Day 1 in Amsterdam
Welcome to Amsterdam! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! Prepare to be amazed by Amsterdam!
Begin the afternoon with lunch in De Dam, the monumental square around which Amsterdam was built and the location of Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace). Afterwards, enjoy a leisurely stroll along Kalverstraat, the city`s main shopping street, as you make your way to the Begijnhof, a former religious cloister for women, founded in the 14th century. Be sure to see No. 34 - it`s the oldest house in Amsterdam.
Today, we also recommend that you get acquainted with the city by choosing an optional tour such as a Hop-on Hop-off Tour with Optional Canal Cruise where you will have the opportunity to see Amsterdam`s elegant mansions, bridges and major attractions aboard an open-top double decker bus and/or while gliding through its picturesque canals. Following your canal cruise, you may want to visit Amsterdam`s Historisch Museum or enjoy coffee at Café Luxembourg, one of the city`s best `grand cafes,` located on Spuistraat.
As evening approaches, make your way to Leidseplein, where illuminated humpback bridges along Leidsestraat offer views of the Herengracht, Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht canals, Amsterdam`s 17th century Golden Age Grachtengordel (Canal Belt). Leidseplein`s sidewalks almost overflow with cafe tables where you can stop for dinner or perhaps try Café Americain, an Art Nouveau /Art Deco treasure, dating from 1900.
Day 2 in Amsterdam
Wake up early today and head to the Albert Cuypmarkt, the city`s largest street market, located in the trendy De Pijp district, also known as Amsterdam`s `Latin Quarter`. Then proceed to the Rijksmuseum, where you can admire a treasure trove of Dutch masterpieces by artists such as Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn, including his famous `Night Watch`. Afterwards, try fresh raw herring, a Dutch specialty, at Zeebanket van Altena, a haringhuis fish stall located next to the Rijksmuseum.
If herring isn`t to your liking, then enjoy a picnic lunch under the trees of Museumplein before exploring the Van Gogh Museum, home to more than 200 priceless paintings by the famous Dutch artist. Time and/or interests permitting you may also want to visit the Stedelijk Museum or attend a performance by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (if you have planned ahead and purchased your tickets in advance). Continue your afternoon with a relaxing walk or bike ride through Vondelpark.
Then as evening approaches, stop for a bite to eat at Kantjil and de Tijger, where you can experience Amsterdam`s intriguing love affair with Indonesian cuisine. Afterwards, make your way to the Homomonument, the world`s first monument to persecuted gays and lesbians as well as Westerkerk. A bronze statue of Anne Frank adorns the square outside this 17th century Protestant church where Rembrandt was laid to rest. Climb up the steeple for unbelievably beautiful views of the city.
Finally, you will want to visit Anne Frankhuis, the Prinsengracht canal house where Anne Frank hid from the Nazis during World War II. During summer, when the museum is busiest, it is open until 10pm so it may be better to go in the evening. Otherwise, see the Anne Frankhuis first and go early because there is always a line. We suggest you buy your tickets early to avoid heavy queues.
Day 3 in Amsterdam
Begin your day at the bright and colorful Bloemenmarkt, the famed floating flower market. The bulbs for sale are ready for export so you can take a bit of Holland home with you! Then pass by the medieval Munttoren (Mint Tower) with its graceful spire and chiming carillon on your way to Rembrandtplein. Stop here for coffee and a bite to eat in the Art Deco oasis of Café Schiller. Continue to the Magere Brug, the `skinny bridge` for views over the Amstel River before proceeding to the Muziektheater, home of the National Opera and Ballet.
This afternoon, explore Waterlooplein, part of the old Jodenbuurt (Jewish Quarter) then make a quick visit to the Museum Het Rembrandthuis, former home of the famous artist (before going bankrupt). From here, follow Sint-Antoniesbreestraat as it curves around to Nieuwmarkt, a lively old market square. Afterwards, head on to De Wallen, the infamous Red Light District, which occupies one of the oldest parts of town. Amsterdam`s Oude Kerk (Old Church) can be found here as well as the Museum Amstelkring, known as Ons` Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Dear Lord in the Attic). Originally built in 1663, the attic of this bourgeois house conceals a secret Catholic church.
On your final night in Amsterdam, make your way to the architecturally beautiful Centraal Station for some people watching before strolling to the rear of the station for panoramic views of the harbor. From the Waterplein West dock you can catch a free ferry ride across Het IJ waterway to IJplein where you will find plenty of restaurants to enjoy dinner overlooking the old harbor.
Additional Days in Amsterdam
Should you be able to spend additional days in Amsterdam, you may want to explore the charming and historical Jordaan district, a former working class area that is now the favorite neighborhood of students, artists and young professionals. Along its narrow alleys and tree-lined canals you will find many street markets, restaurants and shops as well as the Noorderkerk (New Church). Or you may wish to spend more time along the waterfront with a visit to the Science Center NEMO or Scheepvaartmuseum, the Maritime Museum, where a thousand years of Holland`s history as a seafaring power is recorded.
When you think of the Netherlands, you think of tulips! If you are visiting in the spring, then we highly recommend a trip to the flower fields, check out the optional tours available, such as Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields from Amsterdam. Holland also evokes images of windmills and scenic landscapes so if you want to get out of the city and explore a bit of Dutch history and culture then try a visit to Zaanse Schans Windmills, Marken and Volendam from Amsterdam where you will see the typically Dutch countryside of polders and little canals with wooden houses and locals wearing their colorful style of dress.
Your Last Day in Amsterdam
Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel, in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.