Welcome to Amsterdam cruise port guide!
Known for its beautiful canals, tulips, authentic Dutch architecture, bicycles, and tolerant, friendly locals, the capital of the Netherlands is one of the most visited ports by cruise ships and river cruises in Europe. Amsterdam is a relatively small city easy to get around and most of the main city attractions can be reached on foot. In this insider cruise port guide, read about:
- Amsterdam cruise port (Amsterdam cruise terminal, getting around, helpful links)
- 10 best things to do in Amsterdam port including Amsterdam shore excursions to Zaanse Schans, Keukenhof Gardens and Delft.
Amsterdam Cruise Port
Port Amsterdam has two cruise terminals: Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, located near the city center, and Felison Cruise Terminal located in the town of IJmuiden approximately 30 km (18.6 miles) from Amsterdam.
Passenger Terminal Amsterdam
Most of the cruise ships dock at Passenger Terminal Amsterdam (PTA), conveniently located in the city center within walking distance from the central station and city attractions. Housed in a modern, wave-like glass building, PTA has 2 berths that can accommodate ships up to 630 m combined length. Inside this modern building, cruise passengers will find a reception hall, a tourist information center, a cafe, shops, and free wifi internet.
Amsterdam is also a popular homeport (passengers embark and disembark in Amsterdam) for several cruise lines and there is a locker rental facility in the terminal. You can rent lockers to store your luggage for 24 hours and the prices start at 4.95€ per item. You can also rent segways, bikes, or book boat and sightseeing tours in the terminal. There is large underground parking available for a fee as well.
Helpful info & links:
- Passenger Terminal Amsterdam is located approximately 2.2 km (1.3 miles) from the city center (a 30-minute walk) and main city highlights. To get to the center, you need to follow the road to Amsterdam Central Station along Piet Heinkade Street located in front of the terminal building (you’ll see the street upon exiting the terminal, turn right and you’ll reach the station). The walk to the central station takes about 20 minutes. When you reach Central Station, the city center will be on your left-hand side.
- If you don’t want to walk, a tram station is just across the street. The tram station’s name is Muziekgebouw Bimhuis and here you need to catch a GVB tram 26 and get off at the next station which is the Central Station. A 1-hour ticket costs 3.40€, but you can also buy a travel daily ticket that costs 18€ and includes unlimited rides. Only cards are accepted, no cash, and you buy the tickets on the tram. You can also take a taxi to the Central Station (expect to pay around 10€ per taxi for a 5-minute ride), or Uber.
- Public transport in Amsterdam is operated by Gemeente Vervoerbedrijf Amsterdam (GVB) and you can check the timetables and prices at the official webpage https://www.gvb.nl/
- At Central Station, you can rent bicycles, book canal and sightseeing tours, get a Hop on Hop off bus, or catch a connecting train to one of the nearby cities.
- Check out Amsterdam Hop on Hop off sightseeing bus tours on Viator and Get Your Guide
- Schiphol Amsterdam Airport is located 26 km/16 miles (a 30-minute drive) southwest of Amsterdam Passenger Terminal. The trains from Central Station run frequently and the journey takes around 20 minutes. The ticket price starts at 4.90€. If you are staying at a hotel, ask at the reception if there are shuttles to the airport because most of the hotels in Amsterdam provide shuttle transport to the Schiphol airport for an additional fee.
- The currency in the Netherlands is EURO (€). ATMs and currency exchange are available in the town. Local currency and credit cards are widely accepted. See the currency converter
- Amsterdam has an oceanic climate, with long, windy and cold winters and warm, pleasant summers. For useful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise in 2023 – Top 60 Cruise Essentials
- Book a private transfer to/from Amsterdam cruise port
- Check out Amsterdam rent-a-car deals
- Explore Amsterdam tours and activities
- Find accommodation in Amsterdam
- Get an e-sim card to have access to the Internet at all times!
- Search the best Western Europe cruise deals!
IJmuiden Cruise Terminal
Due to the implementation of Tourist Tax for transit passengers since January 2018, several cruise lines including MSC, Cruise Maritime Voyages, Costa Cruises, Aida Cruises, some Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, and Cunard dock at IJmuiden cruise terminal, located a 40-minute drive from Amsterdam. IJmuiden is a small town located at the North Sea Canal’s entrance and one of the main gateways to Amsterdam, Haarlem, Delft, Hague, Zaandam, Rotterdam, and other popular travel destinations in Holland. It is located approximately 45 km/28 miles (a 45-minute drive) northwest of Amsterdam.
It consists of two cruise terminals: Felison Terminal, an old ferry terminal (providing daily ferries to Newcastle-upon-Tyne/North Shields in the United Kingdom) that sometimes accommodates small cruise ships, and a new Felison Cruise Terminal.
