Amsterdam is such a delightful city. From the glorious grandeur of the Royal Palace of Amsterdam to the unique dutch architecture, the historic canal ring and the city’s love for great art – this is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year. The Amsterdam City Pass (iAmsterdam Card) is a great way to make the most of your stay in the city as it provides access to so many attractions as well as free public transport within the CBD area.
There are so many things to do here that cover a whole range of tastes.
This post is all about helping you understand the best activities and attractions to visit in Amsterdam and also to make an assessment as to whether the Amsterdam City Pass would help you make the most of your stay without breaking the budget.
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Getting to Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a major capital in Western Europe, so it is really easy to get to the city. The city is serviced by the Schipol International Airport and Amsterdam Centraal Station receives plenty of domestic and international train arrivals and departures each day.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
Amsterdam has everything from luxury accommodation in quieter pockets of the city to heaving, party-centric hostel stays.
I’ve done both in my time in Amsterdam and whilst my party hostelling days are past me, I definitely had a great time at St Christopher’s at the Winston in an eight person dorm room where the celebrations continued well into the night!
I’ve also stayed near the beautiful Vondelpark at the Hotel Vondel Garden City Centre where I experienced utter luxury with a spa bathtub.
Exploring with the I amsterdam City Pass
The Amsterdam City Pass
The I amsterdam Card is a great idea for your stay in Amsterdam as it provides you access to so many attractions within the city area. You’re able to book an Amsterdam city pass for up to 5 days and you’ll be able to visit the Rijksmusem, the A’DAM Lookout and the Zaanse Schaans Windmills amongst other tourist sites.
You’ll also be able to take public transport around the city using the I amsterdam pass (on an average day in Amsterdam, I’d usually budget for around 16 Euros for public transport) as well as take a boat ride through the canal ring and rent a bike.
What’s not included?
You should note that the attractions not included with the Amsterdam city card are the Royal Palace, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank Huis – these need to be purchased separately.
The Amsterdam city pass ranges from 65 Euros to 130 Euros depending on how many days you’d like to buy the pass for. For a 5 day pass, that averages out at 26 Euros a day – not bad value!
Things to do in Amsterdam
The Royal Palace
The beautiful Royal Palace of Amsterdam is located smack bang in the middle of Dam Square. Though it is beautiful on the outside, the real wonder is the incredible architecture and sculpture that you’ll be treated to once inside the building.
The entrance into the Citizens Hall is vast and bright with white marble walls, hanging chandeliers and star charts and maps on the floor.
Even though this is not included in the I amsterdam city pass attractions, it is one of the most beautiful Royal Palaces in Europe, so is definitely worth shelling out the extra money to visit.
Cost: 10 Euros
The Begijnhof is a secret courtyard used years ago by Catholic nuns. Photography is still forbidden and the noise of cars and bicycles on the street doesn’t infiltrate these walls. There are still two operating churches in the Begijnhof.
To me, though the real feature is the green manicured grass surrounded by the oldest houses in the city. I sit, I wander.
I contemplate these devout sisters who lived cut off from the rest of the world in the early 14th century because of their faith. That level of commitment to something so intangible is something so foreign to me, but there’s something romantic and lovely about this quaint little corner of Amsterdam.
The Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh’s works are immortalised in the Museumplein at the museum named for the artist. He’s my absolute favourite artist and I seek out his works wherever I go, so of course I wasn’t going to miss a chance to see the largest collection of his art in the world.
Somehow, even though I have turned up without a booking, I am ticketed and handed an audio guide immediately. I’m usually not a fan of paying for audio guides. To me, it seems like one more thing to carry and fiddle with. I’m glad I got this one though, because the Van Gogh Museum audio guide is a treat.
On the guide, there is the standard informative audio about the different periods and paintings of the artist. There is also an Armin van Buuren composed soundtrack to walk the museum listening to, which is just kind of incredible and other worldly. I walk the museum walls with music in my ears and it feels trancelike.
I get to Van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers and stop, trying to savour every brush stroke and every colour. It’s a masterpiece and I’m truly moved. I remember feeling a similar way when I first saw the artist’s Starry Night years ago in Melbourne. His technique seems so raw and so full of feeling that it’s hard to not feel the emotions welling up.
Cost: 19 Euros
I amsterdam Sign
Right in between the Rijksmusem and the Van Gogh Museum is the popular tourist photo spot, the I amsterdam sign. This area is always swarming with people clambering all over the lettering and posing for photos.
My tip? If you want to have a photo without all of the tourists, then make sure you’re up super early to get out there before 8am. This will ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance of a person-less photo.
The Rijksmuseum is an enormous art museum in Amsterdam that features many works by famous dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh.
This national museum is the ultimate art and culture stop for visitors to the Dutch capital and is the largest museum in The Netherlands.
My favourite part of the museum is the large atrium area full of sculptures which was renovated in 2013, but honestly there is so much to love here. You could honestly spend hours in this museum, so if you are on limited time then you’ll want to plan your visit to the Rijksmusem carefully to make sure you see everything you want to see.
Cost: 20 Euros or free with the I amsterdam City Pass
The Red Light District
Amsterdam is famous for it’s Red Light District where scantily clad women stand in store windows under red neon light to solicit clients. In and around the canal ring, just off Dam Square, this area comes to life at night where the sleazy and sexy goes head to head with the otherwise historic and picturesque city.
This area is now just as touristy as many of Amsterdam’s other attractions, but remember that these are real sex workers earning a living. Be respectful and avoid photographing them as they go about their work.
