What to Do in AMSTERDAM in 3 Days, and Everything’s for FREE!
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What to Do in Amsterdam in a 3 Days Trip, with Itinerary, Tips and Maps.
We only share with you the FREE stuff! 🙂
It’s time to go to Amsterdam! Harris had already visited the city a few years ago on a family trip. But for me it was my first time, and I have been wanting to visit Amsterdam for a long time.
Since our trip was at the beginning of April, the weather wasn’t great when we got there. It was quite cold and it rained almost every day… so we could not enjoy the city as much as we’ve planned. Trying not to disappoint ourselves, armed with good warm jackets and an umbrella, we went out to do everything we could. Might as well, we were already in Amsterdam! 😉
Snack Tip: Although the weather is somewhat unpredictable, try to plan your visit to the city in less or non-rainy months such as March, April or October… hehehe 😉 However, if it does rain, use AccuWeather-MinuteCast to predict your ‘window’ of opportunity to dodge the rainfall! Yes, we did that!
On the bright side, our trip was on a weekday. And although Amsterdam is a city with a lot of tourists… I think, between Monday to Friday, the crowd is not as much as there may be on the weekends (locals + tourists = chaos).
Here’s our itinerary, including the areas we’ve visited during the 3 days that we were in Amsterdam. Including a route-map so that you could plan your adventure-day better.
What to Do in Amsterdam: Day 1
Every day of our trip started from Amsterdam Centraal, which is the city’s central station for train, bus and tram station. Our accommodation, in a shared and booked apartment with AirBnB, was located in the northeast part of the city. The flat was a little far away from the downtown area. So, every day we had to take a return tram ride. The journey was about 15 minutes from our stop to Amsterdam Centraal.
In Amsterdam you could find TWO types of tickets for the use of the tram: €3.20 per 1-hour use or €8.00 for 24-hours use. There’s also another option of €13.50 for 24 hrs and valid for tram, bus and metro (like an all rounder day-ticket) but this ticket does not include Sprinter Trains (long-distance trains).
If you stay in the city center with cost-per-night below €50.00/room/night, it is very good to save the daily cost of the tram. Otherwise, it is better to stay in the outskirts of the city and pay the tram ticket for €8.00/24-hours and use it as many times as you want during the day, and save on a ‘usually’ expensive accommodation in the city center.
Amsterdam is quite walk-able, its not a very big city. You can walk the city comfortably as its also very ‘flat’ compared to where we live in Devon, England. And we will even walk pass same areas several times in a day because everything is connected between the canals and small streets.
- We started the day from Amsterdam Centraal and walk through the streets, enjoying the views, until we arrive at Dam Square. This is the main square in Amsterdam. Here we found the Royal Palace (known as Koninklijk Paleis or Paleis op de Dam), the National Liberation Monument and the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk). If you need any snacks or buy food, there’s an Albert Hijn supermarket 2 minutes away, that’s where the locals shop their groceries.
- From here we walked through Begijnhof. It is a medieval interior courtyard where once lived the women of the Catholic brotherhood. Around it are also two different churches and other private houses. There are green manicured gardens and cute little houses in this area.
- After that, we walked to Bloemenmarkt. It is the floating flower market in Amsterdam. Sadly its not ‘floating’ anymore, the stalls are now on the sidewalks by the canals, but still sell the same flowers and gifts. It is a large street full of stalls where you will find tulips of all colours and other souvenirs for tourists. This was also the market where locals get their gardening supplies and flowers since ages ago. There’s also shops that sells typical Dutch cheeses, you could walk in and try their variety of cheese. When we finished seeing the market, we walked through this neighbourhood. In this area there are many clothes, fashion and restaurants to eat or drink something.
- Cruising by the Canals. If you go to Amsterdam you cannot miss a boat cruise on the canals. But instead of taking the cruise on the boats located in front of Amsterdam Centraal, try to look for tickets in other areas, as they are cheaper. And get a cruise that has a captain-guide that narrate the places you are passing when on the boat.
- When we finished the cruise, we went to the Jordaan neighbourhood. This is a modern neighbourhood where we find many beautiful canals around. There are also independent boutiques, cozy pubs and trendy restaurants. And the stalls in the Noordermarkt market offer jewelry, clothing, antiques and organic food. In this area you can also find the Anne Frank House Museum.
- And from here, we ended the day walking to the Red Light District. Known worldwide for being the most controversial (and most touristy) area of Amsterdam. Full of cafes and bars where you can enjoy a coffee, a good beer and even…… hehehe. And also it’s where you can find its famous brothels. Where adult-entertainers (prostitutes) in their shop windows offer their services and also turn-heads of passer-bys. And these brothels are lit with red lights, hence the name “Red Light District”.
What to Do in Amsterdam: Day 2
- We started the day in Amsterdam Centraal, after arriving from our accommodation. Here we took another tram to go to the Pijp neighbourhood. Walking from Amsterdam Centraal would be too far.
- The Pijp neighbourhood is the youngest and most modern area of Amsterdam. We toured its streets seeing its shops, architecture and canals of this area.
- Then we visited the Albert Cuyp Market, located in the same area. This outdoor market is one of the largest in Europe. Its similar to a ‘Pasar Malam’ or ‘night-market’ of Malaysia. Here you will find all kinds of stalls, clothing, bags, cheeses, fish and food of all kinds. Here we took the opportunity to stop for a bite and a little pit-stop.