Cruise ships dock at Felison Cruise Terminal which has two open water berths (Monnickendamkade and Volendamkade) suitable to accommodate mid-sized and large cruise vessels up to 295 m long (each). It is a relatively small terminal featuring a cafe, a tourist information desk, toilets, a souvenir stand (when ships are in port), a nice balcony with a smoking area and a beautiful view of the harbor, and a lift for disabled passengers. There is parking next to the terminal, and water taxis, boats, and buses are easily accessible.
IJmuiden cruise terminal helpful info & getting to Amsterdam:
- Booking a shore excursion is definitely the best option to get to Amsterdam as you will be able to get the most out of your day without worrying whether you’ll miss your ship.
- Alternatively, there is a bus stop 200 m away from the cruise terminal (Badweg bus stop) where you can get a bus to Amsterdam (the R-Net bus line 382 that departs from IJmuiden aan Zee to Amsterdam Station Sloterdijk and vice versa). The journey takes around 50 minutes and once you arrive at Station Sloterdijk bus/tram station, you will need to walk 5 minutes to Amsterdam Sloterdijk train station where you will take a train to Amsterdam Central Station. The trains run every 7 minutes and the ride takes only 6 minutes. The entire journey takes about 1 hour and will cost you around 8.35€. You can only pay by card (you cannot pay in cash on public transport). Check the prices and timetables on www.9292.nl/en
- Taxis in the Netherlands are metered and you can get them at the terminal. However, they are quite expensive and expect to pay around 100€ per taxi one-way. They accept both cash and credit cards.
- Schiphol Amsterdam Airport is located 33 km/20 miles (a 30-minute drive) southeast of Felison Cruise Terminal and there is no direct connection between them. The best way is to take a taxi/book a private transfer, or take a train to the airport from Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station.
- In case you decide to stay in IJmuiden town, keep in mind that the distance to the town center is around 3 km/1.9 miles. Some of the main landmarks include IJmuiderstrand – a long public beach; Bunker Museum where you can learn about how IJmuiden was part of the notorious German “Atlantik Wall” during World War II; IJmuider Zee-en Havenmuseum – a small Maritime Museum located 30 minutes walk from the terminal; ‘Ijmuiden aan Zee’ Boulevard with several hotels, restaurants, cafes, and stores. This place has a large parking and overlooks a beautiful seaport marina. The surrounding area is green and hiking and biking are also popular activities. You will find several bike rentals around the port.
- Book a private transfer to/from Amsterdam
- Check out Ijmuiden rent-a-car deals
10 Best Things to Do in Amsterdam Cruise Port
1. Anne Frank House
Located in the center of Amsterdam, Anne Frank House is one of the most visited sites welcoming more than a million visitors every year. In this house, Anne, her family, and four other people used to hide for 761 days during the Nazi persecution during World War II. Unfortunately, in 1944 all eight of them were captured and sent to the concentration camp. The only survivor, Mr. Otto Frank returned and decided to fulfill Anne’s dream of being a writer by publishing Anne Frank’s Diary, a book that has been translated into more than 70 languages. The museum features personal objects of the people that hid in the house annex, including Anne’s diary.
Anne Frank House is located a 20-minute walk from Central Station. Alternatively, you can take a tram 13 or 17 to Westermarkt stop. Due to the popularity of this site and limited capacity, you should consider to pre-purchase your tickets online.
The ticket prices for adults are 16€, children 10- 17 years old 7€, and children 0-9 years old 1€. Unfortunately, the Anne Frank House annex doesn’t have an elevator or ramps. Guests with mobility challenges can access the modern part of the museum, the café, and the shop. Find updated information at https://www.annefrank.org/
Visit the only Museum with a road inside of it but not for cars, only for bicycles. The Rijksmuseum features almost one million objects but only 8000 pieces of artwork are displayed including several of Rembrandt’s portraits and his famous “Night Watch”. The second floor houses the largest library in the Netherlands.
It is strongly recommended to purchase your tickets in advance as you will need to select a time for your visit. The adult price is 22.50€ and free for children 18 years and under. To get there, take a tram 2 or 5 from Central Station and get off at Hobbemastraat stop. Guests with mobility challenges are welcome as the museum is wheelchair-friendly. Find more information at https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/
3. Van Gogh Museum
Another must-stop during your visit to Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum where you can discover the life and the largest artwork collection of the famous Vincent Van Gogh. The Dutch impressionist painter suffered from mental illness since his early years and remained poor throughout his life, becoming famous one century after his death.
