This Amsterdam 4 Day Itinerary is meant to help you discover as many fascinating places as possible during your stay in the capital of the Netherlands. Amsterdam is one of the most visited cities in the world, and this is the first hint that suggests how beautiful it is.
I visited it only once and spent 4 days in Amsterdam, although my travels around the world often had stopovers at Schiphol airport. The end of summer caught me on the city’s crowded and noisy streets, searching for the most important tourist attractions in Amsterdam and the lesser-known places.
Of course, the most popular area is the center, the ring of canals part of UNESCO heritage. Here is where you’ll find most of the tourist attractions in Amsterdam. If you have 4 days in Amsterdam, you have enough time to explore it and include a day trip outside the city. In the article, I tell you what places out of the city you should add to your Amsterdam itinerary.
The most populated city in the Netherlands gave me a feeling of absolute freedom. Few places made me feel as comfortable as Amsterdam did. You will understand what I’m saying only after spending some time here.
Your itinerary for Amsterdam will include many experiences, from top museums, flower markets, and street art to boat rides on the canals, coffee shops (nothing in common with a regular cafe), and even sex shops and erotic showcases. Amsterdam is mixed, complex, controversial, and rich in sensations.
Amsterdam fun facts:
- in the 13th century, Amsterdam was just a fishing village
- more than 1 million bicycles for a population of approximately 800,000
- more than 160 canals (more than Venice) and over 1200 bridges (4 times more than in Venice)
- it has the most significant concentration of museums per square kilometer in the world
- the city is built on 11 million wooden poles
- there are approximately 2500 boathouses in Amsterdam
- there are over 160 coffeeshops (stores with products containing cannabis)
What I use every time I travel:
- To book hotels: Booking.com
- To book tours: GetYourGuide.com
Where to stay in Amsterdam
4 days in Amsterdam are enough to explore the city and everything it offers and check off the most important tourist attractions in Amsterdam. Therefore, you don’t have to look for Amsterdam accommodation in the center.
In the 4-day itinerary for Amsterdam, you can easily include the time spent on public transport, mainly since public transport works excellently in Amsterdam.
Therefore, although I recommend finding hotels in Amsterdam in the center, it’s not mandatory. However, if you are looking for a hotel in Amsterdam on the city’s outskirts, you must ensure that you have a nearby metro station. These are my suggestions for accommodation in Amsterdam, based on budget:
- budget: Holiday Inn Express Amsterdam – North Riverside, an IHG Hotel –private parking, perfect location, restaurant, delicious breakfast, spacious rooms
- mid-range: Singel Hotel Amsterdam –central location, free Wifi, bar, delicious breakfast, rooms with a view of the canals, Dam Square 10 minutes on foot
- luxury: Hotel The Craftsmen – excellent conditions, central location, rich breakfast, superbly designed rooms, beautiful view
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Amsterdam 4 Day Itinerary
Amsterdam 4 Day Itinerary – Day 1
A picture with the IAmsterdam sign
The most obvious proof that you have landed in Amsterdam is the letters placed outside Schiphol airport. The famous letters used to be in the Museumplein, but they were removed a few years ago, although many people didn’t like that.
The specific location where you can pose with them is outside Schiphol airport.
On the first day of your Amsterdam itinerary, you should get to know the city’s most populated and vibrant area and one of Amsterdam’s most important tourist attractions.
If you have not booked accommodation in Amsterdam in the center, I recommend you take the metro and get off at Centraal station. Walk for about 10 minutes, and you will reach Dam Square.
⇒ From here you can buy tickets for public transport in Amsterdam
Before reaching the most famous market in Amsterdam, you will cross a beautiful area of the city. Don’t miss a short stop at the houses in Damrak port; the image is dreamy and emblematic when thinking of Amsterdam.
Dam Square is practically the city’s center and is always full of life. The market’s name is Dam Square because a dike was built here (Dam means dike in English) in the 13th century to prevent the city from flooding. It’s the perfect place to start your 4 days in Amsterdam itinerary.
