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Amsterdam is a city on many traveler’s bucket lists. It’s full of excitement, wonder, and classic charm. There is an abundance of things to keep you busy during a trip here, and many experiences that are unique to the city!

If you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam, and you’re not entirely sure yet what to see or do in the city, this itinerary should be a great help to you! We’ve put together some exciting vacation in Amsterdam suggestions, where to go, must-see spots, and even a few free things to do in Amsterdam!

While there may be too many things to see and do on just one short trip to Amsterdam, we hope you’re ready to fit a jam-packed itinerary into your vacation!

Of course, you can always head out and explore the city spontaneously, but the fear of missing out on the best hotspots will get to you sooner or later. This 3-day Amsterdam trip planner has the best of the best and is organized into an order that should allow you to see it all and still enjoy your time there.

And if you can stay a bit longer, we’ve added in some extra cool places at the end as well!

Let’s have a look…

 

A Little Bit about this Amsterdam Itinerary

amsterdam itinerary
Welcome to our EPIC Amsterdam itinerary

Whether you’re flying straight into the city for a vacation, or you’ve decided to try out backpacking in Amsterdam, there are so many things to see and do!

While you can do a lot of walking around the different neighborhoods, it may take you a while to get from one to another on foot. Most Mokummers (or Amsterdammers) travel by bike, and for this reason, public transport is not as reliable as one would hope. 

You can, however, travel by bus or tram through the city. Buying a transport pass will save you some money. Alternatively, you can rent a bike for the duration of your stay, and look like a real local! 

While getting from one stop to the next, really try not to rush things and rather enjoy the beautiful city with its parks, cute alleys and canals. We’ve planned each day to be entertaining but not packed, so there’s always time to stop at a little coffee shop or chill on a bench on the side of the road.

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3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary Overview

 

Where to Stay in Amsterdam

where to stay in Amsterdam
These are the best places to stay in Amsterdam!

Amsterdam is quite small but full of diverse and interesting neighborhoods. The entire city is divided into 8 districts, each of which has its own neighborhood divisions. Choosing a place to stay in Amsterdam is probably a question of what kind of visit you want.

For example, there are quite a lot of hostels right inside the red light district and in fact, some of the best hostels in Amsterdam are here. However, it can be a loud and racous and some find the surrounding temptations hard to resist.

Most visitors find the Old Centrum district the easiest and most convenient place to stay. You can reach anything and everything from here. It’s perfect whether you’re looking to shop, go on a canal cruise, or explore a museum or three. Old Centrum is also home to the infamous Red Light District, for those who are intrigued. There are also loads of the Best Airbnbs in Amsterdam in this location.

A slightly less touristy neighborhood would be Oud Oost. This is the ideal place to find accommodation in if you’d like to immerse yourself into the life of locals. While there aren’t as many tourist attractions to be found in the neighborhood itself, you’ll be close enough to Old Centrum district to enjoy the activities there.

 

Amsterdam itinerary
St Christopher’s at the Winston is our pick for the best hostel in Amsterdam

Best Hostel in Amsterdam – St Christopher’s at the Winston

With so many amazing hostels to be found in Amsterdam, it can be hard to pick a favorite. This is one that really stands out though. Its central location, beer garden, and cheap continental breakfasts put this hostel at the top of the list. They also give food and drink discounts for nearby bars and restaurants!

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Best Amstel view
Best Amstel View is our pick for the best Airbnb in Amsterdam

Best Airbnb in Amsterdam – Best Amstel View

For a novel stay in Amsterdam, what could be better than renting a private houseboat? This cool Airbnb can sleep up to seven people in three bedrooms (plus a sofa bed in the living room). The comfy living room provides incredible views over the water, and you can sit and chill on the outside deck too. There’s a long dining table and a well-equipped kitchen, as well as a separate toilet and the main bathroom.

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Amsterdam itinerary
Hotel Plantage is our pick for the best budget hotel in Amsterdam

Best Budget Hotel in Amsterdam – Hotel Plantage

Located in the heart of Amsterdam, and opposite the Artis Zoo, this hotel offers brilliantly green views of the city. With many fascinating attractions and landmarks, you’ll be positioned perfectly to enjoy Amsterdam. Free WIFI, comfy rooms, and all necessary amenities will ensure you experience a pleasant, but affordable stay.

