We tend to pass on most city cards for a few reasons:
- They rarely work at the offbeat / lesser-traveled places we’re going
- The list of exceptions is long
- It takes a lot of time / traveling to make it worth the while
- They only give discounts as opposed to free admission (why pay twice?)
Based on my fellow blogger’s reviews of city cards in the past, we decided to give the iAmsterdam card a go.
Full disclosure: nope, not needed here. No one gave us anything for this post, and we paid full price. There isn’t even an affiliate program for the iAmsterdam card, though the Airbnb link below is an affiliate link.
First question: where to pick these things up?
Your best bet is one of the booths in or by the Centraal Station, but you can also stop by Visitor Information Centre at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in Arrivals Hall 2. We stopped by the Amsterdam Zuid station in the south (it was closer to our Airbnb).
We picked up the four-day (96 hour) tickets at 87 € apiece — the one-day card costs 57 €, and increases by 10 € for every extra day, so the longer the length, the better the value. All cards give unlimited tram, metro, and city bus rides (but not the regional Connexxion, Arriva and EBS bus lines, and not for the train to the airport) — just tap in when you board and tap out when you depart. Be aware that like most city cards, it’s automatically activated (meaning the timer starts) the first time you use it.
Second question: what’s included?
The official website likes to make a point of what’s included, and a PDF shows the admission costs covered with the card. Without even considering the value of the public transportation, that 87 euros would have been paid for with entrances to only five of the most expensive places. Everything past that is gravy, baby! Considering there are 27 places that have a 10 euro or more admission, this can add up quick. (Kids are typically free, even without the card.)
OK, for real now: where did you go?
We’re going to hit up more than five places in four days, of course, so let’s see just how much value we can get out of this thing…
I’ll cover the attractions themselves in greater detail in other posts, obviously, but we did plan a bit ahead to ensure we got everywhere we wanted to get. This list also mentions places not covered in the interest of completion.
- Sex museum – 4 €, not covered – well-done collection of old and new. NSFW, obviously
- Our Lord in the attic (Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder) – 10 € – a highlight of the day, great audio tour
- De Oude Kerk (The Old Church) – 7.50 € – meh, lots of stuff covered up in preparation for an exhibit
- Red Light District – free, not covered – not much to see during the day
- Quick stop by the Bulldog (a coffeeshop) and the Condomerie
- Cannabis College – free, not covered – good source of education
- Rembrandt House Museum – 13 € – pretty decent exhibitions in the house where Rembrandt painted
- Waterlooplein Market – free, not covered – classic street market with plenty of variety
- Outsider Art Museum (inside Hermitage Amsterdam) – 12.50 € – nicely curated and well-lit.
If you’re keeping count, yes, we did in fact visit ten places in a single day. Amsterdam’s central tourist area is amazingly compact. Total savings so far: 43 €.
- Amsterdam Pipe Museum – 10 € – nice collection, tour guide had an encyclopedic knowledge
- Cat Museum / KattenKabinet – 6 €, not covered – plenty of cat arts and crafts along with real cats and weird cat adverts in the garden.
- Museum of Bags and Purses / Tassenmuseum Hendrikje – 12.50 € – full of older women and a broad variety of bags, but felt overpriced.
- Dutch Resistance Museum / Verzetsmuseum – 10 € – a bit depressing as expected, but a good rendering of a difficult subject.
- Micropia – 14 € – a museum of microbes? Nifty. Plenty of serious science on display, not watered down for kids.
- Museum of Prostitution / Red Light Secrets – 10 €, not covered – highlight of the day. Sex work is a legal, licensed thing in Amsterdam, and the museum helps to break things down.
Total savings today: 46.50 €. Total savings so far: 89.50 €.
Today was an ‘operation separate ways’ day — I know Laura went to a few places using her card, but for the most part I took it easy today. Went shopping, did a bit of work at home, things like that.
Total savings today: 0 €. Total savings so far: 89.50 €.
- Amsterdam Tulip Museum – 5 € – nice, easy introduction to how tulips got to be known as a Netherlands sort of thing.
- Amsterdam Cheese Museum – free, not covered – highlight of the day! The museum is simple and small, but the ground floor shop offers plenty of tasting opportunities. Seriously, don’t eat lunch until after you stop by this place.
- Geelvinck Pianola Museum – 9 € – a wonderful handful of player pianos and classic sounds.
- The Cat Boat – Poezenboot – free, not covered – an animal sanctuary on a houseboat
- Electric Ladyland Fluorescent Art – 5 €, not covered – a psychedelic trip of colors, both natural and man-made.
Total savings today: 19 €. Total savings so far: 108.50 €.
Note this final tally doesn’t include the 15-20 rides we took around town, which the iAmsterdam card values at 22 € for four days. Add that in, and I saved 130.50 €.
It’s always nice to come out ahead without even trying. To be sure, we could’ve easily planned our itinerary to add in places that normally cost something but were free with the card — the Van Gogh Museum, the De Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam, the NEMO Science Museum, and the Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) all have typical prices of 15 € (or more), and they’re all covered. I could’ve easily enjoyed any number of places on day 3 (like a canal cruise, typically 17 €) and come out even further ahead.
Amsterdam is well-known for its tolerant views on marijuana and prostitution, but that tolerance doesn’t extend to this card — none of the places covered have a primary focus on these subjects, as far as I can tell. If your sole reason for visiting Amsterdam leans to the hedonistic, this may not be the card for you.
The fine print tells you that the card can’t be used on regional buses by Connexxion, Arriva and EBS, but you won’t need these if you’re traveling around central Amsterdam proper. It doesn’t cover any trains, including the one that’ll get you to the airport, and it’s not accepted or only gives discounts at a handful of the biggest, most mainstream attractions. I’m being pretty nitpicky here, since there’s a lot to like.
As a guest to Amsterdam, I’m not able to get deeper into all of the awesome stuff the city has. Frankie Thompson from As The Bird Flies lives there, however, and has a great post on seeing Amsterdam on a budget waiting for you to enjoy.
Highly recommended. The card was enthusiastically and readily accepted everywhere we expected it to work, and it worked perfectly on every bus, tram, and metro we used it on. It saved us money without having to alter our schedule, and we could have easily saved more if we had the inclination to visit more places. Consider the iAmsterdam card a must-get if you’re coming to Amsterdam. Buy online or learn more here.