12 Best Museums In Amsterdam For Every Type Of Traveler

Art and history are enmeshed in every inch of Amsterdam.

The culturally dense city of Amsterdam is home to countless notable museums with some of the most famous paintings in the world. Despite being packed to the brim with must-see exhibits, many of these museums don’t take much more than an hour or two to walk through, making them great for those who want to see it all. If this sounds like your scene, check out the 12 best museums in Amsterdam for every type of traveler.

Rijksmuseum

Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam, Netherlands

Rijksamuseum exterior
Rijksmuseum exterior. Photo by greek_nurses_in_holland

Opened to the public in 1885, Rijksmuseum is the largest art museum in the Netherlands, featuring 8,000 art pieces across 80 galleries including classics from Dutch Golden Age artists like Vermeer and Rembrandt. Here, you can explore 800 years of history from 1200 to today, featuring intricate doll houses dating back to the 1600s and a library with the most comprehensive selection of art history texts in the Netherlands. The 2nd floor is home to the “highlights” if you don’t have all day to explore and want to admire the most recognizable of the bunch. Take note of the Gothic and Renaissance elements of the museum’s exterior, and make sure to venture out to the garden, including countless statues, beautiful flowers, and the occasional temporary exhibition. Don’t forget to check out the 14 free tours on the museum’s app if you’d prefer added structure to your Rijksmuseum visit.

Van Gogh Museum

Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum is home to the largest collection of Van Gogh artworks in existence, with over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and 750 letters. The museum opened in 1973, illustrating the evolution of Van Gogh’s art across 4 floors. You will also find pieces from artists who influenced Van Gogh, such as Rodin and Monet, throughout. There’s a café in the museum for a coffee or snack break as you get up close and personal with some of Van Gogh’s most prominent works. Make sure to buy tickets well in advanced if you plan to go, as they tend to sell out quickly.

Van Gogh Museum
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Anne Frank House

Westermarkt 20, 1016 GV Amsterdam, Netherlands

Perhaps one of the most well-known museums in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is a tribute to the 107,000 Jewish people who were deported from the Netherlands to concentration camps during World War II. Here, you can walk through the secret annex where Anne Frank and her family resided during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. The Franks and 4 others lived in this space for 2 years before their location was outed and the annex was raided by the Nazis. The living area is very well preserved, and you can see several original objects such as Anne’s diary and the bookshelf that hid the door to the annex. Audio tours are available to maintain a quiet atmosphere throughout, so visitors can pause and take things at their own pace. Visiting the Anne Frank House is an emotional and educational journey not to be missed while in Amsterdam. It is important to note, however, that there are steep stairs to climb, and neither photography nor bags larger than a sheet of paper are allowed inside. You can book tickets 2 months ahead and a small number of extra tickets are released every morning.

The room Anne stayed in
The room Anne stayed in. Photo by annefrankhouse_official on Instagram

Moco Museum

Honthorststraat 20, 1071 DE Amsterdam, Netherlands

Moco is an independent modern art museum located in a townhouse in central Amsterdam. Expect to see street art from Warhol to KAWS among the temporary exhibitions, as well as around 50 original Banksy works in the museum’s permanent collection. Here, there is a focus on art that brings attention to current culture phenomena particularly in relation to political and social change. Check out the “Diamond Matrix” exhibit, an immersive digital art experience with bright lights and music – an Insta-worthy photo op. Moco is rather small, making it a great choice if you’re short on time.

Rembrandt House Museum

Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam, Netherlands

The former home of famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn became a museum in 1911, displaying accurate refurbishments of his studio and living quarters, and, of course, original works of his art. This is where Rembrandt lived and created some of his most famous art during the 17th century. The collection also includes the work of his students, so you can get a firsthand look at the great influence he had. A remarkable 260 of the 290 Rembrandt etchings in existence are on display here, and you can even try out the press to make your own. Rembrandt was also quite the collector, with many of his prized possessions presented in a room called the Cabinet of Curiosities – you won’t want to miss it.

Rembrandt’s Cabinet of Curiosities
Rembrandt’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Photo by eleonora_a_spasso_nei_castelli on Instagram

Stedelijk Museum

Museumplein 10, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Nascimento Exhibit
Nascimento Exhibit. Photo cred: Photo by stedelijkmuseum on Instagram

Founded in 1874, the Stedelijk Museum is the largest modern art museum in the Netherlands with over 90,000 works of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Explore the history of design through furniture, jewelry, paintings, photographs, and more across 3 floors of permanent and temporary exhibits. A new wing of the museum opened in 2012, often called “the bathtub” due to its unique tub-like shape. Stedelijk is a great choice for MOMA (Museum of Modern Art located in New York City) lovers, as the two are often compared.

