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How to spend 5 Days in Amsterdam – A Brief Amsterdam Itinerary
Amsterdam, a vibrant capital city of Netherlands defines the word beauty with its crystal clear canals, historical buildings, museums, bridges, and splendid landscape. There are innumerable places to explore, gather new experiences and things to do in Amsterdam. A planned Amsterdam itinerary would give you a wonderful experience to cherish forever.
The quality of life here will make you fall in love with Amsterdam. Tourists get attracted to the most rewarding shopping experience, restaurants, bars, antique art galleries, courtyards, quaint canal network, narrow lanes, and friendly Dutch natives. Out of all my international trips, my Amsterdam trip was one of the most memorable.
With narrow lanes, Amsterdam is a place to experience with walking and cycling. But there’s definitely much more to the city then just walking or cycling around. Here, I present a recommended Amsterdam itinerary with suggestions to spend 5 days in this beautiful city.
Top Tip: If you plan to visit a lot of museums, the IAMsterdam Card will most likely be worth it for you. It includes free entrance to 60 museums, free public transport, and discounts at various shops and restaurants. Read about the details here: IAMsterdam Card
5 Days in Amsterdam
Day 1: Amsterdam on Wheels
Day 2: Let’s go to Museums
Day 3: Trip to a Fishing Village
Day 4: Chill first, Party Next
Day 5: A Garden & Beer Factory
Day 1 – Amsterdam on Wheels
Cycling around Dam Square is the most exciting way to explore the local attractions such as the National Monument, the Royal Palace, the New Church, and the Beehive listed in the Amsterdam itinerary.
While cycling, visit the National monument, a war memorial is situated in the center of the Dam Square. It is 22 meters high monument designed by Dutch architect J.J.P. Oud created in the memory of fallen soldiers.
Your tour is incomplete without a visit to the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, originally a city hall, and later became the palace of King Louis Napoleon. A guided tour to the palace’s rooms gives you a real sumptuous feel of royalty.
If you don’t want to cycle alone, you can also book a bike tour around the city and explore with other travelers. Book your Amsterdam bike tour here>>
Located in the center of Dam Square, you can visit Bijenkorf, the biggest Amsterdam departmental store also known as the Beehive. A six-floor high departmental store has a wide selection of products with new and interesting designs. Originally opened as a button shop in 1870, the Beehive is now a market place with famous cafes and restaurants.
After cycling around the Dam Square, head to Amsterdam central. Hop on a ferry and cross the river to reach the Noord area of the city. Visit Adam’s lookout to see a stunning view of the city from the top of the building. It is an observation deck that offers a panoramic view of the city. “Over the edge” is Europe’s highest swing where the enthusiasts will enjoy the swing 100 meters above the ground to explore a breathtaking view of the unimaginable landscape, city’s historical center, and beautiful canals.
In an adjacent building, you can enjoy a 4D experience of virtually touring the Netherlands. Go for the ‘This is Holland’ experience and fasten your seat belt as the virtual flight takes you over the sprawling countryside and interesting facts about the Netherlands. Book your ticket in advance here>>
Before you call it a day, you can visit the red light area which is famous for the giant window panes and women behind these, looking for customers. Frankly, I found this street to be overrated. But maybe you’d still want to give it a short visit.
Day 2 – A Day at Museums
A fancy title for today, based on the Ben Stiller movie – ‘Night at the museum’. Don’t worry, things won’t be coming to live in your museums!
If you haven’t gotten your IAMsterdam Card yet, get it now, because today you will need it!
Van Gogh Museum
You can start your day by visiting the Van Gogh Museum. Twelve minutes from Dam Square, you reach the renowned Van Gogh’s museum that features Van Gogh’s best creations, excellent biography of his life presented in chronological order. Art lovers can enjoy one of the best creations of famous artists of those times such as Matisse, Monet, and Manet.
Adjacent to the Van Gogh’s Museum is the Rijksmuseum that features the Rembrandt collection, famous painting “The Night Watch” a classic and renowned collection of Dutch painters. Nearby, you will see major attractions such as the Rose Garden, musical dome, and the three-meter statue of the Dutch poet Vondel.
With a bike tour, you can explore the wonderful cafes and restaurants situated near it, Groot Melkhuis and Kinderkookkafe that can be a great addition to your Amsterdam itinerary.