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Amsterdam itinerary
Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht is our pick for the best luxury hotel in Amsterdam!

Best Luxury Hotel in Amsterdam – Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht

Flowing with luxury from the inside out, the Andaz Amsterdam is the most elegant place to stay in this magnificent city. The beautifully designed rooms, all boasting modern comforts, are sure to make you want to stay in all day. The convenient location of the hotel, however, will ensure you enjoy the best of Amsterdam during your visit.

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Amsterdam Itinerary Day 1: Coffee, Views and Culture

Amsterdam Day 1 Map
1. Jordaan District 2. Anne Frank House 3. Westertoren Tower 4. A’Dam Lookout 5. Brouwerij ‘t IJ 6. Heineken Experience 7. Red Light District

The first day of your 3 days in Amsterdam is packed with all sorts of things. From exploring famous districts to some short physical activity (nothing too bad, we promise!), a bit of culture and beer tasting. For all the curious people, we’ve added in the Red Light District at the end of Day 1 , but if that’s not your thing, you can skip it!

Every map that you see in this article includes a hyperlink to an interactive version on Google Driving. After clicking the map image, the interactive version will be opened in a new tab.

 

8:30 AM – Explore Jordaan District

Explore Jordaan District
Jordaan District, Amsterdam

Possibly the best place to start your Amsterdam travel adventure, the Jordaan district is a culturally-rich area of the city.

Spend your morning strolling down the beautifully decorated streets. Enjoy the colorful architecture on one side and the grand canals on the other! There are shops along the streets as well, where you can find charming Dutch souvenirs!

  • Cost – Free
  • How long should I stay here? 1 hour max
  • Getting there – Bike/Metro/Walk, depending on where you stay.

 

9:00 AM – See the Anne Frank House

See the Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

If you haven’t yet heard of Anne Frank or her diary, you should definitely do some quick research before your Amsterdam travl trip. She was a young teen when her family had to go into hiding from the German Nazis.

Long story short, Anne wrote a diary detailing her family’s time living in this confined attic space. The Anne Frank House is the very place that they hid away and lived for almost 4 years!

  • Cost – $5-12 USD
  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours max
  • Getting there – It’s in walking distance from Stop 1

 

11:30 AM – Climb the Westertoren Tower

Westertoren Tower
Westertoren Tower, Amsterdam

After a slightly sobering visit to the Anne Frank House, cheer yourself up a bit with some exercise and extraordinary views of Amsterdam! The tower is incredibly close to the Anne Frank House, in fact, Anne wrote about watching the tower out of the Annex’s window.

The Westertoren (or Westerkerk) Tower provides an unimaginable viewpoint from its platform, located about half-way up the tower. The only way to reach the platform is by climbing a winding spiral staircase, and then a set of ladder-like steps!

  • Cost – $9
  • How long should I stay here? 30min
  • Getting there – In Walking Distance.

 

12:30 PM – Enjoy the Views at A’Dam Lookout & Swing Over the Edge!

ADam Lookout
A’Dam Lookout & Swing Over the Edge, Amsterdam | source: CI Photos (Shutterstock)

We’re not done seeing this city from the sky yet! With so much going on, sometimes higher up is the best place to be. You can pretty much see all of Amsterdam from this panoramic-view deck. If this is the only thing you manage to do while visiting the city, it would be worth it!

The A’Dam offers more than just some quiet reflecting over the city, though. The main attraction here is the Over The Edge swing! This recently opened attraction is the newest and possibly most exciting way to get a bird’s-eye view of this wondrous Dutch city.

  • Cost – $5-15 USD 
  • How long should I stay here? 30min – 1 hour
  • Getting there – Take your Bike!

