Many river cruise lines stop in the port of Amsterdam, Netherlands, which also functions as a major turnaround port. As such, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending a few days here pre-or post-cruise. And that’s a good thing: Amsterdam offers no shortage of amazing sights and attractions that you can take in.
One attraction that is on the minds of many is the Anne Frank House. This is where 15-year old Anne Frank hid, along with her family, in a secret annexe until being discovered by the Nazi’s in 1944. Sadly, Frank died in 1945 at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just weeks before it was liberated.
Her story is one of the most well-known, thanks to her private diary that was published posthumously by her father – the only member of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. And, every year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam to see the secret annexe where Frank and her family were secreted between 1942 and 1944.
However, seeing this moving and deeply humbling attraction requires some careful planning – particularly since the museum just instituted a new admissions policy.
As of May 1, 2016, the museum is open between 9AM and 3:30PM only to visitors holding pre-purchased online tickets. Those who don’t have tickets in-hand are invited to visit the museum between 3:30 and 10PM and purchase an admissions ticket at the museum office.
There’s just one issue with that: the line for “day-of” tickets is massive, routinely snaking around the block and up the narrow, canal-lined streets of the city. This is no different than in years past: on one trip in mid-December, I queued for over an hour in the cold without really making any progress, and abandoned my quest.
If you’re planning to visit the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, here’s a few recommendations to consider:
- Pre-Pruchase a Ticket. Tickets are made available on the Anne Frank House Website up to two months in advance, and can be purchased for a specific timeslot ONLY. That means you have to configure your day around this single event. Miss your timeslot? You’ll have to queue back up with half the city at 3:30 PM. Admission is €14.
- Tickets are non-refundable, and nonchangeable. As we alluded to above, this means if you miss your timeslot for whatever reason, your tickets are worthless. If you’re scheduled to arrive in the city by plane or river cruise, make your visit for a few hours afterwards. Cutting things too close isn’t a wise idea.
- Book As Early As Possible. Today is August 3, 2016 – and the first date from today with available tickets is August 13, 2016 – a full ten days away. And even then, the available times aren’t exactly desirable, unless you really want to see the museum at eight o’clock at night…
- Do You Have Mobility Problems Or Suffer From Claustrophobia? You might want to pass. On our visit a few years back – in the off-season, we might add – we were packed in so tightly that there was absolutely no option to turn around and leave the tour early. Instead, you shuffle along with everyone else. Things can get very cramped, and several very steep staircases and narrow passageways have to be negotiated. If you have any sort of mobility problem, this is not the museum for you. While the gift shop and the café can be accessed by wheelchair users, the Secret Annexe and the better part of the house itself cannot.
- Photography Isn’t Allowed. Be respectful and don’t take photographs – even with your iPhone.
- Don’t Bring Your Backpack. Oversized backpacks are not allowed, and there is no on-site cloak room.
- If You Do Buy Tickets On The Day Of Your Visit, Try Going Later. The later you queue up in the evening, the better the line seems to be. Of course, doing this is a gamble: there’s no guarantee you’ll actually get in.
Planned properly, the Anne Frank House is one of Amsterdam’s most moving and important museums. But if you hop off your river cruise ship expecting to waltz right in as you can do with many of the city’s other attractions, you’ll be in for a major disappointment.