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3 nights in Amsterdam

Hi there. I'll be in Amsterdam April 1 (flight arriving 7:00 am) until April 4 (taking Thalys train to Paris in the morning) and I know this is very little time, but I would like to see as much as I can. Some of the places I would like to see is Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof, Utrecht, Gouda and of course the city of Amsterdam including the Anne Frankhuis and Van Gogh and Rijksmusuem. Is this possible? If so, in which order should I do it? Am I better off just signing up for a bus tour? Though the bus tours don't make stops to Gouda, Utrecht or Keukenhof.

I'll be staying in a hotel within a 10 min. walking distance from Centraal Station in front of the Herengracht Canal. I'm also a 26 yr. old female traveling alone to Europe for the 1st time. Thank you!

Posted by
359 posts

Anne, if you haven't already found it, Google <> for the Dutch train system. Click upper right corner for English. It'll give you times, stops enroute, prices and maybe help with your decisions for day trip(s).

Posted by
359 posts

Anne, if you haven't already found it, Google for the Dutch train system. Click upper right corner for English. It'll give you times, stops enroute, prices and maybe help with your decisions for day trip(s).

Posted by
242 posts

There is bus that goes directly from Amsterdam to Keukenhof. However, if you are looking for a nice day trip you can take the train to Leiden, rent a bike from the train station, and ride to Keukenhof. The ride under an hour and a half and takes you through other tulip fields and small towns. Leiden is also a nice city to see if you want to experience a medium town (it has a university and so quite a few students) (comparable to Gouda) and you could spend the late afternoon and evening there.

What are you looking to see in Gouda? Utrecht is closer to Amsterdam and a better city to visit in my opinion.

You might want to pre-book tickets for the Van Gogh museum because there is special exhibit on display from the MoMA and the lines will be longer. The added plus is you will get to see Starry Night!

The display in the Rijksmuseum is still very small due to the renovations (all the masterpieces are still on display). It will probably not take you more than an hour and a half.

I would also pre-book tickets for the Anne Frank House. We have now been to Amsterdam a dozen times and not been inside because the line is around the block.

Just my opinion, but I think you could spend an early morning doing Rick Steves' walk through Amsterdam, visit both museums in the afternoon, walk through the red light district, and crash on day one. Day two you would spend at the gardens, but still come back to Amsterdam for the night life. Day three in Utrecht or Gouda and once again come back to Amsterdam for the nightlife.

Posted by
9056 posts

I would send most all that time in Amsterdam. The city's attractions will easily fill three days. If you must do a day trip, pick just one place like Haarlem, or Delft/The Hague. For Holland, bus tours really won't save you much time. Trains will take you anywhere no need to go, quickly and efficiently.

Posted by
360 posts

That seems a lot to do in 3 days. I can speak only for Keukenhof & Amsterdam. You need to allow a minimum of half a day for the gardens themselves. They're big, beautiful & deserve some time. We left from Haarlem by bus & ended with a long walk to the gardens from the bus stop. Also Amsterdam is a wonderful, warm, cozy city, but I think it takes a little while to warm up to it. I'd spend a least a full day walking around the canal areas looking at the architecture & visiting some of the many house museums to get an idea of what it was like living in them before they were split into flats & offices. The Rembrandt house is good for that. Stop at a brown cafe for a coffee or lunch. The Anne Frank house has a huge line almost always. I visited in April 2007 & we stood in a slow moving line that wound around the block. I visited Amst again late Nov 2007 & was surprised to see that the line was almost as long. Maybe if you get there first thing before they open...? Check into buying the museum ticket on the internet. I don't remember if that allows you to bypass the line. The museum site might tell you. I also travel by myself & feel free to walk around in the evening but I stay away from the seedier areas. I see you're going on to Paris which I love. I hope you enjoy your trip very much. Wish I was going for the first time again.

Posted by
591 posts

You will be there at the best time to see Keukenhof, so check the weather forecast and pick the best weather day to see the gardens. My choice would be Zaanse Schans for the 2nd day trip. Amsterdam for the other day - get to the Anne Frank huis early to avoid waiting in line. For transportation to Keukenhof, take a train to Leiden where you can catch a shuttle bus outside the station that takes you right to the entrance to the gardens.