 

3:00 PM – Stop Off at Brouwerij ‘t IJ

Brouwerij 't IJ
Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Amsterdam | source: Alf van Beem (Wikicommons)

Let your feet touch the ground and guide you straight to Brouwerij ‘t IJ. You can take a 20-minute cycle from the A’Dam Lookout, alternatively, hop on public transport or order an Uber. It’s just under 5km distance, so if you’re feeling fit you can walk it too!

However you decide to arrive, you will be rewarded when you get there! Brouwerij ‘t IJ is a small brewery on the IJ (pronounced ‘eye’) River. It produces certified organic beer and sits at the foot of a stunning windmill. Making it the perfect spot for an afternoon stop.

  • Cost – $7.30 USD
  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours
  • Getting there – Bike/Uber/Public Transport

 

4:30 PM – Get the Full Heineken Experience

Heineken Experience
Heineken Experience, Amsterdam | source: Guilhem Vellut (Flickr)

While our morning was all about viewpoints, our afternoon is pretty much all about beer! Something Amsterdammers actually know quite a bit about.

Set in Heineken’s first ever brewery, The Heineken Experience is a top attraction in Amsterdam. Run by local Amsterdammers, the tour offered will not only give you insights into Heineken’s past, and how they became the much-loved beer that they are now but will also let you see how it is made.

  • Cost – $26.40 + 2 free beer
  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours
  • Getting there – Take the Ferry!

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8:00 PM – Discover the Red Light District

Discover the Red Light District
Red Light District, Amsterdam

The RLD may have a controversial reputation, but it is definitely an interesting landmark for the city. 

Also known as De Wallen, this neighborhood is internationally known for its openly tolerated brothels, sex shops, and even its lenient drug laws. This is one neighborhood where the darker (or more fun) side of humans is allowed to roam free.

  • Cost – Free unless you go into Clubs
  • How long should I stay here? Up to you…
  • Getting there – Take public transport in case you want to have a drink.

 

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Amsterdam Itinerary Day 2: Arts and Weeds

Amsterdam Day 2 Map
1. Museumplein 2. Rijksmuseum 3. Van Gogh Museum 4. Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum 5. Cannabis Coffeeshop 6. Canal Cruise 7. Leidseplein

Day two is going to start nice and slow. After a tasty coffee, we’re going to fresh up your art knowledge by checking out some of the most famous museums in Amsterdam. Afterwards, you’ll experience what Amsterdam is mainly known for among young travellers: coffeeshops and weed!

 

9:00 AM – Visit Museumplein

Museumplein
Museumplein, Amsterdam | source: Neirfy (Shutterstock)

Arguably the cultural hub of Amsterdam, the Museum Quarter is the perfect place to start your second day in the city. Here, you’ll get to view the many artistic creations on display in the streets, and visit some of the famous museums in the neighborhood.

The second morning is going to start slow and at your own pace. Sit at one of the cafes, do some people watching and enjoy the peaceful and quiet atmosphere.

There are also some of Amsterdam’s fanciest shops in this area, so if you’re hoping to do some boutique shopping, now is your chance! If you want to empty your wallet, visiting Museumplein later would be a bit more efficient as most shops don’t open until 10 am. However, if you just want to get the sleep out of your eyes, this is a top spot!

  • Cost – Free
  • How long should I stay here? 1 hour
  • Getting there – Bike/Public Transport, depending on where you’re staying.

 

9:30 AM – Check Out the Rijksmuseum

Check Out the Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This fantastic museum is home to many famous artists’ paintings and artwork. It also has an impressive research library, as well as other exhibitions and displays.

The exhibitions constantly change, so be sure to check out online whats being showcased during your visit.

You can organize a private or group guided tour, or simply browse through the galleries at your own leisure. Be sure to check out the Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport, however you decide to explore the museum!

  • Cost – $22.50 USD
  • How long should I stay here? 1 hour
  • Getting there – Walk from Rijksmuseum.

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10:30 AM – Visit the Van Gogh Museum

Visit the Van Gogh Museum
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Thanks to the famous Van Gogh’s Dutch heritage, this museum is one of Amsterdam’s most well-known. It is also home to one of the largest collections of his works!

