If you are planning a trip to Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House is – quite simply – a must. It certainly was to me and it was the most touching, interesting place I visited in the city.
Anne Frank lived in hiding with her family in Amsterdam for two years. During this time, the family spent their daily lives tucked away in a small annex above a factory in the middle of the city.
The house was left in a bad state in the years following the end of World War II, but it was thankfully saved from demolition and a museum was established in the late 1950s.
The main purpose of Anne Frank House is to preserve the place where Anne and the others that hid in the attic lived and the place where she wrote her famous diaries – which I hope you have read (in my case, it is one of the first books I can remember reading!).
Visiting the museum is a poignant and contemplative experience and allows you to get to know the teenager behind the diary, her family, life in the Secret Annex (that’s how the apartment where they lived was called) and get to know more about what life was like for Jewish people during World War II.
Welcoming in over a million visitors every year, the museum is one of the most important places in the city. The scars of the war are still felt keenly in Europe and, rather than shying away from the horrors of war, Anne Frank House puts a human face to the terrible atrocities, working to educate people in order to stop such a terrible period of history from ever being repeated.
Anne’s story is endlessly fascinating. Stepping through the secreted door into the annex, visiting Anne Frank House, the place where she penned her diary and learning about her life is an experience that you will not forget in a hurry.
In this post, I will explain everything you need to know before visiting Anne Frank House and include some useful tips for a smooth experience. Let me however start by telling you a bit more about Anne Frank herself.
Who Was Anne Frank?
Anne Frank was born in 1929 in Germany. Her parents were Otto and Edith Frank. Together, the couple also had Anne’s sister Margot, who was three years older. The family left Germany and moved to Amsterdam in 1933 when Hitler rose to power.
In their new city, the family set out to start a new life. Anne’s Father Otto began new companies which dealt with the sale of canned goods in offices and warehouses alongside the Prinsengracht canal.
In 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Two years later, in 1942, Otto set about arranging a what was to become the family’s famous hidden annex with the help of his colleague Hermann Van Pels. Anne turned 13 the same year and was gifted a red checked-print diary for her birthday.
Life was becoming increasingly difficult for Jewish people in Amsterdam. By July Anne’s mother Edith was called upon by the Nazis.
The Franks then decided to move into their secret hiding place soon after, they were later joined by Hermann Van Pels along with his wife Auguste and their son Peter. The final resident to move into the hiding space was Fritz Pfeffe, a family friend and dentist.
The inhabitants of the Secret Annex lived together during a very uncertain time. Life here was cramped and not easy, the windows were blacked-out and they had to spend their days in silence, afraid of being overheard by the staff working in the offices and warehouse below.
The group were unable to use the bathroom during certain times so as to make sure they wouldn’t give their location away, but they would eat lunch together, at times with their helpers when the other workers went home to lunch.
As a teenager living in confined conditions, unable to go outside and experience the world, life for Anne was very difficult. Thankfully she had her much-loved diary.
The group spent around two years living in the annex and Anne spent her time writing about her life, her mundane days, her hopes and dreams and everyday thoughts in her diary. She hoped to one day become a famous writer.
In August 1944 the family’s worst fears became a reality. The Gestapo turned up at the premises and their hiding place was given away. The family’s belongings were taken by the Nazis and all of the residents of the Secret Annex were deported.
Anne’s life sadly ended at the age of 15 in March 1945 inside the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. She died only a short time before the camp was finally liberated by the allied forces.
Anne’s father Otto was the only survivor among the people living in the Secret Annex, and returned there later to find it empty. The diary was discovered in the annex and Otto published his daughters’ writings, making her the famous writer she wanted to become.
Since it was first published, the diary has solid many millions of copies and has been translated in over 70 languages.
Anne’s story draws over 1.2 million visitors a year to her hiding place, to see the place where the teenager lived in her final years and to get a deeper understanding of what life was like for these people living under the persecution of the Nazis.
