Let's start with the elephant in the room: Is the I amsterdam City Card a tourist trap? Our quick answer is: "No, absolutely not." Unlike many other city cards in the world the I amsterdam City card is developed and sold by the city of Amsterdam itself.
The card is absolutely legit, and it can offer a great deal of value. But that doesn't mean automatically this card is a great deal for you. Continue reading to find out if the card is worth it for you.
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If you want to buy the card you can do so here: Get your I amsterdam City Card.
What do we think of the I amsterdam City Card as two locals?
We honestly think this card can be one of the best deals to be had when you spend some time in Amsterdam, BUT… it depends on what you want to do and see! It isn't for everyone. In this post we'll walk you through the pro's and con's of this card. Making it very easy to decide if it's for you, or not.
We’ll also share our five hidden gem picks from the extensive list of attractions included in this card that most visitors tend to miss.
Table of content:
Who issues the card?
The I Amsterdam City Card is created and sold by the non-profit organization Iamsterdam. I amsterdam is the official partner of the city. This card is legit and absolutely not a tourist trap in any way.
Who is the card for?
The card holds the most value if you’re planning to visit museums. It’s that simple. The card offers free or discounted admission to over 70 museums and attractions in Amsterdam, of which 44 are free.
Big-name museums like the Van Gogh, the Rijksmuseum, the Hermitage, the Rembrandt House, and the NEMO Science museum are all included in the free offering. Making this card really attractive! Museums in Amsterdam are not cheap, your savings will rack up very quickly.
On top of that, you also get ONE free canal tour and free public transportation as long as your card is valid.
Who is the card NOT for?
If you don’t like to visit museums, it will be challenging to get your money's worth. Yes, you will get free public transportation, a canal tour, and even access to the famous Artis Zoo. But that often doesn’t cover the costs of the card by itself. You’re better off buying individual tickets.
The I amsterdam City Card is also not for people who have little time in the city. If you’re in Amsterdam just one day or less, it will be tough to get your money's worth. Again you’re better off buying individual tickets.
Like the Skip the Line tickets for the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Hermitage, the Rembrandt House, the NEMO science museum, The Lord in the Attic Museum, the Zuiderzee museum, This is Holland, or Artis. You can also get your tickets for public transportation in Amsterdam separately. And, likewise for a canal tour (the ticket we recommend here offers a choice in operators, our personal favorite is Blue Boat, they leave near the Leidseplein.)
Would you buy the card as a local?
Yes, the I amsterdam City Card could also totally work for us! It just makes for a fun day or days out, and there is so much included in this card.
Especially the multi-day tickets are a bargain compared to the at the door prices. Plus, you can skip the line at some places.
How does the I amsterdam City Card work?
How much does the I amsterdam City Card cost?
You can buy a pass for 24, 48, 72, 96, or 120 hours. (the facts that the cards are valid in hours compared to calendar days are an extra value in itself. If you plan smartly can add an extra day for free. For example, when you activate your 48 hours (2-day) card at 11am on the first day. You can then still enter a museum on the 3rd day before 11am.
The prices for the card in 2020 are:
24 hours: €65
48 hours: €85 (€42,50 per day)
72 hours: €105 (€35 per day)
96 hours: € 120 (€30 per day)
120 hours: €130 (€24 per day)
The 24 hours card is relatively expensive. But you will save money if you, for example, visit two top museums like the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. Use public transport, take a canal tour and go up the Amsterdam Look Out Tower.
It’s a busy 24 hours, but possible! (do one of the museums on the 2nd day, just make sure to get in before the card expires).
Plus, no matter what, the card is just convenient compared to having to purchase multiple individual tickets. This alone can be a reason to buy the I amsterdam City Card in itself.
The real value is in the 48-120 hour cards, however.
The 48 hours I amsterdam City Card, already, is a bargain. It’s easy to get €42,50 worth in a day. Plus, you enjoy the convenience of having just one ticket. If you plan wisely, you can even squeeze in a 3rd-day attraction for free.
If you’re staying longer than two days in Amsterdam, the card becomes an absolute bargain.
Can I use the card only in Amsterdam?
You can also use the I Amsterdam City Card in the Amsterdam “region.” In cities like Haarlem (beautiful and just minutes from Amsterdam) or the Zaanse Schans, the Zuiderzee Museum in Enkhuizen (tip), the Muiderslot Castle, and more.
