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What to do in Amsterdam in 3 days: the best things to see and do in the Dutch city

All you need to know for a city break in Amsterdam

Amsterdam canals
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
18 June 2018
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Amsterdam has always been a favourite city break destination for visitors from the UK, and it's only set to become more popular thanks to new regular Eurostar services that run direct to Centraal station from London St Pancras. Loved for its rich culture, great nightlife and picturesque network of canals that are easily navigated on foot or bike, Amsterdam has something to entice visitors both young and old, and you can see the best of it in just 72 hours. Read on for our need-to-know guide…

1st Day:

Morning: Visit Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum

Start your trip with some culture at two of Amsterdam's most popular and well-known museums. Queues get incredibly long for these museums so visit as early as possible – both open at 9am. You can explore the works of Vincent Van Gogh and his contemporaries at the Van Gogh Museum, which has some of the artist's most famous work on display, including his Sunflowers painting. Meanwhile, Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum that is dedicated to arts and history, with notable artworks from Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer, the artist who is also known for painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

Rijksmuseum amsterdam© Photo: iStock

While tickets are available for both separately, you may find the I Amsterdam City Card is better value for money. This card costs €87 for 72 hours and provides free entrance to over 50 museums and attractions including both the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, unlimited public transport and a free canal cruise.

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Afternoon: Have a picnic in Vondelpark

Located just behind the Rijksmuseum is Vondelpark, the largest city park in Amsterdam and a popular spot with both locals and tourists alike. Settle down for a picnic before taking a stroll through the park, which occasionally has free concerts throughout the summer at the open-air theatre or bandstand. A relaxing way to while away a few hours.

Vondelpark amsterdam© Photo: iStock

Alternatively: See the city from up high on Europe's highest swing.Thrill seekers should pay a visit to A'DAM's sky deck, where you'll find Europe's highest swing, Over the Edge. This exhilarating ride will swing you back and forth over the edge of the tower some 100 metres high, offering unrivalled views over the city – if you can bear to look!

Evening: Enjoy a night out in the Leidesplein

Sample the city's nightlife at the Leidesplein, a liveliest square of Amsterdam, where numerous bars and nightclubs are found nearby. Popular venues include Melkweg and Paradiso, both of which host regular live shows, DJ sets and club nights that last into the early hours.

2nd Day:

Morning: Take a tour of Anne Frank House

Anyone who has read the diary of Anne Frank will be captivated by a visit to the house where she went into hiding and wrote her own personal account of the Second World War. As well as exploring the secret annex where Anne and her family hid for two years, visitors will also learn more about the persecution of the Jews during the war in the museum's exhibitions. Queues for Anne Frank House can be long, so book an online ticket with a time slot before your visit. Tickets are released two months in advance and cost €10 – book yours here.

Following your visit, pick up some authentic Dutch treats for lunch. Croquettes from one of the hole-in-the-wall cafés and bitterballen (deep fried crispy meatballs served with mustard) are just two of the savoury snacks you should try during your visit, while Stroopwafel will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Anne Frank House canalboat tour© Photo: iStock

Afternoon: Cruise along the canals on a boat tour

Amsterdam has more than 100km of canals with around 1,000 bridges, so what better way to explore them than by boat? There are numerous canal tours available in the city's UNESCO protected canal ring, many of which will showcase the city's impressive architecture and landmarks while you sit back and enjoy the view.

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Alternatively: Visit the Amsterdam Flower Market, which dates back over 150 years and is the world's only floating flower market. The most colourful and fragrant place in the city, you'll find an array of fresh flowers and bulbs, as well as traditional Dutch souvenirs such as clogs and wooden tulips.

Evening: Dine at one of the city's hip eateries

Amsterdam's culinary scene is constantly evolving, with an array of hip restaurants that take inspiration from international cuisine. Fans of Asian food will love Happyhappyjoyjoy, a restaurant that brings together delicious street food from across Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Alternatively, head to the harbour for one of Amsterdam's most unique restaurants – REM Eiland – which is located 22 metres above the water in a former pirate radio station.

3rd Day:

Morning: Hire a bike to explore more of the city

Bike tour amsterdam© Photo: iStock

Make like a local and hire a bike to explore more of Amsterdam on two wheels. The city has been designed for cycling, with some 400km of cycle paths to navigate your way around, stopping to capture arty Instagram posts on the canal bridges or take a break in one of the city parks.

After a couple of hours of exploration, break for lunch at one of the waterside cafés or bars, where you can take in the views while sipping on a well-deserved Dutch beer.

Afternoon: Pick up some souvenirs at the shops

Should time allow, go shopping for some mementos from your trip at Amsterdam's shops. De Bijenkorf is Amsterdam's leading department store, while Harlemmerstraat is the place to go to discover quaint boutiques and gourmet speciality shops for some more unique souvenirs.

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Pulitzer Amsterdam: For a five-star hotel in the heart of the city, you won't be disappointed with Pulitzer Amsterdam. This hotel stretches through 25 houses between two canals, and has stylish rooms, a garden courtyard and prime location just a short walk from many of the main tourist attractions. Rooms from £244 per night.

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Zoku: For an alternative to a traditional hotel try Zoku, a property that has a common area, hammock-lined roof garden and a games room, making it the ideal place to meet new people and make friends during your stay. Most rooms also have their own kitchenettes, helping you to save money on eating out for every meal. Rooms from £115 per night.

How to get to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is just a short one-hour flight from the UK, with regular flights from leading airports across London, Birmingham, Manchester and more. You can also travel via Eurostar direct from London St Pancras in 3 hours 41 minutes.

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