See the well-known painter’s drawings, letters, and (of course) some of his most famed paintings. There are also displays which change often and show other pieces that influenced Van Gogh’s works.

  • Cost – Around $22 USD
  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours
  • Getting there – In walking distance from Spot 2.

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2:00 PM – Discover the Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum

Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum
Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum, Amsterdam | source: LordToran (Wikicommons)

Cannabis enthusiasts will fall in love with this museum, which is dedicated to all things Cannabis Sativa L. There is an Amsterdam branch as well as a branch in Barcelona. The building in Amsterdam, however, is the oldest Cannabis museum in the world, also thought to be the most important!

The museum has various displays showing the history and use of hemp, hash, and Marijuana. From early Japanese hemp clothing to Christopher Columbus’ connection with Cannabis, you can learn more about the different uses of hemp and hash throughout the years.

Visit both of the two venues that make up the museum – a hash and marijuana venue with a Cannabis garden, and an industrial hemp museum. Together, these venues hold over 12 000 objects relating to Cannabis.

  • Cost – $10 USD
  • How long should I stay here? 1 hour
  • Getting there – Take your bike or public transport.

 

3:00 PM – Experience an Amsterdam Cannabis Coffeeshop

Experience an Amsterdam Cannabis Coffeeshop
Cannabis Coffeeshop, Amsterdam

There are many designated coffeeshops in Amsterdam where you can go to buy and smoke weed. While this is somewhat of a controversial topic in places, it’s also one of the biggest tourist attractions to the city!

It’s important to note that coffeeshops are different from koffiehuises and cafes. A coffeeshop is the only place you’re going to find Mary-Jane on the menu. In many of the shops, you can bring your own and smoke – but it’s only legal to buy from the coffeeshops so the smartest thing to do is buy off their menu.

  • Cost – Can vary between $7-$13 USD per gram
  • How long should I stay here? Up to you!
  • Getting there – You can easily find a shop in walking distance.

 

4:00 PM – Enjoy a Relaxing Canal Cruise

Enjoy a Relaxing Canal Cruise
Canal Cruise, Amsterdam

Something that everyone should do at least once in Amsterdam, is a canal cruise! Leaving this activity for last means that you’ll enjoy the sun setting over the city. This makes for some idyllic views.

The evening cruise lasts approximately 90 minutes, and an audio guide is provided in your preferred language (they have 21 options). You’ll hear a history of Amsterdam, how it came to be the magnificent city it is today, and how it continues to thrive.

  • Cost – $25 USD
  • How long should I stay here? 1.5-2 hours
  • Getting there – If you’re close to the canal, the next station will be in walking distance.

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6:00 PM – Explore Leidseplein

Explore Leidseplein
Leidseplein, Amsterdam

Get ready to party with the locals at Leidseplein! This square comes alive at night, offering up a host of nightclubs, bars, and other fun-loving spots. There are 100s of restaurants in and surrounding the square, and some great international food to be found!

For those who are into betting, there’s a casino in the area as well. Arguably, though, the biggest highlight of the area is the assortment of live music found at various establishments.

It’s also not too far away from the Central district, and public transport runs through to the other districts as well, so you won’t have any hassle getting back to your hotel! This is the best way to end your Amsterdam visit if you only have 2 days in Amsterdam.

  • Cost – Depends on your consum.
  • How long should I stay here? 2-3 hours
  • Getting there – Take Public Transport/Uber so yo can have a few drinks!

 

 

Check Best Price

 
St Christopher’s at the Winston
Located in the heart of Amsterdam, and opposite the Artis Zoo, this hotel offers brilliantly green views of the city. With many fascinating attractions and landmarks, you’ll be positioned perfectly to enjoy Amsterdam.
 
 
  • $$
  • Free WiFi
  • Free walking tour

 

Amsterdam Itinerary Day 3: Ferry Rides and Parks

Amsterdam Day 3 Map
1. Ferry to Amsterdam North 2. House of Bols 3. Stroll a Park 4. Dam Square

If you’ve booked 3 days in Amsterdam (or perhaps even more!) then you’ve got the perfect opportunity to view some of the lesser-known Amsterdam attractions. While the city caters well for the throngs of tourists it receives each year, there are many more things that you should take a look at.

