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  • Writer's pictureEmma Cakmak

3 Essential Things to do Before You go to Amsterdam

Updated: May 6, 2021

Amsterdam is a vibrant and exciting city with loads of things to see and do. Three days is a perfect amount of time to spend in the city visiting all the fabulous museums, historical buildings, and trendy districts.

You may not want to plan your entire trip before you go but a little bit of planning goes a long way. You don't want to show up and find you're unable to do half the things you wanted to do because of poor planning!

In the '80s it was commonplace to arrive at your destination without a hotel reservation. The same was true with museums and other attractions. Sure, there might have been a line, but you were still guaranteed admission. These days, not so much.

Things have changed a lot over the last few decades, don't you think?

I wouldn’t personally go anywhere these days without pre-booking my tours – especially if I'm traveling with my family or a group of people.

Here are 3 things I recommend doing before you leave, ideally at least one to two months ahead of time:

1. Pre-book your tickets to Anne Frank’s house

This is a must. In fact, it’s obligatory. Anne Frank House is small (don't forget, it was her home for more than 2 years) and can get crowded quickly. You won’t get in unless you’ve booked your tickets in advance.

Check the museum’s website for the most up-to-date information. As of this writing, the 2021 calendar is not yet open for bookings, but keep the website bookmarked for future reference. Tickets are about 12,50 Euros per person. For more information visit their website. See below for more information on the museums.

Guests admiring Flemish works of art inside the Rijksmuseum
Pre-book your museum tickets for the best experience

2. Get an Iamsterdam card

You can’t go wrong by getting one of these. It includes access to most museums and attractions. It's also your ticket for public transportation on the trams, buses, ferries, AND a canal cruise. Unfortunately, Anne Frank’s house is not included in the cost of the card but, the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Rembrandt’s house are all included. You can even go to their website and pre-book your time slot for some of the more popular attractions. A good idea to do if you are planning to travel in the next few months while we are still in the midst of the pandemic.

The Iamsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum
The Iamsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum

You can also buy the card when you get there, but then you won’t be able to pre-book any of the more popular attractions. If you have time, buy the card in advance to get the most out of it. In the age of COVID, where reduced capacity and social distancing are the norm, it's best to book in advance. The website is also an excellent reference for things to do outside of the city. Check out the Iamsterdam card here.

3. Take a free walking tour

Whether you're visiting Amsterdam on a budget or not, it's always nice to get something for free, right? Free Walking Tours Amsterdam offers free daily walking tours of the city. This is a great activity to do on the day you arrive. Explore the city with the expertise of a knowledgeable guide before venturing out on your own. The tour itself is free, although there's as a small "entertainment tax" and of course, tips are always appreciated. Tours leave daily at 1.30 pm from Dam Square and groups are limited to 15 so don’t forget to book in advance (see the trend here?)!

tourists flock to Dam Square, Amsterdam
Dam Square, Amsterdam

If you want to learn more about what there is to do in Amsterdam, sign up for my free destination guide to Amsterdam, 12 pages of things to see and do on your next trip to this culturally vibrant city.

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