Even if the card was only available in Amsterdam City as the name suggests, it’s very much worth the costs already, but you can also use it outside the city.
Entrance to the world-famous Keukenhof flower garden and transportation to park is now also included in the I amsterdam City Card. To redeem this offer you need to pick up a voucher at one of the three "I amsterdam information centers" (with valid card) - see addresses and locations below.
What is NOT included in the card?
For an exact list of what is included, we refer you to the bottom of this article. But we want to point out two important things that are not included in the card, but that you might expect to be.
1. The I amsterdam City Card is not valid at the Anne Frank House museum. The Anne Frank House is EXTREMELY popular. The museum has a lot of trouble managing the influx of people. To guarantee a pleasant experience for everyone, they only sell tickets at the Museum's website with timeslots.
80% of the tickets get released in advance, while 20% are made available on the day itself (at 9am). And only through their own website. It is not possible to buy a ticket for the Anne Frank house in person at the museum. We can not stretch this enough.
Read more about the Anne Frank House in our blog post "a Day in the Life of Anne Frank".
2. Transportation on the train is not included. Only public transport by the Amsterdam city transportation company GVB (recognizable by the white/blue colors) is included in the card. This means most city buses, and all trams, and metros.
If you’re going to visit attractions in the region, you’ll need to purchase a separate transportation ticket for the train or regional buses.
YES! We’re glad you ask. Of course, this is very personal, and it depends on what you like. There a quite a few unique places that are included in the I amsterdam City Card, it’s impossible to list them all. But here are our five hidden gem picks on the card and why we think they are gems:
For the Zuiderzee museum you'll need to buy a train ticket to Enkhuizen, but this is a wonderful experience. A museum we visit ourselves about yearly. It’s an open-air museum in a way similar to the Zaanse Schans.
However, it's much more authentic. It tells the story from the angle of a fishing village. It’s much larger than the Zaanse Schans, and it includes a free boat ride from the railway station. You can try authentic foods like smoked fish (herring and salmon) and other Dutch goodies. The smoked herring is absolutely delicious! And by far, not as scary as the raw herring Holland is famous for.
This is a museum not discovered by many tourists. You’ll have a much more local experience. Getting there is an experience in itself. From the train station you board a free ferry boat (included in your museum ticket) to the museums' entrance.
Also, make sure to wander around for an hour or so in the town Enkhuizen itself. The city center is beautiful! You’ll really enjoy a visit here.
PS if the I amsterdam City Card is not for you, you can also buy a seperate ticket for the Zuiderzee museum here.
The Hortus Botanicus is a stunning botanical garden near the Artis Zoo, the Jewish Historical Museum, and the Tropics museum (all included in the price of the I amsterdam City Card btw). Both the greenhouses and the gardens are spectacular. We just love this place so much, we’re sure you will too.
We have to mention the Hermitage as one of our five picks. You might know this museum as a famous museum in St Petersburg in Russia. And that is true. Now there is also a depot in Amsterdam with changing exhibitions with art from the original Hermitage. Quite extraordinary if you ask us.
PS if the I amsterdam City Card is not for you, you can also buy a seperate ticket for the Hermitage museum here.
One of the best museums in the city but often skipped for the much more famous Anne Frank House. Please do go see the Vertzetsmuseum as well. It was chosen as the best historical museum in the country for a reason. Especially the Junior section of the museum is fantastic (also for adults). The I amsterdam City Card covers the entrance fee.
Our fifth choice is the: "Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder Museum – Our Lord in the Attic Museum". This is one of those museums that you are like: "Wow, really? This is stunning!" And it really is.
Holland was one of the first countries with freedom of religion in Europe. But being allowed to choose your faith and celebrate it were still two very different things back then.
Catholic churches were prohibited in the 17th century in Holland. Since this was the Golden Age, and Amsterdam was the wealthiest city in the world, no expense was spared for people to still celebrate in secret. How? People build and hid complete churches inside their own big houses on the top floor, away from the eyes of the general public.
This is a rare opportunity to see a well-preserved hidden church inside a house from the Golden Century. We were blown away by it. First you're walking through the living quarters of a normal house and then suddenly you're in this magnificent church. Your I amsterdam City Card gives free entrance.
