The Three Best Museums in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is overrun with 16-year-old Germans looking to get high and British stag partiers hoping for a salacious time in the red light district. Despite the seedy reputation that this city has, it also has some of the best, most modern museums in Europe. Here are my three favorite museums in the city, with a couple honorable mentions.

3. Amsterdam Museum

I’ve been a lot of city museums, but Amsterdam’s is one of the best. For someone who knew just about nothing about the city’s history, this multimedia-heavy museum did an awesome job of showing me the city through the ages, from its earliest beginnings to the Nazi occupation of World War II. The museum also has some historic paintings and items, but it’s the entertaining and educational main exhibit that’s the best part.

At the time I went in fall 2015, there was also a huge temporary exhibition about street art in Amsterdam and New York City that was well worth seeing.

The Amsterdam Museum is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are €12 for adults and €6 for children between 5 and 18. Kids younger than 5 can get in for free.

2. The National Maritime Museum (Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum)

As soon as I laid eyes on this museum, I was already impressed. It’s housed on an old waterfront storehouse, and a couple historic ships rest out in front. The museum gets a lot of points for its cool building, but what’s inside is just as good.

I’m ignorant of Dutch history, but the excellent multimedia exhibit explained what life was like in the region and how important sailing was in establishing the Dutch empire. There’s an atmospheric exhibit on whales, and another exhibit that puts a personal spin on Dutch history with a cast of characters introduced via entertaining videos. Plus, there’s a replica of an 18th century ship you can explore moored out in back.

The National Maritime Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets are €15 for adults and€ 7.50 kids and students. Children under five years old get in for free.

A replica of an 18th-century ship at the Maritime Museum.
A replica of an 18th-century ship at the Maritime Museum.

1. Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam’s biggest museum is also its best. This is the national museum for The Netherlands and there’s an impressive collection, from the most famous Rembrandt’s to a surprisingly excellent Asian arts collection. It’s a big museum that’s never overwhelming, but if you’re looking for the highlights there’s a free app that can give you a decent itinerary.

This is the most visited museum in Amsterdam, but it’s so big that the crowds usually aren’t too bad.

The Rijksmuseum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost €17.50 but are free for people under 18.

Rembrandt's Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Rembrandt’s Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Runners Up

Rembrandt House Museum (Rembrandthuis)

Rembrandt might be one of the most renowned artists in the world, but the 17th century painter wasn’t prudent with his money. Because he declared bankruptcy and listed all his possessions, historians were able to recreate the interiors of his home. The museum isn’t too big, but the free audio tour gives a glimpse into high society of the time period and to Rembrandt’s day-to-day life. The artwork displayed is mostly from his pupils, but there is an exhibit showing off the artists’ sketches.

The Rembrandt House Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets costs €12.50 for adults, €4.50 for children between six and 17 years old, and free for kids under six years old.

Van Gogh Museum

This is arguably the most famous museum in the Netherlands, but my friends and I were a little disappointed. The lines were crazy, the admission price was high and many of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous works are located elsewhere. Still, it does a good job of explaining Van Gogh’s life and displaying the works of other artists that influenced him.

The Van Gogh Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are 17 for adults and free for people under 18 years old.

Getting Into the Museums for Cheap

You’ve probably noticed that all these museums are a bit on the expensive side. Fortunately, there are ways to see them for much cheaper.

If you’re going to be in Amsterdam for at least several days and plan to hit up multiple museums, it’s probably worth getting the Museumkaart or the 72-Hour Amsterdam Card. The Museumkaart gives you unlimited admission all the best museums in the Netherlands for a year. It costs just 59.90 for adults and 32.45 for cards, so it pays for itself after just a few museums. You can buy it at some of the big museums, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum.

The I Amsterdam card for tourists is valid for one to three days and gets you into most of the city’s museums, in addition to including public transportation and other goodies. It costs between 49 euros and 69 euros depending on how many days you want.

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Karge

Karge

I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?