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Amsterdam 11/24-12/02 - best public transport pass?

I know this question has been asked in many other threads, but I feel as those there are still a maddeningly number of possibilities, none of which made it easier to decide how to do this.

Two adults and a 6 year old traveling for 9 days (return flight on 2 December). We are needing trains to/from Schipol Airport and plan on taking at least one, possibly two day trips (Haarlem, Delft, and/or Rottrerdam, still not sure as it will be dark early and very cold). My spouse and I LOVE to walk everywhere, but we have to be realistic with the energy threshold of our daughter and the weather, so while we intend to walk (a la the Rick Steves walking way) we will likely take trams/buses on the way back to our rental apartment (Jordaan) because we know she may not have the stamina at the end of the day.

I think my bigger confusion with respect to getting passes is what are the differences for or a child? Is there a youth pass that we'd get separately for less? Or does she ride free?

We do intend to get the Museumkaart as well (we are area museum family) should our 6 year old get one too?

Apologies for all the typos!

Posted by
2487 posts

With regard to museums, most of them are free for under-18s, but check at the individual museums you want to visit.
Be aware that the temporary Museumkaart, which you buy at one of the participating museums, is good for only 5 museums.
With your probable use of public transport consider the OV-Chipkaart, which is nationwide valid on both city transport (bus, tram or metro) and the train. For the train your child can use the Railrunner ticket, at EUR 2,50 valid all day.

Posted by
2828 posts

For the transportation part, the likely best price/hassle combination is:

So, in order, you do this:

  • one-way NS ticket (buy at airport)
    • multi-day GVB ticket covering the first days until you have your first day-trip (buy at aiport, must include the first day of arrival if you are also using trams (streetcars) or subway to reach your lodging)
    • Holland Travel Ticket(s) for the days of sightseeing (buy at train station)
    • more multi-day GVB-tickets for the other days in Amsterdam with no day-trips, including the last one
    • one-way NS ticket (buy at train station) to go to the aiport

Alternatively, you can buy a disposable OV-Chipkaart, load it with pre-paid balance, and use it on a pay-as-you-go manner. Then you only need to purchase the card at the airport, load with something around € 100 per person (depending on your out-of-city day trips), and then you are set: check-in and check-out everytime and balance is automatically deducted. This is the simplest and most straight-forward way of doing it: you bother once with loading your card, travel as you want, re-fill the card on machines with a credit card if necessary (you can do it at any station vending machine with a credit card), and ask for a refund before departure at the airport (spot-cash refunds are limited to € 30 IIRC, so don't put like €200 on a card...). It might cost more if you are using trams and subways all the time or traveling to far-away cities like Groningen or Maastricht.

A third and final twist would be to buy I*Amsterdam Cards for 96h, then use them intensely for museums, boar rides and whatever else is included on this period, then shift to GVB passes + Holland Travel Ticket(s). This card covers GVB routes (but not NS routes, i.e. trains to/from airport or to/from other cities.

The Museumkaart for visitors is a worse proposition then it used to be. It is good only for 5 museums. You are probably better off buying the I*Amsterdam Card in such case.

In any case, download the app 9292 and use it as your companion for route planing on public transporation (regardless of mode/company)

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you both for the great information. I am disappointed in the change in the museumKaart (apparently it happened in July) especially because I bought our Anne Frank House tickets on the assumption I was going to get the card. My tickets say I am to present the card with the tickets only I don't want to buy the card! I'd rather get the I love Amsterdam card or similar. ugh. Now I think we don't have a choice and getting the museumkaart and "pay-as-you-go" are our only options.

Thanks again, I learned a lot!

Posted by
2828 posts

The reason for this change in the Museumkaart was abuse by a small, but increasingly well-coordinated group. When the card became printed with picture (sometime in 2013, if I remember correctly), it remained possible to buy a temporary card that would be valid for 30 days. You could buy the card on-spot and use it immediately before the definitive card was to be delivered to your hotel address - never to be picked up, unless you were staying for 6 days or more.

Some thrift individual tour organizers started then using the 30-day cards on a revolving-basis, just giving them to new small groups of new people arriving next day. This allowed such tour guides (free-lancers) to 'book' timed slots for pass-holders at a couple museums that required them, and then supplying the cards on the day, for a profit.

Museums could, in theory, check card names and what not, but that takes time, and slows down things a lot.

At the same time, with the sky-rocketing visitor numbers, the museums wanted to use the cards as a way to not shut out locally-resident people from major exhibitions (the Rijksmuseum was trying an exhibition-specific reservation for major temporary ones, the Van Gogh museum limited considerably the maximum number of people allowed at peak times).

So first cards with digital photos were rolled out, then the temporary cards were shelved for good in favor of the ones that limit use to 5 museums.

The new cards for residents (not new, they are now 6 years old and counting) allow people to create an account and take a look at their past use, a log of all your museum visits, and the temporary exhibitions that were held. It is a neat thing, I have 42 entries on my log until 2017 when I moved out.

Posted by
20 posts

As they say "... and this is why we can't have nice things." I totally understand. I'm just now in a bind with the timed entry tickets I booked for the Anne Frank house.