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Backpacking to Amsterdam for 5 days: The Complete Itinerary

Amsterdam five day itinerary can come in handy for all the travelers looking for a getaway which includes a little bit of everything – historic museums, serene countryside, lively beaches and crazy nightlife. The city of canals, bikes and freedom will impress one and all.

In order to fully explore and connect with the city of freedom, it is essential that you chalk out a reasonable itinerary. A lot of travelers limit their stay in Amsterdam for 4 to 5 days (although the region needs more time to fully be explored). A good Amsterdam five day itinerary will ensure you get the best of this place in less than a week’s time.

Fondly known as Venice of the North, Amsterdam has over a 100 km of canals with thousands of bridges built over them. The entire city was erected over the canals centuries ago, during the Dutch Golden Age. In the modern world, the canal cruises offer travellers a perspective of Amsterdam from the water.

Being multicultural and liberal, Amsterdam stands out from the other cities of Europe. It is sometimes referred to as the sin city owing to legalized prostitution and cannabis-friendly coffee shops. Wandering in the alleys of Amsterdam and understanding its progressive attitude would be an interesting aspect of your Amsterdam five day itinerary.

Also known as the cycling capital of the world, Amsterdam will leave you awe-struck with the multitude of population zipping around town on their bikes. As a traveller, biking would be an essential component in your Amsterdam five day itinerary and will prove to be an exhilarating experience.

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Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary for Travelers 

As a traveller, you must plan to spend at least 4 to 5 days in Amsterdam to cover the city properly. Amsterdam five day itinerary will help you explore the interesting aspects and parts in and around the region.

But first, let me throw some light on some essential details about Amsterdam.

Important Tidbits for Travelers Visiting Amsterdam

Here are some important points to be taken into consideration before you take off for your Amsterdam expedition.

Country and Location

The Netherlands, Northern Europe

Currency

Euro

1 Euro = 1.17 USD

1 Euro = 82.7 INR

1 Euro = 0.91 GBP

Languages

Official language: Dutch

Commonly spoken languages: Dutch, English, German

Time Zone

GMT+2

Climate

Temperate Maritime Climate

Average Temperatures:

2*C in Winters – December to February

25*C in Summers – July to September

Ideal Time and Duration of Visit

April – May is a recommended time for the pretty spring blooms, though a trip to Amsterdam is worthwhile any time of the year. Amsterdam five day itinerary covers all places in an around Amsterdam for the best experience.

Visa

Schengen Visa: Apply through VFS Global and receive your visa to The Netherlands within 15 days.

Country Code

+31

Connectivity

Air: Fly to Amsterdam with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from almost any major city in the world.

Rail: Amsterdam is very well connected to all European cities via the Eu rail network.



What’s a Doable Budget for a Good Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary?

Unlike central and eastern European cities, Amsterdam is not a very budget-friendly travel destination. However, if you invest enough time in planning your trip well in advance, you will end up spending lesser than your fellow travellers.

You can find below the approximate expenditure for your Amsterdam five day itinerary. Since I travelled from India, I will be mentioning the budget in Indian rupees in addition to Euros.

Flight 

418 Euros (35,000 INR)

Visa (Schengen)

77 Euros (6,500 INR)

Accommodation (Hostels)

191 Euros (16,000 INR)

Transportation (Local and Regional)

70 Euros (6,000 INR)

Sightseeing

143 Euros (12,000 INR)

Food and Drinks

95 Euros (8,000 INR)

Tip: If you have a few extra days to spare, club your Amsterdam expedition with Paristhe city of love, and Brussels – the city of chocolates. This will do justice to the flight expenses to Amsterdam.

Day Wise Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary

Travelling within and around the city of Amsterdam is fairly easy. The efficient public transport can get you anywhere around the city in less than an hour. You can follow your instinct and be creative with what you’d want to do on each day or follow a pre-planned Amsterdam five day itinerary to make the most of your trip.

Day 1 Walking Tour, Dam Square, Royal Palace, Canal Cruise
Day 2 ‘I amsterdam’, Rijkmsuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Albert Cuypmarket, A’dam Lookout
Day 3 Anne Frank House, Westerkerk, The Nine Streets, Vondelpark, Red Light District
Day 4 ZaanseSchans, Volendam, Marken, Zandvoort Beach
Day 5 Keukenhof Gardens, Madurodam

 

Amsterdam five day itinerary

Exploring the wonderful streets and alleys of Amsterdam is the best thing a backpacker can do

Day 1 of Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary

Arrive in Amsterdam early morning to utilize the day completely. The most important thing to do on arrival in Amsterdam is to buy the local transport tickets.

