My TOP 13: the best Amsterdam museums

Which Amsterdam museums you should visit during your stay in this city? Here’s my personal list of the best!

amsterdam museums

Muzea Amsterdamu – czytaj po polsku!

If you thought that Amsterdam is just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, you were completely wrong. Because Amsterdam is much more, especially for cultural sightseeing. There are 51 museums, several of which are really worth your attention. And best of all – they are usually located up just a few streets from the heart of the city, the famous Dam Square.

Below I present my personal selection in random order.

Note: The museums in Amsterdam are usually closed on Koningsdag (27th April). The information is always given on the website.

Note 2: The last entrance is usually half an hour before closing.

1. Rijksmuseum

It’s the most important museum of Amsterdam and the most distinctive building in the Museum Quarter (designed in neo-Renaissance style with Gothic details by Pierre Cuypers). It was founded in 1800 in Hague, and then moved to Amsterdam.

Museum collections number more than a million objects from the years 1200-2000, of which presented to the public is only 8,000, which still makes the museum too big for one day. If you have limited time it is worth visiting the floor with Golden Age paintings, where are works of Johannes Vermeer or Rembrandt, including the famous painting the Night watch from 1632.

You can buy the tickets online, so you’ll skip the line:

website: www.rijksmuseum.nl
Rijksmuseum opening hours: daily 9 am – 5 pm
price: 17.50 € / under 18 y.o. free of charge
notes: a discount of 2.50 € for I amsterdam City Card holders

amsterdam museums
source: fotolia.com

2. Van Gogh Museum

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is probably the most famous Dutch painter of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. During his lifetime he was completely unknown, unappreciated and died in poverty, but after his death the widow of Theo van Gogh, brother of the painter, began to organize exhibitions of his works, sold some of them and published correspondence of two brothers, which brought the artist posthumous fame.

Van Gogh Museum was opened in 1973. It includes 700 letters, 400 drawings and 200 paintings, including such famous works as The Potato Eaters, one of 7 in a series of Sunflowers paintings, Wheatfield before the storm or Wheatfield with Crows. The museum also presents works of painter’s friends, for example Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Laurtec.

In 1991 20 paintings had been stolen from the museum, which then were found in a car parked in front of the institution. It was the biggest theft in the post-war Netherlands. In 2002 two other images were stolen from the museum but have not been found yet. Museum authorities have offered 100 000 euros for help in finding them, and the total value of the artworks is estimated at $ 30 million.

You can buy the tickets online, so you’ll skip the line:

website: www.vangoghmuseum.nl
Van Gogh Museum opening hours: Sat-Thu 9 am – 6 pm, Fri 9 am – 10 pm
price: 17,00 € / under 18 y.o. free of charge
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

amsterdam museums
source: flickr.com

 3. Het Rembrandthuis

Another museum dedicated undoubtedly to the greatest Dutch artist, Rembrandt (1606-1669), is the house where the painter lived and worked in the years 1639-1656. Here his career came to an end and he went bankrupt, although earlier he was handsomely paid, and the house and all the items were sold in an auction. Later about than a dozen different families lived here, but at the beginning of the twentieth century the building was in such poor condition that there plans to demolish it. The city, due to the famous inhabitant, bought and restored the building and in 1911 the Rembrandt museum was opened here. In the 90s of the 20th century interior of the house (which was also a painter’s studio) was recreated giving them the appearance of the times of Rembrandt.

Today, the museum includes painter’s personal belongings, his lesser-known works and engravings.

You can buy the tickets online, so you’ll skip the line:

website: www.rembrandthuis.nl
Het Rembrandthuis opening hours: daily 10 am – 6 am
price: 12,00 € / 6-17 y.o. 4.00 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

amsterdam museums
source: flickr.com

4. Anne Frankhuis

Another most visited house in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House – the attic where two Jewish families: Frank and van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer (8 people in total) had been hiding since 1942. Here, Anne Frank, 13-year-old girl kept a diary, in which she described life and relationships in hiding place. The last entry dates from the 1st August 1944, 3 days before the Nazis found the hideaway and deported all Jews to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, where Anne died of typhus. Among the people hiding in the apartment, only the girl’s father Otto Frank survived, who found the diary and published it in 1947.

Released diary has gained immense popularity, but there were also voices that it was fake. A detailed analysis had confirmed the authenticity of the notebook, and the Dutch court forbade questioning it. It has been translated into more than 60 languages and more than 30 million copies sold.

Today, in Anne Frankhuis rooms are empty, only the office of Otto Frank is reconstructed. There is also an exhibition of the documents the family in the museum.