Amsterdam Museum

Amstel 51, 1018 EJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Open House night at Amsterdam Museum
Open House night at Amsterdam Museum. Photo by amsterdammuseum on Instagram

The Amsterdam Museum was founded in 1926 and is located inside of a former orphanage. Learn about Dutch history and culture across 3 floors chronologically following the development of the city. The museum boasts an impressive 100,000 ancient artifacts in its collection, a true journey into the past. An unmissable highlight is “The Little Orphanage” exhibit, which shows visitors what life was like in a 17th century Amsterdam orphanage.

NEMO Science Museum

Oosterdok 2, 1011 VX Amsterdam, Netherlands

The ship like exterior of NEMO Science Museum
The ship like exterior of NEMO Science Museum. NEMO Science Museum Facebook

NEMO Science Museum is the largest science museum in the Netherlands with 5 floors full of 19,500 artifacts and countless interactive experiments. The museum is geared towards children, but visitors of all ages will find something to enjoy, and everyone will certainly learn something while they’re here. NEMO’S exhibits bring excitement to the mundane, everyday things you don’t usually put much thought into, such as how bridges work. Check out the amazing view and free outdoor exhibit on the building’s rooftop terrace, which you can access even if you don’t have tickets to the museum.

Hermitage Amsterdam

Amstel 51, 1018 DR Amsterdam, Netherlands

Established in 2009, Hermitage Amsterdam is a branch of the original Hermitage Museum located in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In previous years, the museums worked closely together and shared many collections. In March 2022, however, Hermitage Amsterdam cut ties with Russia due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine and has been focusing more on Dutch art as a result. The museum acts as a cultural center right on the bank of the Amstel River, hosting temporary exhibits without a permanent collection. Make sure to visit the Church Hall located towards the front of the building to enjoy the open and airy spot, complete with a dramatic pipe organ and fantastic view of the river.

Tsars and Knights exhibit
Tsars and Knights exhibit. Photo by hermitage_amsterdam on Instagram

National Maritime Museum

Kattenburgerplein 1, 1018 KK Amsterdam, Netherlands

Also known as the Scheepsvaart Museum, the National Maritime Museum features one of the largest boat collections in the world with a monumental 400,000 objects stretching across 500 years of Dutch maritime history. Located inside of a former Dutch navy building, you will find weapons, maps, and ship models, including a full-sized replica of an original Dutch East India Company ship from 1749. Delve into the 3 gallery sections featuring exhibits like The Tale of the Whale, Maps & Marvels, and Amsterdam Port & City for an inside look into the impact the sea has had on Dutch culture and innovation.

The Dutch East India Company ship, Amsterdam
The Dutch East India Company ship, Amsterdam. Photo by aga_art_25 on Instagram

Eye Film Museum

IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands

Exterior of The Eye Film Museum
Exterior of The Eye Film Museum. Photo by deluganmeissl on Instagram

Right by the IJ River lies the Eye Film Museum, a film nerds paradise in an appropriately eye-catching building that looks different at every angle. Don’t miss the History of Cinema exhibit, which showcases the advancements of technology in the film world through artifacts dating all the way back to 1895. The museum hosts about 4 temporary exhibitions per year, with a collection of 37,000 films. There are 4 cinemas inside, showing various films both new and old, and you can watch vintage movies in the 3-person movie pods throughout. Stop by the café after you’re done in the museum for lunch and great views of the harbor.

Museum of the Canals

Herengracht 386, 1016 CJ Amsterdam, Netherlands

Opened in 2012, the Museum of the Canals showcases the urban development of Amsterdam through its famous canal system. Housed inside of an old apartment overlooking the Herengracht canal, the museum walks you through about 400 years of Amsterdam history. Find out how houses were built and how residents lived through models depicting canal development and historically accurate period rooms. The museum takes less than an hour to explore, making it a quick stop for anyone interested in why the illustrious canals were created and what makes them so special even today.

Period Room at Museum of the Canals
Period Room at Museum of the Canals. Photo by cariocca on Instagram
Meghan St. Pierre

Content Editor Associate

Meghan is a native of South Florida who loves nature and landscape photography. Her favorite travel activities are getting lost in new cities and trying local desserts. She has been to 22 countries, and her favorites have been Sweden and Denmark so far.

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