You can purchase the 48-hour GVB chip card to be used on the first two days, Amsterdam 1-day region ticket for the third day, and the Holland off-peak travel ticket for the fourth day, all at one go, right outside Amsterdam Central Station.

Head to your hotel or hostel by the most convenient means of transport – bus, tram or on foot. Google Maps will prove to be your constant guide on your Amsterdam five day trip. Hence keep your phone charged at all times.

Your place of stay will allow you to check-in only post 2:00 pm in Amsterdam. However, you can leave your luggage with them on early arrival. I recommend you reach Amsterdam latest by 10:00 am, drop your bags at your place of stay, grab a quick bite and set off to blow your mind with the vibe of the beautiful city of Amsterdam.

Here are the places where you should be heading out on Day 1 itself –

Dam Square

The ever happening Dam Square is the first place to visit. You can observe trams crossing every second, hundreds of people on their bikes and travellers all over.

The National Monument stands on one side and the Royal Palace on the other. Spend some time enjoying the first glimpses of Amsterdam and then head to the magnificent Royal Palace.

Royal Palace Amsterdam

Marvel at the architecture, royal furnishings and artwork of the Royal Palace Amsterdam for a couple of hours. The ticket to the Royal Dutch Palace costs 10 euros and is available over the counter. But do check in advance if the Royal Palace is accepting visitors on the said day.

Since the palace is still operational for the Dutch Royal House, it is closed for visitors when in use by the royal family.

Free Walking Tour

Free Walking Tours are a very unique experience and can be found in all major cities of Europe. They start right at the foot of the National Monument in Amsterdam, located right opposite the Royal Palace.

You can spot a guide with a white and orange umbrella for walking tours which start at multiple times of the day. The tour lasts for about 2 hours and will help you uncover the history of Amsterdam, introduce you to the coffee shops, and includes a tasting of the famous Dutch cheese.

You will walk through the narrow alleys of Amsterdam city centre and the popular areas of Begijnhof and Red Light District.

Begijnhof

Begijnhof was built in the 14th century for single women who lived like nuns without taking monastic vows. It encloses a beautiful courtyard with houses around. Single women live in these houses till date. Men are not permitted inside the Begijnhof before 10 am and post 6 pm.

Red Light District

You might have heard a lot about the Red Light District but you have to see it to believe it. A walk through Red Light District looking at scantily clad women behind glass windows, posing for the onlookers with their own free will, is exactly why Amsterdam is called as the city of freedom.

At the end of the walking tour, it is advisable to tip the guide anywhere between 5-10 euros if you’ve had some takeaways and learnings. The long walk is likely to take a toll on your body. It is advisable to take some rest before you proceed for the highlight of your Amsterdam five day itinerary – the canal cruise.

Pro Tip: Walk towards the Damrak and look for Mannekin Pis – the number one Holland fries store in Amsterdam. It is hard to miss, as there is always a bunch of people waiting in queue to get their hands on some amazing fries with a variety of toppings.

Canal Cruise

End your day with one of the many available and popular canal cruises. They are more or less the same and start every half hour at the pier on Damrak.

The one-hour canal cruise will take you through the famous and significant canals, showing you the highlights of Amsterdam from the water. The canal cruise is very different from the mainstream boat ride and is a must-do activity in the Amsterdam five day itinerary.



Day 2 of Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary

Let me delve deeper into Dutch history, culture, and art on our second day based on my Amsterdam five day itinerary. The first half of the day is planned at the Museum; Square in the legendary museums of Amsterdam – the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.

Rijk Museum

The most popular museum in Amsterdam, the Rijk Museum takes you on a journey of the Dutch middle ages showcasing artefacts and paintings from centuries ago. The museum has an entire section dedicated to the life and paintings of Rembrandt, a notable artist from the Dutch Golden Age.

If you are a history buff, you will appreciate the museum like none other. The opening hours of the museum is 9 am, and it is best to reach by then to avoid the rush and queue. The tickets for Rijk museum are priced at 17.50 euros and available over the counter.

Right outside the Rijksmuseum is the iconic ‘I Amsterdam’ sign which is a popular photography spot for all tourists. Pose for some whacky pictures around the ‘I Amsterdam’ sign and let the vibe of Amsterdam sink in. Be as crazy as the place is!

Van Gogh Museum

The masterpieces created by the world-famous Vincent van Gogh can be found at the contemporary Van Gogh museum. This museum will teach you a lot about the life of Vincent van Gogh and his paintings.