 

9:00 AM – Take a Ferry to Amsterdam North

Take a Ferry to Amsterdam North
Ferry to Amsterdam North, Amsterdam | source: Dirk M. de Boer (Shutterstock)

Don’t be one of ‘those’ tourists! You know, the ones that never leave the central district. It can be tempting – since everything you need is right there! Trust us, though, you should see the North districts if you’re staying for longer than a day or two.

The ferries to the Noord are an experience unlike most. Firstly, the majority of them are completely free! They allow bicycles and mopeds to be taken on as well, so you have your transport ready when you reach the other side.

  • Cost – Free!
  • How long should I stay here? 1-2 hours
  • Getting there – Use maps to find the closest station!

 

11:00 AM – Enjoy a Tour of the House of Bols

Enjoy a Tour of the House of Bols
House of Bols, Amsterdam

The Bols family were celebrated Dutch spirit-makers and alcohol sellers who left quite a legacy. Located centrally to all the exciting happenings in Amsterdam, you’ll find the House of Bols. This Genever house is both an academy and a museum of sorts.

You can book a self-guided tour through the distillery, which will give you a detailed history of Lucas Bols himself. See how the Bols legacy began, and how it has evolved through the years.

  • Cost – $18 
  • How long should I stay here? 1 hour
  • Getting there – Take a bike and enjoy the city views.

 

12:30 PM – Stroll through a Park or Two

Stroll through a Park or Two
Stroll through a Park or Two, Amsterdam

Amsterdam is home to more than 30 parks and gardens – each one as majestic as the next! These green oases are perfect for a break from city life. You’ll find parks both big and small, as well as many extraordinary Botanical Gardens.

If you’ve already managed to view and visit the big tourist attractions throughout the city, your next move should definitely be a picnic in the park.

  • Cost – Free
  • How long should I stay here? 2-3 hours
  • Getting there – Walk or take your bike!

 

3:30 PM – Check Out Dam Square

Check Out Dam Square
Dam Square, Amsterdam

The city square, known as The Dam, is home to many famed Amsterdam attractions. Places such as the Royal Palace, New Church and Madame Tussauds are all around the square. You can easily walk from one attraction to the next, and manage to see them all in a day!

The square is also close to the Red Light District and offers many cannabis coffeeshops along its streets. Visit one of these and experience the smokier side of Amsterdam. The Red Light District offers up its own itinerary of interesting fun.

  • Cost – Free
  • How long should I stay here? Up to you!
  • Getting there – Public Transport/Bike is the most efficient way.

 

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What to Do with More than 3 Days in Amsterdam?

Did you fall in love with the city? Don’t worry, we don’t blame you! We’ve listed up a couple of other awesome places that you might want to check out if you’ve got more than 3 days in Amsterdam. 

 

Visit Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

Visit Ouderkerk aan de Amstel
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, Amsterdam | source: MartinD (Wikicommons)

This quaint little village sits just outside Amsterdam. You can reach the village easily by bike, bus, or boat! Or, if you prefer, you can take a drive out; either with a rental car or by ordering an Uber.

There are many groups that cycle together from Amsterdam to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, but the boat ride up the Amstel River is just as scenic! You could also opt for an early morning cycle, and then go back to the city in an open boat – weather permitting!

  • Cost – $18 
  • How long should I stay here? 2-3 hours
  • Getting there – Preferably by boat, but Uber works too.

 

Foodhallen

Is the food in Amsterdam safe? 
Foodhallen, Amsterdam | source: GroundedTwenty7 (shutterstock)

If you love food, and who doesn’t, then this is the best place in Amsterdam. In this neighborhood, you’ll find everything you’ve ever wanted to eat from dim sum to pizza and doughnuts. This area was once an old tram depot, so it has plenty of history behind it. But it’s now filled with food stores that offer some of the best snacks in the city.

Take your appetite and go from stall to stall in this area. Try everything that peaks your fancy and take your food to one of the outside benches and watch the crowds while you eat. When you’re full, there are several shops and boutiques selling clothes, ornaments and other goods that you can browse in.

