There aren’t that many places in the world that can boast such a variety of associations and unique attributes. Amsterdam is the city with incredibly romantic views and channels, rich art heritage, and a very particular culture. Not to mention some well-known clichés (bicycles, coffeeshops and so on), Amsterdam is a particularly cozy place to visit, with its atmospheric brown cafés, beautiful architecture and scattering of bridges and parks.
Being an urban and highly developed city for business travellers, Holland’s capital is known as one of the most important cities in Europe, hosting conventions, conferences and business meetings.
Attracting about 13 mln visitors annualy, Amsterdam often experiences long queues for major museums and sites. With the city’s culture and history being the reason for the trip for about 66% of Amsterdam’s tourists, prepare to share your amazement with millions of others…or you can follow some of our tips to get the best experience out of your visit, not related in any way to ‘standing in queues’.
Which season to choose and which to avoid?
Peak tourist period is July and August, when the weather is good. In August, however, most locals head out of the city on vacation, and it will be harder to feel the authentic ‘Amsterdam vibe’.
Winter is off-season period, with lower rates for hotels and tickets. It doesn’t include Christmas and New Year’s holidays, which welcome many visitors to the city.
Spring is quite a popular period in Amsterdam, and becomes more and more attractive each year as the ideal time to visit, combining pleasant weather, tulips bloom (from mid-March to the end of May) and some of the main festivities of the year. April is particularly crowded: that’s the height of the flower season, with Tulip Days (third weekend in April) and the Queen’s Day (April 30). This last day alone attracts up to one million guests to the Dutch capital, however it is a colourful and lovely event to see at least once in a lifetime.
Photo credits to Kevin Gessner via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Fall is less popular and is probably the best option to visit Amsterdam when it’s not yet cold and there are no more crowds. Be aware, however, that many museums change their exhibitions in October, which may result in longer queues for a couple of weeks before and after the switch. Anyway, you won’t have to wait long during weekdays, the queues will be long only on weekends. Give preference to going from Monday through Wednesday, when the city is at its calmest. Things start happening again from Thursday evening. November is even calmer, except for the Museum Night event (first week of November). As many plan to visit the sites they’re interested in on that night, when admission is free. You may prefer to explore them one or two days in advance, when the crowds will be exceptionally smaller than usual.
This place is so impressive and profoundly touching, that you will probably never forget your visit. Why would you spoil the memories with 2,5 hours spent in a queue? No, we’re not joking. This is the longest queue in Amsterdam, and during the summer you could easily get stuck in it for 2-3 hours!
Tip: You should definitely book your tickets on the museum’s website and do it well in advance! There is only a limited amount of tickets available for each time slot, and during high season (May-September) they are usually sold out for the upcoming weeks. Booking the ticket is the only way to avoid waiting in line! A new entry system appeared in May 2016: the museum will only be open to visitors who bough an online ticket for a particular timeslot between 9:00 and 15:30. Then, from 15:30 until closing time, the museum will be open to those without an online ticket, who will need to buy one at the entrance. This means that from 15:30 until closing time, waiting lines will probably be very long, especially at the beginning of the afternoon.
If you have a Museumkaart - you should also book your place through the official website.
You should totally avoid queueing with a pre-purchased ticket in hand. If you arrive at 15:30, you should see a line of people standing literally for hours! It’s a bit mean, but you’ll feel really smart if you book your ticket online, and there’s only a little advance planning needed to succeed.
Tip 2: Don’t tell yourself “I’m not sure yet which day I will do what” or “If I decide to go - I’ll pass by and buy the ticket if there’s no queue”. This is a must-see place in Amsterdam, and there’s always a queue, though the waiting time may vary from 15 minutes to 3 hours. In any case, if there are any remaining available online tickets for any of the days of your trip - take them! It’s better to change your plans or determine the days itinerary around the availabe time slot, at least you’ll be sure to be able to get inside, and won’t suffer from that tiring wait.
If there are no more online tickets available, you still have a chance to go in the afternoon, there’s always a certain number of tickets sold at the museum’s ticket office on the second part of the day. And, as you may have guessed, the gigantic queue is for this ticket office.
