10 Top Museums in Amsterdam 2024: Beyond the Canals

Deciding which museum to visit first in Amsterdam can be a daunting task, given the city’s rich array of cultural treasures. From the iconic Van Gogh Museum to the historically poignant Anne Frank House (both of which often require booking well in advance), the options are vast and varied, encompassing more gems than you may be aware of.

However, if you’re grappling with the decision of which museums to place at the top of your list, worry no more. Our local expert has explored them all. Whether they’re quaint and cozy, grand and imposing, or even adrift upon the canals, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading for an in-depth guide to Amsterdam’s finest museums (and for those with a specific penchant for art, don’t miss our roundup of Amsterdam’s top art galleries).

Key Takeaways

  • Visit top Amsterdam museums including the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Foam, Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum, Anne Frank House, Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, Micropia, Jewish Museum + Junior, and Hermitage Amsterdam. Booking in advance is essential.
  • Amsterdam’s museums offer a diverse range from art to science and history.
  • The Museum Square is a cultural hub, home to several major museums.
  • Unique museums like Micropia provide interactive and educational experiences.
  • The Amsterdam City Card can be a cost-effective way to explore multiple museums.

1. Van Gogh Museum

  • What is it? This museum is a tribute to Vincent van Gogh, housing over 1,400 of his creations, including more than 200 paintings. It stands as the city’s most frequented museum, a fact that contrasts sharply with the artist’s lack of recognition during his lifetime.
  • Why go? For anyone who dreams of witnessing van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ paintings in person, this venue is a must-visit. Beyond this, the museum offers deep insights into the artist’s troubled personal life and showcases his less famous pieces.

2. Rijksmuseum

  • What is it? The crown jewel of Amsterdam’s Museum Square, the Rijksmuseum is vast and filled with ancient sculptures, masterful paintings, antique furniture, and artifacts spanning from the 18th to the 21st century.
  • Why go? It’s a place where the awe-inspiring art collections, featuring masters like Rembrandt and Frans Hals, are just the beginning. The true enchantment lies in the building’s architecture, complete with ornate stained glass windows, meticulously kept gardens, and even a Michelin-starred restaurant onsite.

3. Stedelijk Museum

  • What is it? A beacon of modern art, the Stedelijk Museum boasts a collection exceeding 90,000 pieces, ranging from iconic to contemporary works. Its Stedelijk Base exhibition highlights the giants of modern art, including Picasso, Koons, and Lichtenstein.
  • Why go? Located in the esteemed Museum Square and notable for its unique bathtub-like architecture, the Stedelijk experiences fewer visitors compared to its neighbors. This allows for a more relaxed viewing experience of works by Mondrian without the crowds.

4. Foam

  • What is it? Nestled beside Amsterdam’s scenic canals, Foam is a photography museum featuring a dynamic array of exhibitions. It also highlights emerging talent in its annual ‘Foam Talent’ showcase.
  • Why go? If you’re looking to take a break from the Dutch Masters or have seen enough van Gogh for a while, Foam offers a refreshing change of pace, presenting the world from new and diverse perspectives.

5. Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum)

  • What is it? Celebrating the Netherlands’ rich maritime history, this museum delves into the country’s legacy of naval mastery and mercantile spirit, exemplified by the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Its exhibits pay homage to the necessity and ingenuity of Dutch water management and seafaring.
  • Why go? An excellent choice for family outings, the museum is packed with engaging exhibits and even features a full-size VOC ship replica for hands-on exploration, ensuring a captivating experience for all ages.

6. Anne Frank Huis (Anne Frank House)

  • What is it? This museum stands as one of Amsterdam’s most poignant destinations, inviting visitors to reflect on the life of Anne Frank and her family during Nazi occupation. Beyond the secret annex, it offers a comprehensive exhibition on Jewish wartime persecution.
  • Why go? Located on the beautiful Prinsengracht canal, near the historic Westerkerk, the Anne Frank House serves as a powerful reminder of the atrocities of World War II while honoring Anne’s enduring spirit and hope.

7. Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic)

  • What is it? Hidden within a seemingly ordinary house in the Red Light District, this museum reveals a 17th-century Dutch home’s interior, crowned by a stunning, pink Catholic church in the attic, offering breathtaking city views.
  • Why go? This museum provides a unique glimpse into Amsterdam’s history, showcasing the lengths to which non-Calvinists went to practice their faith secretly. Its beauty and historical significance make it an unparalleled experience.

8. Micropia

  • What is it? Situated in Amsterdam’s east, Micropia is a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to the microscopic life forms that inhabit our world, presented through engaging and interactive exhibits.
  • Why go? As the world’s only museum focusing on microbes, Micropia offers a fascinating journey into the unseen world of microorganisms. It’s a must-visit for anyone with even a slight interest in science or the natural world, complete with interactive displays and even olfactory experiences.

9. Jewish Museum + Junior

  • What is it? Located in the historic Jewish quarter, this museum, housed in four former synagogues, delves into the history of Jews and Judaism in the Netherlands. Its exhibitions include religious items, photographs, paintings, and the poignant painted autobiography of Charlotte Salomon.
  • Why go? The museum not only educates on the religious and cultural aspects of Dutch Jewish life but also engages visitors of all ages with its interactive children’s wing, making it an insightful visit for understanding the Jewish community’s significant impact on Dutch history and culture.

10. Hermitage Amsterdam

  • What is it? This branch of the famed Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg hosts exhibitions that celebrate Dutch art and history, alongside Russian culture, in the Plantage neighborhood.
  • Why go? The Hermitage Amsterdam’s affiliation with its Russian counterpart allows it to host exceptional exhibitions, drawing from a rich reservoir of art and historical artifacts. Visitors can expect captivating displays ranging from Italian neoclassical works to Dutch Golden Age portraits, making it a cultural highlight in Amsterdam.


Do I need to book tickets in advance for Amsterdam museums?

Yes, for popular museums like the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, it’s highly recommended to book tickets well in advance due to high demand.

Are there any free museums in Amsterdam?

While most museums charge an entrance fee, there are occasional free entry days or hours. It’s best to check the official websites of the museums for such offers.

Can I visit multiple museums in one day?

Yes, many of Amsterdam’s museums are located close to each other, especially around Museum Square, making it feasible to visit multiple sites in one day.

Is there a pass available for multiple museum entries?

The Amsterdam City Card offers free or discounted entry to many museums and is a cost-effective option for visitors planning to explore multiple sites.

Are the museums in Amsterdam suitable for children?

Many museums, like the Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum and Jewish Museum + Junior, offer interactive exhibits and activities tailored for younger visitors.

Final Words

Amsterdam’s museum landscape offers a rich tapestry of cultural, historical, and scientific exploration, making it a prime destination for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in the arts and history.

From the iconic paintings of Vincent van Gogh to the intimate and impactful story of Anne Frank, each museum presents a unique window into the diverse facets of human creativity and resilience.

With options ranging from the grandeur of the Rijksmuseum to the innovative Micropia, there’s truly something for every interest and age group.