Since reading the Diary of Anne Frank when I was at school, I had always wanted to visit Amsterdam and see Anne Frank House for myself. I always found it strange given the amount of places in the world that I have travelled to that I had never been to the Netherlands but last October, we booked a short break in Amsterdam for my birthday.
Tickets are only available online direct from Anne Frank House and they go on sale exactly two months before you want to visit and they sell out very, very quickly especially at busy times of the year. If the tickets are sold out, there is no other way to visit as you cannot buy them anywhere else. In the past you were also able to queue up after a certain time in the afternoon and wait your turn but when I visited this was not an option and you had to book a tickets for all time slots throughout the day. The lines for this will often reach three hours long in the summer months.
All you need to know is do not wait to buy your tickets. You can see how many tickets are left for each time slot and even when I booked our tickets exactly two months before our visit, times were selling out quickly. Tickets are 9 Euros each and you can either print the e-ticket to bring with you or just show the barcode on the email on your phone when you arrive.
Anne Frank House is located on Prinsengracht next to Westerkerk and from our hotel next to Amsterdam Centraal, it took about twenty minutes to walk there. You can also take Trams 13/14/17 and Buses 170/172/174 and get off at the Westermarkt stop. There is also a statue of Anne Frank next to Westerkerk.
Even before you reach Anne Frank House, you will see a crowd of people either waiting for their time slot to go in or hanging around outside unable to visit as they did not book their tickets in advance – we even saw people being offered money by others for their tickets! I also found it incredibly distasteful that one of those horrific City Sightseeing tourist offices was right by Anne Frank House with its bright signs and banners – it just did not look right.
Our tickets were for the 12:00-12:15pm time slot and we arrived a few minutes early. We had to show our tickets before we could enter the line to get inside the house. We probably waited about ten minutes in this line before our tickets were scanned at the door and we were given a little handset for our audio tour. Before your visit, it is also important to know that no photography of any kind is allowed inside Anne Frank House and no large bags are allowed either.
Given that Anne Frank House is always sold out, I had been expecting it to be very busy inside and that we would be shuffling along in a long line all the way through. I could not have been more wrong as there were so few people inside each room and it was not crowded in the slightest. You can walk through the house at your own pace and to listen to the stories in each room, you hold the handset you were given up to a number on the wall to start the audio.
After walking through the Warehouse, Offices and Storeroom, we reached the bookcase that hid the entrance to the Secret Annexe – even when we were in this room, we were the only people there. It was incredible to think that eight people lived in fear of being discovered in this small space for over two years. The next area we walked into told the story of the discovery of the Secret Annexe and the arrest and deportation of the eight people in hiding to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Now the one thing you need to know is only a few weeks beforehand, we had visited Auschwitz when we spent a few days in Krakow. I had left Auschwitz feeling nothing and not like what people had told me I would feel and because of this, I had felt like there was something wrong with me. However in this room as I was reading one of the displays, I reached the word “Auschwitz” and I broke down crying. Now I’m not talking just a few tears, I was full on ugly crying and I could not stop for about the next fifteen minutes – I even went to hide in one of the toilets for a while as I was crying so much. Obviously that visit to Auschwitz had affected me a lot more than I thought it had.
There was a small shop just before leaving the house where one of the only things that you could buy was a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary in different languages. It would have been horrible to see anything else for sale there.
So if you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, you must visit Anne Frank House. It is interesting and heartbreaking and is again one of those places that you owe it to yourself to visit. Just make sure you book your tickets in advance!
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