Depends on the time of year, and your preferences.
For sure: walk! Take a guided walking tour, prepare a route yourself, or just take off from your hotel with a map. A 2-3 hour guided tour shows you basically the whole city centre. Then spend the rest of the day just wandering around, sit down on a terrace (if weather permits), or in a typical " bruine kroeg", bar with brown interior. If you feel like it, wander around the Red Light district at night (believe it or not: it's the safest part of town at night). Also feel free to walk into a Coffee Shop, where soft drugs are sold. See for yourself what they are about.
For sure visit 2 or 3 of these museums, depending on your preferences: Rijksmuseum (with Rembrandt's Night Watch; currently shows only part of the collection, re-opening on 13 April 2013), Stedelijk Museum (modern art), Van Gogh Museum (closed until 25 April 2013; part of collection now visible in Amsterdam Hermitage), Anne Frank House, or -when travelling with kids- NEMO science Museum.
Recommendable excursions: Marken, Volendam and Zaanse Schans (open-air Windmill museum), and The Hague, Delft and Rotterdam. Also very special: Aalsmeer flower auction (largest one in the World), but only early in te morning, monday-wednesday, and friday. Basically there's just 1 bus excursions company left in the city, leaving from Damrak (near Central Station), Tours & Tickets. See TripAdvisor for (not very positive) reviews.
In spring, be sure to go to the Keukenhof flower gardens, open from 21 March until 20 May, but at it's best end of April, beginning of May. about 5 years ago
I went for 3 days as well with my boyfriend. We didn't plan too much in advance because we wanted to have the freedom to take our time. Thankfully you do not need to do too much planning. I would highly syggest a canal tour, there are several different ones ours left from right in front of the Anne Frank house and was an hour long, rally lovely. Definitely try the famous Dutch Pancakes, either sweet or savory. And just take your time and walk around, definitely visit one of the museums. We are not huge art people but we enjoyed the museum of modern art. about 5 years ago
I've been to Amsterdam twice in this summer (the last), and enjoyed the whole city very well. I couldn't tell I was in a capital city, because it has such a charming, little town-like atmoshphere, with all the canals (just like in Venice), boats, swans and bikes. Don't miss the canal tour, the Van Gogh museum, Tulip museum, Anna Frank's house (make sure you booked a ticket online, cause its a lot easier that way, if you do not want to wait for hours in the line), rent a bike, beause like that, you can explore the city on your own. everybody does it! I regret not doing that while I was there, I was by foot. I just loved it! almost 5 years ago
Rent some bikes (if you can bike) or go biking on a little boat on the canals. Very lovely when it's sunny. Go to the best museums in the country: The Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum. Eat some Dutch food and go to the FEBO.
To see the real Amsterdam, take a bus to the North-side with it's little villages or go biking there (which is better).
Have fun! almost 5 years ago
Amsterdam has a rich culture, lots of scenic beauty, and a thriving brewing industry. If you want a taste of all three, well, you have three days, buddy--set aside each day for each facet of the city.
Day 1- Visit the museums, the city. There are city tours that will take you to all major museums/historical monuments. Don't miss the Van Gogh museum, Anne Frank house, Rembrandt House, Amsetrdam Museum. The Rijksmuseum is the most attractive museum but it is so vast it might eat up your entire day.
Day 2 - Go see the windmills, the tulips, and the pretty dutch villages. Zaanse Schanse and Voldendam top the list.
Day 3 - Taste the local beer. Go on a city beer tour. Visit the red light district. Amsterdam has a small but thriving brewing industry. You can visit local brewing workshops, and taste the many varieties of beer on offer. almost 5 years ago