There are many pigeons, street artists, and sometimes concerts or events, like LGBTQ parades or festivals. The imposing building in Dam Square is, of course, the Koninklijk Palace or the Royal Palace, which belonged to the Dutch royal family.
Also in Dam Square is the famous wax museum Madame Tussauds. And if we talk about statues, of great importance is the National Monument, a statue built in 1956 that commemorates the fallen heroes of the Second World War.
If you are looking for central accommodation in Amsterdam, you can orient yourself towards Dam Square. Any hotel located at a maximum distance of 1 km from Dam Square is perfect for walking without having to buy tickets for public transport.
Go on a boat tour in Amsterdam | 4 Day itinerary for Amsterdam
The boat tour is easily in the top 3 things to do in Amsterdam, if not in the first position. I recommend doing it on the first day of your 4 days in Amsterdam itinerary, especially if the weather is good. Otherwise, you may regret it if you postpone it and the weather changes drastically.
Usually, the boat tour in Amsterdam lasts an hour, and there are several types of boats you can choose from, but nothing compares to an open boat. Prices start from €10 per person and can reach several hundred euros if you choose a private luxury cruise on the canals of Amsterdam.
You can go on a boat tour in Amsterdam either by choosing to buy on the spot or online in advance. I recommend the second option because it seems to me to be less of a hassle. Basically, you go straight to the target. The price also differs depending on the type of boat chosen.
READ ALSO: Things to do in Ghent, Belgium, in one day
It’s lovely to cross the main canals of Amsterdam, pass under the bridges and find interesting information from the guide. Some boat tours also offer drinks, and some include dinner. Either way, you’ll love the experience!
Why are some houses in Amsterdam leaning? Well, the foundation is the main issue; since Amsterdam is built on 11 million wooden pillars, they still rot, resulting in the leaning of the houses.
It’s fascinating to admire the city from the water, the buildings seem to look even more spectacular, and you can better understand the project’s complexity that was the basis of the city’s construction.
These are the boat tours I recommend when you visit Amsterdam:
- open boat ride, drinks included
- covered boat ride, the cheapest and classic option
- boat tour with wine and cheese tasting
- evening cruise
- hookah cruise
- boat tour, pizza, and beverages included
Amsterdam Flower Market | Amsterdam in 4 days
You must add the Amsterdam flower market to the list of places to visit. The only floating flower market in the whole world is in Amsterdam. Nothing surprising, given that the Netherlands is the largest exporter of flowers in the world and that Amsterdam is distinguished from other capitals by its charming water canals.
The Amsterdam Flower Market has existed since 1862 and is located on the Singel canal. It’s open from Monday to Saturday and worth visiting at any time of the year, not just during tulip season.
I believe it’s the most colorful place in Amsterdam. This is because you will find other types of flowers and tulips made of wood and plastic.
All the flowers you want are in Amsterdam Flower Market. Even if you don’t find tulips in bloom, tulip bulbs are always available. You can buy and plant them in your garden, thus having a wonderful memory from Holland.
Even the market’s ceiling is decorated with thousands of colorful flowers. You will also find Christmas trees in the Amsterdam Flower Market during the winter holidays.
One thing I want to mention is that in the Amsterdam Flower Market, I found the best prices for magnets among all the souvenir shops in Amsterdam that I entered.
End the day with a visit to the Red Light District | 4 nights in Amsterdam
The famous Red District should also be part of your four days in Amsterdam itinerary. Admittedly, men are more interested in this area, but I recommend any tourist over the age of 18 to discover this side of the city of Amsterdam – the Red Light District.
Indeed, it’s the most controversial district in the city, and that’s because, in general, the oldest profession in the world is practiced behind closed doors. Still, in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, everything is in plain sight and entices potential clients with a perhaps unconservative method.
⇒ Visit the Red Light District in an organized tour
The Red Light District is located in the oldest area of Amsterdam. You’ll find sex shops, girls’ showcases, museums such as the Museum of Prostitution or the Marijuana Museum, shops, restaurants, strip clubs, and pretty much everything sexual.
