the best museums in amsterdam are at museumplein

15 Best Amsterdam Museums You Need to Visit

Don’t let the sheer number of museums in Amsterdam overwhelm you! I’m giving you a run-down of all the best ones, from “heavy hitters” like the Rijksmuseum or Van Gogh Museum to smaller, more niche options like the Foam Museum and STRAAT.
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One thing you’ll realize pretty quickly as you’re planning a trip to Amsterdam is that there’s a pretty impressive selection of Amsterdam museums to choose from. I’ve been to Amsterdam enough times at this point to have visited a sizable chunk of them, so I wanted to put together this helpful guide of the best Amsterdam museums to help you narrow down what you want to prioritize during your trip.

One of my main philosophies when traveling is that you shouldn’t do things only because you feel obligated to, but instead find the right balance between catering to your interests, and maintaining a sense of healthy curiosity.

So, don’t let the sheer volume of Amsterdam museums overwhelm you! Try to choose one or two museums that interest you the most, and add more if there are a few you can’t choose between.

Delve into the Netherlands

Best Amsterdam Museums to Visit on Your Trip

1. Rijksmuseum: For the Dutch Masters

wide view of the rijksmuseum, one of the best museums in amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum is the largest of the main three museums at Amsterdam Museumplein, and it’s also the biggest art museum in the Netherlands. The museum is sprawling and, at times, overwhelming, as it covers 800 years of Dutch history, art, and culture, with over 8000 pieces on display. It’s the type of museum you need to be prepared to only see a fraction of. 

Insider Tip

Download the Rijksmuseum app before you visit to avoid paying for the guides at the door. This app is extremely useful in providing context for the pieces you’ll see on display. You can also reserve a museum tour online on the weekends if you want to really delve into the collection.

The biggest draw of this museum is probably the many works of the Dutch Masters that you can see, including many works from Rembrandt. In addition to paintings, the Rijksmuseum has plenty of artifacts gathered from throughout history as well.

Like almost every museum of this variety (massive, famous, and a stop on many a tour and school group trip), the crowds will be a bit annoying. The upside to this is that you do have to book a timed entry online, so you can aim to book earlier in the morning in order to avoid the afternoon rush.

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

2. The Van Gogh Museum: For Lovers of Impressionism

exploring one of the bets museums in amsterdam: the van gogh museum on museumplein

Without a doubt one of the most visited and popular museums in the Netherlands, the Van Gogh Museum is one of my favorite Amsterdam museums, and definitely one of my top recommendations.

I think it goes without saying that this is a crowded museum. In fact, the experience is a bit like walking in a long line of other guests through the museum—but frankly, it’s worth it. Van Gogh is obviously a prolific painter, and if you’re a fan of his work, I think you should make the visit.

Despite its popularity, you can still see this museum for free with the Museumkaart, but you’ll still have to book a timed ticket in advance online. Don’t try to just show up, as it won’t work! 

I highly recommend booking at least 10-14 days in advance during the high season months, as it will book up, and you don’t want to be disappointed. 

3. Stedelijk Museum: Must-visit for Modern Art Lovers 

inside the stedelijk museum in amsterdam's museumplein. One of the best museums in amsterdam

The Stedelijk Museum is, without a doubt, one of the best modern art museums I’ve ever visited, and definitely ranks as one of my favorite museums in Amsterdam.

I’ll be forever confused that this museum is significantly less crowded than the other museums along Amsterdam Museumplein, but the lack of crowds only adds to the positive experience. You’ll see pieces from the likes of Cézanne, Picasso and Matisse, as well as more modern artists like Keith Haring.

The permanent collection is well worth it on its own, but I also highly recommend checking out what exhibitions might be on—the temporary exhibitions are typically really cool.

4. The Moco Museum: For Pop Art Enthusiasts 

outside shot of the moco museum in amsterdam, one of the best museums in amsterdam for modern and contemporary art like banksy, keith haring and warhol.

The Moco Museum definitely packs the biggest punch in the shortest amount of time. This is the museum you’ll want to visit if you’re a fan of Warhol, Banksy, Kieth Haring, Yayoi Kusama, and anyone else of their general style. Banksy fans will especially appreciate the Moco: it exhibits a shocking 50 pieces from the elusive artist, which is not particularly common.

The Moco Museum can sometimes get crowded as it’s one of the more accessible options in the city, with Haring, Warhol and Banksy being fairly well known and appealing to a wide audience. The good news is that this Amsterdam museum of art is not particularly extensive, so you won’t be stuck in a crowd for too long. On our most recent visit, we were in and out within an hour, and that was really taking our time.

