We drove our car to Amsterdam for a quick weekend trip. Amsterdam was a fun trip for our family of four. Our teens were just as appreciative as we were of the Anne Frank house tour. We actually stood in the rooms where she and her family hid and that just blows my mind. Since my teenage daughter had seen “The Fault in our Stars”, visiting this location had another layer of interest.
Getting into the City
We stayed outside of Amsterdam as we were advised that parking was expensive within Amsterdam. We used one of several Park & Ride parking lots outside of the city. To incentivize using the public transportation, Amsterdam only charges 8€ or 1€ for parking if you use their P&R and purchase a public transport ticket to enter into the city center. It’s a great deal! And figuring out how to get around via public transport is very straight-forward.
We used the Canal Company Hop-on-hop-off. I didn’t like it as well as using the bus in other cities. I thought it would be fun to see the city from the canals, which it was. But instead of offering individual recordings in various languages for the tour, everything was spoken once in German and again in English so only one or two data points were usually shared between stops.
By far, our favorite visit was the Van Gogh museum. It was fascinating to see so many of his original paintings and to learn so much about him. Because he journaled throughout his life, background information on the paintings and many details of his life were available after his death. His nephew founded this museum. It’s a wonderful story.
We also visited the Rikjsmuseum. It was near the Van Gogh museum so we visited them almost back-to-back. That was a mistake. While the museum was fascinating, we’d had too much and probably didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have if we had visited one each day.
Purchasing Tickets in Advance
Many of the major attractions, such as those we visited, offer tickets online. While I prefer to get tickets online both to receive the discount and to avoid the long lines, the tickets were typically for a specific time. Not knowing the city or what our days would look like, I was hesitate to commit to an entry time or day. One way around that was to use the Canal Company’s offer to also purchase tickets for these museums. Those tickets were good for a year and so we were not committed to any time block but still avoided the long line to buy tickets and received the online discount. I would think other tour companies in Amsterdam would provide the same offer.
There’s a nice attraction outside the city that we were unable to visit this time but is on our list for our next visit to Amsterdam. At least my daughter and I intend to return for some fun shopping. It’s called the Zaanse Schanz and sounds sort of like a Williamsburg for The Netherlands.
For a quick weekend, we saw quite a bit but realize we missed even more. Amsterdam’s beauty is impossible to miss, with canals everywhere. And the energy of the city is captivating. I am looking forward to a return and understand why so many American friends in Europe return to Amsterdam repeatedly.