Is Amsterdam the best city in the world? Yes, I think so. Granted, I’m a bit biased, but there’s a reason we chose to live here! And because I live here, I can give you tips on what we would suggest you do, especially if you only have time for a weekend trip to Amsterdam. There are so many things to do in Amsterdam, so this is a guide to do a little bit of the touristy stuff and a little bit of getting a totally different vibe of the city and its surroundings.
Are you ready?? I’m so excited to share this because I’ve had people visit and I always end up just jotting a few ideas down, but I never really put much together for you all, and that’s about to change! Much more Amsterdam content is coming your way! If you want to give input on what should be next, please let your thoughts in the comments. Can’t wait to hear them!
Ok, so we’re assuming a 3-day weekend trip because, for some reason, people think you only need a couple of days in this magical city. We’ve lived here for 5 years and haven’t seen it all…so yeah…stay longer if you can. Also, mix and match these days to create the best 3-day Amsterdam itinerary for you.
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Day 1 of your weekend trip to Amsterdam
Let’s assume you get here in the morning, so if you’re taking the Eurostar from London or the Thalys from Paris to Amsterdam, take the early train to make the most of your day. If you ask me what to do in Amsterdam for 3 days my first instinct is to take you to my absolute favorite brunch spot to get it all started and talk it over. But, since you’re my online buddy, I just put it all in this blog post for you to refer to!
Brunch at Greenwoods on Keizersgracht
There are a couple of Greenwoods locations, but I’ve only ever been to the one on Keizersgracht. I just loved it so much that I never tried the one on Singel. Oops. But on Keizersgracht. you have the downstairs setting that is super gezellig (a Dutch word for something similar to cozy), or on a nice day, they’ll have outdoor seating next to the canal. YES! Epic breakfast, brunch, lunch, snack, whatever, next to the freaking canal. Also, if you are a bit of a tea snob, Greenwoods has really good tea. They also make homemade juices if you’re wanting to feel extra healthy. Their desserts are homemade, their chutney is homemade, I think everything is pretty much homemade. And you must try the soda bread. You just have to.
Book a photoshoot
Now that your hanger (hunger/anger) is under control, do a photoshoot solo if you’re taking a “you” vacation, or with your friends and family who came along. We did one and it was so much fun! The photos we took with Travelshoot are still some of my favorite photos of us. Usually, people put us in the traditional couples poses, which don’t work for us. But these…I mean…I feel like WE shined through and having Amsterdam as a background is just icing on the cake. Selfies are great, but having a photoshoot when traveling, especially for a special occasion, can make all the difference. Book your photoshoot here.
Take a walking tour
Now that you feel like a superstar, it’s time to really get to know the city a bit better. There are many free walking tours you can take. Just be sure to tip well (~10 euro per person is best). I learned a secret when I was interviewing to be a tour guide on one of those tours. The guide has to pay the company a certain amount per person for “marketing”. It was 2 euro a few years ago for that one company, so tipping well ensures that the guide will still get a decent tip. However, you can always book a regular tour as well. There are a bunch here on GetYourGuide where I’m an affiliate partner. So, booking through that link actually helps this website as well as being super convenient (the app is SO helpful!).
Dinner at Restaurant Floreyn
Restaurant Floreyn is special because they create old Dutch flavors with a new and modern twist. The experience is unlike any other in Amsterdam. It’s fine dining with a casual feel, but still good service and excellent food. If they offer a set menu when you visit, definitely go for that. If not, just ask for recommendations. The drinks are also very well done and local. It’s all about local food and drinks here which is one reason why I recommend it. We travel just as much for food as anything else, so we’ll be recommending the best we know of while not going crazy on the budget.
Day 2 of this 3-day itinerary
Sleep in a bit, but not too long! You’ll want to have breakfast at Omelegg because it’s the most delicious start to a morning. Be careful to not overstuff yourself so you’ll have room for the food tour later!.
Breakfast at Omelegg
There are so many options at Omelegg to enjoy. I love the scrambled egg in a croissant. It comes with a little side salad so you can get a few greens in there, too! The menu is pretty large, but the main focus is eggs, so be sure to get a dish with eggs in it. There are a couple of shops in Amsterdam, so find the one closest to you and be prepared — it’s popular so you may have to wait a bit. It’s not usually too long, though. No matter which dish you order, get yourself some fresh-squeezed orange juice. It’s a thing here in Amsterdam, you must have fresh orange juice.
Explore the canals by foot
Make some time to just wander around. Maybe you head to the food tour spot a bit early and wander around there so you aren’t late. Hopefully, you have some data on your phone and you can GPS your way back to where you need to be. But don’t worry, it’s wrong that Dutch people are rude. They are simply direct (while some are rude, but that’s all cultures!), so don’t be afraid to ask for directions. Enjoy the visual show the city puts on for you.
Join a Dutch food tour in the Jordaan
You just have to take a food tour. There are a few different kinds of tours in this 3-day itinerary for Amsterdam, but there’s a good reason for that. They each give a totally different perspective. This one is in the area called Jordaan. It’s an old neighborhood that is just super cute and full of picturesque streets and plenty of places to get traditional Dutch food. I’ve tried every single one of these dishes many times (yay for being a local!!) and while some I had to try a few times before I got used to it, they are all tasty in their own way. Take this walking food tour with Eating Europe and have a fab time! We covered their Haarlem food tour as well if you have extra time in Amsterdam and take a day trip to Haarlem.