The Moco Museum is one of few museums not included on the Museumkaart, so do take note of that before purchasing it.

5. The Anne Frank House: For Those Wanting to Experience History

the front door of the anne frank house and museum in amsterdam

The Anne Frank House and Museum is, as the name suggests, located inside of a canal house that looks much like all the others on the block. As you may already know, this is because the museum is the actual place where Anne Frank and her family went into hiding during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. 

The museum itself showcases the life of Anne Frank and her family, as well as others who were living in the attic. There are personal items and you can even see the original journal. You also go inside the secret door that leads into the annex where the Franks lived during their time in hiding. The museum ends with a moving exhibit on the impact of the Holocaust on Dutch Jews, including the testimony of the Nazi occupation, time in concentration camps, and the steadfastness of the Jewish community in the Netherlands.

It’s also important to note that there are no photos allowed inside the museum! Please be respectful and follow this rule!

Entry is by timed, pre-booked ticket only, although you can use your Museumkaart to avoid needing to pay. The ticket system was revamped during the pandemic and now works as follows:

Tickets are released every Tuesday at 10am Amsterdam time for 6 weeks in advance, and it’s not uncommon for them to sell out ahead of the date. Despite this, there will still be crowds and lines. It’s definitely worth the hassle though.

Insider Tip

6. Museum of WWII Resistance: For 20th Century History Buffs

Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam, the museum of WWII resistance

Another option if the Anne Frank House itself is booked up during your visit would be the amazingly well curated WWII Resistance Museum.

Through multimedia exhibits showcasing over 100 stories of resistance by ordinary citizens during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, you’ll learn about this grim period of history from a unique perspective and be encouraged to reflect about the importance of protecting tolerance and democracy in our world today.

Although the Resistance Museum has been around since the 1980s, it was expanded and overhauled in 2013. That expansion also included the introduction of a “Junior” version of the museum, which is perfect for introducing children to the topics the museum covers.

7. Tropenmuseum: For the Culturally Curious 

view of one of the best museums in amsterdam, the tropenmuseum in amsterdam oost

The Tropenmuseum is a lesser-known museum option, in the equally lesser known and off-the-beaten-track neighborhood of Amsterdam Oost. The museum bills itself as a museum of “world cultures” telling human stories through objects and universal themes like grief, celebration, prayer or violence.

Though it’s not explicitly a museum about the legacy of colonialism, oftentimes the exhibits will touch on this, as so much of the world is shaped by colonialism of the past and present. It’s a great museum in Amsterdam to visit if you want to see more about the cultures that the Dutch colonized (check exhibits first, though!), and also a great addition to time spent in Oost.

8. Amsterdam Museum: For Those Wanting to Plug Into Amsterdam’s History

amsterdam museum located in the hermitage building on the amstel

For a unique, multi-perspective take on the history of Amsterdam itself, I couldn’t possibly recommend anything more highly than the Amsterdam Museum.

Don’t be dissuaded by the former bad reviews: this museum got a complete makeover in 2022—both physically and in terms of its exhibit curation.

Currently, the museum is in the midst of its “Collecting the City #3” exhibition, which will be on until at least 2025. In collaboration with various neighborhood museums from across Amsterdam, community organizations, and local artists, the museum is showing rotating “mini-exhibits” meant to paint a nuanced picture of the city’s past, present and future.

9. Zaanse Schans: Open Air Living History Museum

zaanse schans windmill

For a change of pace and an excellent day trip from Amsterdam, I highly recommend a visit to Zaanse Schans.

This small village—complete with windmills, lots of cheese, and a wooden clog workshop—is only about a 30-minute train ride or 1-hour bike ride from Amsterdam, which means it’s very accessible while still being a complete change of place from the city.

We really enjoyed our most recent visit to Zaanse Schans, although I’ll be the first to admit it’s one of the more touristy activities we’ve done. It’s not necessarily overrun with people, but more so a very curated experience. Think, a miniature Dutch culture theme park.

That said, you do get the chance to learn quite a lot about the traditional Dutch way of life here, and living history museums always get points in my book—so I highly recommend!

10. Museum Ons Lieve Heer op Solder: For Those Wanting to Get Off-the-Beaten-Track 

Museum Ons Lieve Heer op Solder best museums in amsterdam pink cathedral

The Museum Ons Lieve Heer op Solder is located inside a stunning Golden Age home, which is a draw in and of itself, but the real jewel of the visit is the full Catholic church in the attic. Constructed during the Protestant Reformation of the 1600s, the owner of the house commissioned a secret building in the attic.

