Get us in your inbox

Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder
Photograph: Flickr / Gary Campbell-Hall

The 10 best museums in Amsterdam

Explore this art-obsessed city through the very best museums in Amsterdam, from the Stedelijk to the Rijksmuseum

Written by
Huw Oliver
Laura Collins
Ella Doyle

Amsterdam does many, many things well. But if we have to choose its magnum opus, that has to be its museums. The capital of the Netherlands is bursting with fantastic art and culture, from fine art to photography, and from ancient history to Van Gogh. And much, much more. 

If you’ve only got three days in Amsterdam, you better get your comfy shoes on, as there’s an awful lot of galleries to get around. But if you’d prefer a slower pace, we’ve ranked the absolute best in the city, so at least you’ll know what to prioritise. Read on for the best museums in Amsterdam to visit right now. 


🖼️ The best things to do in Amsterdam
🌿 The best coffeeshops in Amsterdam
🍝 The best restaurants in Amsterdam

Best museums in Amsterdam

  • Museums

What is it? Amsterdam’s most renowned museum, sat huge at Museum Square, which is quite something to behold. Featuring ancient sculptures, paintings, antique furniture and more from the 18th to 21st century. 

Why go? The kind of place where you come for the incredible art collections, from Rembrandt to Frans Hals, but you stay for the magic of the venue itself. We’re talking ornate stained glass windows. We’re talking perfectly manicured gardens. We’re talking about a Michelin-starred restaurant on site (yep, you heard us). 

  • Museums

What is it? One of the only museums in Amsterdam you’ll have to stand in line for, it’s worth the wait to take a sobering look at not only the attic where Anne Frank and her family hid in Nazi-occupied Holland but also the exhibition detailing Jewish war-time persecution.

Why go? On the picturesque Prinsengracht and next door to the monumental Westerkerk, it’s a sombre reminder of the horrors of the Second World War but also a moving tribute to Frank’s indefatigable optimism.

  • Museums

What is it? A canal-side photography museum that hosts a rotating series of exhibitions and champions the work of up-and-coming photographers at its annual ‘Foam Talent’ event. 

Why go? Had your fill of Dutch Masters? Seen enough van Gogh to last a lifetime? Foam is the place for when you’re looking to shift gears and discover the world through a fresh lens.

  • Museums

What is it? Home to more than 1,400 pieces of Vincent van Gogh’s work, including 200-odd paintings, this is the most visited museum in town – ironic, considering the artist was never acclaimed in his own time.

Why go? If seeing the artist’s ‘Sunflowers’ paintings in real life is on your bucket list, this spot is not to be missed. But it’s also worth a visit to learn more about van Gogh’s tumultuous private life and discover his lesser-known works.

  • Museums
  • History

What is it? The Dutch are masters of the water, largely out of necessity (Amsterdam’s canals keep the sea-level city from sinking) but also because they’re entrepreneurial – see the Dutch East India Company or VOC. The National Maritime Museum reflects both sides of this obsession.

Why go? This one’s great for families, with enough fascinating exhibits and installations to avoid a holiday mutiny. There’s also a replica VOC ship docked outside the main building that’s ripe for exploring. 

  • Museums

What is it? A modern art museum home to more than 90,000 eclectic pieces. In addition to its thought-provoking rotating exhibitions, Stedelijk Base presents some of modern art’s greatest hits (think Picasso, Koons, Lichtenstein and more). 

Why go? Despite its premium Museum Square location and eye-catching bathtub-shaped exterior, there’s significantly less foot traffic here than in the other major museums. It means no jostling to get a look at Mondrian.

  • Museums
  • History
  • Red Light District

What is it? In the attic of this unsuspecting house-turned-museum – preserved to show visitors what a typical 17th-century Dutch house looked like – lies a highly Instagrammable pink Catholic church with epic views across the city centre.

Why go? It’s an Amsterdam history lesson of a different kind. By law, non-Calvinist public worship was prohibited at the time, so though it’s not the only Dutch home with a concealed church, it’s easily the most beautiful.

  • Museums
  • History
  • Plantage

What is it? A satellite of the world-famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, this museum hosts regular exhibitions focusing on Dutch art and history but also on Russian culture. 

Why go? Thanks to the Russian outpost’s prestige, this museum has impressive pulling power. Past hits have included shows on Italian neoclassical works and Dutch Golden Age portraits.

  • Cinemas

What is it? A celebration of all things cinematic, this museum hosts a permanent exhibition charting the history of film, plus revolving shows on acclaimed directors. It also screens films across four on-site cinemas.

Why go? The museum’s breathtaking exterior reflects its modern approach to art and cinema. It’s also a good opportunity to take the free River IJ ferry across to Amsterdam’s less touristy Noord district.

Electric Ladyland: the Museum of Fluorescent Art
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/A P.

10. Electric Ladyland: the Museum of Fluorescent Art

What is it? Tucked down a quiet Jordaan street, this museum pays tribute to everything bright, brash and technicolour. View fluorescent art from the 1950s and watch grey minerals light up in kaleidoscopic patterns under flashing lights.

Why go? Despite the odd opening hours and by-appointment-only tours, this is a one-of-a-kind chance to immerse yourself in what museum founder Nick Padalino calls ‘participatory art’.

    You may also like
    You may also like