Is the I amsterdam City Card Worth It?

Amsterdam’s unique blend of history, culture, and progressive spirit makes it a captivating destination for visitors from all walks of life. Are you looking for ways to maximize your experience in Amsterdam while minimizing your costs

The I amsterdam City Card is a popular option. But is it truly worth the investment? Let’s delve into the features, benefits, and potential drawbacks to help you decide.

Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Learn about the pros and cons of Amsterdam’s City Card. Photo credit: Marcelo Verfe

What is the I amsterdam City Card?

The I amsterdam City Card is a travel pass designed to offer visitors to Amsterdam access to various museums, attractions, public transport, and discounts within the city. It is issued by amsterdam&partners, a reputable public-private foundation set up by the city and its partners to enhance the reputation of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area among residents, visitors, and companies.

Available for periods ranging from 24 hours to 120 hours (1-5 days), it promises convenience and savings for tourists keen on exploring Amsterdam’s museums, landmarks, and off the beaten path attractions. It also offers benefits for travelers looking to explore the surrounding areas of Amsterdam, such as Haarlem, Volendam, and Marken. 

The card can be ordered online from anywhere in the world and the physical card can be picked up at the I amsterdam Store at Schiphol or Amsterdam Centraal station or at various resellers throughout the city.

Inside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Imagine exploring the Rijksmuseum with your city pass for free.

What’s included in the I amsterdam City Card?

The card typically offers:

  • Free access to museums & attractions: Get access to over 70 museums and attractions, including popular destinations like the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam Museum, Moco Museum, ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo, and Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot, as well as discounts on many others.
  • Unlimited public transport: Enjoy free travel on buses, trams, and metros operated by GVB, the city’s public transport provider.
  • Free canal cruise: Admire Amsterdam’s iconic waterways from a unique perspective thanks to a complimentary canal cruise. Alternatively, enjoy a free canal cruise in Haarlem or Volendam, and Marken.
  • Free bicycle rental: Explore the city like a local thanks to a full day’s free bicycle rental. Or rent a bike in Volendam to explore the Dutch countryside with its meadows, lakes, and windmills.
  • Additional discounts & freebies: Get discounts on various activities, tours, restaurants, and shops throughout the city, and beyond, e.g. discounts on tours to Keukenhof flower gardens and tickets for music and stage performances at renowned venues such as Bimhuis, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, and Nationale Opera & Ballet. There are also freebies, like a shot of jenever at the city’s oldest tasting house, De Drie Fleschjes (Gravenstraat,18).
People take a boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam
Enjoy a complementary canal cruise with your I amsterdam City Card.

Should I buy an I amsterdam City Card?

While the offering certainly seems tempting, what are the benefits and potential drawbacks of purchasing an I amsterdam City Card?

Castle Muiderslot on a cloudy day.
Which of these attractions do you think make purchasing the city pass worth it? Photo credit: Jean Carlo Emer

What are the city pass pros?

  • Savings on admission fees: For avid museum-goers, the I amsterdam City Card can offer significant savings. Entry fees to Amsterdam’s top attractions can add up quickly, and the card eliminates these costs. If you plan on visiting at least three museums or attractions during your stay, the 24-hour card will have paid for itself.
  • Convenience: With unlimited access to public transportation and access to a free bike for 24 hours, you can hop from one attraction to another seamlessly, maximizing your time in the city.
  • Exploration opportunities: The card encourages exploration by offering entry to lesser-known museums and attractions that you may not have considered otherwise.
  • Discounts and perks: Beyond free admissions, the card provides discounts on various experiences and tours, as well as discounts in restaurants, music, and stage venues and the I amsterdam Store, enhancing the overall value proposition.
  • Free I amsterdam City Card app: Card holders can download a free app, which provides recommendations tailored to your personal preferences, and allows you to save your favorite locations on a convenient map. Additionally, it helps you find venues that offer free entry and exclusive discounts or require you to book a timeslot for your visit.
People riding around on bikes in Amsterdam.
Imagine all the fun you’ll have exploring the city by bike. Photo credit: Gül Işık

What are the city pass cons?

  • High initial cost: While the card promises savings over time, the upfront cost might deter budget-conscious travelers, especially those planning shorter stays or with limited interest in museums. However, the longer you stay, the cheaper the card becomes per day.
  • Limited validity period: The card’s validity is restricted to consecutive hours, meaning visitors must plan their itineraries carefully to make the most of it. However, because the card is not restricted to calendar days, and only starts the countdown once activated, it means you can still get a lot out of it. If you activate a 24-hour card at 12:00 on a Saturday it’s valid until 12:00 on Sunday, allowing you time to visit multiple museums and sights in the afternoon and the following morning.
  • Not all-inclusive: While the card covers many popular attractions, some notable sites like the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House are not included, potentially leading to additional expenses if you have your heart set on visiting one of these. Regional travel is also not included.
  • No jumping lines: While the card grants access to many museums and attractions, you’ll still have to wait in line with everyone else to show your card.
people waiting in line
Remember, your card doesn’t grant you skip-the-line access. Photo credit: Lars Plougmann

Our verdict

Ultimately, whether the I amsterdam City Card is worth it depends on your preferences, interests, and travel plans. If you are intent on immersing yourself in Amsterdam’s cultural offerings, visiting multiple museums, and using public transport extensively, the card can undoubtedly provide substantial savings and convenience.

However, if you have limited time, specific interests outside the included attractions, or a tighter budget, you might find the card less appealing. In such cases, alternative options like purchasing individual museum tickets or utilizing pay-as-you-go transport passes could offer better value. 

Before making a decision, you should assess your itinerary, calculate potential savings, and consider how the card aligns with your priorities for exploring Amsterdam. With thoughtful planning, the I amsterdam City Card can be a valuable tool for unlocking the city’s treasures without breaking the bank, especially for longer stays.

People at the Van Gogh museum looking at a painting.
The Van Gogh museum might not be included with the city pass, but you can join us instead. Photo credit: Ståle Grut

Head to the home of everyone’s favorite earless genius with the Van Gogh Closing Time Museum Tour. Because the museum is not as packed as it is earlier during the day, this is the perfect time to get up close and personal with some sunflowers and potato eaters.

Photo of author
About the author

Originally from South Africa, Karin Engelbrecht has spent the last 28 years living in Amsterdam. With her extensive knowledge of the best local eateries, attractions and shopping destinations across the seven boroughs, Karin is the go-to gal for all things Mokum (an affectionate local nickname for the city). As a food and lifestyle writer, you’ll find her work in magazines, travel guide books and websites by publishers such as Time Out, I Amsterdam and Fodor’s Travel. Or follow her on Instagram and Facebook, where she regularly shares her latest discoveries as @mokumista.

More by Karin Engelbrecht

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