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A truly remarkable city to explore, Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the Netherlands. Not to mention, it’s home to some of the best museums in the country – in all of Europe, for that matter. As an added bonus, a majority of them are conveniently located right in the heart of the city. The Netherlands’ capital has a thriving arts and culture scene, with many of its most famous institutions located around Museum Park. If you’re keen on learning more about the Dutch Masters, contemporary artists, or anything related to Dutch history and culture, the best museums in Amsterdam cover all bases.
Table of contents
- amsterdam royal palace
- amsterdam tulip museum
- anne frank huis
- canal house museums
- diamant museum
- electric ladyland
- hash marijuana & hemp museum
- hermitage amsterdam
- moco museum
- museum ons’ lieve heer op solder
- red light secrets – museum of prostitution
- van gogh house
- pin it
amsterdam royal palace
Maartje, The Orange Backpack
The Amsterdam Royal Palace is one of the lesser-known museums in the city and one of the most beautiful palaces in the Netherlands. In an unassuming building, the museum hides in plain sight in Dam Square. The plain façade hides one of the richest and decorative buildings in the Netherlands, making this one of the best museums in Amsterdam to visit.
The Royal Palace in Amsterdam was originally designed as the Amsterdam town hall during the Golden Age of the Netherlands. It reflects all the riches and wealth the Dutch had gathered during this Golden Era in the seventeenth century.
As much of the palace is still original from that time, you’ll see many marks of the Golden Age when visiting. The main hall is rife with symbols of Amsterdam, depicting its role as a major player in the European trade. Use the free audio tour to learn about how the marbles, sculptures, world maps, and chandeliers in the main hall tell Amsterdam’s history.
The Amsterdam town hall became a palace during the French occupation of the Netherlands in the 19th century. French emperor Napoleon installed his younger brother, Louis Napoleon, as the king of the Netherlands. The old Town Hall subsequently became his palace. He created living quarters brimming with luxurious furniture that is still present in the palace today.
The Dutch royal family continued to use the palace, mainly to welcome foreign leaders and royal guests. When the Royal Palace is not in use for receptions, it is open for visitors.
amsterdam tulip museum
Cynthia and Alexander, Travel your Memories
Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, grandmasters such as van Gogh and Rembrandt, and the Dutch tulips. There are several options for enjoying tulips in and around Amsterdam. You can go to the flower market, visit Keukenhof or visit the Amsterdam tulip museum. In the Tulip Museum, you will learn everything about the special history of the tulip. They take you back to the first discovery of the contemporary way tulips are used in the Netherlands.
You can buy a ticket at the entrance of the museum, the costs are 5 EUR per person. If you are with a family of three or more people, the costs are 10 EUR in total. It takes about 20 minutes to see everything. In 20 minutes, you will have enough time to get a general idea of the history of tulips. If you are very interested and you want to see everything, plan to spend an hour there.
The biggest advantage of the museum is that it is one of the best places to buy tulips. You can ask the staff which tulips you can get past customs without any problems because this differs per country.
The tulip museum is easy to reach, as it is a 15-minute walk from the central station and a 2-minute walk from the Anne Frank House.
anne frank huis
Kate, Bags Always Packed
While Amsterdam is quite famous for its wacky and fun museums, the Anne Frank House falls to the other end of the scale being one of the most serious museums in the city. That being said, it is also one of the most compelling, impactful museums in the world and a place that everyone visiting Amsterdam should set aside an entire day to see.
You have probably heard of the famous diary of Anne Frank, the personal story written by a young Jewish girl who went into hiding in the attic of a small home in Amsterdam during the second world war. The Anne Frank House is just that, the actual home where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.
The museum was set up in 1957 with the help of Anne’s surviving father, Otto Frank, and will leave an impact on you for the rest of your life. If you haven’t read the book, it is a great idea to read it before visiting the museum. Still, even if you haven’t, you can wander the rooms and read excerpts from her diary which speaks of the very walls and windows at which you are looking.
This is an extremely popular museum located in the center of Amsterdam at Westermarkt 20. As it is quite small and tickets cost just €14 for adults, €7 for teens, and €1 for those under 10, they often sell out weeks in advance in the peak season. Note that Anne Frank’s home has a lot of steep stairs and is unfortunately not accessible for those who have mobility limitations. However, the modern addition to the museum which houses temporary exhibitions is accessible via ramps.
