What museums to visit in Amsterdam
So, it’s a rainy day in Amsterdam and you’re not sure what to do? After shaking the water off of your umbrella, consider visiting one of Amsterdam’s dozens of museums, which will cure even the most insatiable curiosity. There are dozens of museums in Amsterdam that deserve a visit, and there is so much more than just the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum – although they made this list, too! Amsterdam has tons of museums to offer, and something to suit everyone’s interests!
In this blog post find tips on the best museums in Amsterdam, the top museums in Amsterdam sorted out by interest.
Want more Amsterdam travel tips? Check out these posts!
- Amsterdam microbreweries beer lovers have to visit
- The best Amsterdam day trips
- Visit the breathtaking Kasteel de Haar
- Get muddy on a Dutch adventure: wadlopen in the Netherlands
- Visit Texel, an off the beaten path Dutch island
- What to do in a day in Haarlem
Museums in Amsterdam for those looking to tick the tourist boxes:
The Rijksmuseum is probably the most visited tourist destination in Amsterdam, and if you haven’t visited yet, go! Its showcases the work of the Dutch masters from the 17th century including but not limited to Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. Check out Rembrandt’s iconic Nachtwacht (Night Watch) or The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp to hit the must-sees in the museum. If you visit in the summer time, look into buying your tickets online ahead of time, and downloading the Rijksmuseum app so you can guide yourself through. If your wallet is feeling heavy, also consider making a reservation at RIJKS restaurant, a Michelen star rated restaurant located just outside the museum. This restaurant is incredible, from start to finish – the price is worth it. We ate there once for a birthday and it was truly one of the best dining experiences we’ve had in Amsterdam.
All Van Gogh, all the time. The Van Gogh museum is organized chronologically by Van Gogh’s life chapters. You’ll explore how Van Gogh developed not only as an artist but also psychologically and learn about he came to meet his tragic fate. Amsterdam museum tickets should be purchased ahead of time – avoid long lines here by purchasing your ticket ahead of time. The Van Gogh and Rijksmusem both offer fantastic gift shops which are perfect for picking up some artsy souvenirs. The Van Gogh museums is one of the best museums in Amsterdam in my opinion, because you really get to dive deep into the life of Van Gogh.
For a humbling visit, see where Anne Frank went into hiding and wrote her world famous diary. Step into the Annex which has been maintained in the style of the period she lived there, and learn about the brave family who hid her. Be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time online as this museum is very popular and nearly always has a long line.
For modern art nerds:
This is the third most popular museum in Museumplein, and definitely one of the most popular museums in Amsterdam in general. The Stedelijk, or city museum, is less frequented by tourists who typically stick to Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum. The Stedelijk is worth a visit if you are a modern art aficionado, it is the modern art museum in Amsterdam. The Stedelijk houses rotating exhibitions from artists and designers alike (think Keith Haring and Marcel Wanders). Stedelijk Amsterdam is lovely for an afternoon of modern art.
Cultural museums in Amsterdam:
FOAM is dedicated specifically to photography, and in addition to being a museum, is an international photography organization which focuses on developing budding photographic talent. Located smack in the city center, FOAM is a great museum to stop by if you only have an hour to spend in a museum. If you love photography, FOAM is one of the best museums in Amsterdam for you.
Located in across the Ij in Amsterdam Noord, the EYE Film Museum is one of the icons of this neighborhood. This film museum has rotating exhibitions from some of the most famous directors in the world (the likes of Martin Scorcese, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock) in addition to its permanent collection. It is also home to a cinema and a cafe looking out over the Ij. You can reach EYE by taking the free ferry from Central Station. if you visit Eye, also make a visit to the neighboring A’dam Toren next door, where you can eat on the top floors with sweeping views of Amsterdam, or if you’re daring enough, strap yourself in to the rooftop swing.
For the curious scientist inside you:
Ever wondered about the invisible world of micro-organisms that live on and in your body? No? Well, you’re certainly going to think about it a lot more after a visit to Micropia! Micropia is the only museum of its kinda and is a science museum in Amsterdam. The goal is to inspire the public to learn about micro-organisms that both help and harm us. This is one of the newest of all the museums in Amsterdam, so is still mostly visited by locals.
NEMO proves you are never too old to enjoy science or be delighted by playing with the laws of physics! NEMO has permanent exhibitions educating visitors a range science topics, from the physics of light and sound to the physics of universe. If you visit NEMO on a fair day, eat lunch at the roof cafe where you can look out over the city. NEMO is one of the best museums to visit in Amsterdam if you are traveling with your family.
Other museums in Amsterdam that are worth a visit:
Here you can visit the home and workshop of one of the most famous Dutch masters, Rembrant van Rijn. Decorated in the style of when Rembrandt lived there, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to meet the man himself in this Amsterdam museum. Rembrandtshuis is located just a few minute’s walk from Waterlooplein and the Red Light District, making it easily reachable if you’re in the center. The Rembrandt House museum Amsterdam is one of the best museums in Amsterdam to visit.
Travel back in time to the Dutch Golden Age and learn about how the they used their trading skills to build their empire. Housed in a 1656 arsenal building, the Scheepvaart museum is an especially ideal visit for those with kids. A replica of the East Indiaman Amsterdam, the Dutch ship that sailed to the Far East in the 17th and 18th centuries is one of the museum’s focal points and is docked just outside.
The Tropen Museum is a museum about people – but more specifically, it’s focused on rituals of humankind. Here you’ll find fascinating displays about tribes from around the world and practices touching all aspects of human life. The Tropen Museum is distinctly different from other museums in Amsterdam and gives an interesting look at life that you might not otherwise encounter. If you go to the Tropen Museum, consider stopping by nearby Brouwerij ‘t Ij for a beer tasting.
Museum van Loon is located almost directly across from the FOAM museum, on the Keizersgracht in the center of the city. This Amsterdam museum is located in the former residence of the family Van Loon, of which Willem Van Loon was one of the founders of the Dutch East India Company (ca-ching!). Here you can have a look at how they lived and take in the impressive classical art collection now housed there. One of the best feature of the museum is the back garden and carriage house – a glimpse of Amsterdam living you’d never get to see from the street.
The Amsterdam Hermitage Museum is a branch of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and features exhibitions from the St. Petersburg location. It mostly showcases exhibitions with Russian themes and is located on the Amstel, just 5 minutes walk from Rembrandtplein.
Where to stay in Amsterdam
There are countless great places to stay in Amsterdam. Here are a few picks for each budget:
CityHub is the ideal place to stay if you are on a budget but don’t want to stay in a hostel. The prices are nearly as low as a hostel, but you’ll still get your own modern, private pod. Toilets and showers are shared, but you won’t have the hostel vibe as this hotel caters to those looking for a step up from the hostel experience. City Hub is also located just around the corner from the Food Hallen, Amsterdam’s huge food stall hall complete with a cinema and local boutiques.
This design hotel located in Amsterdam East (still within the ring and just 10 minutes walk from the city center) was founded as a global community to unite students, professionals, travelers and creative nomads. The Student Hotel has hotel rooms, co-living and co-working spaces.
The Hoxton is a famous boutique hotel chain known for its both its accommodations and for its restaurants. The Hoxton breathes hip-ness and is the must visit for those who like to be recognized for their taste.
What to pack for Amsterdam
Which of these Amsterdam museums have you visited? What do you think are the best museums in Amsterdam?
Looking for other tips in Amsterdam? Try these posts:
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Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.