We visited Amsterdam for 3 days in September and here are the best things to do in Amsterdam for this limited time span!
Time is never enough when it comes to Amsterdam – this city never sleeps, and neither will you, especially if you want to fully immerse in the city’s atmosphere! But let’s cover the basics before we dive in into the nightlife:
Table of Contents
- 1. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
- 2.Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
- 3. Heineken Experience in Amsterdam
- 4. A’DAM Lookout
- 5. Rijksmuseum
- 6. Vondelpark in Amsterdam in September
- 7. Rembrandt House Museum
- 8. Anne Frank House
- 9. Canal Cruise!
- 10. Museum of Prostitution in Amsterdam
- 11. Nightlife
- X< I Amsterdam Sign – no longer there 🙁
- Bonus: Zaanse Schans Half-Day Trip From Amsterdam
1. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
Typical visit time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Entrance fee: € 18.00
When I was first looking at the best things to do in Amsterdam, this popped into my search completely by chance. Then, when I saw the black hole simulation, I was completely stunned and SO excited! I never ever knew that such a thing even existed. And, as I am a bit of a nerd, it was really amazing for me that the black hole simulation was actually in a place I’d be going to pretty soon!
The best part is that no video or photo can ever recreate the sensation you get while you’re inside, it was honestly better than my wildest dreams. Before we entered the corridor, we saw people holding to the railing for their life, and we laughed. BUT THEN.
Once you enter this amazing Amsterdam sight, you will most certainly hold on to the railing too. It’s actually a super clever optical illusion, and while the walls are moving, after a few seconds you start feeling as if the walls are still but YOU are the one who’s moving. And THEN the fun begins! I actually went in and out a few times, since I enjoyed it immensely, but I did get a bit dizzy.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is definitely one of the best things to see in Amsterdam – Ripley was a travel junkie like me, and went around to world to collect the weirdest and most curious things around the world. A lot of these are replicas and statues, of course (you can see the tallest and the heaviest men in the world!), but you’ll still be saying “WOW” on every corner of this Amsterdam museum. AND they’ve made awesome selfie spot signs for photos!
2.Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Typical visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Entrance fee: € 18.00
I am honestly having a hard time deciding whether this is my favorite thing to do in Amsterdam or not, as I am a huge fan of Van Gogh (but all the other sights and experiences in Amsterdam were just fantastic!).
For me, it was a dream coming true visiting the Van Gogh Museum! I haven’t majored in art history and in fact, don’t know much about art, but Van Gogh’s work has a very special place in my heart. I have first seen some of his work in person in the National Gallery in London, but I couldn’t even imagine a whole museum with his art.
The first time I actually learned a bit more about his life was in an episode of Doctor Who (have you seen it? If so, check out these 7 Nerdy Things To See In London!). In fact, this is what actually got me so fascinated about his life and art – unlike other famous artists (like Rembrandt), he was not recognized at all during his lifetime and was struggling paying his bills. This is why his brother, Theo, helped him out almost constantly, and they often exchanged letters.
Van Gogh was struggling with mental illness, but this didn’t stop him from working on some of the most exhilarating paintings in the world. He recognized that he was ill and he even admitted himself into a mental institution for a while. But he never stopped painting and he never gave up on his dream! This is what I think inspires me the most – his tenacity and his love for nature’s beauty.
There was one amazing thing I learned while in the museum that almost brought me to tears (YES, get the audio guide, it’s fantastic!). Do you know his infamous Almond Blossom painting? He actually painted this as a present when his brother, Theo, became a father to a wonderful baby boy! Theo loved Van Gogh so much that he named his son after him – Vincent. And namely that Vincent was the one that created this very museum in Amsterdam!
Visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – A Tip
The lines to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam are quite long, sometimes people wait in the lines for 4 hours! That’s absolutely insane. This is why I highly recommend getting a skip-the-line ticket beforehand and get an allocated hour for your visit. You will most likely still have to wait in a skip-the-line line, but don’t worry, it won’t be more than 15-20 minutes tops.
3. Heineken Experience in Amsterdam
Typical visit time: 2 hours
Entrance fee: €18.00
The Heineken Experience is just as fun as it sounds! You might find yourself wondering before you visit – “So what is it? Is it a museum? Is it a roller coaster? Is it a factory?” Well, there is no right answer there, but I can assure you – hips might lie, but the lines in front of the Heineken Experience definitely don’t.
As the city is constantly flooded with tourists, you will really see that the best Amsterdam attractions all have huge lines in front of them. This is why I’ll reiterate again the importance of getting a skip-the-line ticket for the Heineken Experience as well!