Remarkably, they still host mass on the first Sunday of every month, aside from the busiest summer months. This is definitely a more niche museum, and with that comes the benefit of less crowds. It’s definitely a good option for those looking to get off the beaten track and see a different part of Dutch history!

11. Eye Filmmuseum: For the Film Buffs

the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam noord, one of the best museums in amsterdam

The Eye Filmmuseum, which is as impressive outside as it is inside, is all about the art of film. One of the few museums that are located in Amsterdam Noord, the Eye Filmmuseum consists of an impressive permanent exhibition in an area of the building called the Panorama. It has a wide range of vintage cameras and showcases some scenes from Charlie Chaplin’s work. 

There’s also some interactive components where you can watch iconic scenes or play trivia. Because of its stunning design and location, the museum has lots of areas where you can get a great view of Amsterdam. The gift shop and restaurant are also standouts.

12. Museum Rembrandthuis: For the Rembrandt Enthusiast

rembrandt's sketches at the rembrandthuis in amsterdam

The Rembrandthuis offers you a chance to step into the world of Rembrandt by exploring the house where he once lived.

The museum itself does a nice job of creating a very immersive environment so you can get to know the man behind the masterpieces. This is quite different from the Van Gogh Museum, because it’s a mix of his paintings, as well as his life and work. Definitely a bit more in depth, but still worth it.

13. STRAAT Museum: For an Alternative Experience 

amsterdam noord STRAAT museum NDSM wharf

STRAAT (which means street in Dutch) is a pretty revolutionary idea in the museum world: a museum dedicated to graffiti and street art. It’s located inside of a massive warehouse in Amsterdam Noord. That means it does take a bit of travel planning to get to, but it’s well worth the visit. Plus, you can couple STRAAT with a visit to the Eye Filmmuseum

One of the cool things about the STRAAT Museum is that it takes care to feature a lot of emerging talent and lesser known names. It doesn’t get too crowded since it’s such a big space—but do dress warm if you go in the cold, as it is a warehouse and not exactly insulated!

14. Foam Museum: For Photography Aficionados

foam photography museum in amsterdam

The Foam Museum is not the only photography museum in Amsterdam, but it is definitely the coolest. It’s located in a historic canal house, but is completely dedicated to contemporary photography. 

Although photography museums can often be quite niche—and almost too high-brow for their own good—something I really appreciate about Foam is that its mission is centered on making photography accessible to everyone. That means they do a great job curating and contexualizing their exhibitions, and they even offer free guided tours every Saturday if you’re looking to learn even more!

This museum is also included free with the Museumkaart!

15. H’ART Museum: Formerly the Hermitage Museum

HART museum, formerly the hermitage museum in amsterdam

The H’ART Museum, previously known as the Hermitage Museum, existed primarily in partnership with its Russian counterpart. But now, it’s embarking on new international partnerships with the likes of the British Museum, Centre Pompidou, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in order to bring renowned art collections to the heart of Amsterdam. 

Among some of the most exciting upcoming highlights is a Kandinsky exhibition from the Centre Pompidou for 2024. The Museum is practically brand new, and I’m looking forward to checking it out! I loved the former Hermitage Museum, and I trust that the transformation has been done well. It costs €3.50 with a Museumkaart.

the best museums in amsterdam are at museumplein

FAQs about Museums in Amsterdam

What are the top 3 museums in Amsterdam?

The top three museums in Amsterdam are the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum, which are the main three museums that occupy the Amsterdam Museum Quarter, Museumplein. The Rijksmuseum is the best place to see the works of the Dutch masters as well as objects showcasing 800 years of Dutch history and culture. The Stedelijk Museum is a world class modern art museum, and personally, one of the best I’ve ever been to. The Van Gogh Museum is, of course, a museum dedicated to the work of Vincent Van Gogh.

If you want to dedicate one day to museums during your trip to Amsterdam, these three will be the easiest to do together because of their proximity to one another.

What museums are worth going to in Amsterdam?

There are so many museums in Amsterdam that it can be difficult to narrow down which ones are really worth visiting! My first tip would be to decide what is important to you specifically. The Stedelijk Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank Museum and the Rijksmuseum are some of the most well-known museums in Amsterdam, and certainly the most worth spending your time and money on.

If you have to choose only one Amsterdam museum I would be inclined to recommend the Van Gogh Museum. Despite being one of the more crowded and touristy museums, it’s still an incredible experience to see so many of his works. If you aren’t a Van Gogh fan and want something a bit more varied, you could certainly lose yourself at the Rijksmuseum with the Dutch Masters. The Stedelijk Museum is the top choice for lovers of modern art, and the Anne Frank Museum is best for history lovers.

