Be smart with your schedule, avoid the queues and make the most of Amsterdam in a short trip. Here’s your insider’s guide.
Whether you’re planning a quick one-day stopover in Amsterdam – thanks to fast train and bus connections to Schiphol Airport – or a more leisurely week-long stay, here are some tips on the best places to visit in Amsterdam and cutting the time you spend waiting in queue.
One day of wonder at Museumplein
When it comes to European arts and culture, of the all the places to visit, Amsterdam must be near the top, with more museums per capita than any city on earth. If you’re only in town for a day, you can hit three of the greatest all in one spot at Museumplein – the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk – all of which have recently seen major refurbishments.
Two days or more
Got two days in Amsterdam? Visit Museumplein on one day, and The Anne Frank House the next. If you’re in town for several days, be sure to consider other Amsterdam attractions like The Rembrandt House, The Hermitage Museum, the Dutch Resistance Museum and the contemporary photography museum FOAM. And if you fancy a break from the arts, check out the Netherlands’ King Willem and other celebs up close in wax at Madame Tussauds, or take a VIP tour and tasting at the famous Heineken Experience.
Save time with an I Amsterdam City Card
If you’re planning on visiting at least three museums, invest in an I Amsterdam City Card, which offers free admission to 40 of the city’s top attractions, with the priceless benefit of being able to skip the line at most locations. Cards are sold in chunks of time – 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours – and include unlimited public transport.
How to avoid the crowds
Jockeying for a glimpse of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with hundreds of other photo-snapping visitors can exhaust even a dedicated fan of Impressionism, especially after a long time in a queue.
Avoid weekends for some peace and quiet at Amsterdam attractions, especially April through October. At the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum, skip the mid-morning to midday rush during the week, and all day Friday through Sunday – they’re usually packed. It also helps to purchase tickets online: lines for ticket holders are usually much shorter.
Go early evening
The best time to visit a museum is usually about two hours before closing time. Friday evening is an excellent time to visit the Van Gogh museum: the tour groups have vanished, and the museum throws a festive soirée with music, cocktails and free guided tours.
If all of this world-class art (or world-class wax if you’re coming from Madame Tussauds) leaves you feeling famished, the nearby De Pijp, just east of the Rijksmuseum, is the perfect place to refuel.