Are you visiting Amsterdam for a week and want a full 7-day itinerary? I’ve got you covered! This may be weird to say but I actually feel like Amsterdam is an underrated destination. Yeah, you heard me. Well, read me, but you get it.
Most of the time people visit for 2-3 days and while they may see the places and do the things everyone, EVERYONE, says they should do, they don’t actually see the city. Ever since I’ve fallen in love with Amsterdam, my goal has been to help others fall in love with it, too. And I don’t mean just because of the pretty buildings on the canals. I mean, REALLY see it for what it is. I feel like there are days when I’m full of contradictions, but while I want you to really experience and feel the city, I also want to encourage you to get the heck out of it. Amsterdam is not the Netherlands. It’s one rather unique city in a country full of epic scenery, great food, and fun experiences. 7 years in this country and I still haven’t done everything, so I certainly don’t expect you to be able to fit it all in one vacation. But I want you to get a taste, so you want to come back to the Netherlands again to explore more. I know, sneaky sneaky ;).
Use this day to get your bearings around the city if you’ve never been before. I suggest doing this in the most fun way and taking a food tour. We have quite a few to choose from and I’ve heard good things about them all. We tend to go with Eating Europe food tours and we’ve always loved them.
If foodie stuff isn’t your thing, a good ol’ fashion regular walking tour is a good idea, too. Just keep in mind that whatever tour you take will probably be in a relatively touristy area. So, try to explore beyond that area on your own.
To make that easier, grab your 7-day GVB transportation card or I amsterdam card to get free public transportation for the length of the card. With the I amsterdam card, you’ll also get free entrances and discounts all over the city. I also have a full 3-day itinerary with this card if you want to get the most for your money!
Take a canal cruise through the historical Amsterdam canals and you’ll have a completely different perspective and appreciation for the city. It’ll go through the center but then take you farther out so you can see more of the city. There’s a free cruise included in the I amsterdam card, but I’d actually recommend a smaller boat company. Some of my favorites are Those Dam Boat Guys, Boat Amsterdam, Rederij Paping, and Flagship cruises.
Now that you’d have a bit of time to learn about the city, it’s time to dive into the vast world of museums in Amsterdam. We have over 50 museums of all kinds from world-famous ones like the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, and the Van Gogh museum to other amazing ones like the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, Micropia (one of my favorites!), NEMO Science Museum and so many others. We also have a Museum of the Canals, Red Light Secrets, and the Scheepvaartmuseum for anyone who wants to dive a bit deeper into the local history.
Here’s a great website to check out which museums you might like most! Because there are so many and they vary a lot, I think a full day is easy to do without getting museum-fatigue. Just be sure you split it up with some good meals.
Time to get on a bike and out of the city! I will always recommend a countryside bike tour over renting a bike in the city. Why? Because our bike paths are basically roads for bikes, not leisurely do-whatever-you-want paths. And in the old part of the city, much of it has roads that cars and bikes share and there are no stop signs. So, if you do decide to rent a bike in the city, learn the rules, first.
Taking a countryside tour, though, is a dream! Depending on the time of year, you’ll see little lambs along the roadside. It’s the CUTEST THING! Depending on which tour you go on, you may see little villages, the seaside, lots of farmland, windmills, and more. It’s nice to have a guide so you don’t get lost, but also so they can tell you more about the area and how it exists. The Dutch are incredible with their use of land and how they control the water.
Your butt and/or legs may be sore, so take the rest of the day to rest in a park like Westerpark or Vondelpark. Although, if you’re into street art, head to NDSM to get your fill. There’s a free ferry behind Amsterdam Centraal Station that will take you there and you can walk around as long as you’d like. There’s even an indoor street art museum called STRAAT (that means “street” in Dutch) by the famous Anne Frank art piece.
Who’s ready for a day trip?! I think it’s about time to check out somewhere else. You can go many places but I’ll list three here. If you want what is considered a small version of Amsterdam, head to Haarlem. It’s super close by train or bus and very walkable. If you’re looking for a vibrant University town that mixes old and new perfectly, head to Utrecht with the NS train. And for a stately place that’s buzzing and has a beach, head to The Hague!
Like I said, though, there are a bunch of day trips to be had and I have a nice playlist of places outside of Amsterdam if you want to catch up on our videos.
It’s windmills day!! Time to head to Zaanse Schans for part of the day. You can take a bus or train from Amsterdam and it is pretty quick. I have a whole post on Zaanse Schans, so check it out! To walk around the area by the windmills is completely free, but there is a fee to enter some of them. There’s also a museum nearby to give the history of it all that’s worth a visit.
Take your time here, walk around, take a little boat ride, have lunch, and tour the museum. Once you make your way back to Amsterdam, you can relax with a beer at Brouwerij ‘t IJ in an old bath house next to a windmill in the east part of the city. It’s popular with locals and visitors and they make the beer right there!
Rotterdam is a city that is so different from Amsterdam that you can’t leave the Netherlands without a visit. While I’d actually suggest maybe spending your last two nights here, I’ll just assume you’re in Amsterdam the whole 7 days for the purposes on this itinerary. I’ve only stayed in one hotel here, The James Hotel, but I really liked it, so that’s my recommendation!
If you only have a day in Rotterdam, I’d make sure you walk around the Cool District, the Maritiem District, see the Erasmusbrug, take a water taxi, eat at the Markthal, and see the Cube Houses. And, if you have time, grab a drink, snack, or dinner at the Fenix Food Factory.
To get to Rotterdam, you can take the Intercity NS train from Amsterdam Centraal or Amsterdam Sloterdijk Stations. But if you take the Intercity DIRECT from Amsterdam Centraal, you will have to get a special ticket (unless you are local and have an OV-chipkaart in which case you’ll need to tap in again ON THE PLATFORM on the red card-reader). There is a surcharge from Schiphol to Rotterdam because this is the fastest train only taking 41 minutes. Otherwise, it’s an hour and 14 minutes.
Wander the city on your own and take it all in. You’ll want to come back 😉 If you haven’t already been to one of the markets we have, find one of those to check out. The Albert Cuyp Market has some great foods you should try and one of my favorite bubble tea spots is nearby!
Maybe use today to get some views. Head to Cafe-Restaurant Blue, NEMO, Skylounge or the W Lounge to see the city from a new perspective…it’s one of my favorite things to do. Oh! And if you have a sweet tooth, you just HAVE to watch this video I did of a DIY sweets tour. It was so much fun to make and if you like sweets like my friend at The Sweet Wanderlust, you’ll just love it 🙂
Enjoy your time in this amazing city and country. I hope you start to love it as much as I do and that you plan a trip back and maybe stay in a different part of the country to get a totally different experience!
Wishing you joy and travels!