To be honest, any of these will be a great option. Amsterdam is well-known for having great museums and they all deliver!

van gogh's sunflowers at the museumplein one of the best museums in amsterdam

Which is better Van Gogh Museum or Rijksmuseum?

While this will vary based on personal preference, I highly recommend the Van Gogh Museum over the Rijksmuseum. They’re almost opposite museums. The Rijksmuseum reaches far and wide into Dutch history and culture, with over 8000 pieces in its collection, you could easily spend one full day exploring the extensive galleries. 

On the other hand, the Van Gogh Museum, as the name suggests, is much smaller, and focuses only on the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh. It’s a much more targeted experience, and the museum is well-curated to take you on a journey through its collection and Van Gogh’s life.

I find that the latter is a much better museum experience in general, and that big sprawling museums often end up being more overwhelming than rewarding. Unless there are some specific works you want to check out at the Rijksmuseum, I suggest you stick to Van Gogh.

What is the cheapest way to see museums in Amsterdam?

The Museumkaart (Dutch Museum Card) is the cheapest way to see museums in Amsterdam, and the rest of the Netherlands, so long as you were planning to buy tickets for Amsterdam museums at least three or more times. The official card gives you unlimited (and mostly free) access to tons of museums in the Netherlands—but there is a bit of a catch, or rather, a caveat. 

The official card is valid for 1 year after purchase, but needs to be mailed to your home address and purchased online. However, you can, as a visitor, purchase a 31-day, temporary Amsterdam museum pass over the counter at most of the museums on this list, which will give you five free museum visits. Make sure you know the difference and don’t purchase the annual one if you want the temporary one, or vice versa.

Included with the Museumkaart is the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Rembrandthuis, Tropenmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Foam Museum, and 33 other museums across the city. It also covers over 400 museums around the rest of the country, so it could be a great move if you’re traveling around the Netherlands.

modern art museum the stedelijk at museumplein best museums in amsterdam gallery room refugee exhibition

Can I buy Van Gogh tickets at the door?

No, you can only buy Van Gogh Museum tickets online, where you’ll also have to book a time slot. I would recommend doing this well in advance, especially if you’re traveling during the high season, to avoid the disappointment of the days you want being sold out.

This past summer, tickets were consistently sold out at least 10-14 days in advance—so make it a priority to book early if you really want to visit the Van Gogh Museum. 

What museums are free in Amsterdam?

There are honestly not many free museums in Amsterdam, and those that are free are, in my opinion, not worth your time.

There are a few niche, or novelty museums that are free and may be good for children, but honestly, I just wouldn’t waste your time trying to visit some free museums. You’re better off just hanging out at a park or walking around the canals if you’re looking for something free to do!

Is it worth getting a museum pass in Amsterdam?

If you want to go to several museums in Amsterdam, or the rest of the Netherlands, then getting the Museumkaart is definitely worth it for your money.

The Museumkaart covers almost all of the most popular museums in Amsterdam, so you’ll be totally covered up to five museum visits on the temporary card that you can purchase over the counter. It only costs €65.

modern art museum the stedelijk at museumplein best museums in amsterdam gallery room

What museums are included in the Amsterdam Museum Pass?

39 museums are included free, or with a small charge, with the Amsterdam Museumkaart Pass. I’ve included a full list below, with the most popular ones bolded, and any small additional fees included:

  • Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography
  • Museum Tot Zover
  • Molen van Sloten – Kuiperijmuseum (€6.75)
  • Museum of the Mind | Outsider Art
  • Fashion for Good Museum
  • Biblical Museum
  • Groote Museum
  • Museum Van Loon
  • Oude Kerk
  • Houseboat Museum (€4.00)
  • Amsterdam Pipe Museum
  • Multatuli Museum
  • Living Horse Museum & Hollandsche Manege
  • Tropenmuseum Junior
  • Bijzondere Collecties
  • Embassy of the Free Mind
  • Luther Museum Amsterdam (€2.00 discount)
  • Museum De Dageraad
  • De Appel

P.S. When you book using my links, you help support Rachel IRL at no extra cost to you. It’s a win-win!

Ready to visit all the best Amsterdam museums?

Now that you’re excited by all the potential museum visits you’ll do when you go to Amsterdam, I hope you’re ready to keep planning your trip!

As I think you can see by now, there’s bound to be at least one museum that piques your interest in Amsterdam. I think it’s so important to engage with the culture of the places we visit, so I encourage you to prioritize this in your trip planning!

For more posts about Amsterdam, click here. For the rest of the Netherlands, click here.

Let me know if you think I missed any of the best museums in Amsterdam, or, if you’ve been, feel free to share your experience in the comments! You can also always find me on Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and my newsletter.

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