It is recommended that you buy the tickets online priced at 18 euros in advance, as only a specific number of people are allowed inside the museum at a particular time. You might have to come back disappointed if you visit the museum without your tickets in hand. You can spend about an hour or two at the Van Gogh Museum.

Albert Cuyp Market

Time for some street food and street shopping. A must try delicacy at the Albert Cuyp Market is the Stroopwafel, a kind of a waffle but really thin and stuffed with caramel.

The culinary skills of the chefs making the Stroopwafel live is a treat to the eyes. You have a chance to use your bargaining skills all that you can, shopping for clothes, accessories, and souvenirs at the Albert Cuyp Market. You can also pick up some farm fresh vegetables and fruits here.

A’DAM Lookout

A’DAM Lookout gives you an opportunity admire the skyline of Amsterdam from across the river Ij. Take the free GVB ferry from Amsterdam Centraal station to the Ij-zijde to reach the Amsterdam Lookout Tower. It is a host to Europe’s highest swing ‘Over the Edge’, that’ll give you an adrenaline rush the first time you see it.

Go for it, a teeny bit of adventure on every trip makes it worthwhile. The panoramic view of the city of Amsterdam and beyond from the observation deck is spectacular. The deck has a café, good music, and bean bags to unwind and watch the fiery sunset from the top.

Amsterdam five day itinerary The inspiring Van Gogh Museum comprising of masterpieces by the world famous artist Vincent Van Gogh

Day 3 of Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary

If you are wondering about what would you do without a local transport ticket, that’s because something special is in store for the day. The third of the Amsterdam five day itinerary is going to be on a bike, cycling around town like a nomad. Rent a 24-hour bike at your hostel or one of the trusted bike rentals and take off on a biking adventure.

Also Useful:

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Anne Frank House

One of the most remembered figures from the dark times of German History is the young and bold Anne Frank. She was barely a teen when she started penning down the sufferings of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Her family went into hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse and stayed there for two years before being arrested by the Nazis in 1944.

This house is now converted into a museum dedicated to Anne Frank, and the tour of the museum takes you on a journey of her life. The tickets to the Anne Frank House priced at 10 euros are to be purchased online and are sold out days in advance. A handful of tickets are available online on the day of a visit as well, but getting hold of them is quite a luck.

Westerkerk

Mere footsteps away from the Anne Frank House is the biggest church in Amsterdam. Westerkerk is one of the oldest churches in the city and the bell tower is of utmost significance ringing every full hour.

Pro Tip: If you are visiting Amsterdam between June to September, join one of the group tours organized by the church every half hour to its observation deck, giving you a spectacular 360-degree view of the city centre.

Vondelpark

Enjoy the ride from Westerkerk to Vondelpark, biking through the well-known areas of the Nine Streets and Jordaan. You will find fashionable boutiques and cosy cafes to spend some quality time with yourself. Biking in the bustling city streets is different from biking in a park.

Vondelpark is massive and exploring it on a bike is better than on foot. The calm surroundings of Vondelparkmakes it a relaxing place for an afternoon siesta. Enjoy the evening in Vondelpark reading a book or watching the interesting street acts or just biking around the park savouring the mother nature.

Red Light District

Get ready to uncover the history of prostitution in Amsterdam on foot in the Red Light District. It is natural to be a little apprehensive of walking around the Red Light District, but you’d be amazed at how professional and safely guarded the locality is.

If you are unsure of walking around the area alone, you can join a walking tour organized by various operators and price anywhere between 15-25 euros. End your Red Light District experience at the world’s only museum of prostitution –the Red Light Secrets museum. A sneak peeks into the life of people behind the scenes in the oldest profession in the world would bring you so close to reality.

Amsterdam five day itinerary The infamous Red Light District. It’s professional and safely guarded as a locality

Day 4 of Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary

After spending the first three days of your Amsterdam sojourn within the city, take the opportunity to explore the serene countryside of the greater Amsterdam region. A day trip to the windmills of Zaanse Schans, the old Holland fishing villages – Volendam and Marken, and the gorgeous golden Zandvoort beach is on the cards.

You must use your 1-day Amsterdan& Region travel ticket for the entire day, which is valid until 4 am the following morning.

ZaanseSchans

The windmill neighbourhood of ZaanseSchans is less 30 minutes away by bus number 391 from the Amsterdam Centraal Station. The first glimpse of ZaanseSchans is no less than that of a fairy-tale land. The tiny oil, paper and colour mills dated back to the 18the centuries are operational to this day.

Entry to one of these mills will cost you 4.50 euros. Walk or bike through the green meadows breathing in fresh air and appreciating the view of picturesque windmills.