Prostitution is legal in Amsterdam as long as it is consented to and done in a restricted and controlled setting, more precisely in the rooms behind the famous shop windows.
However, it would help if you remember that you are not allowed to take pictures or videos in the windows when you get here. It’s forbidden, and I recommend you consider this to avoid possible problems.
Why Red Light? Well, the name of the red light district in Amsterdam comes from the red lights placed in the more than 300 shop windows. You should visit in the evening, after dark, to enter that lively atmosphere, full of life and “forbidden to minors.” The day can easily be mistaken for an ordinary neighborhood in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam 4 Day Itinerary – Day 2
A day dedicated to museums
Do you have any idea in which city you can find the most museums per square kilometer? You guessed it, in Amsterdam! There are approximately 75 museums in the capital of the Netherlands. You will not have time to see them all during your four days in Amsterdam, mainly since this Amsterdam itinerary includes other activities.
Considering how many there are, you must reserve a whole day out of the 4 days in Amsterdam to visit museums. Also, to save money, I recommend you buy the IAmsterdam card, which includes most of the museums.
The museums in Amsterdam are from many different fields, from art and music to museums about cannabis, beer, sex, etc. Most of them are located in Museumplein square, but some exceptions exist.
There are also museums for children in Amsterdam, or some with sections dedicated exclusively to children, so going to museums is one of the best activities in Amsterdam with kids.
The most famous museums in the city that you should see if you only have 4 days in Amsterdam are:
Anne Frank House
From the outside, it looks like a typical house. However, the interior walls of this house know how many things happened there. Many of the facts were recorded by Anne Frank in her famous diary.
The short story is that two Jewish families hid here during the Nazi persecution, starting in 1942 until 1944. Anne put her soul and experiences from that period in the pages of her diary, which later became one of the best-selling books.
Because it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam, the queues are very long, and you have to buy your ticket a few days, if not weeks in advance.
Van Gogh Museum
If you are a fan of Van Gogh’s works, this is the place you should definitely visit in Amsterdam. The museum hosts the most extensive collection of paintings signed by Van Gogh, over 200, and hundreds of drawings and letters.
Starting in 2019, the museum also inaugurated a different exhibition, a digital one, a wow experience under the name of Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience. The museum is one of the most visited in the world, with over 2 million tourists annually.
⇒ Check the price and buy tickets at the Van Gogh Museum
It would take you at least a day to see it, given that the Rijksmuseum is the national museum dedicated to history and art with over 1 million objects. But it’s worth spending a few hours here, even if you don’t manage to cover its entire surface.
The museum is over 200 years old and attracts millions of tourists.
⇒ Check the price and make a reservation at the Rijksmuseum
The Heineken brand was founded in Amsterdam in 1864, and today it is in the top 3 largest beer producers in the world. Whether you are a beer lover or not, I think that a visit to the Heineken Experience would enrich your perspective on what it means to develop a global business. You will also find a lot of information about how beer is made and how many types of beer are out there.
⇒ Check the price and buy tickets at the Heineken Experience
If you haven’t visited this museum elsewhere, it’s probably time to cross its threshold in Amsterdam. There are 21 locations worldwide, and the first was opened in London in 1835. Some of the wax figures you can see at Madam Tussauds in Amsterdam are Lady Diana, Barak Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, and many others.
Other museums you can visit in Amsterdam:
- Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
- Hermitage Amsterdam
- Rembrandt House Museum
- Sexmuseum Amsterdam
- Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum
Discover the tiniest house in Amsterdam
Depending on how you look at things, several houses in Amsterdam are considered the smallest or narrowest. I stopped at this one, with a width of 1 meter at the entrance, just enough to fit a door.
I saw another one from the boat tour; from what I read, there would be a few more. If you want to get to it, you should know it’s on the Singel Canal, at no. 7, right next to the Canalview Hotel.
