1) Plan and pre-book
It’s great to wander around Amsterdam and enjoy whatever is in front of you. But if you have the luxury of pre-booking tickets for museums and attractions, the biggest benefit is showing up when it suits you and avoiding the lines at the ticket booths (just be careful to follow the signs to the correct door). The I amsterdam City Card offers free entrance to many major museums and also enables you to reserve a timeslot for some of the most popular including the Van Gogh Museum and the Hermitage Amsterdam.
2) Time is on your side
Keep in mind that many museums in Amsterdam don't just stick to the nine-to-five routine! The Van Gogh Museum is open every Friday evening until 21:00. Why not arrive book your timeslot around 17:00 on a Friday? The museum is quieter as crowds disperse for dinner, allowing more personal and precious moments to enjoy the artworks.
Once you’ve toured the art, grab some food from the restaurant and then enjoy the special Friday Night programming, including performances and DJs. Likewise, the Stedelijk Museum is open till 21:00 on Fridays, and photography museum Foam is open till 21:00 on Thursdays and Fridays. Always check the websites of your fave museums for extra opening hours and special events.
3) Make the most of the Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum (free with the I amsterdam City Card) reopened its main building in 2013 after lengthy refurbishment and the crowds are still flocking to check it out! The museum notes that April, May and August are the busiest months and that Friday, Saturday and Sunday are by far the most popular days. As such, waiting times can be around 30 minutes. But if you’d really like a bit more space to enjoy the museum, their advice is to either arrive in time for opening (9:00) or at the end of the afternoon (after 15:00).
Unfortunately you can't see the entire collection in a day let alone in two hours, but if you live in the Netherlands consider a Museumkaart so you can visit as often and whenever you like. And if the crowds do get too much for you, the beautiful Rijksmuseum garden is an ideal spot to chill out.
4) Experience Anne Frank's world
The story of Anne Frank is shared all over the world so there’s always great demand to experience the famous canal-side property where the young girl was hidden during wartime. Throughout the year it’s common to see queues stretching around the block, often with waiting times of 45 minutes (up to 2 hours at peak times). The advice from the Anne Frank House is to purchase your ticket in advance but there is only a limited number available each day – so consider booking your e-ticket at least two months before your visit, or as soon as you sort your travel arrangements. If e-tickets are not available, you can join the queue on your day of choice, however from 9:00 to 15:30pm the museum is only be open to visitors with an online ticket for a particular timeslot. If you don't have a pre-purchased ticket, you'll need to wait until after 15.30pm to buy a ticket at the museum entrance.
It’s also well worth stopping by for an evening visit – from April until August the museum is open until 22:00; in November through to March it is open until 19:00 (21:00 on Saturdays). Of course, even if you do have to queue, the view of the neighbouring Westerkerk and Prinsengracht are equally a part of the Anne Frank experience.
5) See the city by bike
Taking to two wheels and having the city pass you by feels especially ‘Amsterdam’. But if you’re not a frequent cyclist and don’t know your way, the crowded streets and hustle and bustle around hotspots like Dam Square and Leidseplein can feel intimidating. Your best bet is to visit one of the city’s specialists in guided bike tours. Not only will you have an expert to ensure you know your bike, you’re guaranteed to see all the best attractions and sights while avoiding dangerous traffic situations.
And if the mere thought of cycling amidst cars and trams sets your pulse racing, check out the variety of countryside tours. Within 20 minutes of the city centre you can be out in the spacious fields and off to windmills, traditional farms and clog makers.