PS if the I amsterdam City Card is not for you, you can also buy a seperate ticket for the Lord in the Attic museum here.
Of course, do visit the classic attractions of Amsterdam when this is your first time here. We mean, just the building of the Rijksmuseum is breathtaking and the collection even more so. There is only one Nightwatch by Rembrandt in the world, and you have to see it for yourself.
The same applies to the Van Gogh museum. There is no other place in the world to see this many original Van Gogh paintings in one place. But once you've seen the classics (many are also included in your I amsterdam City card) it's well worth venturing out a bit more.
Where to buy the I amsterdam City Card?
Step 1: Buy your voucher for the I amsterdam City Card here. By doing so, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you. You help us support this website, and you’ll purchase through an authorized ticket seller for peace of mind.
Step 2: Redeem your voucher for the physical card and a map after arrival. There are three locations to redeem your voucher:
- I amsterdam Visitor Centre Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
- I amsterdam Visitor Centre Stationsplein (city center side of Central Station)
- I amsterdam Store (north side of central station)
1. I amsterdam Pickup Airport
Monday - Sunday: 07:00 - 22:00
2. I amsterdam Visitor Centre
Monday - Sunday: 09:00 - 18:00
3. I amsterdam Store Station
Monday - Wednesday: 08:00 - 19:00
Thursday - Saturday: 08:00 - 20:00
Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00
All three locations are very convenient if you come to Amsterdam.
Step 3: Reserve your time slot for the Van Gogh museum (if you plan to visit) AS SOON as you have picked up your I amsterdam City Card.
You need to make this reservation online, and you need your card number to do so. Without a timeslot, you’ll not be allowed to visit the museum with your card.
Do not activate your I amsterdam City Card immediately at the pick location. You want to maximize the usage of your hours (the cards expires after 24, 48, 72, 96, or 120 hours, not after 1-5 calendar days.)
It’s important to note that the public transportation part of the ticket counts separate from the attractions part for your hours.
When you first check-in boarding a tram, metro, or bus, then the public transport part of your card is activated. If you arrive at a museum later, then that part of the card is activated. Make a note of both times to make sure you won’t forget the end times.
Let’s say you have a 24-hour card and you check-in at a tram at 11:00 a.m. on Monday. You can use the card for public transport until Tuesday, the following day until 10:59 a.m. If you go to a museum that Monday at 1 pm, you can visit museums until 12:59 p.m. (time of entry) the next day.
Transportation from the airport to Amsterdam is not included in the I amsterdam City Card. For different transportation options to the city read our post: How to get from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam.
Is there anything else included besides attractions and public transportation in the card?
Yes, there is! You’ll also get a discount for theater tickets and concerts. If you like classical music, then attending a performance at the Royal Concert building is superb (you get a 25% discount on tickets).
The card also includes a discount on bike rental with MacBike. And you can get a 25% discount at various restaurants in the city, and some restaurants even include a voucher for free tastings. Check those out for sure! One of the free offers is an original kroket. Like yummy!
What are other people saying about the I amsterdam City Card?
Most people are raving about the I amsterdam City Card, but some are a bit more critical. Let's look at a few of those critical reviews published at the product page on Get Your Guide:
“Nancy – United States - I could not find where to get the card at the airport, and no one that worked at the airport knew where to send us. We ended up taking a cab to our hotel. Otherwise, it was great once we got the card. We found the shop outside of central station.”
The shop at the airport is located in the shopping “corridor,” called Schiphol Plaza, in the arrivals hall. If you walk it up and down, it’s difficult to miss. If you can’t find it, ask at the official information desks. Regular airport staff, we’re sure, don’t know all the shops.
And if you miss it, just go like Nancy to the Central Station locations. Transportation to the city is NOT included in the I amsterdam City Card anyway. No matter what, you still have to pay for your transportation from the Airport. Whether taking a taxi or the train. Read about all the transportation options from the airport in our post: How to get from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Amsterdam.
“Anonymous – South Africa -Not made clear you need number on back of card to book Van Gogh Museum.”
Making a time slot reservation is very straightforward, and instructions can be found here. The image very clearly shows you need the number of the card.
