The Ultimate 4 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Not the biggest city in Europe, the capital of the Netherlands is huge on cultural heritage. You need to plan to spend at least 4 days in Amsterdam to get to know the city and its surrounding areas. Here’s the ultimate 4 days in Amsterdam itinerary that you can use as it is or change to suit your liking. 

Last updated: May 8, 2024

4 days in Amsterdam travel guide - Roads and Destinations
4 days in Amsterdam Itinerary

The Ultimate 4 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Amsterdam is a popular travel destination. Every local and visitor rave about endless canals, tulips all year round, and coffee shops with legal marijuana. Sounds enticing. Hmm… not for me, though. At least not a few months ago.

But since I was planning to go to Europe again, I decided to give the city a chance. For a first-time visitor four days in Amsterdam seemed like an appropriate amount of time. I calculated just right. Indeed a few days in Amsterdam was enough to get a feel of the city, explore its surroundings, and madly fall in love with it all.

4 Days in Amsterdam travel guide - Roads and Destinations
Amsterdam at night | 4 days in Amsterdam itinerary


Day 1: Explore City Center

My plane landed in rainy Amsterdam in the early afternoon. I still had a few hours before I could check in at my hotel, but decided to test my luck. It was chilly, grey, and raining. I didn’t feel like lingering outside and, honestly, already questioned this whole trip. Four days like this… sorry, Amsterdam, I wasn’t ready for you.

Looking for local transportation to get to the city center from Schiphol Airport was the last thing on my mind. I got an Uber and luckily half an hour later dropped off my carry-on at my hotel room (they didn’t have any problems with checking me in earlier)… and headed right away to explore Amsterdam.

Two things happened during that 20-minute Uber ride. Just a short drive away from the airport, the center of the city looked absolutely stunning. On top of that, a rainless window that promised a beautiful opportunity to explore the city opened up. If I wanted to make the most of these 4 days in Amsterdam, I had to get a little bit uncomfortable.

Technically, I spent 4.5 days in Amsterdam. Watch the whole story on my YouTube channel

Albert Cuyp Market

I knew from my earlier research that the Albert Cuyp Market was located just a few minutes away from my hotel. So, I headed straight there. For such an artistic city, it’s quite common to name its street and markets after famous artists. The Albert Cuyp Market is a great example for it.

Yet the name of one of the most popular street markets in Amsterdam is not the first thing that gets visitors’ attention. The place gathers all sorts of merchants selling everything from fresh produce to souvenirs. In fact, you can do all your gifts and souvenirs shopping here on the first (I wish I did it) or last day of your trip to Amsterdam. 

I spent about 30 minutes stopping at different stalls at the market and not committing to any gifts. Yes, I was tempted to add mini clogs and traditional Dutch wooden shoes to my collection of souvenirs. But at this time I was more curious to find out what made Amsterdam one of the most visited places in Europe.

4 days in Amsterdam travel guide - Roads and Destinations
Four rainy days in Amsterdam

The Canals of Amsterdam and More

The weather didn’t get any better, but the rain seemed to retire for the rest of the day. It was as good as it could be. And I was determined to see as much as I could during these four days in Amsterdam.

The first thing I did was to shove my detailed Amsterdam itinerary back into my purse and let the city surprise me. There was not doubt it would.

Without any strict plans and routes, it took me less than 4 minutes to finally see the famous canals of Amsterdam. It might sound clichéd, but from that moment I knew exactly what made people come back to Amsterdam after their first visits. I myself knew that I would be back sooner or later.

Rows of narrow houses lined up along the canals with cute little bridges. Everything looked so photogenic. For the next few hours I did what the city asked me to do: wandering the streets (I learned later that it was Amsterdam’s famous Jordaan neighborhood) and taking tons of pictures.

4 Days in Amsterdam, Christmas around the World  - Roads and Destinations
I spent 4 days in Amsterdam in November

Amsterdam in the Evening

By that time it started raining again, (Amsterdam wouldn’t be the city we know without its unpredictable weather) but I just couldn’t retire for the day. Not yet… Not when I had only four days to explore charming streets and gorgeous landmarks of the area.