Volendam and Marken

Embark on a journey taking you back in time, to the ancient Holland villages. Admire your ride through the traditional Dutch towns to reach Volendam in a direct bus from ZaanseSchans. Volendam is one of the popular fishing villages in the Netherlands with its harbour full of old ships.

The town is known for its restaurants serving seafood delicacies by the shore. Take a stroll around and board the next ferry to Marken which starts every half hour. Marken is much smaller than Volendam, but the adorable wooden houses make the visit worthwhile. It won’t take you more than 15 minutes to walk through the village on foot. Head back to Amsterdam Centraal by bus number 315 departing from Marken.

Zandvoort

I am particularly fond of beaches and would suggest that you visit the nearest beach on any trip that you are pursuing. Zandvoort beach is nearly 30 minutes in a Sprinter from Amsterdam. A quiet evening on the beach watching the waves is all that is required after a long and tiring day in your Amsterdam five day itinerary.

For all the adventure freaks, the beach offers water sports activities including parasailing. Relax all you want before heading back to your base.

Amsterdam five day itinerary The systematic planning of Amsterdam is an example for many cities to follow globally

Day 5 of Amsterdam Five Day Itinerary

The last of the Amsterdam five day itinerary is an interesting excursion south of Amsterdam to the beautiful tulip gardens and a miniature park. The Holland travel ticket is useful for the day since these destinations are farther away from Amsterdam.

Keukenhof

A large open park with a colourful array of flowers will welcome you with open arms from the months of March to May. The best time to see the Dutch tulips bloom is from mid-April to mid-May, though they are seasonal and the exact dates change every year. It’ll take you a little more than an hour to get you to Keukenhof from Amsterdam by the intercity train.

Madurodam

Located in the heart of The Hague is a theme park full of fascinating miniatures of everything Dutch – palaces, historical monuments, settlements, parks and more. Madurodam is home to models built to the scale of 1:25, and a range of other attractions and activities.

Entry tickets to Maduroram are available at a discount online, hence is it advisable that you buy them online prior to your day of the visit. If you have some time to spare, use it wisely uncovering the city of The Hague, home to the United Nation’s International Court of Justice.

Your Amsterdam five day itinerary ends here, departing to the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport or the nearest train station for your next destination.

Madurodam is home to models built to the scale of 1:25, and a range of other attractions and activities. Madurodam is home to models built to the scale of 1:25, and a range of other attractions and activities

 

Now that I’ve elaborated on a reasonable Amsterdam five day itinerary, I would like to dig a little deep into the history and overall culture of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is one of the most loved destinations in Europe. It is well known for its artistic heritage,  open culture, elaborate canal system and artistic heritage. Let’s dig into some of the important aspects of this beautiful city.

Amsterdam five day itinerary Street art on the walls of Amsterdam is symbolic of its various cultural undertones

How did Amsterdam Come into Being?

About 750 years ago existed a fishing village in Northern Europe, which developed into a city over a ‘dam’ in the river ‘Amstel’. Hence was born ‘Amsterdam’, a trade centre for Europe in the 14th century. This led to people from across the world settle in Amsterdam and develop the city into a liberal society that it is today. Amsterdam has some of the most forward-thinking laws in the world today.

Amsterdam in the 21st Century

Amsterdam is one of the most culturally diverse and progressive cities in the world today. Tourism is an important component driving the economy of the Netherlands, with nearly 15 to 17 million tourists visiting Amsterdam yearly. Amsterdam is becoming increasingly popular as a holiday destination among the youth, solo-travellers, and families. Reason being,  it boasts of enough places to keep people across age groups entertained.

Getting to Amsterdam

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is located about 22 km from the city centre. All major airlines fly to Amsterdam, connecting the city with almost all countries. To get to the main city from the airport, it is recommended that you take a direct train which takes 15 to 20 mins and costs 5.40 euros. If you are travelling in a group, you can hire a cab for 39 euros.

Travellers reaching Amsterdam by train from other European cities would arrive at the Amsterdam Central Station located in the heart of the city, near Dam Square. Owing to the brilliant European rail network, trains are the fastest and cheapest mode of transport while backpacking across Europe. The major cities closest to Amsterdam which can be reached in less than 5 hours include Paris, Brussels, London, Frankfurt, Cologne and Luxembourg City.



Accommodation in Amsterdam

Staying in Amsterdam can turn out to be an expensive affair during the peak tourist season from July to September. Travelling off-season and when the climate is favourable in the months of April and May is an ideal alternative. Hostels are available in plenty and prove to be cost-saving while travelling on a tight budget. 