You can buy the tickets (with canal cruise) online, so you’ll skip the loooooonggggggg line:

website: www.annefrank.org
Anne Frankhuis opening hours: IV-X na-Fri 9 am – 9 pm, Sat to 10 pm; XI-III Sun-Fri 9 am – 7 pm, Sat to 9 pm
price: 9,00 € / 10-17 y.o. 4,50 €
notes: Buy tickets online earlier to avoid waiting in a long queue. Card I amsterdam City Card is not valid for discounts or free admission.

amsterdam museums
Queue, as usual. Source: flickr.com

5. Joods Historisch Museum

Jewish History Museum is devoted to history, religion and culture of Jews in the Netherlands and abroad. It is located in the former Jewish Quarter, which after the Second World War turned into a ghost town, and then most of it were destroyed. Four adjoining former synagogues were adapted for the building, which today houses a museum.

The ticket allows you to visit also the Portuguese Synagogue opened in 1671. Its name comes from the community of Portuguese Jews, who were expelled from Antwerp, when it fell under the rule of Catholic Spain. Before WWII, the Jewish community gathered around the synagogue had approx. 4,500 members, but only 600 survived the war. Four days after the liberation of the Netherlands, the service was celebrated in the synagogue. Today its population counts less than 700 people. The Portuguese Synagogue is the oldest – next to the synagogue in Prague – still active synagogue in Europe.

website: www.jhm.nl
Joods Historisch Museum opening hours: Sun-Thu: II to IX 10 am – 5 pm, XII-I 10 am – 4 pm / Fri: III-X 10 am – 4 pm, XI-II 10 am -2 pm (closed or limited opening hours on Jewish holidays – details on website)
price: 15,00 € / 13-17 y.o. 7.50 € / 6-12 y.o. 3.75 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

amsterdam museums
source: flickr.com

6. Bijbelsmuseum

Another museum linked to religion is the only one in Europe, the Bible Museum. Different editions of the Bible are presented there, as well as exhibits from the epoque and region, which are common for the Bible – Ancient Egypt and the Middle East. In the museum there are also models of temples from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – the Temple of Solomon and Herod, as well as a model of the Ark of the Covenant.

website: www.bijbelsmuseum.nl
Bijbelsmuseum opening hours: Tues-Sun 11 am – 5 pm
price: 8,00 € / 5-18 y.o. 4,00 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

7. Oude Kerk

Or the Old Church. Well worth a visit due to its spacious, although raw interior. It was built as a Catholic church with the interior richly decorated with frescoes and altarpieces, but when the Protestants came to power in the Netherlands in 1578, all decorations have been removed (some of painted frescoes of the 15th century are uncovered). The church has four organs, the biggest are from 1724.

Oude Kerk also served as a poorhouse, market and cemetery – for centuries more than 12 000 people have been buried here, under the church floor, which now counts about 2,500 tombstones. The most famous stone belongs to Saskia Uylenburgh, Rembrandt’s first wife. Due to the peculiar smell in the air, incense constantly burnt in the church. In 1866 burials were banned and graves were exhumed and filled with white sand.

website: www.oudekerk.nl
Oude Kerk opening hours: Mon-Sat 10 am – 6 pm, Sun 1 pm – 5.30 pm
price: 7,50 € / free of charge up to 13 y.o.
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

amsterdam museum
source: flickr.com

8. Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder

I have to admit – it’s definitely my favorite museum. A church-museum, to be honest. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most interesting witnesses of history of this city and if you want to know the past of Amsterdam better, you should take a look here.

Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, or Our Beloved Lord in the Attic, is a Catholic church hidden in three houses, created in 1660 by John Hartman, a merchant who made a fortune on the import of products from the colonies. Catholicism was officially banned in the Netherlands since 1578. However, the city authorities – aware of the churches being opened in private buildings – turned a blind eye to such activities because their owners were usually very rich merchants, whose companies brought the city considerable money.

To build the church of Our Beloved… walls separating the houses from each other were removed, just as the two upper floors’ floor – parts of the floors were left to create balconies for the parishioners. As a result, it housed a number of approx. 150 people. The church operated until 1888, when Catholic church (Catholicism was legalized in half of 19th century) St. Nicolaaskerk was opened and the Lord in the Attic was converted into a museum.

website: www.opsolder.nl
Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder opening hours: Mon-Sat 10 am – 5 pm, Sun 1 pm – 5 pm
price: 9,00 € / 5-18 y.o. 4,00 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

Amsterdam museums
source: flickr.com

9. & 10. Houses of wealthy burghers: Willet-Holthuysen and Van Loon

Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located by the Herengracht canal, Van Loon by the Keizersgracht, and the names of both institutions derived from the names of last owners of the houses. You can see here how wealthy burghers lived in the past, because in both museums interiors from the 18th century and earlier times are preserved. Besides the interior (my favorite room is the Blue Cabinet in the Willet-Holhuysen house) you can see here the collection of silverware and art. Behind houses there are gardens, though undoubtedly the one in Van Loon is bigger and more beautiful. So if you want to see how it was to be rich in Amsterdam, come here necessarily.