I wasn’t alone. The rain didn’t seem to scare anybody. Pedestrians kept waking, enjoying the evening in the city. Bicyclists didn’t speed up a bit. Crowds were gathering in Dam Square. And De Wallen, a famous red district, continued to attract more visitors as the day was coming to an end.

I returned to my hotel way after sunset. Usually I try to stop all sightseeing activities before it gets dark. In Amsterdam, however, I felt pretty safe walking in the streets even late in the evening.

READ MORE: Amsterdam Travel Guide: From Top Attractions to Places to Eat and Stay

Cuypers Library inside the Rijksmuseum - Roads and Destinations
The Cuypers Library in the Rijksmuseum | 4 Days in Amsterdam Itinerary

Day 2: Visiting Museums

Apart from the canals of Amsterdam and cycling, the city is known for its artistic heritage. In fact, Amsterdam has more than 70 museums and art galleries. From classic museums and historic houses to contemporary and modern art galleries, the city celebrates all kinds of artistic expressions.

I ended up exploring more of Amsterdam on foot during my second day. I did try to get inside some of the famous museums. These attempts ended in vain, though. Only on my last day in Amsterdam, I finally stepped inside the Rijksmuseum. The main reason for this visit, however, was not the museum, but the Cuypers Library, the largest and oldest art historical library in the Netherlands and one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.

Yet I highly encourage you to devote at least one day to visiting museums while in the city. Some of the places you may want to consider are the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank House, and Rembrandt House Museum.

The Rijksmuseum invites all visitors interested in Dutch art and history from the Middle Ages to the present day. The main feature of the museum is “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt.

The Anne Frank House is one of the most remarkable museums in Amsterdam. The place was a house and prison of a Jewish girl and her family. The museum is dedicated to the wartime diarist Anne Frank. It preserves the family’s hiding place and offers a permanent exhibition on the life of the diarist.

Another former house-currently museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, is dedicated to the prominent painter. The artist lived and worked here between 1639 and 1656.

4 days in Amsterdam, Zaanse Schans - Roads and Destinations
Zaanse Schans | 4 days in Amsterdam itinerary

Day 3: Half-Day Trip to Zaanse Schans and Amsterdam Canals Boat Tour

Although I fell in love with Amsterdam on my first day here, I longed to see different places that depicted other parts of Dutch culture. As I was pondering what to do on my third day, the solution came from Zaanse Schans.

This historic town is located about a 20-minute drive away from Amsterdam. It’s a place to immerse yourself in Dutch culture and learn about life in the Dutch countryside. Apart from admiring traditional windmills and learning about green-painted houses, Zaanse Schans gives a rare opportunity to visit a cheese farm and clog-making workshop.

After returning to the city, I spent the rest of the day taking the Amsterdam Canals boat tour and wandering the streets of Jordaan.

Day trip to Utrecht - Roads and Destinations
Utrecht | 4 days in Amsterdam itinerary

Day 4: Visit Utrecht

One of the perks of Amsterdam is its close location to other interesting cities in the Netherlands. On my last day, I jumped on a morning train to Utrecht.

Known as a little sister of Amsterdam, the city is located about 30 minutes away. Similar in architecture and style, Utrecht gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of a big city. Yet it never intends to take away the pleasure of wandering along the canals and exploring medieval castles. 

As a religious center of the country, Utrecht invites you to visit its numerous churches and cathedrals. For a bird’s eye view of Utrecht, climb Dom Tower, the tallest church tower in the Netherlands.

Where to Stay

There is no lack of accommodations that suit different budgets. I travel to the capital of the Netherlands on a shoestring. The first night I stayed at easyHotel Amsterdam City Center South, within a walking distance to the Albert Cuyp Market and the Heineken Experience. Then I moved to Quentin England Hotel, located within a short walk from Vondelpark and Museum Quarter.

Getting Around

By choosing hotels in the center of Amsterdam, I eliminated the need of using public transportation.

The train I took to Utrecht departed from Amsterdam Centraal. A round-trip ticket can be purchased at the railway station or online. Yet I absolutely love using while traveling in Europe. 

Additionally, I used to book a half-day trip to Zaanse Schans and purchase a discounted ticket to the Rijksmuseum.

TIP: Read our article to learn what apps you need for traveling in Europe.

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