What To See When Visiting Anne Frank House
Visiting Anne Frank House is unlike visiting a normal museum. This is a place where visitors are drawn to reflect on the life of Anne and her family.
Visiting means not only learning about Anne’s story but being surrounded by the rooms she lived in allows her tale to come to life. A poignant reminder of the horrors of recent history.
The museum is a subdued place where each of the rooms feel personal and authentic. You are able to get closer to the life of the diarist through a selection of photographs, quotes, videos and other very personal elements such as pencil lines on the wall measuring the family’s height.
Here’s an overview of what you see when you step inside the Anne Frank House.
Taking Anne Frank House photos is not allowed – hence the significant lack of photos of the interiors of the museum in this post. I have inserted the only few photos of the outside area that can be taken and a few generic photos of the surroundings of the house.
Offices and warehouses in the main building
The first part of the house is the main building. This is where the factory, offices, kitchen and warehouses of the business were located. In the daytime, these were busy with workers but by night the family were able to use some of these spaces.
Otto Frank’s office, for instance, was where he would listen to the radio and meet with this other colleagues. Today, the office features displays of personal items and documents.
The Secret Annex
The Secret Annex is where all eight people lived in secret. Tucked away over the kitchen of the office and below the attic, entering the annex feels as though you’re stepping back in time to 1942.
As I have said before, sadly Otto Frank was the only surviving member of the household.
When he returned from Auschwitz in June 1945, he found his old hiding place ransacked and empty. Otto wanted to keep the building as a reminder of the trials and tribulations that his family lived through.
Thankfully the building was saved from demolition and in 1960s the Anne Frank House opened its doors to the public as a museum. It was Otto’s decision to remove all furniture that was at the Secret Annex, so the house somehow feels quite bare. Below is what you will see there.
Landing and bookcase
In this otherwise unassuming hallway landing the famous revolving bookcase hides the entrance the Anne’s secret hideout. Built by Johan Voskuijl, it kept the family concealed until they were tragically discovered.
Through the bookcase is the entrance hallway to the hideout. The room that belonged to the Frank family is to the left of here and the room that was occupied by the Pels is up the stairs. To the right of the hallway is the bathroom.
Frank family living room
Containing a stove and dining table, during the day the living room was where the family spent time together and at nighttime this shared space was made into the bedroom for Otto, Edith, and Margot Frank.
Anne Frank’s room
Anne’s room was her space in the house, but she had to share it with the dentist Fritz Pfeffer.
Sharing a room with a man her father’s age caused some tension and led to arguments, but it was decided she’d not share with her sister Margot as the two were known to argue and this may have caused issues while they were hiding.
Anne decorated her room, just like any other teenager, with of pictures of notable Dutch royals and famous American film stars.
The bathroom is the only room that was left pretty much as it was found. It was shared by the eight inhabitants of the Secret Annex. There was a sink and toilet, and they could only use it during certain times in order to avoid being heard by the workers in the warehouse.
Mr and Mrs Van Pels bedroom
The Pels slept in the room in which the families cooked, ate meals and listened to the radio together. During the evening the room was made into a bedroom.
Peter Van Pels bedroom
The Van Pel’s son Peter slept in a cramped room at the bottom of the stairs that led to the attic. Anne saw Peter as a boring and dull person at first but the two soon became good friends, they even shared their first kiss in Peter’s bedroom.
The annex’s attic was the only room in the house that did not have blacked-out windows. Up here the families would hang out their laundry to dry and keep their food supplies safe.
Anne wrote about spending time in the attic, here she would chat with Peter, look out of the window at the blue sky, the clouds and the tree in front of the building.
Following a visit to the annex you can explore other parts of the house. The front of the house showcases a variety of different items from the family’s time living in the annex.
There’s also a collection of multimedia displays including a newsreel from World War II, an audio recording of Anne’s diary and other personal items. Otto spent much of his time adding to this collection of objects to tell the story of his daughter and the rest of the group that lived together in secret.