If you are at least a bit curious about why the Heineken Experience is one of the best things to do in Amsterdam, check out my post about the Heineken experience and A’DAM Lookout and discover some great Amsterdam travel tips!
If you just love beer too much and would like to try as much Dutch beer as you can – there is an awesome Beer Tasting Trip!
4. A’DAM Lookout
Typical visit time: 1 hour
Entrance Fee: starting from €12.50
The A’DAM Lookout was not just one of the best things to do in Amsterdam for me – it was one of my favorite experiences in the city! I thoroughly enjoyed their attention to detail, which not that many attractions around the world can brag about.
There are a few things you will enjoy when visiting this sight, and it’s not just the view! Firstly, when you are invited in the building, you will have a mini photo-session which can make you look like a total daredevil! Next, when you step inside the elevator, it is absolutely like stepping into another world, it was SO amazing! The view from the top, of course, is absolutely stunning.
Last but not least, for the true daredevils, you can enjoy the highest Over-The-Edge swing in Europe! This is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience and one of the most thrilling things to do in Amsterdam.
If you’d like a fair price on your ticket and not just visit it at sunset, book it here.
Typical visit time: 1.5-2 hours
Entrance fee: €17.50
Are you an art lover? If you’ve enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum, you must include the Rijksmuseum in your list with best things to do in Amsterdam in 3 days in September!
I know it looks super hard to pronounce, which was the reason I kept calling it “The R museum” or something like that before we visited. BUT if you keep the “museum” part out of the word, the first “Rijks” is pronounced “Raiks”. See, simple 🙂
The museum holds numerous world-famous works of art, and the famous “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt! The famous painter’s use of light and shade creates an incredible depth of this painting. Moreover, seeing the huge canvas of “The Night Watch” is a very powerful experience which will leave you breathless.
P.S. Nope, Rembrandt did not paint John Snow here, nor the wights and white walkers 😀
The Rijksmuseum is pretty large, so you would certainly need a couple of hours to see everything. We mainly stuck to the paintings and the model ships, which were incredibly intricate and beautiful! This gorgeous building is not all about its outside looks, it definitely has a lot to offer inside, so don’t miss it when visiting the to best things to see in Amsterdam. Get your skip-the-line ticket here!
6. Vondelpark in Amsterdam in September
Amsterdam has a few parks, but Vondelpark is quite enjoyable on a sunny afternoon! Laying in the grass, taking a walk around the park or just enjoying the sun is what will make you fall in love with this thing to see in Amsterdam in September.
Don’t miss the awesome hot dogs! If you’d like to explore the whole park quickly and find all the hidden gems of Vondelpark, you can always rent a bike to help you out. Thus, you’ll truly feel like the Dutch! But be careful when walking around the park (and Amsterdam, for that matter), as the cyclists can be quite dangerous for pedestrians 😀
7. Rembrandt House Museum
Typical visit time: 1 hour
Entrance fee: €12.50
Rembrandt’s main home is a great sight you can enjoy when spending 3 days in Amsterdam in September. A lot of the elements you’ll see in the house are actually authentic ones from the 17th century (so be careful and don’t touch anything you’re not allowed to!). Walking around Rembrandt’s house, you will experience a unique atmosphere that will convince you why this is one of the top things to do in Amsterdam.
Moreover, this is a place where many contemporary artists can showcase their work inspired by Rembrandt. One of the things that Rembrandt was most famous about was his use of light. His “special light” has become so iconic, that there is a very popular portrait lighting set up that is called “Rembrandt lighting”! He used to draw on a special time of the day and positioned all of his subjects at a specific angle to the daylight – 45 degrees to the side and 45 degrees up. This creates a distinct shadow cast by the nose, so the darker side of the face has only a triangle of light, called “Rembrandt triangle” 🙂
8. Anne Frank House
Typical visit time: 45 min – 1 hour
Entrance fee: €12.50
This experience is completely different from all the other top things to see in Amsterdam. While the majority of the previous things I showed you were fun and cheerful (well, I guess apart from the Van Gogh museum), this is quite the opposite. For those of you that don’t know much about Anne Frank – she was a Jewish girl who was hiding from the Nazis during World War II. She, together with 7 other people, was hiding in that house for 2 years, until they were found and sent to Auschwitz.
Her diary is kept in the house (currently a facsimile as they are renovating the museum). The “Secret Annexe” as she called it became world-famous and it was published by the only survivor of the 8 people who were hiding in the house. Anne wanted to be a writer or a journalist and her writing style suggests that she could have been very successful at either.
