Planning a trip to Amsterdam? Here are some suggestions for maximizing your budget, including information on museums and free sites.
Amsterdam Budget Tips
We always recommend stopping by a tourist office as soon as possible after arriving in a new place. The VVV, the official Dutch tourism board, has three offices in town and one at the airport.
All VVV tourist offices offer brochures, maps, and tickets to events. The main office in Amsterdam is outside the front doors of the Centraal Station. It is open from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. Another office, on platform 2 in Centraal Station, is open 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday. The Leidseplein branch, at the corner of Leidseplein and Leidsestraat is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. There is also a tourist office within the Schiphol Plaza at the airport, near the entrance to Arrivals Terminal 2. It's open daily from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. and is usually quite crowded.
For more information visit the Amsterdam section of the Dutch Tourist Board.
The Netherlands likes to call itself "Museum Land." With more than 40 galleries and museums, Amsterdam lives up to its country's moniker. For more information about Amsterdam's wealth of museums visit Amsterdam's official tourist Web site.
Admission prices to popular museums in Amsterdam, priced for adults and children:
Rijksmuseum: €14 (adults); free (to age 18)
Van Gogh Museum: €14 (adults); free (to age 17)
Museum Het Rembrandthuis: €12.50 (adults); €10.50 (between ages 6 and 15); free (to age 5)
Anne Frank Huis: €9 (adults); €4.50 (between ages 10 and 17); free (to age 9)
While these admission prices are not cheap, the good news is that free admission is extended up to young adulthood.
The Museumjaarkaart is a good investment for anyone interested in taking advantage of what locals term "Museum Land." The card covers admission to more than 400 museums throughout the Netherlands, including museum biggies like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank Huis.
The Museumjaarkaart can be purchased at participating museums and online. A passport-sized photo is required for purchase. For those wanting to purchase the card online, know that the Museusmjaarkaart Web site is exclusively in Dutch. Passport photos can be obtained at one of the numerous photo booths at the Centraal Station. The museum card is valid for one year and costs €39.95 for adults and €19.95 for those under 25. For more information, visit the Museumjaarkaart website.
For more information, read our post on Amsterdam's museum passes.
Amsterdam bustles with free and entertaining sights and sounds. Just walking along the gorgeous winding canals is a treat. The streets of the Jordaan, the Old Center, the southern Canal Belt and the Museum Quarter are all fabulous for pedestrian exploration. Bars and coffeeshops all over town are buzzing with excitement as well, providing cheap, if not free, entertainment.
Some other free finds include the Begijnhof and the Westerkerk. The Begijnof, a former home to poor widows and nuns since the 14th century, includes Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches and a gorgeous courtyard. The grand Westerkerk, built between 1620 and 1630, is a striking testament to the church-building craftsmanship of the Dutch Renaissance.
Vondelpark is the city's central park and a great place to watch people, have a picnic, chill out, or roller-skate with hundreds of others. Every Friday night at 8 p.m. hundreds of people on skates meet for Friday Skate Night, a group skating session that snakes through Amsterdam.
In the land of tulips, it's always entertaining to visit the Floating Flower Market. The fragrant exhibit floats along the Singel canal from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m Monday through Saturday (11 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Sunday).
Another fun freebie is the Waterlooplein flea market, which offers mostly clothing and furniture (take tram 9 or 14). It's open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Saturday.
The Albert Cuypstraat market provides a broader selection of goods, with fresh fish, Asian vegetables, flowers, electronics and cosmetics and is open 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Some smaller museums offer senior travelers over the age of 60 a discount. Members of the AARP get discounts on hotels, airfares and car rentals. They can be reached in the United States by telephone at 1-800-424-3410 and online at the AARP Web site. Be sure to ask about a discount if you do not see one listed, as many discounts simply are not advertised.
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the most widely accepted form of student ID and provides discounts on sights, accommodations, food and transportation. Many museums in Amsterdam offer admission discounts of 20-50 percent to ISIC members. Applicants must be working toward a degree at a secondary or post-secondary school and must be at least 12 years of age. The card costs an average of US $25, depending on where you purchase it and is valid until the end of the year issued. All cardholders have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. In the U.S. call 1-800-223-7986 or visit the ISIC online.
For non-students 25 years and younger, the International Youth Travel Card, IYTC, also offers many of the same benefits as the ISIC. The card costs US$22 and is valid for one year.
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