Anne’s famous, red-checked diary is on display in the museum. Receiving it as a gift for her 13th birthday, the teenager spent her time in hiding writing in her diary and continued her writing in further notebooks.
In the spring of 1944, Anne found out that the government planned to gather diaries that were being written once the war was over.
On hearing this plan, Anne set about rewriting her diary. Her dream was to become a well-known writer and journalist. This revised version of Anne’s diary is made up of 215 pieces of paper.
These notes, alongside two other notebooks, a book of her favorite quotes and a book or her own short stories, are on display in the museum.
Practical Info About Visiting Anne Frank House
Anne Frank House opening times
The Anne Frank Huis (that’s the name in Dutch) is open every day from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm apart from specified national holidays, when it closes at 5:00 pm, 1 January, when it opens at 12:00 pm, and Yom Kippur when it remains closed.
It takes at least an hour to visit, with more time needed if you have booked on the introductory program offered by the museum. Visiting later on in the day, towards the evening hours usually means fewer crowds.
Getting tickets for Anne Frank’s House
Tickets for Anne Frank’s House must be bought in advance. The museum is small and only a limited amount of people is allowed in at one time. This means you should buy your tickets as soon as they are available on the official website.
Anne Frank House tickets can be purchased online strictly via the official website of the museum, and they are normally put on sale every Tuesday, 6 weeks ahead of the day of your intended visit.
When you go on the site to get your ticket you will be able to select your preferred time-slot for your visit. Be careful when choosing the date and time as no changes or refunds are allowed once you have purchased your tickets.
The price of Anne Frank House tickets are as follows:
- standard adult tickets cost €16.00;
- young people aged between 10-17 €7.00;
- children aged between 0-9 years are free.
All bookings also include a €1.00 booking fee.
Included in the price of the tickets you will also get an audio-guide in your language of choice that will take you through the exhibit.
The website of the museum suggests 10 as the minimum age for visiting the museum, but clarifies that it is up to parents to decide whether their kids are ready for visiting such a place.
Anne Frank House guided tours
There are no guided tours on offer at Anne Frank House. All visitors are offered the use of the audio guide which is available in nine languages and is included in the price of the ticket.
The audio tour helps to bring Anne and the rest of the occupiers to life and it provides a deeper understanding about the persecution of Jewish people during World War II.
Is taking Anne Frank House photos allowed?
It is not allowed to take Anne Frank House photos once you are inside the museum. The ban on photography is aimed at preserving the respectful atmosphere inside the museum.
Toilets and lockers
A free cloakroom is available for visitors of the museum to use. Items such as coats, umbrellas and buggies can be stored for free in the cloakroom, and you can’t take in any backpack either (mine was quite small and I still had to leave it in the lockers).
There is not enough room to store any large luggage and larger bags are not allowed inside the museum.
If you have a large backpack you will need to leave it either at your accommodation or at of the luggage storage spots located at places such as Amsterdam Centraal Station.
There are toilets available for visitors to use at the Anne Frank House on the underground floow, as well as one accessible toilet.
Due to the nature of the building, the museum is not exactly accessible to visitors with mobility issues. The house is an old canal-side property and as such has steep stairs and there’s no elevator to access the upper levels.
The modern addition to the museum is wheelchair accessible with a purpose-built entrance. Elsewhere the café, museum shop and temporary exhibition space are accessible and there’s disabled parking available just meters from the museum entrance.
For more information about accessibility at the Anne Frank House take a look at the official museum website.
How to get there
You will find the Anne Frank House Museum in Prinsengracht 263-267, in the center of Amsterdam. It’s around a ten-minute walk from Dam Square.
To get there from Amsterdam Centraal station you can walk around 20-minutes. Otherwise, there’s the option of taking tram numbers 13 or 17 and get off at Westermarkt.
Right outside the museum is one of the stops of the many Amsterdam Canal tours too.
We took this open boat Amsterdam Canal Cruise. There are regular departures and we booked it to start after our museum visit (we left more or less 30 minutes between the two, just in case we wanted to linger inside the museum a bit longer).