IAmsterdam Card

by Roger  

Like most other big touristy cities, Amsterdam has a scheme whereby visitors can purchase a card for a specific number of days that allows free use of public transport along with free museum admissions and discounts on other popular things. Depending on your specific goals this card might be a great money and time saver, but it’s expensive and definitely not right for everyone.

Amsterdam iamsterdam cardCost:

24 hours – €33
48 hours – €43
72 hours – €53

There are no special cards for students, children, or senior citizens, so they are much more difficult to justify for people who might otherwise already get discounts.

What’s included:

  • Transport – Free use of all public transport within the city – namely trams, buses, and the underground, but they are not valid on trains to the airport or between cities.
  • Museums – Free admission to nearly every museum in town – this includes the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandthuis, Stedelijk Museum CS, Rembrandt House, and many others, but NOT the Anne Frank House.
  • Attractions/other – Two free canal tour offers (doing at least one canal tour is highly recommended whether you get the IAmsterdam Card or not); 25% off a bike rental at MacBike; 25% off many other attractions, most of which are borderline worthwhile at any price.

The lists of included things and discounts are long and can be seen in full on the official IAmsterdam website.

IAmsterdam signLet’s do the math

This could be a great deal for many visitors, but before you decide you have to consider the alternative. The transit pass is worth exactly €6.50 for one day, €10.50 for two days, €13.50 for three days, but the majority of visitors walk around the city instead of always using the trams. The buses and underground are of little use to visitors, and the underground is surprisingly dirty.

The top three museums are the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House. The first two cost adults €10 each and the Anne Frank House is not included with this card.

The canal cruise is worth €7.50, and again, this is highly recommended, especially just as you arrive in town.

If you actually go to a few of the lesser-known museums in addition to the things listed above, you’ll be well ahead of the game with the IAmsterdam Card. But most of the other discounts are on things that don’t cost much anyway, and will use up big chunks of your precious time in the process.

Reasons to get an IAmsterdam Card:

  1. Hopefully it’ll save you money.
  2. It will definitely save you time by not buying separate tickets and transit passes.
  3. It will force you to actually see the high culture attractions out of guilt.

Reasons not to get an IAmsterdam Card:

  1. You may not actually save money.
  2. It would force you into very busy days packed with the famous attractions, taking away any spontaneity.
  3. You might be tempted to use “discounts” at dubious attractions just because they are included.
  4. No discount for children or seniors, so if your group is mixed you’ll either overpay or have to stand in the lines anyway.

Where to get an IAmsterdam Card

You can buy your IAmsterdam Card online or in person, but they are really the same thing so I’d just buy it in person in case your trip changes unexpectedly. You can order your card(s) from the official IAmsterdam website, but then you have to pick them up by showing your printed voucher at one of the VVV offices in Amsterdam. Or, you can just buy them from those same offices with the same credit card you would have used online anyway. Fortunately, they don’t charge a “convenience fee” online, so the price is exactly the same either way.

The VVV offices are the official Amsterdam tourist offices, and they are handy for many other things in addition to these cards. There are two at Centraal Station, one is upstairs overlooking the tracks, and the other is just out the front entrance to the station and a bit to the left. The third area office is on Leidsestraat, just north of Leidseplein. If you are staying near Leidseplein you’ll be passing this one often no matter what.

The bottom line:

Yeah, these things sound like a great idea and they really are for a lot of people, but as mentioned, they do sort of force you into a somewhat clichéd agenda. Amsterdam is a city loaded with museums and attractions, but it’s also a city where many of its fans love to wander around, get lost, window shop, stop at coffeeshops, have a few Heinekens, and watch the world go by.

If this is your first visit to Amsterdam you should do a canal tour right away, and plan to hit at least one of the major museums, and hopefully more than that if you are staying a couple days or more. But chances are you won’t need an all-day transit pass and you might get burned out on museum hopping long before you thought you would.

It’s not a fortune so if you are planning on doing a bunch of these things it might be worth getting anyway. The fact that you can skip most ticket lines and just jump on and off the trams can add some extra freedom to your visit, even if you don’t quite get every last Euro worth out of the price of the IAmsterdam Card.

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