the Amsterdam transportation website so you know exactly which tram or bus to take and which stop to get off at. Since everything is in Dutch, some spoken directions get lost in translation (speaking from experience here), so you’re definitely going to want that route planner.
Watch your belongings like a hawk
Sadly, Amsterdam has more pickpockets than your average city, so be very aware of where your stuff is at all times. We didn’t have any problems with this, but I’ve heard stories of people getting their wallets stolen from right under their noses. If you have a bag with zippers, definitely use it!
Enjoy your trip! Amsterdam is a beautiful city and is definitely worth going to! If you’re worried about a language barrier, don’t be. I never came across anyone I couldn’t speak to in English. If you’re going to Amsterdam soon, have fun and take lots of pictures!
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