Insider Tip – Be sure to order these tickets WELL in advance, as they will sell out. The space is quite small and even more limited post-pandemic. If tickets are sold out online, try again the next day. And the day after. It took me about a week of checking the site – and this was before the pandemic!
canal house museums
Maartje & Sebastiaan, Tidy Minds
Amsterdam is famous for its charming canals surrounding the old city center. They used to be the most popular place for the rich and wealthy citizens to build their city palaces. Nowadays their old monumental canal houses are still among the most expensive places to live in the Netherlands. But luckily, some of those old city palaces survived time and still look like they did during the Golden Age. And you can visit them as museums when exploring Amsterdam.
The three best canal house museums to visit are Museum Willet-Holthuysen, Museum Van Loon and the Canal House Museum. Museum Willet-Holthuysen is located at the Herengracht 605 and dates back to the seventeenth century. It has the most stunning period rooms and its eighteenth-century garden is a must-visit as well.
The Museum Van Loon is at Keizersgracht 672. It was constructed during the Golden Age in the seventeenth century, but named after the family that owned the house since the eighteenth century. The houses on this part of the Keizersgracht canal have a coach house in their garden. The one at Van Loon is now a museum café.
The Canal House Museum should be on your Amsterdam museum wish list as well. It’s located in one of the most beautiful canal houses of the city. However, you’re not visiting this museum for its authentic period rooms. It has transformed into a museum depicting the history of Amsterdam, especially the construction of the characteristic canals and canal houses during a fascinating multimedia exhibition.
Sinjana, Backpack & Explore
The Diamant Museum of Amsterdam is the only museum of its kind in Europe that encapsulates 400 years of the history of diamonds. Located in the museum square, the museum is easily accessible by bus and tram. Often overshadowed by the great museums nearby, such as Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum, the attractive monument stands tall in this star-studded area of Amsterdam.
It’s a great place to learn about the fascinating history of diamonds and realize why Amsterdam was called the “city of diamonds”. In the 17th century Amsterdam became the Diamond Capital of the World – a center for polishing and trading of diamonds. However, in the second half of the 20th century it shifted to Antwerp, Belgium. However, Amsterdam remained a trading hub for diamonds.
Besides the history, you will also learn about the entire process of cutting diamonds and making diamond jewelry. You will also learn what distinguishes good quality diamonds from regular ones – the 4 C’s of the diamond industry. These are Color, Carat, Cut and Clarity.
The museum also has an incredible collection of royal crowns from all over the world. Other attractions here are the Diamond tennis racket, diamond sword and the Diamond Ape Skull, a dazzling Gorilla skull studded with 17,000 diamonds. Pictured above you’ll see the bridal tiara of Queen Elizabeth II.
The museum is open from 10:00 – 16:00 with an entrance fee of 10 EUR.
Given Amsterdam’s reputation coupled with the name of this interesting museum, you’ll be in for a surprise when you realize what is actually behind the doors of Electric Ladyland. It is the only museum on this list that is devoted to fluorescent light, making it incredibly different from the rest. The museum is a great choice if you have paid a visit to Amsterdam’s famous coffee shops beforehand. Guests take part in creating a wild light show experience as the light reflections create a wild reflection off their clothing, skin, and teeth.
It was inspired by the obsession of American artist Nick Padalino who created here a small museum for fluorescence: Electric Ladyland. Jimi Hendrix, anyone? This is the first Fluorescent Art Museum of its kind in the world: it is dedicated to the fascination with fluorescent light and is an art museum.
The Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, or Foam, is a world-renowned photography museum in Amsterdam that houses a massive collection of old photographs. This museum aims to inspire and inform its visitors about the art of photography in all its forms. Amsterdam’s central canal is where the museum is situated.
In addition to still photos, the museum also showcases multimedia displays. Throughout the year, exhibitions and events are rotated at Foam. On top of that, you can attend workshops organized by Foam and purchase limited edition photographs from time to time.
hash marijuana & hemp museum
In the history of cannabis-related museums, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum is the oldest and most renowned in the world. Over two million people have visited the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum since it opened in 1987. The museum manages and presents a unique collection demonstrating the incredible versatility of the cannabis plant.
This museum is like a 2-in-1. You have the museum and the hemp gallery to visit. In the museum, you’ll learn about the multiple uses of the hemp plant and its varieties. From everything to recreational drug use to textiles and papers, medicine and fuel for oil lamps, this little plant seems to do it all.
In the Hemp Gallery, there is an emphasis on the civilized use of cannabis and its history. The entire experience lends itself to the usefulness and versatility of this magic little plant. Enjoy the tiny art gallery toward the back of the exhibit.