Posted by
9535 posts

I would suggest buying your ticket for the Anne Frank house on-line. You can choose the time period you want to arrive (they are in one hour increments. By doing that you avoid the long line. We just flew into Amsterdam on 12/26 and only had that day and night, because we left early the next day for Bruges. I found a free walking tour ( that was very informative and it took us through areas we wouldn't have seen otherwise. They do two tours a day. I had already purchased our Anne Frank tickets for the 4:30-5:30 time period. We did the walking tour that started at 1:15 and it ended next to the Anne Frank house at about 4:45. Perfect timing!

Posted by
359 posts

I'm with Michael for dropping some destinations, and with some planning/research I don't feel you'll need a bus tour.

You'll arrive jet-lagged on day 1. Drop your luggage at the hotel (check-in probably won't be possible before about 1PM) then a head-clearing fresh-air walk/lunch to do a bit of sight seeing in A'Dam & visit the VVV tourist bureau in front of Centraal Station for information. Nice dinner/walkabout and you'll be ready for bed.

Plan Keukenhoff for the best predicted weather on Day 2 or 3; it's at least 1/2 day including travel time to do the gardens justice. There's package deals with train/bus/entrance fees included; probably can buy at the VVV. Maybe spend the other half of that day doing Den Haag/Delft or Haarlem/Leiden; lots to see in all 4 easy walking towns, with guided tours of a working windmill at Leiden.

That leaves Day 3 for Anne Frank (buy tickets online from home and 'reserve' a time for day 2 or 3 in the later PM so you can do it after your other day's activities and bypass the line). See your other preferred sights in A'Dam (and I'm sure there's many including the museums/galleries on your list) and if time left over, and depending on your previous days' activities, both Haarlem and Leiden are but a few minutes from A'dam Centrall by train.

Regardless of which part of the Herengracht your hotel's located, you'll be within easy walking distance of many important sights. My recommendation for a Travel Guide is the Michelin Green Book. Used mine almost every day when living in Holland for a few years and still carry it with me on trips to the NL ten years later. Fantastic, detailed town walking maps, excellent sights and history information, not much on hotels/restaurants but you've got a hotel and there are restaurants every block or less so should work for you.

That's a busy 3 days and you're off to Paris the next morning. Have fun and when you hear a bicycle bell 'tinkle' in Holland, get out of the way, quickly.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for all the tips everyone! I will probably cut either Zaanse Schanse or Utrecht because I definitely want to see the tulips- and the time I'm going will be perfect for that. I will just have to see all the other places on another trip. Sigh.

I've decided to break it down to this:

Wed. 4/1: arr. AMS 7:00 am
-take train to Centraal and get settled in hotel
-take a canal tour
-have lunch
-see dam square and some museums
-take a walking tour of red light district then head back to my hotel

Thurs. 4/2: take train/bus to keukenhof and spend half day there
-go back and do more exploring around Amsterdam, see more museums

Fri. 4/3: Do either half day at Zaanse Schans or Gouda. Can someone help me decide?
-Head back to Amsterdam for some more exploring
-Take a night canal cruise

Sat. 4/4: Just enough time for breakfast and head to Centraal for Paris (train leaving 8:30 am).

Does this sound more realistic?

Posted by
1950 posts

A trip to Keukenhof alone could take the better part of a day...we were there 30 April and it was incredible; locals can advise you about your time of year and the bloom schedule. If you do go, you can purchase tickets in a little package (bus and entry) at the Tourist Office at the Central Station. We got ourselves to Leidseplein (sp?) from whence we caught the bus to the airport and transferred there to another bus to the gardens...not as compleax as it may sound. The Rijksmuseum in April was being remodeled and only a very small portion of their collection was on display. Haarlem is also a very nice trip from Amsterdam and only a few minutes away, but after a couple of hours in beautiful Amsterdam you may want to stay there....forever. It is also small enough that you can easily walk the historic center. We did day after day. I loved this city!

Posted by
82 posts

I've been to Amsterdam many times and agree with the others that you can spend three full days in Amsterdam itself. Apart from all the sites that you and the others have already mentioned, you should go on a canal cruise. The view of the city from the water is different than the view from the streets.

I also suggest investing in day passes for the tram system in Amsterdam. They go everywhere and are a very good mode of transportation. The TI in front of Centraal Station will have all the information that you need, and the people at the windows are very knowledgeable and helpful.