An Ideal Weekend In Amsterdam With The Holland Pass
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First, How Does The Pass Work?
The Holland Pass is a travel discount card that provides either free of discounted access to tourist activities in cities throughout the Netherlands. A typical Holland Pass is broken into three parts: gold and silver tickets, a discount card and a printed guidebook.
1) Gold And Silver Tickets:
The gold and silver tickets are what provide the free admissions; the type of pass you choose determines how many of them you get. Small passes come with 1 Gold & 2 Silver, Medium passes 2 Gold & 2 Silver, and Large Passes 3 Gold & 3 Silver.
An activity's popularity determines whether it's gold or silver. Please view/download the Holland Pass leaflet for an overview on what tours and attractions you can get for your tickets. Popular choices for those visiting Amsterdam include the Rijksmuseum, the classic 1-hour canal cruise and the Heineken Experience.
2) Discount Card:
Where freebies aren't available (or if you've used all your tickets) the scannable discount card comes into play. This key component of the Holland Pass can be swiped at selected meeting points, attraction entrances and checkouts for 10-50% discounts. Specific percentages are listed in the leaflet download above.
When you go to collect your Holland Pass at one of the seven pick-up locations you'll also be handed a printed guidebook. This includes a list of all the available discounts and detailed descriptions of each. Fold-out city maps can be found within and the aforementioned free entry tickets will be tucked away inside.
Amsterdam Holland Pass | Weekend Itinerary Idea:
What follows is a basic itinerary based around the Large Holland Pass' most popular gold and silver tickets. You're by no means limited to our recommendations, and if the list below isn't long enough then the discount card can provide cheap access to many more activities.
Amsterdam Guided City Tour:
This 2 and a half hour coach trip departs every day at 09:00 from outside the Tours and Tickets office on Damrak street. Certainly if you're a first-time visitor or just need reacquainted with the city, this excursion will provide an essential overview. Admission to the diamond museum is included, along with a live English-speaking guide.
Ride the coach back Damrak at the end of your tour and head across to the next venue for a spot of lunch. Along the way you'll pass the National Monument and Royal Palace.
Lunch At Ramen-Ya:
This tidy little Japanese noodle bar is located on Oudezijds Voorburgwal next to the canal. Their dishes are prepared in the Hakata style, which we're informed consists of a hearty broth and thin noodles. Their menu also features a range of side dishes, drinks and desserts. Show your Holland Pass while requesting the bill for a 10% discount.
1-Hour Canal Cruise:
After lunch, wander up to the Lovers Company piers at Prins Hendrikkade 25 for a classic 1-hour canal cruise. Here you'll see the city from an opposing perspective, all while listening to a GPS audio guide. During the tour circuit you'll likely spot the next location on your Holland Pass itinerary.
The most visited museum in the Netherlands can be accessed fast-track and free of charge with a Holland Pass gold ticket. Going there now as opposed to midday puts you on the downward slope of the 10:00 to 15:00 rush. It may still be busy during summer months, but either way you'll avoid the ticket queue and the crowds around the artworks will be thinning as opposed to thickening.
Dinner at Haesje Claes:
However long you choose to spend at the Rijksmuseum top off the first day with a meal at Haesje Claes. Centrally located on Spuistraat, this traditional eatery offers brilliant Dutch cuisine in cosy wood-panelled surroundings. Signature dishes include slow-cooked braised beef with mashed potatoes and apple compote, and 'Hutspot-Hodgepodge', a home delicacy featuring various kinds of meat.
One of Haesje Claes' dining rooms | Credit: Restaurant Haesje Claes.
Much like its neighbour across the channel, a complete account of Dutch history is impossible without looking at the country's maritime heritage. The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam offers key elements of this and more across an award-winning exhibition and museum ship. Entry is free with a Holland Pass, and that includes a 60-minute highlights audio guide. See the Royal Barge of King Willem I, find out what drove the Dutch Golden Age, and explore a full-sized East Indiaman ship.
Lunch At Wagamama:
This well-known Japanese chain restaurant has three eateries in central Amsterdam, and the one on Amstelstraat lies right between Het Scheepvaartmuseum and our next suggestion. Pop in if you're feeling peckish and get 25% off the bill with a Holland Pass.
The Heineken Experience:
Let the final golden ticket on your pass give you access to the renowned Heineken Experience. Housed within the Dutch lager giant's original brewery on Stadhouderskade, this modern attraction tells the story of the brand from inception to the present day. It's a self-guided tour that incorporates all of the building's original facilities as well as multimedia spaces, fun bar games and the all-important tasting room.
Body Worlds: The Happiness Project:
Back up on Damrak Street, don't miss this famous anatomy exhibition. Since it first opened in 2013, 'The Happiness Project' has become a stand-out name amongst the myriad of museums dotting central Amsterdam. Visitors are met with over 200 real anatomical specimens preserved and set into poses through the process of plastination. The exhibit is meant as a reflection on how happiness affects our physical well-being.
Dinner At Restaurant Toro Dorado:
Not too far from Body Worlds is Toro Dorado, a Spanish-themed steakhouse open every night from 16:00 to 00:00. As the name suggests, it specialises in quality beef dishes from standard Black Label Argentinian to €100+ Japanese Royal Wagyu. Needless to say, the prices go from average to eye-watering, but whatever your budget, you'll get a 10% discount with your Holland Pass.
Quality Steak Ingredients | Credit: Restaurant Toro Dorado.