Strategy for Using the I amsterdam Card

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Amsterdam has a lot to offer for tourists – but how do you see everything while on a budget?

Before arriving I had seen I amsterdam card on many websites: See everything Amsterdam has to offer a tourist in a limited amount of time. It sounded like tourist hell to me, kind of like getting the value meal and then super-sizing it. I didn’t think it sounded like fun running around trying to see all of the popular tourist attractions in one day. Like most things, bigger and faster doesn’t necessarily mean better, but I was willing to give it a shot because I am a budget traveler and the card can be a good deal.

Actually – let me rephrase that – the card can be a good deal if used correctly.

For 38 Euro you have access to more than 40 free attractions, some 50-odd discounts on other attractions and free transportation…all for 24 hours. I was intent on getting the absolute most for my money, so I discovered some strategies that will help you get well over 70 Euro of value.

The Fine Print
The most important thing to realize is that the three things the card offers (free entrance, free transportation and discounts) are not tied together. The free entrance card (it’s plastic and looks like a credit card) is used to get into museums and attractions without having to pay the price of admission. When it’s scanned the first time the clock starts ticking on your 24 hours. The transportation ticket is a paper card that also is valid for 24 hours after it is first scanned.

However, they are completely separate. You can use the I amsterdam card one day and the transportation card a week later. The discounts – the third feature – are coupons that can be used with no time restrictions.

Don’t use the public transport card. Yes, you read that right. Tuck the card away and use it another day. Instead, use a discount coupon to rent a bike from Mac Bike. Public transportation is good in Amsterdam and takes you many places, but getting around by bike is even easier and faster so you can cover ground more quickly. There is no waiting time when it comes to biking – you just hop on and go – and you can simply park the bike next to the building you are going to. Mac Bike rental locations are all over the city and the coupon is good for 25% off your rental.

Plan your strategy before initiating the card. The day before, research the map in the pocket guide that comes with the card and read up on what places you want to visit. Try to pick places that are in the same areas. You can park your bike in one area and visit three museums within a few houses of each other. Then go on to the next location where there are clusters of sites to see.

Timing is everything
You need to combine your location strategy with the knowledge of opening and closing hours of each place you’d like to visit. Most museums open at 10AM and close at 5PM, so even though you have 24 hours, for the most part you only have seven hours. Some things such as the canal cruise runs later than 5PM, so plan that for the end of your day instead of using an hour of museum time in the middle of the day.

Save the biggest for last
Listen up – even though the museums open up at 10AM, wait an extra 30 minutes to first use the card. Trust me…there is method to this madness! If you want to use the card for the Van Gogh Museum (which you definitely do as a ticket costs 14 Euro), then leave that for the next day in your 24th hour.

The Van Gogh museum (or another large museum) is a place where you will want to spend significantly more time in, maybe even 3 or 4 hours. If you start your 24-hour card at 10:30 and go to smaller, quicker museums on the first day, then the next day you can go to the Van Gogh museum at 10AM when it opens, bypass all of the people standing in line because you have an I amsterdam card, and get right in. Your 24 hours will run out as you are comfortably inside taking your time seeing the master’s work.

Using this strategy and riding a bike, I was able to see seven sites/museums the first day in about seven hours, and then saw the Van Gogh Museum the next day –. That’s 8 sites in 24 hours…not bad. Yes, I even had time to stop for a leisurely lunch for an hour in the middle of the day!

On your mark…get ready….set….GO! with your I amsterdam card!

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