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Short trip to Amsterdam: What to do?

Hi! I am flying into Amsterdam and will be staying there for 2 days before traveling to Paris. I wanted to know what might be the best things to do there since I have so little time. I definitely want to see the Rijksmuseum and maybe a couple other museums. I am a bit interested in traveling to see the windmills of Zaanse Schans but I heard it is a tourist trap. Is it worth also getting the Iamsterdam card with free public transport? I would greatly appreciate your input.

Posted by
16056 posts

You can buy a 48 hour transport card for 12.50 EUR for 48 hours or 17 EUR for 72 hour. That does not include the train from the airport. Rijksmuseum admission is 17.50 EUR and Van Gogh Museum admission is 17 EUR. Going ala carte might be a bit less money unless you have the time or inclination to use all the other services, like canal cruise. But it does not look like a total rip-off (hear me Paris Pass?).
Also looks like it only covers Friday night at the Van Gogh Museum.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you for the reply! From what you're saying, you think the Paris Pass is a waste? I was going to get it as it covers most of the sites and activities I wanted to see in Paris. Also, what are your thoughts on seeing the Keukenhof gardens in April/May? I'm not a plant/flower person, but from what people describe, it is a site that should not be missed.

Posted by
16056 posts

I have no opinion on the Keukenhof, never been there. Too much else in Amsterdam and 48 hours is not long.
My considered opinion is that the Paris Pass is way overpriced. It includes a Visite, which is a mildly overpriced transit pass, a Museum Pass that you can buy on your own, and discounts on a bunch of stuff you will not have time to do. Buy a carnet instead. It is a 10-pack of Metro or bus) tickets sold at a 20% discount (14.10 vs 18 EUR). Anything else, buy ala carte.

Posted by
14324 posts

To clarify what Sam has said about the Paris Pass, that is a rip-off. There is an official website for the Paris Museum Pass (note the subtle difference). There are passes for 2, 4 and 6 days. The Paris Museum Pass can be worthwhile, depending on your itinerary.

Posted by
2487 posts

For those two days limit yourself to Amsterdam. Enough to do.
If you're interested in the Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage Amsterdam museum won't disappoint with its semi-permanent exhibition of militia and other groups portraits: http://portraitgalleryofthegoldenage.com/
For the real Golden Age grandeur visit the Royal Palace, built as the town hall of what was then one of the richest cities in the world: www.paleisamsterdam.nl/en Their tours are wonderful, showing you things you wouldn't notice otherwise.
Shamefully undervisited is the Jewish History Museum, if only for the two wonderful synagogues, testimony to a culture which was wiped away: www.portugesesynagoge.nl/eng
More on www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/what-to-do/attractions-and-sights/overview-of-attractions
I very much doubt whether that IAmsterdam card is worth the money. It depends on how much you want to do. The free public transport is more or less worthless. The city centre is compact, and walking it is a pleasure for body and mind.

This is good information. We are traveling with kids on a short trip and want to do the Historic Triangle. There are multiple websites selling tickets for this. Does anyone know that actual best website? Keep in mind, we also want to see the Van Gogh museum and Rijksmuseum too.

Also - suggestions for a 2 day trip in Paris with the kids which does not include Disneyland?

Has anyone tried using the Meet Up app to meet English speaking people in Paris? Was it fun?

Thanks in advance! The trip will be June 18 - July 4th.

Posted by
2487 posts

According to their website (www.stoomtram.nl/en/faq) you can buy the tickets for the steam & sail adventure at the start of the trip. The easiest way is starting with the train in Hoorn. Buy your - regular - train tickets the day before at Amsterdam Centraal Station (here's for the train schedule to get from Amsterdam to Hoorn and back: www.ns.nl/en/journeyplanner/#/)
Advance buying of tickets to the Rijksmuseum and/or the Van Gogh can be done at their websites (www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/online-tickets-and-shop, https://tickets.vangoghmuseum.com/).

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you everyone for your responses. based on your answers, I think I am going to extend my trip for one more day in Amsterdam. If there is just so much to do, then I might as well try to experience more of it! Are there any nearby tulip gardens, windmills and clog factories within or very close to Amsterdam without having to travel to Keukenhof or Zaanse Schans? I know that sounds cheesy, but when one thinks of the Netherlands those are traditionally what one sees. It doesn't have to be a big trip on its own, just enough to take a couple of photos.

Posted by
2487 posts

For the real windmill experience you have to leave the city and look further than the Zaanse Schans. The easiest is to go to Schiedam (next to Rotterdam) where they've got some huge city windmills used for the gin industry. Schiedam has a nice historical centre, and you can combine it with a visit to Delft of picture postcard quality, which you'll pass on the train. If you've got the better part of a day to spare, nothing beats the windmill complex at Kinderdijk, and you can combine it with pleasantly untouristy Dordrecht. It's some 1h30mins by frequent train from Amsterdam to Dordrecht. It's great fun - and very Dutch! - to use the half-hourly river ferry to reach Kinderdijk, leaving from the Merwekade at the top of the historical centre (Google Maps finds it for you). When the weather is fine, it'll be a day well spent.
I have no experience with clog making. In the centre of Amsterdam you'll find the Hortus Botanicus (http://dehortus.nl/). I'm not sure they'll offer the photo opportunities you're looking for, but they do have flowers.

Posted by
56 posts

I'd say I'd have to disagree with the above comment saying for a real windmill experience you have to go father than Zaanse Schans. I went last June and on a sunny day it's absolutely delightful. All of the windmills are working ones. I went into De Kat which is the only one left in Holland that makes oil paints. It gives you a good orientation to traditional Holland and was only a 30 minute journey by inner city train. There are people who actually live in the town as I saw two boys leave their house to jump off the docks. Another thing you should see there is the wooden shoe factory where they demonstrate how they make the wooden shoes then vs now. Again if the weather is good go! It's not a difficult place to get to .