Features Mann Overboard

A Perfect 4-Days in Amsterdam: Canals to Countryside

Photo courtesy of The Destination Designer

Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands, is famous for its picturesque canals, rich history and vibrant culture. It effortlessly blends old-world charm with modern city life, creating a dynamic and unique experience for travelers of all types. Whether you are embarking on an extended European holiday or Amsterdam is your final destination, visiting the “Venice of the North” will not disappoint.

Home to over sixty museums, many showcasing vast collections of notable Dutch art, charming neighborhoods, tranquil parks, eclectic shops and delicious cuisine, there is plenty to enjoy in Amsterdam, and four days is a perfect amount of time to explore and immerse yourself in this spirited city.

Day 1: Explore the Canal Belt and Jordaan Neighborhood

The Canal Belt, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a collection of 165 waterways snaking through the city’s different neighborhoods. Begin your day by walking along the canals while admiring the incredible architecture and charming bridges. One of the best ways to experience Amsterdam’s unique canal system is to book a leisurely ride on a private, vintage boat for lunch, dinner or an aperitif. Let your captain introduce Amsterdam perfectly and learn about its history, neighborhoods and great lore.

Next, explore the Jordaan neighborhood, a trendy and scenic area in the city center, popular among tourists and locals. The Jordaan is a great place to soak up Amsterdam’s laid-back vibe, and it is filled with boutiques, cozy cafes and specialty shops. Explore its outdoor market and local cheese stores, and with its many dining options, it is a perfect place to have a delightful lunch alongside a canal. Enjoy a glass of wine, indulge in some of Amsterdam’s incredible fare and watch the boats and bikes pass by.

Plan ahead, as tickets are difficult to come by, and stop at the Anne Frank House. This museum is dedicated to the life and legacy of Anne Frank, the young Jewish diarist who documented her experience under Nazi persecution during World War II. The museum is a poignant reminder of the atrocities of the War and the resilience of the human spirit.

Day 2: Visit Keukenhof Tulip Gardens and the Tulip Fields

With a love of natural beauty, The Netherlands is home to one of the most extensive flower gardens in the world and is the largest supplier of cut flowers around the globe. No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Keukenhof Tulip Garden. Regarded as the “Garden of Europe,” it is an approximate forty-minute drive from the city. Keukenhof is a must-visit springtime destination for flower enthusiasts when over seven million bulbs bloom during its annual opening. Given its popularity, we recommend an early morning departure to avoid the significant crowds and traffic that this floral wonder attracts.

Nearby, take advantage of the countryside roads and stroll or bike alongside the colorful tulip fields. This stunning display of flowers is a sight to behold and offers a unique experience that is hard to find anywhere else.

Not to worry if you miss the spring bloom. A visit to Keukenhof Castle and Gardens is possible year-round, offering lovely summer gardens, various seasonal events and a bustling Christmas market. 

Day 3: Visit the Van Gogh Museum and Sample Dutch Cheese

The Dutch have a long tradition of cheese making and do not miss a visit to one of the city’s famous family-run shops to sample some. Try a local Gouda, Edam or Leerdammer, and choose which creamy and decadent variety is your favorite. If you decide to bring a hard cheese varietal home, they will happily package and vacuum seal it for easy travel.   

Afterward, head to the Van Gogh Museum, which houses the largest collection of incredible works by Vincent van Gogh. The museum’s exhibits showcase the life and works of the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, offering a comprehensive experience that is both educational and inspiring.

Day 4: Explore the Countryside and Finish with Cocktails at Hotel De L’Europe

See the Dutch seaside by taking a day trip to one of the many beautiful coastal towns and villages located twenty to thirty minutes outside Amsterdam. Visit the pleasant village of Volendam to enjoy freshly caught seafood, including delicious oysters, while admiring stunning sea views.

Next, stop by the iconic windmills and wooden houses of Zaanse Schans, a residential neighborhood where 18th and 19th century Dutch life is captured in time. Some of the windmills are still operational, and you can visit artisan workshops, museums and quaint shops. Here you can rent bicycles or hop on a boat; both are fun ways to explore this enchanting village.

In the evening, return to the city center and enjoy a cocktail and a bite to eat at our favorite place to stay, Hotel De L’Europe. This family-owned luxury hotel has been an iconic part of Amsterdam’s history since 1896. Perched on the banks of the Amstel River, De L’Europe is the perfect place to unwind, relax and take in breathtaking water views after a bustling day. With fantastic on-site restaurant offerings, hip Freddy’s bar and a diverse choice of stylish and unique rooms and suites, De L’Europe is an excellent place to call home base during your stay in Amsterdam.

Ready to go now? Join The Destination Designer’s custom group trip this August.