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How to spend four days in Amsterdam

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Many narrow colorful old buildings at the edge of a canal with boats docked along the banks in The Netherlands
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam has long been on my travel bucket list, and that motivation has only grown over the last few years. On a deeply personal note, my cousin was living in Amsterdam when he passed away in 2019 in a freak accident.

He loved the city so much and tried to get me to visit him in Amsterdam so many times. I didn’t visit because I always thought I’d have more opportunities. Just goes to show you, that life is short, take the trip.

After years of grief, I finally made it to Amsterdam on my first-ever SOLO international trip. Though traveling alone can be daunting, especially as a female, I also found it empowering and peaceful. Amsterdam was the perfect place to do it.

There is so much to do, see, and eat. It’s so international and the language barrier was minimal. To my surprise, the Dutch are amazing English speakers.

I spent 4 full days in Amsterdam, and I immediately saw why people love it so much. In this post, I’ll share the top things to do, where to eat, and where to stay in Amsterdam. 

Know Before You Go:

  • Book restaurant reservations and activities (even museums) in advance, it’s not a huge city and it’s insanely popular. 
  • Bicyclists have the right of way, not pedestrians. I honestly thought I was going to die both on and off the bike- I’ve never seen anything like it!
  • If you do rent a bike, which you should… make sure you lock it up.
  • The weather is unpredictable. Even in summer, I got stuck in a downpour one day.  

8 Top things to do in Amsterdam 

Ride a bike in Vondelpark

Pretty self-explanatory. You need to experience the chaos of bike riding in Amsterdam. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I had a lot less fear for my life biking in a park as opposed to the streets. Vondelpark is beautiful and it has a few lunch spots within it, it gives me Central Park vibes. You can also explore Amsterdam as part of a bike tour

Rijksmuseum

I’m an art history buff, so this was a special museum for me. I’ve always been a fan of Flemish Renaissance art, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh. Rijksmuseum had it all. They also had a large selection of physical artifacts, not just paintings to look at. I will say… it was incredibly peaceful going to this museum by myself. I spent hours there.

Hot tip: You need to get your tickets in advance because you have to book an entry time. 

Amsterdam Canal Cruise tour

This was one of my top experiences and activities during my 4 day trip to Amsterdam. I went on this canal tour through Get Your Guide. It was awesome, but the only downside was a complete downpour while I was in the canal. Our boat hid under a bridge to try to avoid us getting soaked. The staff was great, and they gave us all tequila shots while we were waiting out the downpour. Spoiler alert: we still got soaked. 

Moco Museum

If classic and traditional art isn’t your thing, then go to the Moco Museum for some contemporary art from artists like Bansky and Keith Hering. It was cool to see, but the museum was small, I blew through it. 

Royal Palace of Amsterdam

The royal palace in Amsterdam is massive and right in the city center. Super ornate rooms and I learned a TON. I go ham over a royal palace and try to check them out wherever I visit (like in Madrid). 

A large stone Palace with many windows and a tall clock tower in a cobblestone city square
Royal Palace of Amsterdam

Bloemenmarkt Flower Market

A floating flower market that is sure to brighten up your day. Who doesn’t love flowers?!

Red Light District

Don’t do this at night alone as a female… but if you are with people, you kind of have to see this. There is nothing else like it.

Shop on all the side streets

There were like legit 1,000 stores I wanted to go in. I would have done some serious damage if it wasn’t for luggage weight limits. You absolutely must bake in some time to go into all the cool little boutiques and fun stores. 

Many old brick shops lining a street in Amsterdam. Many people are walking along street
Amsterdam Shops

Things I will do next time:

  • Heineken experience
  • Rembrandt house museum
  • Van Gogh Museum (hot tip: book this well in advance)
  • Anne Frank House (hot tip: book this well in advance)
  • Day trip to other towns in The Netherlands or Belgium 

Where to Eat in Amsterdam:

I ate and drank my way around the city for 4 days in Amsterdam- there are so many amazing options, from traditional Dutch food to international favorites. I’ve narrowed down my favorites in a dedicated post. My only regret is that I didn’t try a pancake house, but I ran out of meals! 

The restaurants are great but don’t forget about the snacks like stroopwafels and french fries.

Some quick faves:

Dinner:

  • Bussia 
  • Domenica
  • Venus & Adonis

Cafes & Snacks:

  • Fabel Friet
  • Pluk
  • Van Wonderen Stroopwafels 

Bars:

  • Bar Oldenhof
  • Pulizer’s Bar 

I legit had to roll out of Amsterdam.

I may or may not have ended up on the back of a BICYCLE with the owner/chef from one of these restaurants bopping around until 2 am… Emily in Paris style. We can call it “Nina in Amsterdam”.

Nina in white standing at the edge of a canal. The canal stretches in to the distance with many boats and trees lining its banks
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Where to Stay in Amsterdam:

The Jordaan area is one of the best neighborhoods in Amsterdam. It’s a great location especially if you want to be close to cute shops, galleries, cool bars, and restaurants but away from the chaos that is the actual city center. It feels like a trendy and high-end local neighborhood so it seemed like the ideal place to base myself for four days in Amsterdam. 

I stayed at Hotel Mercier in the Jordaan district. It is a cute/vibey boutique hotel. Since I was traveling solo, I wanted to stay somewhere nice but also wanted to save a few bucks, so I picked a small room… small rooms in Europe are small. Legit, there was no closet and I had enough stuff with me to last a month, so things got interesting. I was hardly in the room, so it was all good. The bar and restaurant were also adorable. 

Some other hotels I was looking at in Jordaan were the Pulitzer and Hoxton. I went inside both and they were awesome if you’re budget allows. If you want something super luxe, The Dylan or SOHO House are your friends. 

Many yellow wooden traditional Dutch clogs hanging on the side of a building with flowers planted inside the shoes
Traditional Dutch Clogs

I 10000000% want to go back to Amsterdam, ideally in Spring during tulip season! It was such a cool place and is a great destination for any kind of trip- solo, friends, family, or a romantic getaway. I immediately understood why my cousin loved living there so much.

I hope this Amsterdam travel guide gives you plenty of inspiration for how to see Amsterdam in 4 days.

Have you been to Amsterdam?

A pinnable image of Amsterdam with text that says,"4 days in Amsterdam".

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