And as is the norm with Amsterdam, the shops are all quirky and unique, so make sure you enjoy the atmosphere while you’re there.

  • Cost – Free to visit
  • How long should I stay here? 1 hour
  • Getting there – Easy to reach by Public Transport

 

OT301

adjusting-techno-music-switzerland
OT301, Amsterdam

Chances are that you’ve never seen anything like the alternative music scene in Amsterdam. This is a city that prides itself on being different from everyone else, and that’s definitely reflected in the music at this venue. Run by volunteers, this is the best place to hear some of Amsterdam’s up and coming musical talent. And the location is actually a legal squat, which makes it al the more interesting and unusual.

  • Cost – It really depends on the night. 
  • How long should I stay here? Up to you
  • Getting there – Grab an Uber!

 

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Best Time to Visit Amsterdam

when to visit Amsterdam
These are the best times to visit Amsterdam!

While it is impossible to say that there is a ‘worst’ time to visit Amsterdam, many have differing opinions on the ‘best’ time to go.

Of course, it depends solely on the type of activities that you enjoy most. Each of the four seasons fully transforms and takes over Amsterdam’s landscapes, and each brings with it a new list of things to do.

Visiting Amsterdam during the winter will mean lots of rain and dreary days. This also the low tourist season in Amsterdam, which means there will be fewer tourists and cheaper prices.

The best time to visit Amsterdam is during the spring and autumn i.e. the shoulder months. The weather will be fair, the tourists haven’t arrived in force yet, and prices will be reasonable.

Summer is when the streets of Amsterdam are jam-packed. As such, prices will be higher but Amsterdam is really fun during this time.

And while you’re there, why not check out other places in the Netherlands? The country might be small, but there is an incredible amount to explore.

 

Don’t forget to pack a good book!

Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City: This is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.

 

Plan a Trip to Amsterdam – What to Prepare

Packing for Amsterdam is like packing for any other European country. Depending on the season, you’ll need short clother or warm things to cover up. Amsterdam can get quite cold during the winter months, so be sure to pack a warm pair of boots. Apart from that, dressing casual and packing the essentials is plenty enough for your Amsertdam trip.

OK, Amsterdam is a relatively safe city.  However, its popularity with tourists – and permissiveness for drugs and sex – can sometimes cause slight chaos. It is arguably the most dangerous city in the Netherlands.

Don’t be alarmed though! The peril is not quite as bad as it may seem. Most of the crime and chaotic disturbances happen in the Red Light District. While many tourists arrive in the city with the decided purpose to visit this notorious district, it’s not advised that you stroll the streets alone at night. Petty theft in this area is pretty common and inebriated tourists are often the victims.

cost of a trip to Amsterdam

Staying safe everywhere else in Amsterdam is quite easy, actually. Stay vigilant when walking down quiet streets alone. Keep your valuables close to you. Don’t buy any illegal drugs – this is the quickest way to screw up your visit.

Also, don’t fall for scammers. As with any tourist destination, you’re going to find people looking for a quick buck. Stick to your guns and don’t let sob stories or crafty tales cause you to lose valuable exploring money.

And last, but definitely not least, don’t smoke weed anywhere but in a coffee shop. It’s not legal everywhere, and you wouldn’t want to get yourself into trouble in a foreign city.

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a Netherlands Travel Insurance guide, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

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Final Thoughts

Ready for your Amsterdam adventure yet? We bet you are! This city is indeed a fast-growing commercialized tourist spot but it’s still a wondrous place to visit. Between the natural beauty, the spectacular architecture, and the great cultural vibes, it’s a city that everyone should see at least once.

Spend a fast-paced weekend in Amsterdam, or book a longer, slower stay – it’s up to you! It may work out a bit too expensive to spend more than 3 days in Amsterdam, but there is always the option to stay in a neighbouring village. Many locals cycle from these villages to the city center, so it can’t be that hard!

However long you do decide to stay, be sure to tick off the must-see attractions so that you leave with no regrets!

 

Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.


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