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Amsterdam - What to arrange in advance

Other than the obvious (plane tickets, accommodations if so inclined) what types of things are best, or necessary, to arrange in advance of a visit to Amsterdam? For example, are there better online prices for local transportation vs. buying in Amsterdam? Or museum/sight cards? I can imagine there are things like specific performances, popular restaurants, that might need to be booked well in advance, but I'm thinking of the bigger "tourist passes" that might be of interest, or of special events that might be coming up in early September.

Thanks for any advice.
Mike

Posted by
2297 posts

if you want to tour the Anne Frank house, book in advance online. It is a small place and if there's a school class ahead of you the line-up might wrap around the block ...

Posted by
1804 posts

How many museums are you thinking about visiting? I found the Museumkaart was worth purchasing (if you visit the "Big 3" - e.g., The Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Huis, VanGogh Museum - you have pretty much already covered the cost of the Museumkaart and everything after that is pretty much a freebie). The Museumkaart is good for a full year and it's great if you want to break up your time at some of the large museums into multiple visits over your trip. But frankly, no need to purchase it online ahead of time. Go online and see the different museums that are covered and pick a smaller museum you can stop by and purchase it directly from.

A lot of people recommend getting timed tickets for Anne Frank, but I went there for the first time during May when it was in the middle of tulip season and the city was busy. I saw lines during the day, but I went around 6:00PM and walked right in - no line at all. It's open later, so if you are able to wait until later in the evening, there is a good chance you won't really need a timed ticket.

The kaart will let you skip the ticket buying lines, but if there are security lines at some of the museums you have to go through those.

At popular restaurants, it really depends what time you are planning to eat dinner. If you go early, you may be able to get a table without booking far in advance - or if it is not some difficult to get into Michelin starred restaurant, you can probably just wait until you arrive and make some reservations a day or two in advance (particularly if you aren't talking about a weekend).

I found Amsterdam to be pretty compact and walkable with many major sights close together. When I did need to take public transit (e.g., trams, subway, bus) it was easy enough to either get a ticket on board from the driver or at the station or one of the main Tourist Info officers over near Centraal, and if you are not traveling solo, it can often be not that much more to simply grab a taxi.

Posted by
2474 posts

Mike, we just returned from the Amsterdam. Definitely pre-book Anne Frank House, why take a chance that the day you are visiting there won't be a line. We passed by the house at various times and there was always a line. If you plan on purchasing a Museumkaart, it is only .50 cents more for the on- line reservations. Also, the Van Gogh. We had the museumkaart but still reserved a time. We sailed right in, past the other 3 lines. There is no extra charge with the museumkaart. The Rijksmuseum is much larger and does not have reserved times. They do, however, have a separate line for museumkaart holders.
One other note. You cannot purchase the museumkaart online. We got ours at the Museum of Bags and Purses because there was no line and the first one we encountered while walking around.

Posted by
6632 posts

ON the Anne Frank house. We had timed tickets and when we arrived there was a huge line; we asked where the line was for reserved tickets and they all waved tickets and said 'we have tickets, you have to get in line.' I knew that that made no sense for a timed reservation so I prowled around a bit and found a door and went in which turned out to be the entrance if you had a timed ticket -- but it was not that obvious. There was no line there. We went right in. Just as a heads up. The line that day was probably a couple of hours long at least. The place is tiny and only handles a few people at a time.

Posted by
3 posts

My advice is to buy all the tickets that are available online before your trip if there is a possibility , in order to avoid big crpwds of people and wasting time traveling. This is especially required for visit to the Anna Frank home.

Posted by
75 posts

You can get a timed entrance to the Van Gogh museum as well, we just got back and I saw people that had one. We had the Musemkaart pass and still had to wait over an hour to get in. I guess it also depends on when you are going as well. If anyone ever goes on early August, you should reserve a time for the Van Gogh and get the Anne Frank timed entry about 4 months in advance.

Posted by
4535 posts

It depends on when you will be visiting, but the advice to get online timed tickets to the Frank House and Van Gogh Museum is really wise. Museumkart holders get no special line privileges at either of those and the lines can easily be 2-4 hours. In non-peak season you might be able to get in at the evening (when you would eat dinner is the challenge then) or you arrive an hour before opening to get inside at opening (9:00 AM).

Popular restaurants need a couple days advance reservation. Most others you can reserve that day or walk in shortly after 18:00.

Posted by
971 posts

Absolutely get online timed tickets for the Anne Frank house. Try to get the introduction program as well.

We just got back and the line was about 4.5 hours all morning (I asked), stretching all the way around the church, and when we went by around 7:40pm, it still looked about 2.5 hours, stretching halfway around the block.

There is another door in the front where the timed tickets go in, but you have to ask them to buzz you in or I think you may scan your ticket.

I knew the line would be long but it was unreal, even late. The line can't move that fast because basically everyone has to go up in the secret annex and it is a small space and slow moving through it.

Kim

Posted by
75 posts

Anne Frank and Van Gogh. Anne Frank needs to be months in advance, otherwise you are waiting 4 hours.

Posted by
4535 posts

Anne Frank needs to be months in advance, otherwise you are waiting 4 hours.

No, show up a little over an hour before opening and your wait is a little over an hour. Otherwise, yes, the line is hours long.

Posted by
56 posts

If you make a reservation for a museum in advance, give some thought about what time you want to reserve. I've started making reservations for popular sites (regardless of what city I'm in) earlier in the day. On occasion I have discovered something unexpected that I've wanted to explore more, only to have to cut it short to get to my reserved destination on time. If you make your museum reservation earlier in the day you don't have to worry about keeping track of time as the day progresses.

Posted by
75 posts

Anne Frank needs to be months in advance, otherwise you are waiting 4 hours.

No, show up a little over an hour before opening and your wait is a little over an hour. Otherwise, yes, the line is hours long.

No, just got back two weeks ago, it opens at 9am, we were in line at 7:30am. It's a long wait in early august, not making it up.

Posted by
971 posts

Ooh good to know - that is what I wanted to ask the guy when we were there (we had online tickets) - what time did the line start forming?

Kim

Posted by
4535 posts

There is a line by 7:30 but on most days (perhaps a weekend is worse), arrival before 8:00 means you get in the museum shortly after the 9:00 opening.

Posted by
2829 posts

If you have a Museumkaart, you can make reservations at zero cost on the website of several museums like Van Gogh or Anne Frank. Actually I just did this myself today to visit a temporary exhibition there.

The trick is that reservations that cost 0.00 for Museumkaart holders are only possible on the Dutch versions of the website. Open two tabs, one in English and one i nDutch, and you shall see.