Why are houses so narrow in Amsterdam? Well, in the past, the wider the facade of the house, the higher taxes you paid, and the smaller it was, the lower the taxes were. You are also wondering what can fit such a tiny house.
Amsterdam 4 Day Itinerary – Day 3
Day trip to Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans
You can’t visit Amsterdam without taking a trip to these two magical places, Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans. Even if the distance to Giethoorn is 2-3 hours, depending on the means of transport chosen, it’s well worth it because the Dutch village is charming, as if taken from a fairy tale.
Houses with thatched roofs, water canals, romantic bridges, colorful hydrangeas, and tall trees that reflect their water-rich crowns are just some elements that make up the village of Giethoorn in the Netherlands.
It’s also worth renting a boat. In fact, you have to; it’s mandatory if you want to have a complete and memorable experience. I wrote more about renting a boat in Giethoorn in a previous article.
⇒ Book a day tour in Giethoorn (boat tour included)
After Giethoorn, you have plenty of time to go to Zaanse Schans, located only 15 minutes from Amsterdam. Here you can explore an open-air museum, with windmills and shops with a Dutch theme. Visiting Zaanse Schans feels like traveling back in time, around the 18-19 centuries.
In Zaanse Schans, you can also visit the Catharina Hoeve cheese farm, where you can taste gouda, one of the most popular cheeses produced in the Netherlands. Another attraction you cannot miss here is the Zaanse Schans Clog Workshop, where you will learn how the famous wooden clogs are made.
⇒ Visit Zaanse Schans on a cheese-tasting tour
Amsterdam 4 Day Itinerary – Day 4
Walk through Vondelpark
Many would say that it is the most beautiful park in Amsterdam. Who can contradict them? Vondelpark covers an area of 47 hectares, so it’s not only the most beautiful but also the largest park in the city.
The park is approximately 150 years old, and the best and fastest way to explore it is to rent a bicycle.
The main attractions in Vondelpark are:
- the 3-meter-high statue of the poet Vondel, after whom the park was named
- the Open Lucht Theater summer park
- the park is visited by over 10 million tourists annually
Begijnhof OR Beguinage was established sometime in the 14th century. Beguines were widowed women who formed a religious community based on a lifestyle that sums up simplicity, preaching, and modesty. Beguines did not take oaths and could leave this community at any time. I talked about them in the article about Bruges.
Cornelia Arens was the most famous beguine who lived here, and the last one died in 1971. Currently, the houses in the Begijnhof are inhabited, but there is no longer any beguine.
The Begijnhof is right in the center of the city. The nearest metro station is Rokin, and it takes 15 minutes to walk from Centraal to here.
Jordaan Canal District & the 9 Streets
The Jordaan is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Amsterdam, known for the gorgeous houses along the canals, the elm trees that border the canals, restaurants, cafes, and shops with all kinds of unique products.
It is said that the name of the neighborhood comes from the French jardin, which means garden. Also, many streets in the area have flower names, which confirms the hypothesis. And if we talk about streets, the most famous in Jordan are Prinsengracht, Westerstraat, Haarlemmerstraat, and ‘9 straatjes’ (nine streets).
In the past, the neighborhood was one of the poorest and inhabited by the working class. The area’s construction began in 1612 and was initially called The New Work. It was only in the 30s when the sewer system was introduced that the Jordaan had an upswing, and today it is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Amsterdam.
The representative building of the Jordaan neighborhood is the Westerkerk church. This is also mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary, describing how she heard the bells. The tower of the Westerkerk church is called the Westertoren; it is 85 meters high and can be seen from anywhere in the Jordaan. You can also see it very well on the boat tour of the canals of Amsterdam.
The famous painter Rembrandt spent the last years of his life in the Jordaan neighborhood, and his body is buried in the Westerkerk church.
Shopping on Kalverstraat
The busiest shopping street stretches for 750 meters, from Dam Square to Museumplein square. You can find international chains of stores here, but also some local ones. Kalverstraat is also one of the most expensive streets in the world, and rents can exceed 3000 euros per square meter.