While the Anne Frank House doesn’t offer guided tours included in the ticket, you can pick up an audio guide. However, bear in mind that visiting this museum can have an emotional impact on you and other people. This is why no photos are allowed inside the museum.
If you want to fully experience the museum, you can book a 2-hour private tour of the house (entrance included!) and the neighborhood when you follow this link.
9. Canal Cruise!
Typical visit time: 30 min – 45 min
Entrance fee: from €12.50
A canal cruise is an absolute must and it should be on in your list of best things to do in Amsterdam! If you’ve been there and you missed this experience, you should go back and fix this terrible error 😀 It is so much fun! A canal cruise is a great way to explore Amsterdam. A guide will tell you all about the major landmarks and important sights around the city canals, and if you’re very lucky, you’ll have a very funny guide as we did 😀
There is also a great option for an evening Amsterdam canal cruise, which will definitely put you in a romantic mood! Book your ticket here.
10. Museum of Prostitution in Amsterdam
Typical visit time: 30 min – 45 min
Entrance fee: €9.00 (online)
The Museum of Prostitution was quite interesting despite our low expectations about it. One of the best things about similar museums in Amsterdam is that they are open until pretty late (this particular one is open until 00:00 every day!). Thus, it certainly made my list of top things to do in Amsterdam. Inside the museum, you can step into the life of a prostitute. There is even a small cinema-like saloon where you can see a video of a typical tourist’s day in Amsterdam. The video was quite interesting, as it also showed something very common in Amsterdam – taking a bike out of the canal!
Yearly, between 6,000 and 10,000 bikes are taken out of canals. These are so many, that the locals joke that the Amsterdam canals are made up of 1 meter of mud, 1 meter of water and 1 meter of bikes 😀
Anyhow, there was also a short video about a typical day of a prostitute in the Red Lights District. It’s quite interesting to see how an absolutely normal-looking girl transforms itself into an unrecognizable and gorgeous preacher of love-making. If you get the audio guide in the Museum in Prostitution, you’ll find it quite funny – a working girl from the Red Lights District describes some of her experiences. Some stories are funny, but some are terrifying!
Inside the museum, you’ll also be able to see a typical room of a prostitute, and you can also stand on a chair overlooking the street and get a sense of the feeling inside the Red Lights’ windows. What amazed and surprised me was that the Museum of Prostitution in Amsterdam has a tribute to victims of sex trafficking, which is incredibly important in order to raise awareness. There is also a wall where you can share (or just read) some dirty little secrets! It’s quite fun! So after I’ve given you a taste of Amsterdam’s nightlife and shown you why this is one of the top things to see in Amsterdam, let’s dig into the nightlife even more!
If you’d like to combine seeing the Museum of Prostitution and a canal cruise, book it here!
If you’re partying type, you can get an Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket for just €10 and that would give you free access to over 18 of Amsterdam’s top nightclubs! I would also recommend being on the lookout for night events and parties. There is always something good going down in the city at night. Here are the top nightclubs I’d recommend:
If you’re into rock – this is the place for you! There are lots of bands performing live in this club, so it always vibrant and fun.
This is an absolutely smashing club – it has very large halls and you can dance away your evening to the newest trendy techno music.
In the mood for Tiësto? This is absolutely the right spot! The club has a stunning LED wall, plays great house music and you can even be at a world-famous DJ event if you’re lucky!
The Box in Amsterdam is a true embodiment of the perfect nightlife experience – there is always something going on! This place is very popular for concerts for music-lovers of different tastes. Definitely check their events before you visit!
This is one of the largest and most famous clubs in the city and definitely one of the very top things to see in Amsterdam! The music varies, but it’s mostly house and pop, which for me is the perfect mix for a nightlife experience.
X< I Amsterdam Sign – no longer there 🙁
They say that you can’t go to Rome and not see the Pope. Well, in the past, you couldn’t go to Amsterdam and not see the “I Amsterdam” sign! It was usually super crowded around it, so it was hard taking a photo of you with the sign. However, one of my friends said that if you visited veeery early morning (meaning after a late night out), you could totally get a good shot. That is, if you’re sober enough of course 🙂
Please bear in mind that due to these crowds, the city council has decided to remove the I Amsterdam sign!
I got this beautiful shot at sunset after a rainy September morning. The reflections were just gorgeous! So if you’d like to take a great shot of Rijksmuseum behind it, take advantage of a sunny afternoon! If there was no rain in the morning, you can always bring a bottle of water and make your own photography pond 😀 Now, how’s that for an Amsterdam travel tip? 😀
Bonus: Zaanse Schans Half-Day Trip From Amsterdam