(Last Updated On: September 27, 2022)

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.

Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products or services I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your continued support.

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.

Cost

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

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.

Cost: Free

A statue of a haloed Jesus on a green lawn in the Begijnhof with houses in the background

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

A grey curved building with a sign reading "Van Gogh Museum". People are walking to the entrance of the building over a grassy lawn.

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.

Cost: Free

The foreground of the image is a manmade pond with a few scattered leaves floating on the water. Behind the pond are large letters spelling out I Amsterdam.

Rijksmuseum

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 Rijksmuseum building

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.

Cost: Free

On of Amsterdam's famous canals runs through the middle of the image. On either side are traditional Dutch buildings lit up with red lights to symbolise the Red Light district.

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

An iron gate marking the entrance to Vondelpark. The park's name is written on the gate in gold lettering.

Canal Cruise

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

 

Leaning Dutch houses lining one of Amsterdam's canals.

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

A street sign reading Anne Frank Huis

A’DAM Lookout

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. 

A skyscraper with the ADAM Lookout on the top floor

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

A mirror-still river with green windmills lining the banks. The sky is blue and reflected in the water.

Heineken Experience

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

My hand holding a can of Heineken with the canals of Amsterdam in the background

Foodhallen

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.

My hand holding up a plate of two beef tacos with Foodhallen patrons in the background

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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Exploring Amsterdam with the Amsterdam City Pass - Emma Jane Explores
Exploring Amsterdam with the Amsterdam City Pass - Emma Jane Explores

10 Comments

  1. Krista

    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!

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      Same – I’ve used them in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Amsterdam before. They’re super handy, especially when they include public transport!

      Reply
  2. Rachel - Rays of Adventure

    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!

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      I love it too! I definitely think its one of those cities that you can never get sick of.

      Reply
  3. Hannah

    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!

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      Oh the city pass is absolutely perfect for a first time visit! Hope you manage to get there soon.

      Reply
  4. Linda Jane

    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!

    Reply
  5. Mannix Villar

    looks like Van Gogh museum is no longer included. Heineken experience is discounted not totally free. looking forward to the Amsterdam experience

    Reply
    • Emma Jane Explores

      Good call out! This must have changed since my last visit. Thanks for letting me know, I’ll get the post updated!

      Reply

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