My mom and I have added three nights in Amsterdam before our 8-day Avalon cruise down the Rhône River. We really want to see the major art museums. Would we be better off using the Amsterdam card or pre-purchasing and booking a time for a tour separately? Also how much time we should allow for each museum?
Time of year is a factor in visiting Amsterdam - both in terms of climate and daylight. In spring of 2018, I pre-purchased an I-Amsterdam card after studying its value and components. It was a good purchase for me, but I suggest you visit their website, which clearly identifies what that card will do. (If one pre-purchases the I Amsterdam Card - my experience was the pick-up line at the airport is much shorter). The Rijksmuseum, van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk are close together and included in the card. The van Gogh museum requires a timed entry. All three are excellent - but I am a fan of art museums (as my poor suffering wife can attest....don't even bring up 'Madrid' in her presence....) so the idea of being "museumed out" just doesn't resonate with me.
As for time......the question becomes complicated if you buy the I Amsterdam card......as most of the attractions covered by the card are open from mid-morning to around 18:00. I recommend you check the value of the card as it applies to your specific desires while visiting Amsterdam.
I don't know how the costs would compare; you'd need to check the current entry fees for the museums against the card, and either or both could change before next year (if you're traveling in 2020).
It's impossible to guess how much time someone else will spend in a museum unless it is super small. Do you run out of energy or interest at the 2- or 3-hour mark, as some people do? Or will you want to walk through every room and read the labels on every painting that interests you? I have never taken a tour in a major art museum; those would obviously focus on just a tiny percentage of the works. Will you want to try to see everything else afterward? I do often use audio guides in museums, and I find they slow me down a lot, because I still want to read everything posted on the wall.
Most museum websites have floor plans. Examining those might give you some idea of the comparative sizes of the museums, or perhaps the websites will say something about how many objects are on display.
Which museums do you want to see?
The Van Gogh needs a timed reservation and I think there are issues with getting that and using the Amsterdam card but check to make sure. I am not expert on the Amsterdam card. For this museum, I suggest you start on the 3rd floor and work down. It messes up the museum timeline BUT it gets you to the "good stuff" first, lol, before you get tired. I can only look at so many self portraits.
For the Rijksmuseum, download the app to your phone. It's excellent. I was there in April with a RS tour so we did the museum with a guide, then I decided I wanted to go back the next day again to see some things in more detail. I purchased the ticket thru the app and just showed the bar code on my phone at the entrance. There were long lines to purchase tickets. The museum has excellent wifi so not sure why those waiting didn't download the app, purchase and get into the museum!
You'd also need to get timed entrance tickets if you plan to see the Anne Frank House. I don't know if this is covered by the Amsterdam card. I found it a bit claustrophobic and the steps are steep in case you Mom has mobility issues.
Another non-art museum I liked was the Dutch Resistance Museum (is covered by the Amsterdam card). Excellent picture of Amsterdam and Netherlands during WWII and presents a thought-provoking view of how people had to make choices - Adapt, Collaborate, or Resist. If you haven't read Anne Frank's Diary in a long time do this museum before you do her "house".
We want to see the Van Gough and Rijksmeseum
If there are only two museums involved, I'd buy first-entry time tickets on two separate days so I wouldn't have to worry about how much time I'd need at each place.
Yes, I agree with Acraven about splitting the days if you have enough time. I did the Rijksmuseum in the AM, then did a special exhibition there that needed a separate timed entry, THEN did the Van Gogh late in the afternoon. TBH, I was pretty fatigued with museums but it was the only day that it would work for me to get the timed entry for Van Gogh. By the time I got to the aforementioned 3rd floor I could barely enjoy the art.
Get your Van Gogh timed entry as soon as you know your dates as they do sell out.
The Rijksmuseum entry is I think good for a year and is just a general admit ticket so very easy to get nearer your travel date. Do look at the Rijks website to see if there are any special exhibitions on when you'll be there. They don't charge extra but for the one I saw I needed a timed entry for just that exhibition only. BTW, the Rijksmuseum app was fantastic for that exhibition as well.
I will join in with acraven & Pam's advice. After reading several threads about visiting the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh we booked on separate days. We were very pleased with our decision. It's hard to predict the crowds. We went to Van Gogh at 1:00 and it worked out well. We spent 2.5 hours there. We also lucked out at our afternoon time at the Rijksmuseum. The staff said it was a light day. You could spend hours at both museums. Enjoy!
We’ll have approximately 3.5 days in Amsterdam. On the third day the cruise ship offers us a canal boat tour plus another optional excursion to a castle, plus we’ll have free time to explore. So how should we spend our remaining time in Amsterdam? I’m thinking on the half day when we first arrive, we’ll take the hop-on-hop-off bus tour as Mom wants to do that over a walking tour since she’s 86 years old and she moves slowly but capably. Is the bus tour a duplicate to the canal tour or completely different? If we spend a half-day at The Van Gough museum, how what would people recommend we do the rest of the day? We are thinking of getting a hotel by the river near where the cruise ship departs, I’ve read there are many sights and landmarks that are walking distance such as the Amsterdam Palace. No big staircase climbs for Mom. Thanks.
A canal tour gives a totally different view of the city than walking or by bus. Do it.
That castle tour goes to Muiden castle, which I find of medium interest. You have better ways of using your limited time.
Visit the Royal Palace, which started its life - around 1650 - as the City Hall of a very proud and very rich commercial city. It has a beautiful interior.
Another worthwhile visit would be the Portuguese Synagogue, from about the same period. An impressive building, serving the Jewish community which had to leave Portugal for its persecution.
Not wanting to be pedantic, but that famous painter is called Vincent van Gogh.
Thank you, finally, we are debating neighborhoods for a hotel, either the Ibis in Red Light neighborhood or Dam Square, both areas look nice and offer pros and cons. Thoughts and feedback?
We liked the Leidseplein area on the Prinsengracht Canal. We stayed at the Dikker & Thijs Fenice hotel which is an easy walk to the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum and also near trams. It was a lovely safe area.