What better place in the world to learn about this magical plant in all its various forms? Bonus points if you have a cookie before your visit.
Hermitage Amsterdam is a branch of the famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Its main objective is to educate the masses about Russian culture and history. In addition to its permanent collection, Hermitage Amsterdam displays a rotating selection of Russian art and archaeological artifacts. Besides exploring these, you can also attend classical concerts and seminars focusing on Russian culture at the Hermitage. Exhibitions at the museum are known to be some of the most successful in the country.
An exciting new addition to Amsterdam’s museums, this museum offers a fresh take on the museum experience. There are striking contrasts between the contemporary artwork on display here and those at most other museums.
Enjoy amazing display of Banksy artwork at the Moco Museum, as well as the rotating exhibitions from some of the most talented pop-artists in the world. Despite its size, the museum is a great place to visit in passing – you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting around.
museum ons’ lieve heer op solder
Founded in 1888, the Our Lord in the Attic Museum (as it is known in English) is set in a 17th Century canal house in Amsterdam’s center. Formerly, the top three floors of the building housed a clandestine Catholic church that was used by devout worshipers who could not practice their religion in public.
Despite this, the authorities turned a blind eye and the exhibits on display demonstrate the long-standing tolerance and freedom of religion in the Netherlands. This church and the rooms below it are preserved well, and it is truly an amazing place to visit – unlike any other church you’ll ever see.
red light secrets – museum of prostitution
Raksha, Solo Passport
One of the most interesting and unique museums to visit in Amsterdam is the Museum of Prostitution. Located in the Red-Light district, the museum of prostitution is an eye-opener for visitors. It is the world’s first and only museum that showcases the facts and history behind Amsterdam’s sex industry.
The three story-tall museum is a small and narrow building. There are different rooms that talk about different aspects of prostitution as well as personal stories. A few of the stories are of the girls who entered into the profession by force. One room also displays how the room of a prostitute looks. It has the good, bad, and the ugly side – the perfect place to absorb the secrets of the world’s oldest profession.
The museum has an entry fee of 12,5 EUR per adult, which you can get at the entrance. Entrance ticket includes a free audio set in many languages to hear the stories and narration. The entire tour of the museum takes about half an hour to one hour to see all the exhibits and the stories.
The museum of prostitution is a welcoming step in acknowledging the profession and hardships that come along with it. For an even more immersive experience, try sitting in the museum’s red-lit window. Here, you can sit and experience first-hand how it feels to be stared at by the people outside all night. The museum is surely incredible and very fascinating.
Laura, Travelers Universe
If you’re a fan of Baroque paintings and Rembrandt in particular, you should visit the house where this Dutch master lived and worked between 1639 and 1656. Rembrandt went bankrupt in 1656 and the 17th-century interior has been reconstructed with furniture and objects from this era based on the inventory that was drawn up when he declared bankruptcy. It is full of charm and quite different from what you might be used to. Here you’ll find a great number of Rembrandt’s etchings, as well as some paintings by other Dutch Golden Age painters.
Besides the etching demonstrations, perhaps the most interesting to see is the artist’s studio. This is where you’ll find a vast array of objects he collected from all over the world, some of which were featured in his paintings. If you have time, stay for one of the workshops. They are kid-friendly but adults can have a blast as well.
The museum is centrally located in Jodenbreestraat, not far from the city hall. It also organizes temporary exhibitions meant to highlight certain aspects of Rembrandt’s work. Linked to the house, there’s also a modern building where you can admire even more of Rembrandt’s works. This is definitely one of the best museums to visit in Amsterdam, not to be missed.
Lara, The Best Travel Gifts
One of the best museums in Amsterdam, or in The Netherlands really, is the Rijksmuseum located at Museum square. It is the Dutch National Art Museum which houses some true masterpieces of famous Dutch painters, such as Vincent van Gogh, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, and of course Rembrandt van Rijn.
The latter is also the creator of the museum’s most famous artwork; The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn.
(And no, this is not a painting of Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly for all you Game of Thrones fans).
The Night Watch, officially called Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq is mostly famous for its enormous proportions (almost 4 by 4 meters) and the brilliant use of light and shadows.
Even if Dutch art is not quite your cup of tea, there is still no need to skip the Rijksmuseum. Besides the Dutch art collection, the museum also has an extensive international art collection. As it is not only the most visited Dutch museum, but also the largest art museum by size and collection.
The museum is open every day of the week (including Sundays) from 9:00-17:00. Keep in mind that it is the most visited museum in The Netherlands, so you would be wise to order your tickets in advance. A ticket to the Rijksmuseum will set you back 20 EUR, but the impressive and diverse art collection and exhibitions you will find inside will definitely make it worth the price!
