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3 Days in Amsterdam Trip Report – What Did We Pack in On Our Short Trip?

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3 Days in Amsterdam Trip Report – What Did We Pack in On Our Short Trip?

I have to admit I love Amsterdam.  The city is gorgeous with their tree lined canals, sprawling parks, historic buildings, museums and the city is one of the cleanest I have seen.  All of that makes me want to return and to do it soon.  We were able to pack in quite a bit during our 3 days in Amsterdam and I wanted to share the highlights with you.  I also wanted to give you a few things I look forward to checking out next time I am in town.

3 Days in Amsterdam – The Highlights

Here is a list of the things that we hit while we were in town that I would recommend:

Canal Tour

I went over our canal tour in more detail in my review.  I can’t emphasize enough making this the first thing you do.  You will get to see the city from a different perspective and the tour guide will most likely give you some spots to check out you would have never known about.  The Those Damn Boat Guys were pretty great and I give them a full recommendation.

Red Light District

I never did get the story behind why this was put in the Red Light District…right outside a church no less.

The Red Light District wasn’t quite what I expected.  I was thinking it would be something like Bourbon Street in New Orleans with windows lined up and down the street.  But if you know anything about the way Amsterdam was built you would know that isn’t possible.  The city is tons of tiny islands connected by bridges.

I still think it is worth walking through because there are not many places in the world like it.  It is pretty unique.  I wouldn’t stay in the area long though since it is packed with crappy bars that have overpriced drinks and tons of drunk tourists.  They do have some of the weirdest public toilets in the world though!


Amsterdam has the museum thing figured out.  They put the best ones in the same area called the museum quarter.  You can easily check them all out in one day.  The three main museums are:

We decided to hit up the Rijksmuseum since it was the year of Rembrandt and the exhibit had more Rembrandt art of display than usual.  I have heard that the Van Gogh Museum is the better one overall though.

There are also a few famous houses worth checking out:

Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance because if you just show up it is unlikely that you will get in.


After hitting up the museum area we took the short walk over to Vondelpark which is the largest park in Amsterdam. Kind of like their Central Park.  It was a beautiful park that had a little eatery set up on a pond.  And it also served beer and wine which was a plus…the view was great and the rest was needed after walking the museum.


At the eatery in Vondelpark we were told by locals to check out Foodhallen.  I don’t think many tourists end up here but it is worth the trek.  It is kind of like having 10-15 food trucks in one place but they are little store fronts instead.  It is a very popular place and it was PACKED.

There was a main restaurant out front as well the had an “indoor pool” to hang out in.


There are many small store front casinos throughout Europe.  They mostly consist of slot machines and automated roulette.  The Europeans love their roulette it seems!  We checked out the main casino though, Holland Casino.  It is located across the canal from the museums and Vondelpark area.  It is a pretty nice casino inside and it has all of the major table games.

The Heineken is served frosty cold and is some of the cheaper beers we had, which is the opposite of how it works in the US.  Unless you are in Vegas where it is free!

Visit a Coffee Shop

Coffee shops are actually places that sell marijuana.  They are named coffee shops because that is what the hippies opened up in the 60’s.  They sold coffee out the front and weed out of the back.  I guess the name kind of stuck.  Fun fact it is actually not legal to sell marijuana in Amsterdam, they just overlook it.  Even if you don’t partake it is worth poking your head in to see it for yourself.

Many people told us the best coffee shop in the city was the one located next to our Airbnb.  It is right next door to Preacher’s Son Tattoo parlor which we stayed above for a few nights if you remember.

Hang with the Locals

We checked out many bars and restaurants throughout our trip but when we wanted to hang with the locals I suggest too things.  First go to the most American bar there, which is where the locals hangout, and Bourbon Street was the most fun we had on the trip.  I highly recommend checking it out for a late night option, doors open at 11 pm.

Secondly go to one of the squares that are away from the Red Light District.  Our Airbnb was right near Rembrandt Square which was a pretty good one.  There are a few throughout the city though.  It is actually there where many people gathered to watch the semi final soccer match which AFC Ajax lost 😥.

Places I Look Forward to Checking Out Next Visit

Amsterdam is an amazing city and there was still much we had not seen or done after 3 days.  Some of the things I want to check out on my next visit are:

Final Thoughts

I think we did a good job of hitting some spots that everyone hits as well as checking out some off the beaten path locations.  We pretty much walked the entire time since Uber is pretty much useless in the city and I didn’t have desire to die on a bike.

Amsterdam is an amazing city and probably in my top 3 places I have visited.  I love that it has a direct flight from Detroit and that I can snag a lie flat bed for 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  I even flew home in Comfort+ and it was a very enjoyable flight.

Have you been to most or all of these places?  Which was your favorite?  What from the list would you most like to check out if you haven’t already?


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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. I went to Amsterdam in 1980 when I was 21. Your post brought back many memories of the canals, museums and sites. It was part of a 10 day tour of Europe with my mom. My trip to Europe was my first time on an airplane. I also remember visiting the Anne Frank house and the Windmills. We stayed at the Grand Hotel and I still have the key from the room we stayed in.

    • Awesome Leslie – so glad you got to experience it with your mom. First time on an airplane and you take a long haul flight – I am impressed.

  2. Currently residing in the US but visiting the home country several times a year, it’s enlightening and at the same time funny how much I still can learn from tourists about my own country and city and experience eye-opening impressions through different sets of eyes – Thank You All !

    • I think when you live somewhere you take a lot of it for granted. I am always amazed by how many New Yorkers have never ridden the Staten Island ferry etc. It is always fun seeing how others view your hometown too.

  3. First went to Amsterdam in 1970 and didn’t return until 2014 when we spent a week there, then 4 more days in 2017. Loved the city and we did some amazing day trips.

    In Amsterdam itself, some other places we visited that you haven’t mentioned: the Dutch Resistance Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum, Rembrandt House, walking through the Jordaan, and lots more. We walked all over, but still didn’t get to Vondelpark!

    But the day trips were amazing and all easy to do from Amsterdam. Go to the Hague to see the Louwman Museum (oldest private collection of automobiles – awesome, even if you aren’t into cars), the MC Escher Museum, the Mauritshuis. We also took trips to Delft, Haarlem, Keukenhof Gardens (only open specific dates in spring – totally amazing), Alkmaar, Gouda. For such a small country, there is a wealth of places to visit. Still many more places that I want to see. And you should try to add on a trip into Belgium, another wonderful country. Just writing this makes me want to go back… 🙂

      • More to Belgium than Brussels. At 70 (as of tomorrow!) I’m a “bit” older than you 🙂 and don’t drink, so more interested in art museums than bars, but the cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges are special. If you have seen the movie “Monuments Men”, the opening scene is describing searching for the Ghent altarpiece. Having seen it in person, I can say it is truly amazing – even my husband, who often “sits out” a museum, was impressed.
        Of course, we did all this 20 years ago, when far fewer tourists visited these cities.
        Still, what’s not to like about a country that has incredible chocolate….and beer, too!

  4. Mark – I stayed at the Grand. It’s very tasteful. Interestingly enough it is in a very quiet area close to the red light district and a lot of coffee houses. Architecturally significant, it has a lot of “tiny bricks”….these are very small…when the town was being built, the clay had such a high water content that normal sized bricks would explode in the kiln. The answer was to make much smaller bricks. You only see them on the oldest buildings.


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