“Amanda – Canada - I would recommend this for someone that has all the time to see all the attractions in Amsterdam. However, unlike other passes for other cities in Europe, this one does not give you free entry to places, but only a small discount so not really worth it. If I were to go to Amsterdam again, I wouldn't buy this because I ended up not having time to visit all I wanted, so I didn't get the best value for my money. It also doesn't let you skip the line in the attractions, so don't really see the point.”
This review, especially we thought, was interesting. We wondered if Amanda read what was and what wasn’t included in the card. Because most attractions are free with the card, but not all.
You get your money’s worth after visiting 4-5 attractions. There is no need to have all the time in the world, but we do advice you have at least 48 hours. And you do not need to do everything that is included in the card to get value out of it. The card provides value in 2 days after just a few activities!
And no free entrance, just a small discount? 44 museums and attractions are all completely free to visit with your I amsterdam City Card. That is including large attractions like the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, Artis Zoo, the Adam Lookout tower, and a canal tour.
As a bonus, there are a few more places on top of the 44 free museums and attractions that offer a 25% discount. A pretty good deal if you ask us. Those extra discounts are just bonuses.
Skipping the line indeed is not included for most museums, but it is at the Van Gogh museum (it's important to note that for most museums you don't need to skip the line, since there is no line). It’s a benefit to use the card even without skipping the line. One because you only have to pay once, two, you’ll save money.
As you can tell, these negative reviews are not actually negatives about the card. More misunderstandings on the part of the traveler. This won't be you because you’re reading this post 🙂
Conclusion about the card
If you are more than 24 hours in Amsterdam and you like to visit museums then definitely get an "I amsterdam City Card". It’s well worth your money. Just make sure you want to do the things included in the card before you buy it!
Again because this card is issued by the I amsterdam organization, a "not for profit" company, the deals include the top attractions of the city and many gems. It’s not one of those uber touristy and commercial “city cards” you see in cities like London and Paris where you get access to a wax museum or an aquarium.
You would also visit the attractions that are included in the "I amsterdam City Card" without the card! That for us, makes it a good deal.
The complete list of what is included with the I amsterdam City Card
Not all attractions are created equal. To make more sense of this list, we starred each one of the must-see and do attractions. Next to the prominent must-see places that are starred, we highlighted the gems with a diamond.
Items marked with red warning signs are the things we advise you not to do. You could consider those as “tourist traps.”
The other options are great if it catches your particular interest.
We hope this will help you with making the decisions on what to do and what to skip.
The following museums/attractions offer free admission with the I amsterdam City Card:
Free Canal Tour in Amsterdam (you can pick one)
Note you have a choice of canal tours. One tour is included in your card. Not all of them have the same quality. The company we like most is the Blue Boat company. This is the company we use when we show our friends around from abroad. They’re not near central station, but the Leidseplein. This “disadvantage” makes them just try a little harder! The experience is much better than at Central Station where it's more mass transportation and tours are shorter around Central Station.
Free giveaways for you to try in Amsterdam
In the Zaanse Schans:
25% discount with the I amsterdam City Card (Bonuses)
Music & Theater:
Transport & Rentals:
Food & Drink:
In The Hague:
Note about the "Tourist Trap" red exclamation markers:
Why did we mark some attractions and experiences with a red exclamation marker while these are popular attractions and get good reviews on other sites?
The reason is we believe when you travel, you should have an authentic and unique experience.
We're allergic to:
- tours that are generic and, worse, give you little time for the main attraction.
- shops posing themselves as museums. They're everywhere in Amsterdam.
- attractions like Body Worlds, Madame Tussauds, The Amsterdam Dungeon, Ripley's et cetera.
These attractions are in many big tourist cities around the world. That, by itself, should be a red flag.
For all three types of attractions/tours this question is important: Did you really travel this far to spend the little time you have on things that are generic, not local, or not authentic? Were any of these attractions the reason you planned your trip? Most likely the answer is no.
We would spend our time getting to know the city, its sights, its food, its people and its culture. The things that you can only do and see here and nowhere else, and that is why we marked them red.
Did this post about the I amsterdam City Card help you?
We hope this long post about all the ins and outs of the I amsterdam City Card from a locals perspective was helpful for you. If so, please let us know how it has helped you and what options you chose.
If so, then join the conversation below and let us know how it has helped you and what attractions you chose to go see.
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