Take a short trip out of Amsterdam city centre and you’ll be rewarded tenfold – whether it’s admiring a vista of magnificent windmills, exploring Golden Age art or shopping in Haarlem, cycling through endless fields of colourful flowers or discovering Dutch traditions. And there’s no better way to do all this – and save money – than by buying an I amsterdam City Card, which allows you to visit as many attractions as you want so you can truly experience Amsterdam and the surrounding area. Simply order your card online and pick it up when you arrive in the Netherlands.
Here’s our selection of 10 unmissable highlights in the Amsterdam Area you can access with your City Card:
Natural history galore
More than 200 years of art, science and natural history are housed in Haarlem’s impressive Teylers Museum. Established in 1778, the museum’s extensive collection includes paintings (many of which are from the Hague School and by the Dutch Romantics), drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, fossils, minerals, medals, coins, scientific instruments and books. When you visit don’t miss the monumental Oval Room, a stately neoclassical building with a library, observatory, and even a laboratory which showcases experiments to the public. And to make it even better, you get in free with your I amsterdam City Card.
Teylers Museum, Spaarne 16, Haarlem
Explore Golden Age art at the Frans Hals Museum
Haarlem’s Frans Hals Museum boasts an array of amazing Golden Age paintings, as well as the world’s largest collection of portraiture by the eponymous painter. Frans Hals is undoubtedly Haarlem’s celebrated golden boy, the city’s most famous Golden Age painter. As well as its selection of his incredible work, the museum’s extensive collection covers the entire spectrum of 16th and 17th century art, as well as furniture, ceramics, glass, and silver crafted during a time when the Netherlands was the cultural capital of the world. Access the museum for free with your I amsterdam City Card.
Frans Hals Museum, Groot Heiligland 62, Haarlem
Windmills, windmills, windmills
There’s no better place to see one of the most famous symbols of traditional Holland up close than at the Zaanse Schans open-air museum. Located in the heart of the Zaan region, the 250-year-old park offers visitors the chance to journey back into the country’s industrial past and admire several still working windmills that helped produce a whole range of products, including linseed oil, paint, mustard and paper. The area has been brought back to life and offers visitors a chance to explore a preserved village of historic Dutch houses, warehouses, workshops, and even a cheese factory. Your City Card offers free entry to all of Zaanse Schans’ museums and windmills, and you even get discounts at the local restaurant.
Prepare for battle
Located in the fortified town of Muiden, the beautiful medieval Amsterdam Castle Muiderslot is a castle in the truest sense, with drawbridges, towers, moats and battlements. The 700-year-old fortress has been home to many famous residents, but its most important role was as part of the UNESCO-listed Defence Line of Amsterdam, keeping foreign invaders at bay. Offering beautiful gardens, walking and guided tours, a falconry and kids’ treasure hunts, this magical fortress has something to offer visitors of all ages. And if you’re there why not take the short journey over to the Netherlands Fortress Museum (Vestingmuseum) in Naarden, one of the best preserved fortified towns in Europe. I amsterdam City Card holders get in for free at both locations.
Cruise the Zuiderzee
A boat cruise between the historic Dutch towns of Volendam and Marken, the Rederij Volendam-Marken Express ferry service has been transporting both tourists and locals for more than 80 years. After you board the service you can sit back, relax and learn about the folklore of the old fishing village of Volendam and the traditional Dutch town of Marken. And if you’re hungry, make sure to sample one of the delicious slices of Dutch pie that are served onboard during the 45-minute trip across the Zuiderzee. With unique insights into the history of the Zuiderzee, the cruise is much more than just a form a transport. Boats depart every hour from the towns’ ports, and the shuttle is free with the I amsterdam City Card.
Sightsee by bike
An ideal starting point for a day out on two wheels, visit Rent a Bike Haarlem with your City Card for a 25% discount on bike rental and to get a free map of the area. With plenty of sightseeing, shopping and eating opportunities, and a relatively quiet atmosphere, the city’s cobbled lanes and winding alleyways are best explored by bike. And if you want to stretch your legs, why not head out into the surrounding seaside areas of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal. These popular beach destinations, known for their clean sandy beaches and trendy beach bars and clubs, are accessed by pedalling through the vast dunes of the National Park Zuid-Kennemerland – home to hundreds of different species of wildlife, from birds, red deer and rabbits to roe deer and larger grazers.
Explore the isle of Amsterdam
Round up the family and hop on a ferry to discover Fort Pampus, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 19th century as part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, the island fort sits on a man-made island in the middle of IJmeer. The fort was built in 1887 and armed with large-calibre guns and a permanent garrison of 200 men – but never saw any action. With historical artefacts to discover all over the island, audio tours and an extensive events calendar, the island makes for a fascinating day trip. Departures from Amsterdam or Muiden run daily every half hour and holders of the I amsterdam City Card receive 25% discount off the entrance fee.
Find out the secret of ships in bottles
If the craft of putting tiny ship models in bottles has you both fascinated and puzzled, then you can’t miss the enchanting Flessenscheepjesmuseum (Ship in a Bottle Museum). Located in the harbour town of Enkhuizen, this museum boasts the world’s most comprehensive collection of ships in bottles, with some dating back more than 750 years. Visitors can marvel at more than 1,000 exhibits, including those miniature boats and artefacts and unearthed treasures from early maritime history and the days of the Dutch East India Company. Rescue boats, whaling ships, steamships and modern dredgers have all been meticulously placed into bottles of every shape and size. Learn trade secrets and ask the ship-in-a-bottle builders everything you’ve ever wanted to know about this unique art. I amsterdam City Card holders get 25% off entry to the museum.
Flessenscheepiesmusuem, Zuiderspui 1, Enkhuizen
Learn about wooden clogs
See makers of the traditional Dutch shoe at work in the Wooden Shoe Workshop ‘De Zaanse Schans’. Aiming to preserve the Dutch craft of clog making for future generations, shoemakers at the free clog-making demonstrations use the 19th century techniques and machinery. You can also learn about the history of the national footwear at the nearby museum, which hosts the Netherlands’ largest wooden shoe inventory, including bridal clogs, roller-skate clogs and clogs from around the world. Holders of the I amsterdam City Card will receive a 25% discount on all wooden shoes – available in all shapes and sizes – at the souvenir shop.
Wooden Shoe Workshop ‘De Zaanse Schans’, Kraaienest 4, Zaandam
Get a glimpse into traditional Dutch life
Located in the small fishing town of Volendam, the Volendams Museum depicts daily life in old Volendam from 1800 to present day. With a unique selection of paintings, sculptures, pottery, life-size dioramas and traditional costumes, the museum offers visitors a glimpse into the rich history and folklore of the Volendam area. Its collection includes works by celebrated Dutch artists – including Henricus Rol and Edwin Austrin Abbey – as well as more unusual items, such as a scale model of the Volendam shipyard and extracts from local resident’s journals. One of the museum's main attractions is a series of large mosaics comprised of more than 11 million cigar bands created in 1947 by a retired monk from the area. Get free entry with your I amsterdam City Card to what is easily one of the Netherlands' most unconventional, and interesting, museums.
Volendams Museum, Zeestraat 41, Volendam