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! There is truly a museum to match everyone’s tastes – and I mean it. From the classic museums to science museum, there is plenty to see and do!
Museums in Amsterdam for those looking to tick the tourist boxes:
The Rijksmuseum is a must visit on a trip to Amsterdam – if you haven’t visited yet, go! It’s world famous collection showcases the work of the Dutch masters from the 17th century including but not limited to Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. On your visit, don’t miss Rembrandt’s iconic Nachtwacht (Night Watch) or The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp. If you visit in the summer time, look into buying your tickets online ahead of time, and downloading the Rijksmuseum app so you can have your own guided tour. 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. As you follow the route you’ll see how Van Gogh developed not only as an artist but also as a person, and learn about he came to meet his tragic end. Many of Van Gogh’s famous pieces are housed in this museum such as the Potato Eaters, Sunflowers and Almond Blossom, but don’t expect to find Starry Night here (you’ll find that in NYC’s MoMa). 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.
For a humbling visit, see where Anne Frank went into hiding and wrote the pages of her famous diary. Learn about her life and step back in time to the Annex which has been authentically maintained, and learn about the family who hid her, and learn about how it was to be in Amsterdam during WWII. Be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time online. This museum consistently has many hours’ long waiting times to get in.
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, but is well worth a visit if you are a modern art lover. The Stedelijk houses rotating exhibitions from artists and designers alike (think Keith Haring and Marcel Wanders), and is a hotspot for creatives in the city.
Museums in Amsterdam for film and photography lovers:
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.
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 (think Martin Scorcese, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock) in addition to its permanent collection. It also houses a cinema and a cafe looking out over the Ij between the museum and Central Station. To reach EYE, you’ll need to take a (free) ferry from behind 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 kind and 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 light and sound to the universe and how your brain works. If you visit NEMO on a sunny day, be sure to grab lunch on the roof where you can sit outside and take in sweeping views of the city.
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.
Take a step back into the Dutch Golden Age and learn about how the Dutch traveled the world by ship, expanding their empire through their unique trading skills. The museum is housed in an arsenal building dating back to 1656 when Amsterdam was the largest port and trading market place in the world. You’ll see the museum’s most famous piece from the outside already when you arrive – the East Indiaman Amsterdam, a nearly exact replica of the Dutch ship that set sail to the “Far East” in the 17th ad 18th centuries.
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 sister museum to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and features exhibitions from the St. Petersburg. It also houses rotating collections from other museums, mostly focusing on classical artists, specifically with Russian themes. Seated on the Amstel River just a short walk from Rembrantplein, you can easily reach this museum from the heart of the city.
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.
Which of these have you visited? What was your favorite?
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