Art is one of the city’s main attractions so we thought it would be helpful to create a Museums in Amsterdam Guide for you! People travel from all over the world for all of the cultural highlights Amsterdam has to offer and to dive into its vast art scene. With over 75 museums, it is a city that will satisfy any art loving heart. From world renowned museums, showcasing some of the biggest art collections in the world to smaller niche options with anything from the history on sex to bags and soccer. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands we suggest you to have a look at our 10 best museums in Amsterdam list, covering all the highlights. But before you do so, read on about opening times, how to get tickets, the best discounts and what there is to see in different neighborhoods.
Tickets for Amsterdam Museums
One of the things about a city that is Internationally known for its art scene, is that the museums often get very crowded. Spending time in long waiting lines is not something you would want to do, so we advise you to buy your tickets online beforehand. Visit our Museum Tickets page, pick your museum and date, order and skip the line. This means more time for art gazing, which is what you actually came to do!
Museums via your smartphone
Some Amsterdam museums have a personal app. If you have a smartphone it’s a fun extra to download the app of the museum your visiting for free tours and more. The free Rembrandt multimedia tour of the Rijksmuseum for example is quite amazing. Get to know the artworks of Rembrandt and learn all about his personal story. Using their map will give you directions, so you can easily find your way through the immense museum. Most museum apps are available in several languages such as English, French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian and Mandarin.
Discount cards for Amsterdam Museums
Who doesn’t love a discount? City trips can be expensive, especially in a city with so many amazing things to do. The Amsterdam Holland Pass and IAmsterdam City Card are two favorites when it comes to the best deals on museum tickets with discounts up to 50%!
Amsterdam Holland Pass
The Amsterdam Holland Pass is a discount card for some of the best museums, attractions and sight-seeing in Amsterdam. You have the choice between 3, 4 or 6 tickets, giving you free access to major museums like the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh, GVB public transportation and other attractions. When you have used all of your tickets, the pass is still valid as a discount card up to 50%.
IAmsterdam City Card
The IAmsterdam City Card offers not only free entrance to over 60 of the biggest museums in Amsterdam but much more! Get unlimited access to public transportation, discounts on theater and restaurants and a free canal cruise. You have the choice between a 24, 48, 72 or 96 hour pass which you can order via their website.
Amsterdam Museum Card
With the Museum Card you’ll get access to 41 of the top museums in Amsterdam. You can order the card online via the Museum Card website for €59,90 and it’s valid for 5 museum visits during a period of 31 days. If you’re planning on visiting many museums during your trip, this is a good deal! Please note: the website is only available in Dutch language.
Amsterdam Museum Opening times
Most museums in Amsterdam are open daily from 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. On Fridays some of the bigger museums stay open until as late as 10:00 p.m, with the register closing half an hour before the museum does. During official holidays like Christmas and Eastern major museums will remain open but smaller niche ones might close or have adjusted times. Make sure to check the museum’s website prior to your visit for the latest updates.
The big three
The big three are all located on the majestic Museum Square. We are talking about Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum, of course. If you only have a few days to spend Amsterdam, these are the ones to visit. All three hold an impressive collection of world-renowned works by some of the most notable artists and painters in art history. On that same square you’ll also find the Moco Museum, currently showing an exhibition by Banksy until January 2019.
The Rijksmuseum is Amsterdam’s grandest and most popular museum, so if you have to pick one, this one should be it. The majestic building alone is worth the visit, not to speak about its vast collection showcasing iconic artworks by the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Frans Hals and countless other old masters. Perhaps the most well-known work at the museum is Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’.
Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum houses the largest collection of the world-famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. In total, there are over 200 paintings and 1200 other artifacts such as drawings and letters to be seen at the museum. His collection of Japanese prints are less known but nevertheless just as worthwhile as his known pieces like The Potato Eaters, his self portraits and The Sunflowers. The Van Gogh museum often hosts special tours and workshops, making it an educative and interactive experience.
The Stedelijk Museum is the one to go to if you’re a contemporary art enthusiast. This modern architectural highlight on Museum Square showcases works by the likes of Matisse, Mondriaan and Picasso, just to name a few. Their collection is a blend of visual art and design, with the goal to create interaction between art and audience.
Gallery hopping at the Spiegel Quarter
The Spiegel Quarter is an area stretching from the Rijksmuseum to the historic Herengracht canal that is known for its art galleries and antique shops. This is a perfect neighborhood for an afternoon of gallery hopping and window (or actual) shopping. You’ll find all sorts of collectable items, from sculptures and historical art to photography and authentic Delft Blue ceramics. The stores in between the galleries offer stunning jewelry and interior pieces that will delight any antique loving heart.
Museums on the history of Amsterdam
Amsterdam has a fascinating history to say the least. From a small sailor’s village surrounded by water to the metropolis it is today. In the city you’ll find some amazing museums teaching you all about its important historical happenings.
Joods Historisch Museum
The Jewish Historical Museum shares the story of Jewish history in The Netherlands and its former colonies. The building used to be a location where Jews were brought to before being sent off for transportation to concentration camps. With a collection of over 13,000 artworks and objects the museum gives you a view on the Persecution of the Jews during WWII and a monument honoring the victims.