The entrance fee is 20€ for adults and it’s free for children under 18. To get there, take trams 2, 5 or 12 from Central Station and get off at Van Baerlestraat station. After a few minutes’ walk, you’ll reach the museum. Guests with mobility challenges are welcome as the museum is wheelchair accessible. Visitors in a wheelchair that requires assistance can bring one companion free of charge. Visit the official webpage for more information https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/
4. Royal Palace
Dominating Dam Square in the heart of Amsterdam, the Royal Palace is one of the three palaces in the Netherlands. This imposing palace was originally built as the City Hall back in the 17th century and then became the seat of the Royal family. When there is no official event, the Palace is open to the public and you can take a tour of the magnificent interior, see original furniture and learn about the rich history with a certified guide.
If your time in port is running short, it is worth admiring the palace’s stunning architecture from the exterior. The entrance fee is 12.50€ for adults and it’s free for children under 17. The Royal Palace is located only a 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Central Station. You can also take tram 2, however, I strongly suggest you enjoy a nice stroll through Damrak Avenue full of stores, cafes and souvenir shops. Check out updated information at https://www.paleisamsterdam.nl/
5. Red Light District
This famous neighborhood is located in the center of Amsterdam and houses the world’s oldest profession. Dating back to the 16th century, this district was the favorite area for sailors arriving from around the world due to its proximity to the harbor. Even though all the action takes place during the night, Red Light District is still a very popular tourist destination during the day. The best way to explore it is by foot or bicycle due to its narrow alleys. Here you can find selected museums, small cafes, souvenir shops and of course the famous ¨coffee shops¨ and red light window shops.
6. The Heineken Experience
If you are a beer lover, this tour is the perfect pick for you! Discover the history behind this famous beer on an interactive, self-guided 90-minute tour through the old brewery and enjoy a refreshing tasting at the end! The entrance fee is 21€ (two drinks are included). To get to the Heineken Brewery, take tram 24 at Central Station and get off at the Stadhouderskade stop. Guests with mobility challenges are welcome as the museum is wheelchair-friendly. Get more information at https://www.heinekenexperience.com/
7. Take a Canal Cruise
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without taking a boat trip through the famous and colorful canals listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Experience Amsterdam from the water, see many of the main city landmarks, admire the 17th-century architecture, and learn about Dutch culture and history!
To book a canal tour, you can make your way to Central Station and you will find a variety of tour options there or you can schedule your trip directly with your cruise ship or with an independent tour operator. These tours last approximately an hour so you still have plenty of time to explore or visit other attractions in Amsterdam.
8. Zaanse Schans Windmills
Take a trip to the most popular attraction located in the north of Amsterdam approximately 18 km/11 miles (a 25-minute drive) from the cruise port. In Zaanse Schans village, you can see original windmills from the 17th and 18th centuries, some still operating to this day. Visit one of the museums located in this village, such as the Wooden Shoe Workshop, Bakery Museum, and enjoy some cheese tasting!
There is no entrance fee to Zaanse Schans village but there is a 4€ fee to visit each Windmill or 14.50€ for Zaans Museum; however, you can purchase a Zaanse Schans Card for 29.50€ for adults and 20€ for children aged 4 – 17. This card will give you access to all windmills, museums, and much more! Visit https://www.dezaanseschans.nl/ and https://zaansmuseum.nl/ for more information.
To get to Zaanse Schans, you can take the R-net bus line 391 from Amsterdam Central Station. Buses run frequently (every 15 minutes) and the journey takes approximately 45 minutes. You can also take the train from Central Station to Zaandijk – Zaanse Schans station. The trip by train takes 17 minutes. Once you get off at the station, you need to walk 15-minutes to get to the village. Zaanse Schans village is fairly flat for guests with mobility challenges.
9. Keukenhof Gardens
The breathtaking Keukenhof is the world’s largest flower garden and the most visited attraction during the summer, welcoming over a million visitors per year. The Keukenhof gardens feature over 7 million flowers including 800 different types of tulips spread across an area of 32 hectares. Open throughout the year, the best time to see the tulips is from March to May. The admission fee for adults is 21.50€ and 9€ for children 4-17 years old. The prices are cheaper when bought online.
Keukenhof is located in the town of Lisse approximately 35 km/22 miles (a 1-hour drive) from Amsterdam cruise port. From Central Station, you can take a 20-minute train to Haarlem Station and then take bus 50 to the gardens. Get more information at https://keukenhof.nl/
Explore this beautiful medieval town known for its hand-painted blue-and-white pottery, charming canals, and famous for being home to the renowned painter Johannes Vermeer. Delft is located approximately 70 km/44 miles (a 1h 15-minute drive) from Amsterdam port. From Central Station, there is a direct train to Delft and the ride takes approximately 1 hour. Due to the distance from the port, it’s advisable to visit Delft on a guided tour from Amsterdam.
Known as the cycling capital of the world, Amsterdam truly deserves your attention! Make sure you plan your day ahead to maximize your day in this wonderful port of call!
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