Tips for saving time and money at Amsterdam’s top attractions

In recent years, tourism in Amsterdam has swelled to new highs. Almost 20 million visitors per year flock to the city now, a situation that has even the tourists complaining there are too many tourists.

The demand to get into the Anne Frank House found its rival in the Van Gogh Museum, and meanwhile, the Rijksmuseum has been attracting huge numbers since it reopened in 2013. The Red Light District is crammed almost every night, and the party plazas never seem to be empty of, well, party people.

Tips for visiting Amsterdam attractions

We’ve talked about alternatives to Amsterdam’s most popular sights in previous posts, but even with the growing crowds, it’s worth it to visit Amsterdam’s biggest attractions. Even in high season, when tourism is at its peak, there are still easy ways to help you enjoy the top tourist attractions.

With these simple tips and a little bit of patience, you can survive and thrive amid the crowds at Amsterdam’s most famous spots.

Van Gogh Museum Line

Lining up early outside of the Van Gogh Museum. Photo: Michael Coghlan

Get there early. Repeat: Get there early.

It seems like a no-brainer, we know, but we still can’t stress this tip enough. “Rise and shine” timing is everything when it comes to beating the crowds in Amsterdam. Don’t rely on inclement weather or hope for a slower weekday visit to minimize the lines. Plan to get up and out early, and do it. Plus, you have extra incentive with plenty of places to grab a Dutch breakfast or pancakes to give you early morning energy.

Get tickets online or arrive early to get in line

Commit to a museum the night before, wake up early, and get there as close to opening time as you can. If it’s the Anne Frank House, you have to get tickets online. However, for the Van Gogh Museum, get there at least 30 minutes before it opens. You can sleep after your trip, but you can’t see priceless artworks that only live in Amsterdam once you step on the plane back home.

Be prepared for the day ahead

Make sure to leave your hotel prepared for the day’s adventure. Pack some rain gear if the forecast says clouds, sunscreen if it says clear skies, plus water, snacks and something to read while you wait for the doors to open.

Anne Frank House Line

The lovely view from the line outside the Anne Frank House. Photo: billandkent

Anne Frank House

You can’t wing it. And you can’t play it by ear. You have to come prepared if you want to see this historic house. The line used to be so long that you could literally read Anne Frank’s diary from start to finish while waiting to enter the museum. Now you can only get tickets online, so you have to plan ahead. Showing up without a plan is one of the top rookie travel mistakes in Amsterdam.

For the most comprehensive overview, read our full guide for buying Anne Frank House tickets. Here are a few highlights from the article.

Buy tickets in advance

This is the easiest way to save countless hours during a trip to Amsterdam. And you can do it online before your trip. Just commit to a time and use your credit card to purchase passes on the Anne Frank House website.

Experience every inch of the space

Once inside, it’s easy to brush over the empty rooms that Anne Frank and her family hid in for two long years. However, plan to linger a little bit here. Soak in and visualize the scene as much as possible, because this is the most unique part of the museum.

But go soon — there are already plans in motion to seal off some of these areas with glass.

Van Gogh Museum

A rare moment alone in front of a masterpiece at the Van Gogh Museum. Photo: Nadine Maurer

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is an open and airy museum that’s easy to handle in one visit… if you can make it through the heavy crowds. Boasting one of the world’s greatest collections of Van Gogh paintings, the museum is incredibly popular, attracting more than 1.9 million guests in recent years.

You don’t need the audio guide

The layout is easy to follow with three floors exhibiting the artist’s work chronologically during his 10 years as a painter. Large text on the walls explain enough of Van Gogh’s life and style, so don’t bother paying extra for the audio guide.

Don’t waste time taking photos

In fact, don’t even think about snapping a picture, because they’re not allowed anywhere in the museum. This smart policy is to specifically avoid the problem of too many smartphones obstructing your experience of gazing upon a Van Gogh masterpiece.

Artworks by other artists are mixed in

Surprisingly, not everything you see on the wall is by Van Gogh. Paintings by other big names like Monet, Gauguin and Manet are interspersed into the museum’s Van Gogh galleries. Strange? Yes, but that’s why we’re telling you in advance. Reading those placards are more important than you think!


There’s always a crowd gathered around Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch. Photo: Sophie V


With dozens of galleries on four floors exhibiting thousands of pieces of artwork, the Rijksmusuem is a labyrinth of a building for visitors to navigate. It also houses a treasure trove of relics across 900 years of history, so it’s no surprise that it can easily become an overwhelming experience. Knowing how to get to the top artworks is key to saving time and enjoying your visit.

Pick up a free museum floor plan

The Rijksmuseum floor plan is the key to your visit. You can find this free pamphlet at the information desk. (Pro tip: you can also download it before you go.) It’s a perfect pocket guide that gives a general overview of where all the top hits are located.

The biggies on the second floor include “The Night Watch” (Nachtwacht) by Rembrandt and the adjoining hallway known as The Gallery of Honour, which holds several works by Vermeer, Steen and others. Another area that always proves popular is the Breitner, Gabriel and Van Gogh room on the first floor that contains several masterpieces.

Use the gallery cards to quickly find the highlights

Don’t know what to focus on upon entering a gallery area? Look for the handheld laminated info cards that describe each room’s particular artworks in detail.

Special treat

We highly recommend ducking into the 19th-century Rijksmuseum library (bibliotheek) on the second floor to admire the preserved architecture and book collection stacking up to four floors high.

Book in advance

Want to pre-purchase your ticket and skip the ticket line entirely? You can do that here.

Red Light District

The Red Light District glows every night with a sea of fun-loving tourists. Photo: qiou87

Red Light District

Despite its sultry and shady reputation, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is actually quite safe. There is always a big police presence in the neighborhood, and there are many hidden cameras keeping extra eyes on the streets. You also don’t have to worry about finding yourself alone on an empty street, because, for better or worse, rarely is the quarter ever quiet.

Watch out for boozers

The biggest concerns for visitors are usually from intoxicated tourists, like bachelor parties on a weekend bender. While most of these roaming groups are just out for a good time, they can also occasionally be a little intimidating and out of control. Just be aware of your surroundings, and you will be fine.

When to visit for a more mellow experience

To avoid the more rocking side of the Red Light District, it’s best to stroll around midday and early evening (before 8 p.m.). If you’re looking for a less sexy time to visit, with fewer ladies in the windows, visit from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. when many shift changes take place. During this dinner break, many windows are empty and the curtains are drawn.

The fun heats up in the evening

After 8 p.m. is usually the best time to see the Red Light District alive, a little rowdy, and glowing its dim shade of crimson. If you can handle (or are looking for) drunk tourists and big crowds, coming here in the evening to find the big party atmosphere. Keep your wallet close and your purse zipped at all times, and expect most of the bars and coffeeshops in this district to be very touristy.

Related: 5 tips for surviving the Amsterdam party scene

A fun choice for budget hotels

Surprisingly, it’s also a really affordable place to stay. Just note, we only recommend staying here if the Red Light District scene is your idea of fun. If so, then you can find many rates around $100 at cheapo picks like Hotel International and Winston Hotel.

Otherwise, check out all of our budget hotels in Amsterdam. We have plenty of other choices far from the fun chaos of the Red Light District.

The post Tips for saving time and money at Amsterdam’s top attractions appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

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