The name of the street translates as calf street. Its origin is based on the cattle market that existed in Amsterdam between 1486 and 1629. The next shopping street after Kalverstraat in Amsterdam is Leidsestraat.
Free stroll through the streets of Amsterdam, on foot and by bike
Amsterdam is full of places rich in culture and history, and the city’s streets are a magnet for tourists. You walk, you walk, and you never get tired of the city’s beauty.
Amsterdam looks lovely in any season, especially since trees surround all the canals. Trees have gorgeous colors in the fall and come back to life in the spring, while in the winter, a thin layer of snow is all the city needs to take on another beauty.
The houses that seem to be made of gingerbread, water canals, flowers, decorated bicycles, and boats all make up a dream landscape, as you can only find in Amsterdam. It is a unique city and so recognizable that any picture of Amsterdam will instantly send you thinking of it, even if the location is not mentioned and even if you haven’t visited it yet.
I recommend coming here and walking the streets as much as possible. Try to capture details, admire the architecture and decor, and the people and the relaxation on their faces. I don’t know what the miracle ingredient of the city is. Still, it seems to me that everyone here dares to be themselves and truly enjoy the experience of visiting Amsterdam without inhibitions.
⇒ Go on a guided bike tour in the center of Amsterdam
From my point of view, the unmissable streets in Amsterdam are:
- Nieuwe Hoogstraat
- Tweede Tuindwarsstraat
- Negen Straatjes
- Nieuwe Keizersgracht
- Oude Waal
And if we talked about the most beautiful streets in Amsterdam, I must also mention the bridges that are worth crossing and admiring:
- Magere Burg – the most famous bridge in Amsterdam, the one behind which there is also an interesting legend related to two sisters who lived on each side of the river and who built this bridge so that they could meet each other more easily
- I’m Jansbrug
In the end, the most beautiful and satisfying souvenirs you can leave with, not only from Amsterdam but from anywhere in the world, are the memories, be they in our thoughts or even physically, photos, or videos.
But I never leave a destination without buying at least a souvenir for myself and my loved ones. I like to look at them and remember the moment of purchase and other dear moments from that trip.
My fridge is full of magnets, but I also add other dear objects representative of the destination I just returned from.
The most popular souvenirs you can buy in Amsterdam:
- magnets; there had to be a windmill in the frame
- personalized wooden clogs
- gouda cheese
- miniature houses
- plastic or wooden tulips
- tulip bulbs or other flowers
- duck from the Rubber Duck Store
Where to eat in Amsterdam | Amsterdam 4 day itinerary
Leaving aside the city’s beauty, Amsterdam can easily be a culinary destination. There are a lot of places to try good food in Amsterdam, whether we are talking about street food or restaurants with traditional desserts that you can taste while walking along the Instagrammable canals of Amsterdam.
If you want to enrich your experience in Amsterdam with some fast food and must try during the 4 days in Amsterdam, then don’t miss these places:
- potatoes from Manneken Pis Nieuwendijk
- stroopwafels from Rudi’s Original Stroopwafels
- herring from Frens Haringhandel
- Goude cheese from anywhere; many shops sell it, and you can also taste dozens of types of cheese
- Bitterballende at De Ballenbar
- churros from Rene’s Croissanterie
⇒ Book a food walking tour in Amsterdam
And if we talk about restaurants, the most appreciated are:
- The Chicken Bar
- MOON Restaurant – a dream view of the city
- At Fiorita
The most beautiful cafes in Amsterdam (and I don’t mean the ones where you can buy cannabis):
- 30ml Coffee Roasters
- Blue Amsterdam
Top Travel Tips For Visiting Amsterdam
- Wear comfortable shoes. You will walk so much that if you don’t follow this advice, you will have sore feet at the end of the day. Amsterdam is a city where you can easily walk a few kilometers every day, especially as a tourist who wants to include as much as possible in the itinerary for Amsterdam
- get a hotel in the center or near the metro. Amsterdam is an expensive city, especially in high season, so if the budget does not allow you to stay in Amsterdam in the center, then make sure that the hotel is near a metro station
- do not rent tandem bikes. I did this, and it was tough to synchronize, so we always had to take breaks
- always have coins for toilets; including in restaurants
- you must know the difference between a cafe and a coffeeshop. Well, in Amsterdam, coffee shop is where you can buy marijuana and other products of this kind
- do not take pictures or videos in the Red Light District. No matter how much it might tempt you, or maybe not, to take photographs and film, especially the girls at the windows in the Red Light District, don’t do that, especially if you care about your equipment. The girls in the shop windows will be very upset!
