Amsterdam attracts over 13 million visitors a year to this compact capital city. While its charm and cultural heritage bring visitors to the city, the crowds can be quite overwhelming at times. Here are our top tips for avoiding the crowds and making the most of your next visit. Be sure to use our guide to Amsterdam to plan your next vacation.
Buy Tickets in Advance
Some of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions are beginning to offer advance purchase tickets to help stem the crowds. The Anne Frank Museum is the most popular destination in Amsterdam and for good cause. It is a heart touching experience, but, without advance tickets, you can easily spend two to three house waiting in line for admission. Purchase your tickets up to two months in advance from the Anne Frank House website. Advance tickets are also available for the Rijksmuseum or you may purchase a City Pass to skip the lines at both the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. The City Pass has the added bonus of an included canal cruise and airport train transfer to and from the city center.
Travel in the Off Season
Peak tourist season for Amsterdam occurs a few times per year. The busy summer months of July and August boast beautiful weather but the lack of locals during the August vacation season can affect the authentic feeling of your visit. Winter is less crowded due to colder temperatures although between Christmas and New Year’s the crowds tend to surge again. Finally, spring is a lovely time to visit Amsterdam although April will be quite crowded as the peak of tulip season hits along with Queen’s Day at the end of the month. Avoiding those prime tourist times when planning your visit will go a long way in making your Amsterdam trip less crowded.
Explore Local Favorites
When it comes to parks and markets, most visitor guides will direct tourist to Vondelpark and the busy Albert Cuyp Market. To avoid the crowds, try instead one of the local favorites. Erasmuspark and Rembrandtpark in the West or Oosterpark in the East are lovely options that will give you space to enjoy your surroundings. For markets without the oppressive crowds, try the Dapper Market or Ten Kate Market and enjoy shopping with the locals.
See Tulips Like a Local
If you are in Amsterdam during tulip season, rather than visiting the overwhelmingly crowded and world-famous Keukenhof Gardens, try the Noordoostpolder instead. This area is located just a short car or train ride from the Amsterdam city center. Here you can drive or better yet, rent a bicycle, and explore parts of this 100-kilometer route in the fresh air. This route was named one of the most beautiful road trips in the world by National Geographic Magazine.
Stay in Jordaan
For a room overlooking a canal, a must in Amsterdam, look to the Jordaan neighborhood, located northwest of the Prinsengracht canal. This area was a working-class neighborhood in the 1700s, with less grand homes than other canals such as the Herengracht. Today, the neighborhood houses are home to many unique boutiques and a wide variety of ethnic restaurants. It is centrally located to tram lines for easy access around the city without the tourist crowds. You will also be within an easy walk of the Anne Frank Museum. At night you’ll hear the haunting bells of Westerkerk Church, which are mentioned in Anne Frank’s Diary.
While there is no way to completely avoid the crowds when visiting a city as popular as Amsterdam, these tips will help you enjoy your visit and reduce your time waiting in queues. For even more privacy, avoid crowds at these three undiscovered locales.