Walking around the city is my preferred option.
Amsterdam is not a huge city , you can break your walking to parts and just walk.
Most of the attractions are in the middle of the city so it is not problematic to walk.
In 3 days you can walk in most of the touristic parts of the area to my opinion.
One of the most common fears of the rookie international traveler is the ability to commutate and read signs. Verbal commutation is very easy, since most locals have English as a second language, and a fair amount will even the ability to speak a third language. So asking for directions is easy.
Reading street signs is also somewhat easy if you read English. Many words will appear very similar to the English counter parts.
However there are a few words that are different, you might want to know:
Noord = North
Zuid = South
Oost = East
and the easy one West = West
Zijde = side
Also you will notice the Dutch language uses many compound words like Oostzijde would translate into East side.
Don't get me wrong i would love to drive around Amsterdam and explore the city in an even faster pace but its so much more fun to walk and explore the city up close and personal. For example what if you driving and you see an amazing site and you just want to get out of the car and be apart of that site, well you can't cause you need to worry about your damn car and where your going to park it without getting a ticket and etc. one dosen't even need a car just a bike or a motorcycle to get around.
I've already described most of this on some of my other pages, but just to recap:
Car rentals -- no way.
Walking -- you betcha, and a lot of it.
Buses -- seemed to be going to outlying areas and places not covered by the trams. Not many of them and we had no need for them while there.
Bicycles -- everywhere, ridden by all ages, apparently hell-bent on getting to their destinations, and will run all over you unless you're very watchful when walking almost anywhere in crowded areas. Can be rented, but if you do be sure to lock that sucker to a solid structure anywhere you leave it. Theft is a very common thing.
Trains -- had no need for them either, and no direct knowledge to share.
Taxis -- no need for them either, but very expensive from what I've read. Be aware, though, that unlike in the U.S. if you're from there, they are prohibited from cruising around and looking for fares, and waving them down is not done. You will, however, find them parked near any popular area, with the front one in the line of cars being the first one to get passengers.
If doing over, we would have ventured to learn the tram routes and use them sooner than we did. Can't say it's a regret, since you can only really experience the sights and streets by walking (or via a canal boat tour), but in hindsight we tired ourselves out more than once the first couple of days there walking blocks and blocks to a destination that would have been a quick and effortless tram ride. The entire tram system was a very efficient thing from our experiences.
Amsterdam has quite a big centre, but most of the places the average (and even not-so average) tourists will want to go to are within walking distance from each other. You can use public transport, but if you stay in the centre in many cases you might as well walk. I don't recommend renting a bike if you're not used to riding in a crowded city; Amsterdam is a mess! Only rent a bike when you want to see something of the surrounding area.
The best way to travel trough Amsterdam is simply to walk. In the centre you can easily get from one place, for instance Leidse plein, to the Rembrandtplein. It's about a 15 minute walk. It also possible to take the tram. At the postoffice you can buy a card so you can pay for the distance you travel with the tram. You can also rent a bike. There are several companies where you can rent different sort of bikes. Make sure you don't lose it out of you're sight. There might be a chance that some strange guy if trying to sell you you're bike during the evening when you're clubbing and stille be pissed of why this has happend to you. So don't tell me that I didn't warn you.
There is no best way. Things to see are the musea, shoppingarea's like P.C. Hooftstraat and Kalverstraat, Leidse plein and Rembrandtplein, Vondelpark, Nemo (awsome cityview) and many many others things!
Amsterdam is very central, with alot of different activities packed into a small area. Walking is the best way to get around downtown Amsterdam. However, be sure to get a map or ask for detailed directions. Because after a while, with all the same little alleys, everything begins to look the same. Especially after you are 5 or 6 joints deep. :)
My friend Heidi and I took the train from London to Paris, and then up to Amsterdam. This is a great way to get around anywhere in Europe because you can see the land as you go by.
In Amsterdam we walked most of the time. But bikes are a big part of the culture there, and there are hundreds all over the streets. There is also a wonderful tram system that runs up and down the main street from the train station to the rest of Amsterdam.
If you go by plane you'll land at Schiphol airport. If you go by train you'll end up at Centraal Station.
The best way to get around Amsterdam is to walk. Everything is pretty much close together and the best way to see the city is just to walk. If, however, you get tired you can take the tram and there's also a subway I believe. A friend of mine told me though that she really didn't like taking the subway in Amsterdam. If you are a really brave person, rent a bicycle. But you've got to be very, very sure of yourself on a bike or else it's going to be a big disaster. Pedalling around in a big and busy city like that is not as easy as it looks.
The best way is to walk. They have a great tram and bus system, but it's a really small area and if the weather is good, walk. You'll see more! The locals use bikes, but unless you're agile, and sober, leave it to the locals. It's very crowded and narrow streets make maneuvering difficult at best.
On foot. At several places in the city you find signs that lead you easily to the cities tourists highlights. It is a coincidence that I photographed the sign, which leads to the Homo monument (Gay-monument), honestly I noticed afterwards when I had downloaded the pictures on my hard disk.
Walk!It is just a small town although you sometimes get the impression it is huge if you walk along the grachten. Remember: the 'grachten'are ring-shaped! If you walk you will be able to appreciate the details on the houses, enter some small alleys, stop for a drink...
Circle tram 20, for a quick trip along many of the interesting sites in Amsterdam. There's one going clockwise (A) and one going the other way around (B).
We walked everywhere, but when you get tired definitely take advantage of the trams. They are cheap and go everywhere. There are some good maps out there (for free) that will show which trams go where for easy reference.
Of course everyone rides bikes...
The Renaissance is an excellent start point, as Centraal and all the trams head out from there. Suggestion is to get a Streetwise Amsterdam map, which has tram lines, points of interest, etc clearly marked. Barnes & Noble carries them, but you can also go to www.streetwisemaps.com
Have a great trip!
Walk walk walk is the best way to explore the city. Anyway I used the trams quite often as well. You can buy a tram ticket on the tram or at the tourist center.
Don't forget your comfy shoes. I thought I could wear my high heel shoes and pose nicely for my camera, but end of the day I only wore my sport shoes :)