Jordaan Neighborhood & Anne Frank House
Later, you can spend the afternoon at Jordaan Neighborhood. You must visit Anne Frank’s house, a historical landmark of the Nazi regime in central Amsterdam in the memory of a little girl who spent her days hiding. This is a very popular tourist destination and you will need to book tickets in advance, sometimes they are sold out weeks in advance. You can reserve your tickets here>>
The Jordaan area is surrounded by amazing cafes, restaurants, fast-food spots, and patio cafes that offer a delicious breakfast or a brunch that you can enjoy after a refreshing cycling tour in the morning.
Next on the Amsterdam itinerary is the visit to Woonbootmuseum, the only houseboat museum in the world. A museum converted into a houseboat is located five minutes from the Anne Frank House and takes back to the seasoned history of Amsterdam through the canal system.
Shopping at the Lindengracht market is fun as many stalls feature handicraft items, cheese, beautiful bouquets, plenty of snacks, and fresh fish. You can enjoy the tastiest caramelized apple pie embraced with cream and crushed nuts at Winkel43, the best in the city.
Westerstraat, the biggest streets of Jordaan is the most famous textile market area. With more than 200 stands, you can find designer clothes of renowned brands that are slightly outdated and defective.
Churches and Chapels
Lastly, you can visit the Beginhof Chapel dates back to the 14th century where you can find historical paintings, attractive houses surrounding the courtyard, and the oldest surviving wooden house of the 14th century.
You would love to visit Oude Kerk, an old church and the oldest building of Amsterdam. An 800 hundred-year-old building of the 13th century is a Catholic place of worship.
The NieuweKerk (new church) was built in the 15th century established adjacent to the Royal Palace. You can experience peace of mind visiting these beautiful churches to sensitize the spiritual side of your life.
Make sure you note down the timings of these museums. If you feel that covering these sites in one day will be too hectic, may be you can skip one or two.
Day 3 – Trip to a Fishing Village
Today, we escape to a fishing town, like Marken or Volendam. You can visit both if you are very curious. But they do have a lot of similarities. So I’d suggest you visit only one. If you don’t want to go by yourself, join one of the many day tours from Amsterdam.
From the crowded streets of Amsterdam, on your third day you can enjoy the quiet streets and lush green land of the tiny village of Marken. With a little population of 2000 people, the village is 30 minutes from Amsterdam and is an ideal place for fishing. Or you can consider Volendam which is a bigger town. My pick was Marken.
At Marken, you can explore the clog factory, Marken Harbor, Marken lighthouse, Maxima Bridge, and amazing greenhouses with picturesque beauty. The village has two distinct neighborhoods named Kerkbuurt and Havenbuurt where you can spend a day having a glimpse of natural beauty.
While in Marken, I found an unknown hiking trail, known as Landtong hike on google maps. This hike isn’t really mentioned on the internet or in the tourism brochures. But it gave me bountiful views of a gorgeous sunset! <Img 4: Marker Landtong Hike>
If you visit Volendam, you can explore colorful houses, fishing, amazing seafood, and windmills. A visit to Volendam Museum, a lighthouse built in 1839, cheese factory, and canal cruise will not disappoint you.
Day 4: Chill First, Party Next
You have to party in Amsterdam! This day can be interchangeable depending on the calendar of festivals, music concerts, dance festivals or DJ showdowns. I had a fantastic time at AMF, Amsterdam Music festival where I was just lost in the surreal transitions of David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Hardwell and others.
Check the calendar of these music festivals before you plan for Amsterdam. These concerts are seriously one of the bests in the world!
Here are a few music and techno festivals scheduled every year:
Loveland Festival: around 8-9 August
Dekmantel Music Festival: around 31st July to 4th August
Milkshake Festival: around 25-26 July
Amsterdam Music Festival: around October
It would be a great idea to add one of the best music festivals in the city and keep it on your Amsterdam itinerary.
In the morning & afternoon, you can just chill near the Dam square or in Jordaan. But in the evening, just party at one of these fests. If you go to Amsterdam when there are no such events, the city still does have a fascinating nightlife!
Day 5 – A Garden & A Beer Factory
Doesn’t really make sense in one sentence, does it? Garden & Beer? One is for Sunday evening & the other is for Saturday night! But don’t worry. You can visit the Tulip gardens & Beer factory in one day.