Recommended Hostels

Some of the best budget Hostels near the Dam Square are:

Hostel name (Distance from Dam Square) Approx. Cost (1 bed/night in a dormitory)
Dutchies Hostel

(4.8 kms)

Rs. 3100
Generator Amsterdam

(3.6 kms)

Rs. 4200
Via Amsterdam

(8.3 kms)

Rs. 3200
Hostelle – Female only

(10 kms)

Rs. 2900

For people who don’t mind splurging on accommodation and want to holiday luxuriously, there are good hotels located centrally near Dam Square.

Recommended Hotels near Dam Square

These are some of the hotels near the Dam Square:

Hotel Name Approx. Cost (1 room/night on twin sharing)
Hotel Prins Hendrik Rs. 12,600
Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam Rs. 20,800
Hotel Corner House Rs. 14,700
Ibis Styles Amsterdam  Rs. 16,800

 

Amsterdam five day itinerary The pretty houses lined along the streets of Amsterdam leave you in awe of them

Getting Around Amsterdam

Though the hostels are situated slightly away from the city centre, they are very well connected by trams and buses. The public transport ticket is valid to get to any place within Amsterdam using the extensive public transport network operated by GVB.

My Amsterdam five day itinerary recommends purchasing a mix of the multi-day transport chip card, Amsterdam & Region Travel ticket, and the Holland Travel Ticket.

Unlimited GVB multi-day tickets

Unlimited travel on the GVB network (trams, metro and GVB buses) for 24 hours from first check-in.

24 hours – 7.50 euros

48 hours – 12.50 euros

72 hours – 17.50 euros

96 hours – 22.50 euros

Amsterdam & Region travel tickets

Unlimited travel on all public transport in the greater Amsterdam region, including the GVB network, regional buses, and trains.

1 day – 18.50 euros

2 day – 26 euros

3 day – 33.50 euros

Valid until 4 am the next morning.

Holland travel ticket

Unlimited travel on all Dutch public transport in the entire country of Netherlands.

1 day – 55 euros

1 day off-peak (not valid between 6:30 am and 9 am) – 39 euros

TipDo not forget to swipe your card while entering AND leaving a bus, tram or train. The ticket becomes invalid if you forget to check-out while disembarking at your destination.

Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers Backpacking to Amsterdam

Q1. Does Amsterdam have enough eateries around? What are the most popular cuisine and the must-try dishes?

Amsterdam is filled with cafes and restaurants and you don’t need to worry about food at all. Enough vegetarian options are available as well. The Dutch cuisine is popular amongst locals, though overall the food in Amsterdam has a lot of foreign influence. The must-try dishes include Stroopwafel, Bitterballen, Poffertjes, and Herring

Q2. Amsterdam is popular for its nightlife. Is it safe for solo travellers, including women, to visit clubs?

Amsterdam is safer than you can imagine. The people in the city are non-judgemental, and you’d find police protection in almost everywhere, including the Red Light District. I have made no mention of nightlife in the itinerary to make it suitable for families with kids, however, most of the evenings are free in the Amsterdam five day itinerary. If you are travelling in a group of friends or even solo, you can party hard all night long in Amsterdam. Pub crawls are as crazy as they sound, and you can join one to make the most out of the place.

Q3. Are the cannabis-friendly coffee shops trustworthy?

Cannabis is legal in Amsterdam, with strict regulations and taxes, and you can trust the coffee shops certified to sell them. The interesting fact is that most of the coffee shops have a menu on display of their cannabis offerings. They have a diverse menu which also includes the Malana Cream Hash from Himachal Pradesh in India. Ensure that you don’t purchase it from road-side vendors as the police keep a tight watch and you might end up in trouble.

Q4. Should you carry cash along at all times or does a card work?

Most places in Amsterdam accept cards for monetary transactions. However, it is best to keep some cash on hand just in case of an emergency. Euro is the only accepted currency in all of the Netherlands.

Amsterdam five day itinerary gives you an exhaustive understanding of the Dutch culture and traditions, popular sights, and the crazy nightlife. What’s in it for you to visit Amsterdam? Let’s just say, words don’t do justice to the place that it is. Plan a trip to Amsterdam to live the time of your life.

Happy wayfarers.

About the Author

Shreya Doshi

Shreya Doshi

Shreya Doshi is a Mumbaikar at heart but her soul takes her globe trotting. She has traveled over a hundred cities, from bustling metropolitans to quaint countryside towns. However it’s at the beaches that she finds true solace. Shreya holds an entrepreneurial spirit and aims to be a travel counselor some-day. She strongly believes in travel therapy and that solo-travel is the best teacher.

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