Traveling Amsterdam without one of the three following Amsterdam museum passes is a fool’s errand. I wouldn’t wish it upon even my worst enemies.
Dramatic enough? Well, now that you’re surely on board with the idea of buying Amsterdam museum passes, let’s review the options. We start with the best of the lot, the Iamsterdam City Card.
Iamsterdam City Card, the best of all Amsterdam museum passes
Price: $69 for 24 hours; $87 for 48 hours; $99 for 72 hours; $110 for 96 hours.
Main Benefits: Access to over 60 attractions, unlimited public transportation, free one-hour canal tour, discounts at local restaurants & shops.
Best For: Short trips (less than a week), travelers utilizing public transport, fast & furious sightseers
This easy-to-use card will allow you to walk freely into 60 of the Amsterdam’s top attractions. Even more, it’ll help get you get there. That’s right, an Iamsterdam City Card allows users free access on Amsterdam’s GVB public transportation system, which includes buses, trams, and the metro. Plus, the Iamsterdam City Card entitles you to a free one-hour canal tour from any of the cruise lines that work with Iamsterdam.
The two most-prominent museums featured on this card are the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Also check out the Tropenmuseum, the Rembrandt House Museum and (for those who are feeling lucky) the Holland Casino Amsterdam.
One slight drawback to this card is that it doesn’t offer access to the popular Anne Frank House. On the flip side, this card gives you numerous discounts at many fabulous attractions and tours, including classical concerts at the Het Concertgebouw, hop-on/hop-off bus tickets and the Heineken Experience. The Iamsterdam card offers undoubtedly the greatest value of all Amsterdam museum passes. It’s best for travelers seeking the “full package.”
Amsterdam Museum Card
Price: $70 for 19+; $38 for teens and kids under 18.
Main Benefits: Access to over 400 museums in the Netherlands, five museum visits within 31 days, includes Anne Frank House, skip-the-line access in certain museums.
Best For: Trips a week or more, Anne Frank House, day trips outside Amsterdam, slower travelers
While visitors to Amsterdam aren’t barred from purchasing “Museumkaarts,” these aren’t one of the more tourist-friendly Amsterdam museum passes. For starters, you can’t order this card online if you live outside of the Netherlands. Secondly, this card’s website is all in Dutch…and let’s face it, sometimes things get lost in Google Translation. Third, and perhaps most important, foreign tourists can only use this card at five of 400 participating museums within a 31-day period. This is a huge bummer, especially considering the Dutch get to use their museum cards for unlimited access to museums within a year. Bear in mind, however, that this card has always been targeted to the local market.
Despite these drawbacks, consider buying an Amsterdam Museum Card if you plan on visiting exactly five major museums. And/or you’re keen to explore outside of Amsterdam and stay longer than a few days. As a tourist, you will have to purchase a “Museumkaart” at one of Amsterdam’s top 22 museums. Locations include the Amsterdam Museum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and more. Also, keep in mind that these cards entitle you to skip-the-line privileges at certain museums.
Unlike the Iamsterdam card, you can get into the Anne Frank House with one of these Amsterdam museum passes. Since the Anne Frank House is one of the most popular Amsterdam museums, however, reserve a visit time online for an extra €0.50. A few other fascinating museums that accept this museum pass include the following: the Zeeuws Museum, the Airborn Museum ‘Hartenstein,’ the Portuguese synagogue, the Oude Kerk and the EYE Film Museum.
Amsterdam Holland Pass
Price: $47 for small; $65 for medium; $84 for large card
Main Benefits: Free or discounted access to over 80 attractions, discount card, valid for one month after first use, accepted in over ten Dutch cities, easy pre-order portal online, free guidebook included.
Best For: Trips a week or more, savvy museum-goers, day trips outside Amsterdam
Amsterdam Holland Passes are split into three categories: small, medium and large. How many attractions you get to enter for free remains the main differentiator. Small card users receive free entrance to one gold and one silver attraction. Medium users get four free entrances (two gold and two silver). Large card owners get six free entrances (three gold and three silver).
By now you’re probably asking, “So what’s the deal with gold and silver attractions? Is this the Olympics?” Basically, the attractions listed in the golden category average more visitors. In total, the pass guarantees access to 80 attractions in about ten of Holland’s top cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam. All Holland Passes stay valid for one month after you swipe it for the first time.
While there are the big-name museums such as the Rijksmuseum (gold) and Van Gogh Museum (silver) available on every Amsterdam Holland Pass, you could also use your gold/silver credits for complimentary experiences like a one-hour canal tour, a tour of the Johan Cruijff Arena or a three-hour bike rental. Once you’re done using up your gold/silver points, it’s time to break out your discount card. Lastly, all Holland Passes come with a discount card for certain restaurants, entertainment venues and museums. Note: the Anne Frank House is not included on these passes.
Get more indispensable Amsterdam advice in Rory’s forthcoming book, 53 Amsterdam Travel Tips.