You can buy the ticket to Willet-Holthuysen online, so you’ll skip the line:

amsterdam museums
Willet-Holthuysen, source: flickr.com

Willet-Holthuysen
website: www.willetholthuysen.nl
Willet-Holthuysen opening hours: Mon-Fri 10 am – 5 pm, Sat-Sun 1 pm – 5 pm
price: 8,50 € / 5-18 y.o. 4,25 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

Van Loon
website: www.museumvanloon.nl
Van Loon opening hours: daily 10 am – 5 pm
price: 9,00 € / 6-18 y.o. 5,00 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

Amsterdam museums
Van Loon, source: flickr.com

11. Amsterdam Museum

Amsterdam Museum was established in the building that had been an orphanage since 1580 to 1960. It’s worth to visit a multimedia exhibition the Amsterdam DNA, which in an interesting way shows the history of the city and if you do not have much time for other museums, this exhibition is definitely a “history in a nutshell “. There is also an interesting section dedicated to the Golden Age of Amsterdam, and the Cabinet of Regents from 1634, where the orphanage regents had their meetings.

You can buy the tickets online, so you’ll skip the line:

website: www.amsterdammuseum.nl
Amsterdam Museum opening hours: daily 10 am – 5 pm
price: 12,00 € / 5-18 y.o. 6.00 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

12. Het Scheepvaartmuseum

The Maritime Museum is devoted to the Netherlands’ maritime history and is one of the most interesting museums in Amsterdam (especially recommended for families with children!). It has been established in the building from 1656, who once served as an arsenal. The courtyard was covered with a glass roof, which design is related to the navigation lines on old maps. The museum’s collections includes, among others paintings, maps and globes, weapons, models and you can learn here the history of whaling and of the port of Amsterdam.

In front of the museum is a replica of a ship Amsterdam from the 18th century, that in past days sailed to India, China and the East India (now Indonesia). Amsterdam set off on its maiden voyage  in November 1748, but due to bad weather conditions after a few days it returned to port, the situation repeated at the second attempt. In January 1749 Amsterdam made 3rd attempt to sail, but ran aground in the English Channel and sank. There were 135 people aboard (including only 5 passengers, the rest were crew members and troops) and cargo, which today would be worth several million euros. No one died and most of the goods were saved.

In 1969 Spring runoff revealed the wreckage that thanks to the slime is the best preserved wreck of the East Campaign ever found. 400 volunteers built the replica using the tools of that times.

You can buy the tickets online, so you’ll skip the line:

website: www.hetscheepvaartmuseum.nl
Maritime Museum 0pening hours: daily 9 am – 5 pm
price: 15,00 € / 5-17 y.o. 7.50 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

Amsterdam museums
source: flickr.com

13. Tropenmuseum

Museum of the Tropics is another important and largest museum in Amsterdam, also particularly suitable for families with children. The collection of the museum was founded in 1864 and consisted only of items from Dutch colonies, but when Indonesia got independence in 1945, it also increased by exhibits from other countries in South America, Africa and Asia. Today, you can see here the everyday items, as well as religious significance, clothes, boats, photographs, drawings, paintings and documents related to the folklore of tropical countries. The museum is divided into eight permanent exhibitions, and often also organizes temporary exhibitions.

website: www.tropenmuseum.nl
Tropenmuseum opening hours: Tues-Sun 10 am – 5 pm
price: 12,50 € / 4-18 y.o. 8.00 €
notes: free entrance for I amsterdam City Card holders

Amsterdam museums
source: flickr.com

There are many other museums in Amsterdam, more classic, like Stedelijk – the museum of the modern art, EYE Filmmuseum, FOAM – the Museum of Photography. We will find these more specific types Handbags Museum, the Museum of Pipes, The House on the Boat Museum, the Funeral Museum, Gallery of Cats, Sex Museum, the Museum of Hash and Marihuana and Heineken Experience.

What you choose is up to you, but I encourage you to visit at least one of the above listed. I cannot only point which one, because to me they are all fascinating!

Have you been to Amsterdam and visited any of the museums on the list? Or maybe you’re just about to get there and some institutions caught your attention particularly? Share your opinion with us in the comment box below!

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# The entry was created thanks to cooperation with Amsterdam Marketing.

amsterdam museums

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