Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most accessible cities, from the ease of getting around to its down-to-earth sense of fun. It’s a very manageable city size-wise, but there are abundant things to see, do, and experience. How many days you need to visit will depend largely on your interests. At first glance, Amsterdam looks like the perfect sightseeing city - many major attractions are situated within the compact city centre and there is a dedicated museum district. That makes a quick day trip easy, although to really go beyond the iconic landmarks and insta-worthy architecture, more time is a must.
Let’s look at the ideal trip length option that is right for you, from a hassle-free day trip, a weekend or a week-long stay in Amsterdam. Whether it is your first time in Amsterdam or a retuning visit, nothing beats the expertise of a local guide to give you a fully immersive experience. In addition, why not personalize the perfect tour itinerary to include not only the popular highlights but hidden, under the radar spots that only locals know about?
As arguably Northern Europe’s most pedestrian-friendly capital, Amsterdam is a dream of a day trip destination. Even so, it pays to work out a realistic day-long itinerary. We suggest you plan to visit around half a dozen landmarks and attractions to have ample time to fully experience each. First up is the Anne Frank House. This inspiring place is an absolute must-visit and requires an advance booking with a designated time slot.
No Amsterdam trip is complete without a journey through Dutch art history. The Rijksmuseum is one of Europe’s finest art museums and home to the most iconic works of legendary Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt and Vermeer. A 1-2 hour tour will give you a good grounding in classic Dutch art history, and the grand Gothic interior decor of the Rijksmuseum is itself a work of art. An equally inspiring alternative very close by is the Van Gogh Museum.
Just a short stroll from the museums is Amsterdam’s green and relaxing oasis, Vondelpark. This 45 hectare municipal park has serene lakes, playgrounds, open-air summer concerts, and plenty of stalls serving tasty Dutch street snacks. It’s the perfect respite from the buzz of the big city and great for kids. Another great option to brighten up an Amsterdam day trip is the famed floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt). As evening approaches get a glimpse of what bustling Amsterdam does best. Head to lively Leidseplein Square. It’s a dazzling mix of cool cafes, live music bars, and quirky street performers.
A great tip to maximize your day in the city is to forego a restaurant stop and enjoy lunch on the water. Book a lunch-inclusive canal cruise allowing you to relax and refuel with hearty Dutch food while on the move. This way you can see more of Amsterdam’s eye-catching landmarks from the comfort of the waterways.
2 Day (Weekend) Trip
An Amsterdam weekend trip means double the fun, the big plus being the opportunity to absorb Amsterdam’s legendary late-night vibe. It’s truly a city that knows how to party. Still, if full-on clubbing is not your thing, there are numerous other cool ways to enjoy Amsterdam after-dark, from sophisticated speakeasy style lounge bars to a classical performance at the famed ‘Concertgebouw’. Why not spend a night at a museum? Some of the top museums in Amsterdam stay open late at weekends and often host special events, concerts, and performances.
With extra time you’ll get to absorb more of the atmosphere or perhaps delve deeper into the history of the city. We recommend booking a tour for one of the days with a local expert guide so you can easily cover the essential landmarks and architecture. Then, you’ll have time to enjoy Amsterdam at a more relaxed pace.
For your second day, why not cover more ground with an extensive canal cruise, or even a Hop-on-Hop-off cruise for more freedom to explore at your own pace. There are many impressive waterfront landmarks, markets, and rarely seen churches along the less popular cruising routes of the Canal Ring. Another great touring option is to do as locals do - get on a bike! Explore further with a cycle tour, two wheels being arguably the best way to experience the city. There are several bicycle rental services available for tourists.
An Amsterdam weekend visit gives you the freedom to spend some time discovering the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods. The fashionable district of Jordaan is the perfect introduction to contemporary urban life, filled with cool cafes, bars, and trendy boutiques.
5 Day (Week-long) Trip
As mentioned, Amsterdam is fairly small for a major European capital, and with up to five days to explore, you’ll be able to cover some ground beyond the popular landmarks. It’s a truly multi-faceted city with plenty of hidden, quirky attractions that show a very different side to the Dutch capital. If you like your art a little unusual, check out the KattenKabinet, an art museum devoted entirely to feline-inspired art. You can also pay a visit to the Electric Ladyland museum to be dazzled by their collection of fluorescent art. There is also a Marijuana Museum, and even a Museum of Torture.
After enjoying the quintessential Amsterdam canal cruise, why not give something back to the city? The Plastic Whale cruise allows passengers to go fishing - with a twist. There are no fish to catch in the canals, only discarded plastic. This is collected and recycled into various household goods, furniture, and even plastic boats. It’s a great way to help keep Amsterdam’s iconic canal system free from plastic waste.
A five-day Amsterdam excursion gives ample time to venture out of city for a rewarding day trip. Make the most of the sunshine with a short train ride to the wide sandy beaches of Zandvoort, only 30 kilometres from the city. It features a long promenade of restaurants, beach bars, and even a casino.
If you are in Amsterdam at the right time (March to May), the short trip to Keukenhof is a must. It is the largest flower park in the world and showcases a sea of tulips in bloom in every conceivable color. An amazing seven million flowers are planted every year. It’s nicknamed the Garden of Europe for good reason. You can also enjoy unique Dutch history without the big city hustle and bustle in nearby Haarlem, a quaint city of medieval courtyards, canals, and windmills.
While we’ve highlighted a few of the most familiar landmarks and activities, the city has so much more to offer. You’ll maximize your time and absorb more of the city’s unique culture alongside one of our private tour guides.
However many days you have to explore Amsterdam, GoWithGuide is here to help you get the most out of your trip. From iconic history, art, the best shopping, fun activities, and side trips into the Dutch countryside, our tours page is all the inspiration you need for a one-of-a-kind Amsterdam experience.