Nestled along the coast of the chilly North Sea, Amsterdam is one of the most popular European stops for tourists. And while its Red Light District and marijuana venues are the aspects people typically associate with Amsterdam, there is so much more for this Dutch city to offer! And the typical tourist would be remiss if they neglected all of the other fun things to do in Amsterdam.
Not only is Amsterdam remembered for its liberal attitude, but the city of Amsterdam may bring images of windmills, cheese, and cobbled streets to one’s mind. Amsterdam grew from a fishing village to an incredibly historic and beautiful hub of commerce and culture in the European world. It’s an architect’s paradise, a cheese-lover’s heaven, and a beer geek’s dream. It’s a great city for a weekend getaway (if living in Europe) or for a longer stay. If you love history, food, booze, and beautiful scenery, then this city will be your next dream holiday. This your 3 day guide to Amsterdam!
Amsterdam City Tour
The appeal of Amsterdam is multi-fold. For one, it is a buzzing international city, full of expats and a diverse cultural vibe. It is easily accessible to other major European cities, with it’s airport being one of the easiest to navigate. Not only that, but the city is transportation friendly, with the ability to walk and ride bikes to all different areas of the city. It also has that down home village style charm that entices tourists and creates a long tethered connection to it’s citizens. And, it’s full of everything anyone would want: museums, theaters, historical buildings, canals, and great restaurants and bars. Ok, so let’s start with the city itself. It can be difficult when arriving in a new place and feeling unsure of what to do, and it can also be overwhelming with all of the Amsterdam attractions there are to see. By getting a guided tour, you can experience all of the important and beautiful parts of the city, and it may inspire you further when making your next tourism plans. You could spy a cute coffee shop or a wine bar you might like to try. You can also ask the guide for any suggestions.
So, on your first day, take a guided half day tour in the city! It’s only about 2 1/2 hours, and you get the chance to hear the history, the culture, and see the important Amsterdam sights! You can ride comfortably in a bus with a perfect view of everything, such as the quaint waterways and city streets as well as the interesting architecture, the Amsterdam Diamond Factory, and a traditional windmill. Not only does the tour wander through the inner city, but it also drives around the surrounding suburbs. During this time, you will be guided through your Amsterdam half day tour by a professional, and you can get the most experiences in the shortest amount of time.
After lunch, make things just a little bit creepier, and visit The Amsterdam Dungeon! This is an amazing interactive museum where you get the chance to learn the gruesome particulars of Dutch history: old torture chambers, results of the Plague, how witches were persecuted, etc. You won’t want to miss this, especially if you’re a history buff! This is a very popular Amsterdam attraction, so be sure to book ahead well ahead of time.
After the tours, go for dinner in style at Vinkeles, an extremely highly-rated restaurant with a variety of European cuisine, excellent presentation, and both vegan and gluten free options. For those who love to eat their way around a city, this is a great place to start. This restaurant is luxury incarnate, and you will enjoy a classy first evening in Amsterdam. (opens at 7pm)
Day Trips around Holland
The second day is a great day to head outside of the big city and into the gorgeous Holland countryside. There are many great tours for you to choose from, all of which last for a good portion of the day: between 5-8 hours. Decide what you’re looking for, and pick your tour accordingly.
- Option 1: Take a tour of the Keukenhof Gardens in the surrounding area of Amsterdam. It includes the largest flower garden in Europe, and for those with a green thumb, this is truly refreshing and exciting! There are 7 million types of flowers (especially tulips!) and tourists will be taken around this area with a professional guide. Tulips have a long and fascinating history in Holland. Tulips were a hot item back in the 15th century, but eventually died out. Despite their decline, tulips are still an icon of Dutch culture today! This is your chance to see gorgeous and colorful Dutch tulips first hand.
- Option 2: Go for an overall Dutch countryside tour with everything a tourist would want when experiencing the Netherlands. In this 6 hour tour, tourists can experience idyllic windmills, beautiful countryside, traditional cheese factories, and even a spot where they make wooden clogs in the old Dutch style. Cheese is one of Holland’s great passions, and Gouda is its most famous. The Dutch are true cheese-lovers, so for the foodies, this tour may be the best choice! Experience the full, well-rounded Holland experience when you book tickets for this day tour.
- Option 3: Lastly, you could make the choice to book tickets for a Grand Holland tour. This is another bus tour, lasting for about 8 hours, in which the tourist will get to experience a variety of Dutch activities. Included in this tour are the Euromast tower, the House of Parliament, the residences of the current Dutch royal family, and Madurodam, a spot housing a miniature replica of the Netherlands.
All of these tours give the tourist a wider and fuller view of the Netherlands; it just depends on the whims of the Amsterdam tourist. Because this European city is such a popular spot, there are so many Amsterdam tours available for the eager visitor: day tours, city tours, sightseeing, walking tours, canal tours, bus tours, you name it!
Other Amazing Amsterdam Attractions
On your last day in Amsterdam, drink up the last bits of the city. Tour the Red Light District during the day because its less busy, and less intimidating. It’s a classic destination for Amsterdam tourists, so you don’t want to miss it. After that, be sure to check out a few Amsterdam bars such as Door 74 and Cafe Beligique. Door 74 is more of a night spot, but Cafe Belgique can be enjoyed at 1pm and after.
Or, why not take the party to the water? Enjoy a booze cruise on the Amsterdam canals! This is an extremely popular activity, so be sure to book your tickets early. You can get an amazing sunset view over the Amsterdam canals on this 90 minute cruise along with free-flow alcohol and food. This is the perfect way to end your Amsterdam experience.
But, if you’re not into a sea adventure, then turn down the temperature at Xtracold Ice Bar Amsterdam, where everything is made of ice! This changes the meaning of “going out”, and if you’re looking for the new and unusual, this is the spot! The bar provides everything one needs to stay warm: gloves and jackets, etc. and by booking this ticket, you get free entry and 3 free drinks! This is another great way to put the finishing touch on your Amsterdam tour.
Bonus! Amsterdam Canal District Cruise!
Also, a wonderful extra Amsterdam tour to check out is the canal tour. This will definitely suit the relaxed style tourists and those engineering and architecture nerds. It’s only an hour, and the tour takes you along the most famous canals in Amsterdam, and you get the opportunity to see some of the city’s brilliant architecture, all with professional commentary.
Enjoy Amsterdam and remember it for more than the streets of its famous Red Light District and liberal attitude. Get involved with the history that built this city, the culture that maintains it, and the people, the food, and the vibe that keeps the city vibrant and alive. Experience the real Amsterdam in 3 days!