Want to learn more about Amsterdam? The Amsterdam Museum covers its entire history and showcases how it came to be the city we know today, with a permanent and unique temporary exhibitions. Amsterdam is known for the boat houses, architecture and canals but also the Red Light District and the infamous coffeeshops. But that’s just a small part of what gives Amsterdam its charm. The museum has enough to offer for both young and old, so bring the family!
Anne Frank House
Anne Frank’s Diary, telling her story during WWII is one of the most read books in the world. The secret back house in which she hid during the German occupation is now known as the Anne Frank House Museum. The museum will give you a peak into her last hiding place and educates on the holocaust. It will for sure leave an impression on you.
Museums for the young (and young at heart)
Keeping the kids interested during a visit at a museum might be a challenge, but not at the following museums. Among the 75 museums in Amsterdam there are a few with lots of fun activities for the young. Let them meet all their favorite celebrities at Madame Tussaud located on Dam Square or explore the fascinating Maritime world at the National Maritime Museum!
NEMO Science Museum
When you’re arriving in Amsterdam via Central Station, the NEMO Science Museum will be hard to miss. This immense green building houses an interactive museum that will keep anyone visiting busy for the entire day. Learn all about how science and technology make the ordinary special. Work your way through the five-story building while doing experiments and participating in workshops. Discover how bridges are made or how water can be made drinkable. Put on a white lab coat and glasses at the Wonder Lab, you’ll need them for the chemical experiments you get to do! Hungry after all the fun? The museum has 3 kid friendly restaurants and a space where you can enjoy food you bring yourself.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Ready for some bizarre fun? Ripley’s Believe It or Not has a collection of incredible artifacts covering 5 floors. It celebrates the wonderful and bizarre in all its forms with interactive exhibitions, a 7-meter-tall transformer, 5-D cinema and more! Their psychedelic space tunnel will have you feeling like you are spinning through a black hole and will put all of your senses to the test. Ripley’s promises an exciting experience for both young and old.
National Maritime Museum (Scheepvaart Museum)
The National Maritime Museum Amsterdam is perfect for a day out with the kids. This museum is dedicated to the rich Dutch history at sea over the past 500 years. Objects include paintings, maps, scale models and weapons used by shippers and pirates. Discover all there is to know during interactive exhibitions and go on board of the Amsterdam, a full-size replica of an East India Company ship!
Next to all the bigger well-know museums in Amsterdam there are a number of niche museums focusing on one specific theme. The Museum of the Tropics for example is one covering world cultures with permanent and short-term exhibitions. It is located in a beautiful building on the east part of town. Soccer fan? The Amsterdam Arena, home of AJAX, offers tours through the stadium so you ca learn all there is to know about Amsterdam’s leading team and history in soccer. But there is a lot more to discover!
Museum of Bags and Purses
It’s all in the name. The Museum of Bags and Purses is dedicated to the art and history of bags, showcasing over 5000 objects. It’s the largest collection of handbags in the world, with some pieces dating all the way back to the 16th century. Located on the prestigious Herengracht canal, it is often ranked as part of the top 10 fashion museums worldwide. Showpieces include a Versace bag that belonged Madonna and an iconic handbag from Margaret Thatcher.
Sex Museum The Venustemple
The Sex Museum, located near Amsterdam Central Station is the world’s first sex museum. Their interesting exhibition covers everything that comes with love and lust with the use of hundreds of objects, photography and paintings.
Foam showcases a wide variety of photography works in all different genres. Next to being a museum it is a place for professionals to meet up and participate in forums and symposiums. Their exhibitions change regularly, with some of the biggest and upcoming local and international names in photography showcasing their work.
Museums located on the canals
Along the beautiful Amsterdam canals, you’ll find a few of the city’s most interesting small museums. Like Huis Marseille, a canal side house from the 17th century dedicated to photography. Or The Canal Museum that uses five interactive rooms to showcase the history of Amsterdam and its canals, giving you a whole new way to look at them.
Museum Willet Holthuysen
Situated in a magnificent canal side building you will find Museum Willet-Holthuysen, which tells the story of the wealthy couple Abraham Willet and Louisa Willet-Holthuysen. Most of the original interior is still in place, offering you an in-sight view on how the rich lived in Amsterdam. Next to the luxurious interior the couple collected amazing art pieces over the years, which can also be found throughout the house.
Red Light Secrets – Museum of Prostitution
Located on the canals in the Red Light District you will find the Museum of Prostitution – Red Light Secrets. Go in with an open mind and be amazed by the history of one of the oldest professions in the world. This museum offers an informative and light-hearted behind-the-scene experience with a chance to get to know all there is on sex work from working girls themselves.
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic Museum) is a small secret in the heart of Amsterdam. This well preserved 17th century house from the Dutch Holden Age is the second oldest museum in Amsterdam. Explore the narrow corridors and climb up to the highlight of the museum: a church in the attic. The (pink) church dates back to 1663, when the Catholic religion was prohibited. Every piece in the building is as authentic as it is old, so visitors will get to experience the building in its true form.
Now you have all the information you need for the best museum experience in Amsterdam. We hope you enjoy! Curious about all Amsterdam museums? Have a look at our museum page after and browse through all the options. Don’t hesitate to let us know what your favorite is in the comments below.