Join a street art tour in Noord
Street art is an important part of the NDSM area in noord. “Noord” just means north and that’s where we live – the north neighborhood in Amsterdam! We even created a little neighborhood guide for you. We’ll stay on the lookout for the latest and greatest 🙂 NDSM is part of the larger noord neighborhood and is super easy to get to by the free ferry behind central station. Art is a huge part of the history of the NDSM area, so this tour really gets to the heart of the culture behind the art. It’s fascinating stuff, so check out this company for street art tours in noord.
Drinks at Skylounge for incredible views
Once you take the ferry back to Centraal Station, take a quick walk to the Doubletree Hotel. It has the Skylounge on the top floor and it is a sight to see! Grab an overpriced but delicious cocktail and enjoy the EPIC view over the city. Order some fries while you’re at it. For some reason. they are actually really good. I expected an overpriced hotel bar wouldn’t have great fries, but I love them! They also give you a bit of free popcorn which is a nice perk. But the views are everything here. Go outside if it’s good weather and get some pictures over the whole city.
Dinner at de Kas
De Kas eluded me for a long time but after hearing so many personal rave reviews, I finally made it there. The setting is in a greenhouse and is simply magical. The food is heavily plant-based but there are meat and fish still on the menu. Their focus is on super-local ingredients and even grow much of their own produce and they know everything about their meats and fish, too. What really blows me away is the creativity and flavors they create. It will be unlike any meal you’ve had before — so fresh, unique, and beautiful.
Last full day in Amsterdam
Let’s get an early start today! Lots to do…but not too much. It’s a day of light adventure and seeing things in a whole new way! Of course, there’s going to be good food throughout the day, too, so get ready.
Breakfast at De Drie Graefjes
Starting off with a delicious full breakfast is the way to go today because you’ll want the energy. There are so many breakfast options at De Drie Graefjes that you are bound to find something you’ll love. I’m a big fan of the avocado toast with eggs, but if you’re feeling like some American pancakes with maple syrup, they also have a little twist on that. To switch up this itinerary, you could also go here for a lovely and tasty afternoon tea.
Bike tour through the Amsterdam countryside
I’ve never been one to recommend a visitor to travel by bike in the center of Amsterdam. There are rules of the road you must abide by and have that confidence to do it balanced by the knowledge that you should watch how other people ride. This is the best alternative for that! Take a bike ride into the countryside of Amsterdam. You’ll get to experience how flat and fun it is to ride a bike around here without the fear of getting hit by a car or other cyclists. It’s also just so beautiful and it’s not very far to go to feel like you are in a whole new place. I took a ride with We Bike Amsterdam a couple of years ago and can’t recommend it enough! Here’s my post on taking a bike ride into the Amsterdam countryside.
Lunch at Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs
Once back from the bike ride, you might be hungry again. Good for you for handling that exercise like a champ! Reservations are recommended at Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs and bring cash. I’d say at least 40 euro for two people, or 50 to be safe. These are the best pancakes in Amsterdam in my opinion (and the opinion of popular TV people!). The men that own it are champs. They have four tables, two burners and constantly make pancakes. My favorite is the strawberry and cream one, but the savory ones are Sean’s favorite!
Please note that the stairs to get in the restaurants are extremely steep.
Take a canal cruise
You must get on the canals in Amsterdam and I thought after you had a few hours cycling around that you might want to relax and see the city from a whole new perspective. I’ll always recommend a small boat canal cruise vs the large boats. Even better is to get one of the vintage boats. That’s really something special. I’ve been on a couple and every time it was a wonderful experience. You’ll want to book ahead to be sure you get the boat you want…especially if it will be one of the enchanting sunny days that we occasionally get.
Dinner at Pressroom
If you’re still in town on Sunday evening, head over to this super-central restaurant called Pressroom in the INK hotel. There’s just something about this building and this brand that I love, but the food and drinks at the Pressroom are so good that we are always going back. They usually have a set 3-course menu you could order, or just choose something from the menu. We’ve never been disappointed! It’s a cool space with a great vibe and good service. I keep mentioning good service because it’s one of the big reasons we go back to a place. Good service gets an extra star in a city that isn’t known for the friendliest service in restaurants. After your meal, stroll over to their library and have a drink before heading out. It’s a full experience at this restaurant!
This felt really good to finally get out. For only three days in Amsterdam, this is exactly what I would want to do while here. Yes, I know we didn’t do any museums, but it’s a bit of a create-your-own-adventure type situation. You can follow this itinerary exactly, or make it perfect for you and take something out and plug something in that makes more sense for you. I’m not a museum person, but I completely understand if you want to check out the Anne Frank house, Rijksmuseum (pronounced RIKES, like BIKES), or the Van Gogh Museum. There are also about 50 other museums if you’re REALLY into it.
My goal here was to get you to feel more of the real Amsterdam than you may otherwise get while showing you my city from a bunch of different perspectives. It’s pretty well-rounded and I really feel like you will leave Amsterdam and want to come back after exploring the city this way. Personally, I want everyone to love it here! I think it’s the best ever.
Is there anything you would add? Feel free to let others know in the comments.
Wishing you joy and travels!