I Amsterdam Card (Review) and Learn from my Mistakes

Just like I did in Paris with the Paris Pass, when we went to Amsterdam, we bought the I Amsterdam card which works in a similar way. Today, I wanted to share the activities we did with an honest review, but also some key lessons that I learnt, if you decide to purchase the card yourself. Also, I will break down to cost of the activities and whether it was truly worth it. 

The card offers a unique way to explore Amsterdam, with free access to many major highlights, plus city-wide public transport and bicycle rent. You can also get discounts and freebies across many of the other city attractions in Amsterdam. You can see the full list of locations here, and also I found it useful to filter it by the "free with card" option. 

You can buy the card online and either pick it up in person or access it through the free app from your phone. There are multiple day pass options, which specify the hours of use, but we went for the 72 hour pass which cost €110. 

  • 24 hours = €65
  • 48 hours = €90
  • 72 hours = €110
  • 96 hours = €120
  • 120 hours = €135

Day 1: 

  • Rijksmuseum: Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museums. Its vast collection showcases iconic art and a wide variety of artefacts that reflect more than 800 years of Dutch and global history. I personally didn't like this but I'm not a massive museum fan. If you want to see everything, you could easily spend all day here, but we took about 2 hours. It normally costs €20
  • Blue Boat Canal Cruise: A cruise through the Amsterdam canals to explore the heart of the city. It takes 75 minutes so give yourself 1 and a half hours. Must do! Costs €22.50.
  • Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam: Originally founded in 1638 to serve as a herb garden for the city’s doctors and pharmacists, it’s one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. To fully enjoy, it takes at least 2 hours but preferably 3 - 4 hours. Surprisingly very enjoyable. Usually costs  €12.
  • This is Holland: A 5D Flight Experience over Holland's most beautiful tourist attractions. A surreal and the most memorable activity! You need at least 1 hour. Normal price is €21.
  • A'DAM Lookout: A 360 degree observational platform of the city, with ample additional activities to do also. Definitely recommend. Spend at least 1 hour here! Usually costs €16.50.

Day 2: 
  • ARTIS Amsterdam: Experience nature and discover its significance for our society, through a unique awareness journey. Do it if you have time. You need at least 3 hours to comfortably enjoy it. Usually costs €25. On the same site is Artis-Micropia which normally costs an additional €17.50. 
  • Amsterdam Tulip Museum: Learn about the history of the tulips in the Netherlands. If you have time and you have the card, pop in, but I wouldn't buy a ticket as it's quite basic. You can easily ready everything and complete it within 30 minutes. It costs €5
  • NEMO Museum: The green ship building of the Italian architect Renzo Piano you find NEMO, the largest science museum in the Netherlands. I was amazed and we spent over 4 hours here! It normally costs €17.50

Day 3: 
  • Zaanse Schans: With its traditional houses, windmills, warehouses and workshops, the historic village of Zaanse Schans offers a preserved glimpse of what it was like to live in the Netherlands in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is actually free to visit the location itself, however there are activities to do once there. I would recommend spending at least 4 hours there. 
    • Zaans Museum and Verkade Experience: Museum of the history and chocolate experience. €12.50.  
    • There are also 3 free experiences: 
      • Clog making 
      • Cheese making 
      • Clock making
    • Of course, you can see all the windmills for free, you can go inside multiple windmills, which cost €5 each or buy a multi ticket and visit them all for €18. The ones we went inside were:
      • Windmill van Sloten
      • Molen Het Jonge Schaap: you can see the saw working too
      • Wevershuis
      • Windmill de Kat
      • Molen De Bonte Hen 
      • Molenmuseum: the museum but defintely do this one! 
  • Van Gogh Museum: These buildings house the largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh – more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters. Personally, I don't recommend as it's quite boring and not as big as you would expect. You need to spend about 2 hours here. Usually costs €19

Overall, for everything we did, the total cost would have come to a grand total of €189, which makes a saving of €79. If we had only done the things I would have wanted to do, I probably would have just spent €114.50. However, that doesn't include the 3 museums that Luke wanted to do, so we defintely saved a fair amount of money. This of course, doesn't include all the metro's and buses that we also utilised as we did at least 6 a day!

The most annoying aspect was that we had scheduled in 3 canal tours, with one for each day. We raced from the zoo to the canal ready to get on the second, only to find out that the card only includes one canal tour per purchase. This meant that we had factored in 3 hours which we could have enjoyed more at the zoo and be in less of a rush. It also meant, we weren't making as much of a saving as we had originally thought. On top of that, we probably wouldn't have picked the one that we ended up doing, because another had much better reviews.

One of the biggest mistakes we made was getting to Zaanse Schans by bus. The return trip for this was €11 each, and it was a truly awful experience. It took almost 2 hours, on a hot and standing room only bus. Instead, we should have taken the Zaanferry  which is included in the I Amsterdam card for free, but usually takes 40 minutes to the city centre and costs just €10. It includes 2 boats either way. We were going to take it on the way back, once we discovered it, but sadly we just missed one and the next was 2 hour away so we wouldn't have made it back in time for our museum time slot unfortunately, and Luke wasn't willing to risk missing it. 

Finally, what I would personally recommend is bearing in mind that the card works based on the hours and not days. So if you activated it at 10am, it would work until 10am. The best thing to do would be to pick the longest thing on the last day, for example the Rijksmuseum or ARTIS Zoo, because as long as you arrive by 10am, you can stay there all day if wanted. If you then want to get transport to the airport, you can either walk to the train station or buy a 1 hour travel card. The actual airport transfer train isn't included in the card. 

Overall, I would defintely recommend the card overall. It's nice to have all tickets and transport passes on one app. It's easy to use and easy to book. It does require a bit of planning to best select the best times and routes to make the most of the card, but once that's been planned, you can enjoy your time. Unfortunately, with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, make sure you look to see what needs pre-booking in advance. From experience, it's most of the museums! As you can see, we also packed a lot in, which I think is a big advantage of the card too.