The worst time to arrive at Anne Frank’s House is probably the opening hour for those who didn’t buy an online ticket (15:30).
Photo credits to Michael Costa via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Tip 3: The queue is the longest between 15:30 and 17:00. You can lose several hours before getting inside.
Tip 4: Another option, to avoid waiting in line too much (more suitable for low and shoulder seasons) is to arrive 1 or 2 hours before closing time. After 19:00 the wait shouldn’t exceed an hour, and there’s usually no more queue after 20:00. If you decide to try visiting the museum in the evening - don’t leave it for the last day (just in case you don’t manage to enter by the “last entry” time and thus miss out).
Tip 5: Choose a sunny day for your visit.
Amsterdam waiting lines to museums tend to double in length when it’s raining. If the average wait on a sunny day in August is about 1,5 hours - it will become 3 hours on a rainy day!
If stuck in a queue for Anne Frank’s House, you may try to calculate your entry time: 500 people in front of you means about 2 hours of waiting. If the line goes up to the Homomonument - you won’t spend less than 1 hour in the queue. 150 people in front of you is equal to 35-45 minutes of waiting.
At the Rijksmuseum there’s a waiting line to buy the ticket and then another one for the entrance. You can skip the first one by buying your ticket online or if you’re a museum pass holder. During high season it will take about half an hour of queuing to buy your ticket at the museum.
Online tickets are not designated to a specific date or time slot, you can use them for up to a year after purchase, so we strongly recommend it. Even with the ticket in hand, you’ll have to wait in the second queue. There’s only one way to skip this line as well - by booking a guided tour on the museum’s website.
Tip: Peak hours at the Rijksmuseum are from 11:00 to 15:00, the busiest days are Fridays, weekends and holidays.The best way to avoid crowds is to arrive either 10 minutes before the opening time or after 15:00.
Tip 2: Certain rooms in the museum can be overcrowded; where the gems of the Rijksmuseum’s collection are exhibited; The Night Watch of Rembrandt and four of Vermeer’s paintings on the second floor. If you plan to arrive at opening time - head to these paintings first before the crowds arrive. On the contrary, if you arrive in the afternoon - leave this part for the end of your tour when there won’t be many people left.
Photo credits to H. Michael Miley via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo credits to Michael Coghlan via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Getting inside the Van Gogh Museum may take a while in high season, especially from April-May and July-August. All year round you can avoid the waiting line and be in the priority lane if you book tickets online on the official museum’s website.
Tip 1: If buying tickets online is not an option - try weekdays in the morning or Fridays during extended hours (until 22:00). If you arrive at the opening time - you’ll have enough time to see everything before the museum gets packed with loud tourist groups. An average visit to the museum lasts approximately 75 minutes.
Tip 2: The museum is most crowded between 11:00 and 13:00.
Weekends are the busiest days, waiting lines can take an hour of your time. If you come just for a weekend and don’t have a choice - the best option would be to visit the museum on Friday night (check the official website to know if extended Friday night hours are applicable on the days of your visit). On Saturdays in July and August the Van Gogh Museum also closes later.
In order to avoid losing even a single minute - take a walk in the city center, visit the brown cafés or pubs, head to the parks (don’t miss Vondelpark), discover the city by bycicle or on a boat. There are a lot of treasures in Amsterdam waiting to be explored!
The Heineken Experience may also be a fun thing to do in Amsterdam, though queues may be as long as the museum queues during high season. Visit it in the morning, before noon, and you won’t be bothered by crowds at all.
There are a number of museum cards and passes in Amsterdam (IAmsterdamCity, Rembrandtkaart, Museumkaart, Hollandpass). IAmsterdam City Card is the one that is used by tourists the most often, but we have to say it’s not the most advantageous. The cheapest IAmsterdam City card costs €57 (valid for 24 hours). We advise you to pay attention to the Museumkaart which gives you unlimited free entry to almost 400 museums in the Netherlands (including 35 museums in Amsterdam) for a whole year and costs €59,90.
We’re waiting for your postcards and Goede Reis! (Have a great trip!)