There’s also a plentiful amount of coffee shops in this area of Amsterdam. And no, that’s not like Dutch Starbucks. Coffee shops in Amsterdam are weed shops – they’re where you go to buy marijuana to smoke inside or to take away.
Hire a bike in Vondelpark
Vondelpark in Amsterdam is like a fairy tale forest of greenery only a stone’s throw away from the city’s action packed areas. In the midst of Autumn, the park is afire with leaves of orange, brown and red. It’s impossible to walk the garden paths without enjoying the crunch of leaves under my boots.
The perfect way to explore the park is to use your Amsterdam City Pass to hire a bike and join the throngs of Dutch pedalling through the park.
Cost: 7.50 Euros for 1 hour or free with the I amsterdam City Pass
No visit to Amsterdam would be complete without experiencing a canal cruise through the city’s iconic canal belt.
Your I amsterdam City Pass will provide you free access to one of the city’s many canal boat operators, complete with a tour guide who will talk you through all the amazing scenery you’ll spot along the way.
Keep an eye out for the oldest houseboat in Amsterdam, the leaning Dutch houses that used to take deliveries of items from boats on the canals via a pulley system on the roof of the building.
Cost: Between 13 and 20 Euros or free with the I amsterdam City Pass
Anne Frank Huis
Another must-visit site in Amsterdam, despite not being included on the Amsterdam City Pass, is the poignant Anne Frank Huis where a small Jewish girl and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.
This is an attraction that you absolutely must book for as ticket lines can often be seen stretching around the block near the house.
There is no photography permitted inside the house and given the solemn circumstances of the site the best way to experience the Anne Frank Huis is to move from room to room in a reflective quiet.
Cost: 14 Euros
The A’DAM Lookout is one of the best views of the city. It is the perfect vantage point to take in a view of the historic district, the canal ring and the stunning harbour of Amsterdam.
Your Amsterdam City Pass will get you access to the observation deck, where you can enjoy the view and even grab a drink at the rooftop bar.
Daredevils will also relish the chance to take a ride on the highest swing in Europe which can also be done at the top of the tower.
Cost: 12.50 Euros (observation deck only) or free with your I amsterdam City Pass.
Zaanse Schaans Windmills
Just a little way outside the city of Amsterdam lies the incredibly picturesque Zaanse Schaans area which is famous for its traditional Dutch windmills.
There are plenty of handicrafts, museums and other shops and sites to see in the Zaanse Schaans township and whilst the area is quite touristy, those windmills sure do make for beautiful pictures.
Cost: 12.50 Euros or free with your I amsterdam City Pass
The Heineken Experience is a must-visit for beer lovers as it is the site of the world’s first ever Heineken brewery. The 150+ year old brewery experience teaches visitors about the beer creation process and even the story behind the famous Heineken star logo.
The museum is currently undergoing some renovations (until August 2022), so be sure to check at the time of your visit if it is open and if there are any accessiblity constraints.
Cost: 19.50 Euros or discounted with the I amsterdam City Card
Foodhallen is one of my favourite spots to eat in Amsterdam. An indoor food market hall, this trendy and hip area serves up a huge range of quick eats, dinner fare and desserts.
The vibe here is absolutely worth the visit alone, the people are super friendly and wandering from stall to stall, drink in hand, picking from the seemingly never ending buffet of options available ensures you’ll leave well fed.
You simply pay for the food and drink you order from each stall – so have as much or as little as you please.
Cost: Free entry, pay for what you consume.
The Verdict on the I amsterdam City Pass
A three day pass in Amsterdam costs 105 euros.
Let’s assume that public transport costs 16 euros per day. That’s already 48 Euros spent.
Most visitors to Amsterdam will at least visit the the Rijksmuseum (20 euros) and go on a canal cruise (13-20 euros). That takes us up to around 88 euros spent and probably covers the best part of two days in the city.
Add on a half day trip to Zaanse Schans (12.50 euros) and a stop at the A’DAM Lookout (12.50 euros) and your Amsterdam City Pass has saved you 56 euros. That’s not including any additonal bike hire or activities that the pass also provides access to.
Worth it? Definitely yes.
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I tend to use city passes if I know that I’m going to visit a lot of the attractions that are listed on the pass, if not then it won’t be worth it. I think we used the Amsterdam pass last time we were there, but it was included with our trip so it came at no extra cost. Great tips!
Same – I’ve used them in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam before. They’re super handy, especially when they include public transport!
I love Amsterdam, it’s such a fun city! There are so many things to do so I definitely agree that the city pass is worth it. I’d love to go back to Amsterdam after reading your post!
I love it too! I definitely think its one of those cities that you can never get sick of.
Amsterdam is a destination that has been on my bucket list forever! I was thinking of booking a trip before the pandemic hit and I’m still waiting to get there! I’ll definitely check out the Amsterdam City Pass when I finally go, it looks like a great way to see the city! Thanks for the great guide!
Oh the city pass is absolutely perfect for a first time visit! Hope you manage to get there soon.
The city pass sounds like a great way to see Amsterdam, especially if it’s on a first visit. I would definitely consider it for next time. Thanks so much for sharing your tips!
It definitely makes getting around easier!
looks like Van Gogh museum is no longer included. Heineken experience is discounted not totally free. looking forward to the Amsterdam experience
Good call out! This must have changed since my last visit. Thanks for letting me know, I’ll get the post updated!