Known in Dutch as Het Scheepvaartmuseum, the National Maritime Museum is dedicated to the rich maritime history of the Netherlands and how it influenced Dutch culture. This museum is located by the water and features a replica of a ship from the 18th Century.
Maps, models, paintings, and weapons are also on display as well as an array of interesting artifacts. It is a unique place with lots of fun and fascinating exhibitions, and a visit here really will give you a fresh perspective on just how influential the Netherlands was in shipping and sailing.
Kenny, Knycx Journeying
It is difficult not to feel the free spirit in Amsterdam when you are wandering in the city center. A prime example is its museum pertaining to all things ‘sex‘! With over 650,000 visitors in a year, the Sexmuseum Amsterdam is one of the most visited museums in the Netherlands.
The museum has been around since 1985. While it’s adults-only, the museum is not just aiming to showcase something obscene, but the history of a rather taboo topic. The museum has an impressive collection of pictures, videos, and artifacts. All of these contribute to exploring the evolution of human sexuality across the world, and throughout history.
It is interesting to get to know how people from different cultural backgrounds viewed sex. The museum has an extensive collection of erotic items. Everything from porcelain, tableware, and plates painted by renowned artists, toilet seats, snuff-bottles and perfume bottles from China in the 19th century, to bronze cork-screw and other home products made in the 1930s.
Sexmuseum is located on Damrak Waterfront, which is only a 3-minute walk from Amsterdam’s Central Station. It’s very convenient to visit if you are just transferring at the Schiphol Airport, and want to experience the city for a few hours.
Sophie, Just Heading Out
The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam was founded in 1864 as Koloniaal Museum (Colonial Museum), to showcase ethnographic artifacts from overseas Dutch colonies. The goal was to study these cultures and educate the public about these distant parts of the kingdom.
While the goal of the museum is still education, the tone is much more critical. The Tropenmuseum regularly hosts exhibitions on social justice issues, such as race and gender, as well as cultural diversity around the world. They also fund research and provide a platform for cultural events, minority voices, and international artists.
And even the permanent collection does not shy away from the brutal Dutch history of colonialism and slavery. Yet the atmosphere in the museum is not dark or hopeless. The focus remains on the beauty of cultural diversity and fostering open-mindedness.
The Tropenmuseum is perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about Dutch colonial history, as well as cultures around the world. It is also suitable for children, with very accessible exhibitions and fun activities.
The building itself is a historic monument, built in the early 20th century, and a gorgeous example of Dutch architecture. The museum lies in the center of Amsterdam and is easily accessible by tram or bus.
Tickets to the Tropenmuseum are €16 for adults, €10 for students, €8 for kids from 4-18 y/o, and free for children under 3. Occasionally an additional fee applies for specific tours, events, or exhibitions.
van gogh house
One of the best museums in Amsterdam is the Van Gogh Museum. This is a great museum that you can find in the city center, at Museum Square. It is the most popular museum in the country and it is one of the best places for modern art in the Netherlands.
The Van Gogh Museum is, obviously, all about the works of Van Gogh. You find here the world’s largest collection of artworks made by Van Gogh. The artworks by Van Gogh are great to see! These art pieces are of the post-impressionism art genre. You find some of the most famous works of the artist at this museum. These include Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, Almond Blossoms, and many more works.
What’s great about the museum as well is the order in which you can see the works of art. Van Gogh made different types of art during certain phases of his life. You can see the artworks that belong to a certain phase of his life in succession, following the evolution of his career.
Besides the paintings, you can see other objects at this museum. For example, you can see drawings and letters by Van Gogh. Also, you can see works by other artists that made art in the same genre. For example, you will also find works by Claude Monet, John Russell, and others.
The entrance fee of the museum is €19 and you can enter the museum for free if you are under 18 years old.
One of the most interesting and insightful museums in Amsterdam is the Dutch Resistance Museum, aka Verzetsmuseum. It is a small museum that offers insight into daily life during Nazi occupation in Amsterdam and the brave residents who stood up for their freedom.
There are many permanent exhibits in the museum depicting the streets of the city during German occupation in WWII. In addition to the photographs, papers, mini-films, letters, and other artifacts found, there is also a collection of newspaper articles recovered from this dark period in the city’s history.
This is the perfect way to cap off a day of learning about the Dutch Resistance Movement and the heroic, seemingly average citizens who risked it all to help those in need.