- Again ready, we walked to Museumplein. Known as the Amsterdam Museum Square. Here we found the museums of Van Gogh, the Rijks and the Stedelijkhe. And around the museums we found several gardens and green areas ideal for resting or picnicking (on sunny days of course…). In these gardens were the famous letters “Iamsterdam”. And yes, we say “were” because the ‘letters’ were permanently removed not long ago because of some unfortunate incident with some tourists… 🙁
- After we finished with exploring this area, we went to Vondelpark. This is the most famous park in the city. Although it is not too big, it is nice to walk through it, and it is also a good place to rest and grab a drink if the weather is good.
- From here, and to end the day, we took another tram to go to the area where Foodhallen was located. It’s located in the magnificent cultural complex of De Hallen (the Hall?), in the trendy Oud-West district of Amsterdam. Foodhallen is an elegant indoor market, where we find different stalls that serve a wide variety of foods and drinks from around the world in a historic setting. In this same building there were galleries that sells denim, art and some other quirky things.
What to Do in Amsterdam: Day 3
On the last day, we decided to visit some of the surrounding villages. We had three options: go to Zaanse Schans to see the wind-mills, go to Keukenhof to see the tulip-gardens, or make the route to Volendam, Edam (yes, the Edam Cheese place) and Marken.
In the end, we decided to go to Zaanse Schans and return in the afternoon to finish the day in Amsterdam.
Zaanse Schans :
- To get there, we first took the tram from our accommodation to Amsterdam Centraal. Once here, we had two options to go to the village: take bus or train. The train, at that time costs €7.60 per person round trip. And the bus was a similar price. That’s why we decided on the train, since we found it more comfortable, faster and less stops than the bus.
- From the train station you have to walk about 15 minutes pass the chocolate factory and cross the bridge to the tourist area. If you worry of getting lost, just follow your nose, when the chocolate aroma gets stronger, you’re going in the right direction, vice-versa.
- Zaanse Schans is located towards the north of Amsterdam. It’s a small town known for its windmills, for its chocolate factories (yes, the whole town smelled of chocolate!), and its traditional cheeses. Willy Wonka fans, this would smell like you’re on the movie set.
- Walking around we found the famous mills. Some of them are still active, and they make peanut oils, chocolate and cheeses. Here it’s also the Zaanse Museum and other small shops where you can taste their hot chocolate made traditionally in the factories of the town.
Our Trip Budgeting:
Train NS Sprinter AMS Airport to Amsterdam Centraal – €11.00
Train 1-Hour GVB Tram Pass (to AirBnB House) – €6.40
Lodging with AirBnB – €40.00
Train 24-Hour GVB Tram Pass – €16.00
Lunch: MAOZ Potato Chips (it was a big meal!) – €5.60
Dolce & Gelato Pancakes – €9.50
For Dinners and Breakfast: Food in Albert Heijn Supermarket – €20.00
Lodging with AirBnB – €40.00
Train 24-Hour GVB Tram Pass – €16.00
Hering Broodje – €2.70
Turkish Gozleme Pancake – €4.00
2 Teas in McDonald’s (it was raining, we needed hot drinks, haha) – €3.70
Chicken Doner Sandwich – €4.50€
Lodging with AirBnB – €40.00
Train 24-Hour GVB Tram Pass – €16.00€
Train NS Sprinter Return Tickets from Centraal to Zaanse Schanse (Windmills) – €15.20
2 Hot Chocolate & Snacks at ChocoLab – €6.50
Artisan Smoked Cheese (our souvenirs) – €10.00
Kebab (in Zaandam town) – €5.00
Manneken Pis Potato Chips (must try!) – €5.50
Food Albert Heijn Supermarket (snacks!) – €5.00
Lodging with AirBnB – €40.00
Train 1-Hour GVB Tram Pass (to Amsterdam Centraal) – €6.40
Train NS Sprinter to AMS Airport – €11.00
Total Spent for 2 of us:
€340.80 / 4 Days – 4 Nights in Amsterdam (€170.40/person)
This figure excludes return flights into Amsterdam, drinks (night-outs), museum entry, tours, gifts, souvenirs, or canal-boat rides (if you prefer), etc.
Summary of Our Experience:
Amsterdam is a quiet and relaxed city in general despite all the tourists. You do not find the incessant noise of cars like in other big cities. This is because most of its inhabitants use bicycles to move around the city. It is quite true, we found thousands of bicycles parked in all corners. And that being silent, with more than one, you may have fears of being ran over crossing a street… hehehe.
Because of this, its canals and its architecture make Amsterdam a peculiar city and with a special charm. It is full of small and beautiful streets that intersect with others, where it is good to get lost… or new things to find. And they all look like the previous street you’ve walked, giving you the feeling of having already gone there before. It could be a dejavu moment without the marijuana hahaha
An ecological city in general too, many electric car charging points, not only for the use of bicycles, also for the lifestyle of its inhabitants. Full of street markets in all its neighbourhoods. Some larger, others smaller…, but in all we found all kinds of organic food. And supermarkets where you can also find a variety of organic food at a good price. Be sure to visit an “Albert Hijn” supermarket (there’s one 2 minutes away from Dam Square), they have great produce at local prices. And, of course, full of flowers, its famous and beautiful tulips everywhere, making gray and rainy days more colourful!
In contrast, many tourists spoil the charm thinking that anything goes here. As we already know that prostitution in the Netherlands has been legalized and the use of marijuana is allowed in the so called “coffee shops”. Many tourists visit Amsterdam only for these reasons… and they spend the day drinking, smoking and dirtying the streets, instead of enjoying what the city really is.
But we believe that, Amsterdam is an open, multi-cultural and safe city, to which we will undoubtedly return someday 🙂
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