- Purchase the IAmsterdam Card if you are thinking of doing a tour of the museums; it will undoubtedly be much more advantageous than paying for each separately
- bring layers. I’m telling you this because even though it can be hot during the day, it really cools down in the evening, regardless of the season
- don’t rent a car unless you plan to take a trip outside the city. Renting a car in Amsterdam is very expensive and not worth it, especially in a city/country that has such well-developed public transport. The parking lots are not too cheap either.
Things to know before visiting Amsterdam | Amsterdam 4 day itinerary
Best Time To Visit Amsterdam
I have the same advice for each destination: try to avoid the peak season. Amsterdam is splendid in spring and autumn, so my recommendations go to the months of April-May or September-October when the weather in Amsterdam is still perfect. It is also cheaper than in summer when the city is full of tourists. Let’s take the seasons one by one:
- The best time to visit Amsterdam to see the tulips in bloom:
If you want to enjoy the explosion of colors generated by these beautiful spring flowers, then you should go to Amsterdam in the month of March-May. And the prices will be higher, but you can anticipate this, buy your plane tickets ahead of time, and book your hotel room in advance. Of course, if you arrive in Amsterdam during the tulip season, you cannot miss a tour to Keukenhof to admire them.
- The best time to visit Amsterdam if you want to enjoy pleasant temperatures:
Of course, summer is the most suitable if you want to see the capital of the Netherlands in shorts and a T-shirt and participate in various festivals in the city. June and August are the most expensive months of the year to visit Amsterdam, but they are also the period when the weather in Amsterdam is perfect.
- The best time to visit Amsterdam on a budget:
Right before the tulips bloom is the best time if you have a tighter budget. From November to February, you can visit Amsterdam with less money in your pocket but with often gloomy weather and a city devoid of greenery.
- In winter, it can snow, and then Amsterdam takes on a unique charm. But, practically, you need a little luck to be in the capital of the Netherlands when it is covered with a layer of snow. It doesn’t happen too often, and it doesn’t last too long, either. But the weather in Amsterdam during the winter is not very pleasant; the evenings are freezing, which means that long walks are not as easy as in the warm season.
How to Get to Amsterdam
The most predictable answer is by plane. There are a lot of flights from Bucharest to Amsterdam at reasonable prices, especially if booked in advance. You land at Schipol airport, and from there, you can take an Intercity that arrives very quickly and not expensively in the city. You can fly cheaply to Amsterdam if you follow my tips on how to find affordable flights, including Bucharest Amsterdam plane tickets.
There is also the option by train or bus, especially if you are on a more extended trip involving other cities in the Netherlands or neighboring countries. Check the omio.com website for trains and flixbus for the coach. I, for example, traveled with Flixbus from Amsterdam to Bruges, Belgium. A trip takes about 4-5 hours, and prices start from €10.
How many days do you need in Amsterdam?
I would say that 3 days in Amsterdam are enough for a first visit. This is because one day out of the 4 days in Amsterdam that I recommend in this article should be for a trip outside the city to Giethoorn and Zaanse Schans.
You can spend more time in Amsterdam, considering how many museums there are and how many things you can visit in the Dutch capital. Still, I recommend doing this on several visits and in different seasons. The city looks sensational and different in every season.