You can start the day with a visit to Keukenhof, one of the world’s biggest gardens enveloped with colorful tulips. Amazing flora and eye-catching scenic beauty of flowers such as fragrant hyacinths and daffodils render a breathtaking experience. Book your Keukenhof ticket here>>
Next, you can visit the Heineken Experience. The tour here educates about the history of the Heineken Beer company and its relation with the city of Amsterdam. A tour to the company with a climax of beer tasting opportunity would bring the thrill in the minds of beer lovers. Book your ticket here>>
Conclude your 5th day by visiting FOAM, Amsterdam History Museum, and the Hermitage Amsterdam. No more in mood to visit museums? Skip them, it’s okay. You have created enough memories in this beautiful city.
Also read: My Parisian Life – Spending time in Paris
Tips to Plan your Amsterdam Itinerary
Here are some handy tips before planning your trip to Amsterdam. Mix these tips with the itinerary and you have everything you need to make this Amsterdam trip a memorable one!
Getting to Amsterdam
The airport in Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport is located 9 kilometers away from the southwest of the city. It is the main airport in the Netherlands connected to many international flights from all over the world. After your arrival at the airport, you can take a metro or a cab to major destinations in the city.
You can also reach by rail to Amsterdam if you are coming from anywhere in Europe. Regular direct trains are connected to major cities of Europe such as Berlin, Paris, London, and Manchester.
The Best Time to Visit Amsterdam
January and February are the months to skip a visit to Amsterdam. The month is windy and chilling cold. In winters, the lakes freeze that may disappoint visitors keen to enjoy the canal tours.
Tourism picks up in March and April and it gets really crowded with visitors taking in the stunning tulip gardens and field Definitely book well in advance if you plan to visit during this time. May and June are great months to visit the Dutch capital where you can see less rain and more sunlight.
July, August, and September are months of the peak season where you can experience busy streets and large crowds. October is the month where you would not see much crowd and the weather becomes unpredictable.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is one of the most backpacked cities of Europe. You would find innumerable hostels and hotels available to stay. It is important to identify the best and top-rated hostels in Amsterdam depending upon the location, price, staff, and facilities. Take a look at this guide on the best places to stay in Amsterdam.
What to eat in Amsterdam?
There are a lot of mouthwatering local dishes worth trying when you visit the most happening city of the Netherlands. From any fast food restaurant, pick up a kroket that is a meat-filled sausage, deep-fried with a crispy outer layer.
Around Christmas, you would love to taste amazing spiced cookies Speculaas made of aromatic spices, flour, and sugar and butter. Served by fast-food vendors, Patatje Oorlog, similar to French fries are served with a heavy carb base of mayonnaise. You can’t ignore the syrup-filled waffles, Stroopwafels available at every supermarket at Amsterdam.
Surrounded by water, Amsterdam is famous for its fish stands offering the famous Dutch herring traditional fish. Other dishes include Bitterballen, Tompouce- pastry sandwich, Bossche Bol, and Frikandel.
Amsterdam is flooded with excellent eateries, fine dining, and ethnic dining restaurants with creative chefs serving wonders on your plate. One of the most unusual dining experiences is at a greenhouse that serves what is grown there.
A great way to explore the culinary side of Amsterdam is by joining a food tour that shows you the most iconic foods and best places to try them. Book your Amsterdam food tour here>>
De Kas is a super-stylish restaurant that serves fresh picked from the garden. A Michelin starred restaurant, Vinkeles is an amazing place for a perfect romantic date.
RIJK’s museum restaurant is worth a visit after a mesmerizing exploration at the museum. A visit to such tempting restaurants must be on priority in the Amsterdam itinerary.
Also read: Skydiving in Seville, Spain
Getting Around in Amsterdam
As you reach the city, the best way to explore the attractive destinations is by cycling. With rented bicycles, you can enjoy the raw beauty of the narrow lanes of the city. Another great option to explore the Amsterdam itinerary is with a cycle tour passing through the narrow lanes, gush streets, and bridges.
Public transport in Amsterdam is very convenient for visitors. A public transport chip card is used by visitors for travel in buses, metros, and trams. The ticket can be bought for a one-hour card to a day card. The transportation is connected through the GVB network for daily passes.
Lastly, do consider getting the IAmsterdam card. It offers easy access to a lot of commute or museum options and will help you save a few Euros as well. You can also buy Amsterdam city card to visit the city’s attractive tourist spots with unlimited use of the GVB public transport system.
That’s it! That’s all you need to know before planning a trip to Amsterdam. In case you have more questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.
This Amsterdam Itinerary was written by Umang Trivedi. He is is a travel blogger based in India. Umang writes about his travel journeys at travelmax.in. He likes adventure travel, offbeat travel, and exploring new experiences. On his website, he also compiles travel itineraries, ideas, trips and more. Please visit his website, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.