Whether travelling for business or pleasure, you might find yourself in Amsterdam with just a few hours to spare. The city’s compact size makes it easy to see a selection of the highlights, even if you’re short on time!
Best of Amsterdam in 3 hours or less
The suggestions below are ideal for a quick morning or afternoon of sightseeing in Amsterdam. You should allow at least three hours to do it all, but if you’re on a tight schedule just pick one or two attractions! If you’re flying, don’t forget to allow plenty of time to get back to the airport.
Head to Central Station or one of the many other canal cruise stops in Amsterdam. For a fast but thorough introduction to the city, pick a one-hour tour like the 100 Highlights Cruise. Alternatively, buy a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off Canal Bus. This way you can do your canal cruise in short bursts, plus use it as transportation to some of the next stops.
Flowers & souvenirs
Stop by Amsterdam’s floating flower market and snap some pictures of Holland’s most iconic export. It’s also a great place to pick up a few kitschy souvenirs like clog or windmill key chains. If clothes, shoes and housewares are more your thing, the Kalverstraat, Leidsestraat and Negen Straatjes (Nine Streets) shopping districts are all a short walk from the flower market.
A dose of culture
Stop by one museum or attraction to get in touch with Amsterdam’s rich culture. To keep your visit to an hour or less, pick one that’s relatively small and unlikely to have queues. Depending on your interests, we recommend the Amsterdam Museum (history), the Begijnhof (peaceful hidden garden), FOAM or Huis Marseille (photography), Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (clandestine church hidden in an attic), Rembrandthuis (art) or one of the city’s canal house museums (life in the Golden Age).
Taste typical Amsterdam
Don’t leave town without trying a traditional Dutch drink or snack! Head to Wynand Fockink to sip a fruit liqueur or genever or stop at De Prael for great beer brewed in the heart of the Red Light District. You’ll also find local tipples at nearly any brown café, plus fried bitterballen for a traditional snack. If it’s too early for a drink, visit a pancake restaurant, buy some friet (chips/fries) with mayonnaise in a paper cone or stop by a fish stall to sample raw herring.
No matter how tempting it may be to stay longer, keep an eye on your watch and make sure you don’t miss your ride to your next destination! Perhaps after this brief introduction, you’ll plan to stay in Amsterdam a bit longer the next time around.